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    News Orico Thunderbolt 4 12-in-1 dock review: Stability sells it

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    At a glance
    Expert's Rating

    Pros


    • Best-in-class stability
    • Excellent streaming
    • Upstream Thunderbolt and display connection
    • SD/microSD slots
    • Upstream Thunderbolt port fast-charges phones
    Cons

    • Power button doesn’t remember if it’s on
    • Poor storage performance
    Our Verdict


    Orico’s no-name dock really offers a mixed bag of strong pros and some unfortunate cons. I think you’d be happy buying it, but you’re also going to scratch your head about some of its quirks.


    The Orico Thunderbolt 4 12-in-1 Docking Station is one of the most stable Thunderbolt 4 docks I’ve tried, and that matters. But poor storage performance and a sleepy power button push it below the competition.

    Orico is a Chinese brand, one of a breed of startups that hail from China’s innovation city, Shenzhen. That’s not a negative by itself, but the very cursory manual is half in English, half in Mandarin. If you’re the type of person who wants your hand held as you set up a device like this, you’ll want a brand with a stronger consumer presence, such as Plugable.

    I’ve tested dozens of laptop docking stations as part of PCWorld’s recommendations for the best Thunderbolt docks. I’d consider this as a competitor to the Kensington SD5780T, among others, which features a dedicated display port as well as an upstream Thunderbolt connection.

    Orico Thunderbolt 4 12-in-1 ports and construction


    Orico’s Thunderbolt 4 12-in-1 Docking Station is a slab of aluminum about 7 inches by 3.5 inches deep, and roughly an inch or so high. It sits on fairly modest rubber pads on all four corners. Unlike some of its rivals, you can’t position it vertically to save space. However, it’s not particularly big, so tucking the dock in front of a desktop display is perfectly reasonable. The dock warmed fairly substantially under load, but not worryingly so.

    The manual does note that, once docked, the device will only download additional drivers if you’re running Windows 10. My Windows 11 test machines did not require any additional configuration.


    The front of the Orico 12-in-1 Thunderbolt 4 Docking Station includes the headphone jack, a pair of 10Gpbs USB-A and -C ports, and the two Thunderbolt ports — one upstream port and one that connects to your laptop.

    The front of the Orico 12-in-1 Thunderbolt 4 Docking Station includes the headphone jack, a pair of 10Gpbs USB-A and -C ports, and the two Thunderbolt ports — one upstream port and one that connects to your laptop.

    Mark Hachman / IDG

    The front of the Orico 12-in-1 Thunderbolt 4 Docking Station includes the headphone jack, a pair of 10Gpbs USB-A and -C ports, and the two Thunderbolt ports — one upstream port and one that connects to your laptop.

    Mark Hachman / IDG


    Mark Hachman / IDG


    Orico’s Thunderbolt 4 12-in-1 Docking Station is one the most stable Thunderbolt 4 docks I’ve tried, and that’s a welcome relief in an industry that, unfortunately, is characterized by occasional but annoying glitches.

    Orico’s dock doesn’t offer as much display flexibility as some competing devices. If you’d like to connect two displays, you can: The dock provides one DisplayPort 1.4 video connection as well as an HDMI 2.0 video port. Both are capable of either a 4K, 60Hz connection or an 8K30 connection to an external monitor. This dock adds an upstream Thunderbolt port as well as a downstream option to your laptop. If you happen to own a Thunderbolt display, or a related USB-C monitor, you can run an external display cable upstream and connect in that way, too.

    On the front of the dock are a 3.5mm headphone jack, and two 10Gbit USB ports: a USB-A port and a USB-C port, each labeled with a small “10” icon. One of the initiatives Intel is pushing hard is to ensure all USB-C/Thunderbolt ports are properly labeled on laptops (and by extension, docks). It’s a great idea, and one that’s overdue.

    On the rear, Orico includes both of the display ports, the power port, an RJ45 port for gigabit Ethernet, and two 480Mbits/s USB-A ports, helpfully labeled with a “keyboard” icon to help indicate that they support the older, slower standard. There’s also an SD and a microSD card slot, rated at U3, or 30MB/s speeds.


    On the rear of the Orico 12-in-1 Thunderbolt 4 Docking Station is the power port, one DisplayPort and one HDMI port, plus the RJ45 port for gigabit Ethernet, two 480Mbps USB-A ports, and the SD/microSD slots.

    On the rear of the Orico 12-in-1 Thunderbolt 4 Docking Station is the power port, one DisplayPort and one HDMI port, plus the RJ45 port for gigabit Ethernet, two 480Mbps USB-A ports, and the SD/microSD slots.

    Mark Hachman / IDG

    On the rear of the Orico 12-in-1 Thunderbolt 4 Docking Station is the power port, one DisplayPort and one HDMI port, plus the RJ45 port for gigabit Ethernet, two 480Mbps USB-A ports, and the SD/microSD slots.

    Mark Hachman / IDG


    Mark Hachman / IDG


    On the back of the dock is the power port, which supplies a rated 85W to your laptop. That’s not as much as some competitors, but it should be enough for virtually all productivity laptops. Creator-class laptops with a discrete GPU may be the exception, as those can require about 100W or more. Check your manual or your laptop’s power supply if you aren’t sure.

