Kensington SD5700T Thunderbolt 4 docking station review: Simply the best

Kensington SD5700T Thunderbolt 4 Dock specs

Price: $289.99
Ports: 4 x Thunderbolt 4, 3 x USB-A 3.2 Gen2, 1 x USB-A 2.0 Gen1, 1 x UHS II SD 4.0 Card Reader, 3.5mm mic/audio jack, Gigabit Ethernet Port
Supports: Windows 10 laptops with Thunderbolt 4 ports and MacBook models running macOS Big Sur 11 with Thunderbolt 3 ports
 

Premium ultraportable notebooks are among the best laptops you can buy. The latest Dell XPS 13 is a lightweight beast, but even that has its shortcomings — specifically its few ports.

Despite the laptop introducing a new era of Thunderbolt 4 connectivity, it still only sports two next-gen ports. That’s when a docking station comes in handy, and none is a better partner for the XPS 13 than the Kensington SD5700T Thunderbolt 4 Dual 4K Dock.

Kensington has made its dock to support Thunderbolt 4, giving limited Ultrabooks an extra 11 ports to plug in a host of devices. No docking station is perfect, but the SD5700T dock does a stellar job at turning a laptop into a desktop powerhouse. Even better, seeing as Thunderbolt 4 is backward compatible with Thunderbolt 3 and connects via USB Type-C, your laptop doesn’t need to boast the next-gen port to use this dock. 

Kensington SD5700T Thunderbolt 4 Dock price and availability 

The Kensington SD5700T Thunderbolt 4 Dock is by no means an affordable device. Kensington priced the dock at $289.99, which is well above the average price of the best docking stations around. 

(Image credit: Future)

However, when comparing it to other Thunderbolt 4 docking stations like Razer’s $329.99 Thunderbolt 4 Dock Chroma, the SD5700T looks modestly priced.

Other factors should be taken into account, too. For one, Thunderbolt 4-compatible laptops such as the Asus TUF Dash F15 and Dell XPS 13 have only recently started emerging in 2021. More laptops will adopt the upgraded type of connectivity as time goes on, so it’s here to stay, which means dishing out a few more bucks on this docking station will future-proof your home office setup.

Better yet, Thunderbolt 4 ports are compatible with USB Type-C and USB 4.0 accessories. But the SD5700T has more than just Thunderbolt 4 ports to make it worth your while. 

Kensington SD5700T Thunderbolt 4 Dock design 

The SD5700T Thunderbolt 4 Dock packs oodles of power. For those with a power-hungry desk setup (e.g. 4K monitors, gaming peripherals, et al.) this dock will fit right in.

(Image credit: Future)

The dock has a cool gray outer layer, made up of anodized aluminum with a fine-brushed finish. Its rounded sides are made up of grilled layers, with the left side sneakily hiding a signature Kensington security lock. On the bottom, you’ll find four small rubber feet that keep the docking station in place.

The front-facing panel is what you’ll see the most of, and thankfully, it has nicely spaced-out ports so cables don’t get too cluttered. The dock also sports a bright green power LED, along with the blue link LED to let you know the dock is properly connected to a laptop. I also found the dock’s height hid the peripherals I had plugged in the rear, giving my desk a tidier appearance.

(Image credit: Future)

Docking stations aren’t exactly meant to stand out, but I love the subtle cool factor of the SD5700T’s design.

Coming in at 0.9 pounds (0.43kg) with dimensions of 7.1 x 3 x 1.2-inches (180.3 x 76.2 x 30.5 millimeters), the SD5700T isn’t the most portable docking station around. However, it’s still light and sturdy enough to quickly stuff into a laptop bag. 

Kensington SD5700T Thunderbolt 4 Dock ports and connectivity  

Kensington could have simply made this a docking station purely for Thunderbolt 4, but it went the extra mile to add USB-A connectivity and more.

(Image credit: Future)

On that front, there’s a UHS II SD 4.0 card reader (already off to a great start), a USB-A 2.0 acting as a 5V / 1.5A charging port for smartphones, a 3.5mm combo mic/audio jack, and a wicked Thunderbolt 4 host port with up to 90W of charging.

(Image credit: Future)

Along the rear are three USB-A 3.2 Gen 2 ports mainly used for keyboards, a mouse, or other peripherals. You also get one Gigabit Ethernet port, three Thunderbolt 4 ports providing transfer speeds up to 40Gbps, up to dual 4K video output at 60hz or one single 8K at 30Hz, and audio. They also provide 5V/3A power support for devices that need extra juice.

You won’t find any HDMI or DisplayPort v1.2++ ports here, which will turn off those with monitors that only support those two video outputs. However, some of the best monitors have Thunderbolt 4 and USB-C connectivity. Thunderbolt 4 sends a video signal to two 4K displays, or to one 8K display, so if you have the money, it might be time for a monitor upgrade. 

Kensington SD5700T Thunderbolt 4 Dock performance 

Kensington classed the SD5700T Thunderbolt 4 Dock as “The Innovator.” Seeing how it ushered in a new era of new docking stations with Thunderbolt 4 connectivity, we think it does that name justice. 

(Image credit: Future)

My general at-home work setup doesn’t require a heap of highly demanding devices, but I still found the SD5700T a delight to use, and something I want to stick with. The dock’s plug-and-play versatility meant easily connecting my Corsair gaming keyboard, HyperX wireless headphones via USB-A stick and Razer Naga Pro mouse. They all worked without a hitch, simultaneously clearing my desk of wires and freeing up the other ports on my laptop.

Having an SD card reader is a fantastic addition for professionals when transferring data or storing photos, especially if their laptop (say, the TUF Dash F15) doesn’t come with one.

I tested the connection on dual Asus monitors using the provided Thunderbolt 4 connection. As expected of Thunderbolt 4, it easily turned my laptop into a three monitor desktop setup. I experienced no lag, stutters, or hiccups when booting up Halo 4 on Xbox Game Pass for PC. Oh, and this was all done while the dock charged my smartphone.

(Image credit: Future)

It’s important to note that while this docking station will work with the M1 MacBook models, it will only support single video output.

It seemed like there was room for one more USB Type-A port on the rear, but unless you’re a USB-A fiend (the Kensington SD4100v USB 3.0 dock is more up your alley), the average user shouldn’t need many more. 

Bottom line 

The Kensington SD5700T Thunderbolt 4 Dock is made for ultrabooks like the Dell XPS 13 9310. Not only does it vastly expand the number of ports and slots on one of the best laptops on the market, but it gives it the 90W power and additional perks the notebook requires.

While there are still those who may not have monitors or peripherals with Thunderbolt 4, 3, or USB-C connectivity, many devices will soon make having a Thunderbolt 4 port the standard. Thunderbolt 4 connectivity is here to stay, and the SD5700T makes for a fantastic portable companion that will future-proof your setup for years to come. If you don’t fancy dishing out on the docks pricey $289.99, check out more of the best docking stations around that come at a more affordable price.  



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