Belkin INC013 Connect Thunderbolt 4 5-in-1 Core Hub (review)
The Belkin INC013 Connect Thunderbolt 4 5-in-1 Core Hub is both an entry-level Thunderbolt 4 dock with 96W upstream charging or a 3 x Thunderbolt 4, and 1 x USB-A port expander.
You may ask why you need it when there is the Belkin Connect Pro Thunderbolt 4 dock. The answer is that it is a small 135 x 75 x 18mm, $299.95 five-port versus the muck larger $499.95 12-port dock.
Note you must have a TB4 host device and TB4 upstream cable. It will work on TB3 and even USB-C, but functionality is limited.
Microsoft Surface Laptop Studio, 32GB RAM, 1TB SSD. Read Microsoft Surface Laptop Studio (2022) – a thing of beauty and envy. Note that a new Surface Laptop Studio 2 will soon be on our review testbed.
Australian review: Belkin INC013 Connect Thunderbolt 4 5-in-1 Core Hub
|From||Belkin online, Harvey Norman, Domaye, JB Hi-Fi, Myer, Officeworks|
|Warranty||2-year ACL repair or replace|
|Belkin started in the early 1980s in California, USA and was a pioneer in producing high-quality, US-made cables and accessories. In 2018, Taiwan-based mega-electronics maker Foxconn purchased the company. Its Brands include Belkin, WeMo, Linksys and Phyn. It is famous for its US$25000 connected equipment warranty if a connection to its devices causes failure (electrical derangement).|
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We use Fail (below expectations), Pass (meets expectations) and Exceed (surpasses expectations or is the class leader) against many of the items below. We occasionally give a Pass(able) rating that is not as good as it should be and a Pass ‘+’ rating to show it is good but does not quite make it to Exceed. You can click on most images for an enlargement.
First Impression – Pass+
It is typical Belkin space grey and reasonably small at 135 x 75 x 18mm – the power brick is almost larger.
The three TB4 ports and power-in are on the back. The front has the TB4 audio/video/data and upstream charge.
Let’s look at its best use.
- Thunderbolt 4 Port 40Gbps upstream 96W power to a Windows Laptop or MacBook. It has a .8m TB4 cable inbox. Supports 5V/9V/3A/15W/27W and 20V/4.8A/96W.
- USB-A 3.2 Gen 2 10Gbps port 5V/.9A/4.5W (can use with a USB-C adapter cable).
- 3 x Thunderbolt 4 ports downstream 5V/3A/15W
Two of these can simultaneously be used for up to 4K@60Hz with either a USB-C to USB-C 3W cable or a USB-C to HDMI or DP cable. Works with Windows or Mac.
Or all three can be downstream TB4 or USB-C 4.0 or 3.2 or earlier with 5V/3A/15W. Note that TB4 splits the 40Gbps channels into 10Gbps per port (Same as USB-C 3.2 Gen 2) – the maximum speed on a downstream port is 1250MBps full duplex.
Perhaps most importantly, all carry audio/video/data so all devices can talk to each other, and charge has overcurrent protection.
It has a 21V/7.1A/149.1W power brick.
Missing (compared to a dock)
- HDMI or Display Ports (these take two PCI channels)
- Gigabit Ethernet
- SD card
- 3.5mm 4-pole audio in/out
- More USB-A ports
Tests – Pass+
- USB-C 5V/.9A/4.5W – pass.
- Thunderbolt 4 ports 5V/3A/15W – pass even if all are in use.
- TB3 external SSD Sequential read/write data X2 lane speeds 2725.31/1044.16MBps.
- TB4 host port upstream 96W (20V/4.8A/96W) – pass
- Dual monitors 4K@60Hz – pass. We don’t have an 8K@30Hz monitor to test, but it supports 4K@120Hz, so it should be fine.
CyberShack’s view – Belkin INC013 Connect Thunderbolt 4 5-in-1 Core Hub is a lower-cost TB4 solution
- First, it has 96W upstream charging, enough for larger laptops and MacBooks. Few hubs support this.
- Second, it can run dual up to 4K@60Hz monitors (if your host device supports TB4).
- Third, it is all you need unless you want dock features.
- Fourth, it is portable and great for travel
You would be best considering it for Windows or Mac and entry-level dock features. I use the Belkin Connect Pro Thunderbolt 4 dock on the second Microsoft Surface Laptop studio TB4 port as a port extender. You could also plug this into the spare TB4 port on the dock (daisy chain), but that would mean four ports sharing 10Gbps – 2.5Gbps each, so that is a bad idea.
In theory, it is a 10/10 as it does precisely what Belkin says it does. It follows the Intel reference design, so there is no point wishing it had extra ports or features.
All brands of TB4 5-port hubs and docks use the Intel JHL4880 Goshen Ridge chipset that supports three TB4 downstream and one TB4 upstream to the host. Put technically, each gets a 10Gbps slice of the 40Gbps.
- Features: 100 – it does what it says
- Value: 90- Most TB4 hubs are around this price, give or take
- Performance: 100 – meets Intel standards
- Ease of use: 90 – As a hub, it is plug and play
- Design: 85 – getting tired of space grey