    The dock’s cable length measures 1 meter, or just over 3 feet, which is just fine. Weirdly, it’s not labeled as Thunderbolt 4-compliant, but it seems to deliver the rated performance.

    Actually, power seems to be a point of concern with this dock. First, the power brick is absolutely massive. I doubt this will be much of an issue, since it will be floating down by your feet most of the time. The brick stays cool, too.

    My beef with this dock is that the power button doesn’t remember its state. Take a light switch, for example: If your home’s power goes off and then returns an hour later, your lights will switch on automatically, especially in a house with the default light switch. My office is configured so that I can turn off the power of one of my outlets with the wall switch, helping to eliminate idle or “vampire” power from my energy bill. Turning on the switch in the morning powers up my displays and dock. Well, normally. With the Orico dock you have to tap the power button, an annoyance when you’re groggy and just want to start your day.

    Keep in mind, however, that the Thunderbolt upstream port on the front of the dock can be used as a smartphone charging port. It delivers a rated 15W, and it’s a great and proven way to charge a smartphone that uses a USB-C charging cable.

    Set aside the somewhat limited display port selection for a moment — otherwise, the port selection and arrangement on this dock probably matches up with what you’ll need.

    Orico Thunderbolt 4 12-in-1 performance


    The only physical issue I noticed with this dock was with the headphone jack. The jack’s port is stiff, and my headphone jack slid in halfway, then stopped. At that point, I wasn’t hearing anything from my headphones, as my laptop was routing the audio through the default speaker connection. “Forcing” the headphones in all the way solved the problem.

    I didn’t have any stability issues with the Orico dock, using it for about two days as a work dock as well as part of the weekend while gaming. Aside from the issues with the power button, the dock was entirely stable. Anecdotally, some of the docks I’ve tested occasionally react poorly to warm environments and/or sudden changes in what I’m doing, but there were no problems here during the summer of 2024. Glitches don’t occur often, even on substandard docks that I test. But even an unexpected disconnection once, twice, or three times a day are annoying.


    It’s a little odd that the Orico 12-in-1 Thunderbolt 4 Docking Station doesn’t include a labeled Thunderbolt 4 cable.

    It’s a little odd that the Orico 12-in-1 Thunderbolt 4 Docking Station doesn’t include a labeled Thunderbolt 4 cable.

    Mark Hachman / IDG

    It’s a little odd that the Orico 12-in-1 Thunderbolt 4 Docking Station doesn’t include a labeled Thunderbolt 4 cable.

    Mark Hachman / IDG


    Mark Hachman / IDG


    The dock delivered 12.5W of power through the upstream/charging Thunderbolt port, and passed 80W of power through the Thunderbolt 4 port to my laptop. That’s excellent on both counts. (We have a separate page detailing how I test Thunderbolt docks.)

    The exemplary performance continued on my streaming test, where the dock dropped just 1 frame per 10,000 or so — rock-solid.

    The one area in which it stumbled was in storage performance. In PCMark’s storage test, connected to my test SSD, it transferred about 107MB/s, for a score of 698. I’m used to seeing between 125 to 130MB/s instead. That performance remained consistent whether or not I used the 10Gbps USB-C port or the upstream Thunderbolt port.

    Performance slightly dropped to 100.29MB/s while performing the storage test and simultaneously streaming, which is normal. While the dock transferred a folder of large multimedia files at 1 minute, 8 seconds (1 minute, 3 seconds is the best I’ve seen), it was relatively slow while copying files and streaming: 1 minute, 30 seconds.


    Chinese companies shipping massive power bricks isn’t that unusual, but Orico’s feels bigger than most, especially for an 85W docking station.

    Chinese companies shipping massive power bricks isn’t that unusual, but Orico’s feels bigger than most, especially for an 85W docking station.

    Mark Hachman / IDG

    Chinese companies shipping massive power bricks isn’t that unusual, but Orico’s feels bigger than most, especially for an 85W docking station.

    Mark Hachman / IDG


    Mark Hachman / IDG


    In the latter test, I connect the dock to Ethernet for streaming while using the dock’s USB connections to move files back and forth from my laptop. That stresses the bus. I’ve seen performance as fast as slightly over a minute in this test from competing docks, so this is rather slow, comparatively.

    Should you buy the Orico Thunderbolt 4 12-in-1 Docking Station?


    The Kensington SD5780T compares slightly unfavorably to this dock, as the Kensington only has a single HDMI port in addition to the upstream Thunderbolt port. But Kensington’s price (about $220 as of this writing) is slightly better, and some of the weirdness associated with Orico’s dock holds it back.

    I actually have a better opinion of the Orico Thunderbolt 4 12-in-1 Docking Station than the numbers indicate. The power button is arguably annoying. But I do appreciate stability, and in my experience this dock performed excellently in that regard. Any data transfers I make usually happen behind the scenes, where a few seconds don’t matter. But, eventually, all the nitpicking adds up. I don’t think I can quite award this dock an Editors’ Choice award, but four out of five stars feels appropriate.

    Computer Accessories, Docks and Hubs
     
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