Kensington SD5780T review: The new best Thunderbolt 4 docking station Kensington has to offer

Kensington irons out some wrinkles and delivers its best dock yet.

Kensington SD5780T
(Image: © Windows Central)

Windows Central Verdict

The SD5780T combines the SD5700T and SD5750T for wider compatibility, it boosts charging power up to 96W, and it replaces one of the downstream TB4 ports for HDMI 2.1. With a fairly competitive price, this is the new best Thunderbolt 4 dock that Kensington has to offer.

Pros

  • +

    Improved power delivery up to 96W, HDMI 2.1

  • +

    11 total ports (including host connection)

  • +

    Compatible with Windows, Mac, and Surface devices

  • +

    Lock slots and bracket mounting options

  • +

    Three-year warranty

Cons

  • -

    Plastic faceplates

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Kensington's SD5700T and SD5750T docking stations launched last year as Thunderbolt 4 solutions to your connection woes. These were some of the first TB4 docks to hit the market, offering up an impressive array of features to complement the modern office. These docks made the cut in our collection of the best Thunderbolt 4 docking stations, competing with the likes of CalDigit, Razer, and OWC.

While Kensington's dual-device approach for the SD5700T and SD5750T was a tad confusing — the former made for Windows and Mac compatibility and the latter made specifically to work with Surface devices — the SD5780T Thunderbolt 4 dock looks to unify the docking stations with broad compatibility for Windows, Mac, and Surface devices. The SD5780T also offers a slightly different selection of ports and better charging capabilities, as well as all of the same additional features that we loved about the SD500T and SD5750T.

I've been using the SD5780T on my desk for a couple of weeks to see how well it works, why you might want to pick it over the older versions, and, ultimately, whether or not it's worth your money in a hot market.

Kensington SD5780T: Price, availability, and specs

Kensington supplied Windows Central with a review unit of its new SD5780T Thunderbolt 4 docking station. It has 11 total ports including the TB4 host connection, it comes with a three-year warranty, and you can add free Kensington DockWorks software (though it isn't necessary to run the dock). Thanks to Thunderbolt 4's backwards compatibility, the dock should also work with most Thunderbolt 3, USB4, and USB-C laptops. However, TB4 will still deliver the best performance.

The SD5780T is currently available at a few major retailers including Amazon and Dell. It's priced at about $352 at Amazon, which is the most affordable option right now. At Dell it costs about $420 and at Kensington's official site it comes in at $450.

Here's a look at the SD5780T's specifications as compared to the SD5700T. Note that the SD5750T has the same integral specs as the 5700T, made to work specifically with Surface products.

Swipe to scroll horizontally
Header Cell - Column 0 Kensington SD5780TKensington SD5700T
OSWindows 10, Windows 11Windows 10, Windows 11
ConnectionThunderbolt 4, detachable 1m (3.28 feet) cableThunderbolt 4, detachable 0.8m (2.6 feet) cable
PortsFour USB-A 3.2 (Gen 2), Thunderbolt 4 (host), two Thunderbolt 4 (downstream), Ethernet, HDMI 2.1, 3.5mm audio, SD card reader (UHS-II) Three USB-A 3.2 (Gen 2), USB-A 2.0, Thunderbolt 4 (host), three Thunderbolt 4 (downstream), Ethernet, 3.5mm audio, SD card reader (UHS-II)
PowerUp to 96W to hostUp to 90W to host
Max display res.Dual 4K@60Hz, 8K@30Hz, 8K@60Hz (DSC)Dual 4K@60Hz, 8K@30Hz, 8K@60Hz (DSC)
ColorCool GrayCool Gray
MaterialAluminum, ABSAluminum, ABS
WarrantyThree yearsThree years
Dimensions7.67 x 2.95 x 1.18 inches7.67 x 2.95 x 1.18 inches
Row 9 - Cell 0 (195mm x 75mm x 30mm)(195mm x 75mm x 30mm)

Kensington SD5780T: What I like

(Image credit: Windows Central)

The Kensington SD5780T shares dimensions with the SD5700T and SD5750T. Side by side these docks are essentially identical, save for the different port selection. The outer shell of the dock is made of aluminum with a brushed finish, giving it a sort of industrial look that's durable and dissipates heat well. It has four rubber feet to help keep it in place on a desk, and one end has its ribbing carved out to house Kensington's standard and Nano lock slots. 

A horizontal setup with the dock sitting on its side is mandatory due to how it's built; this isn't uncommon, but it does take up more space than a dock that can stand vertically. Kensington's own genius space-saving idea involves holes drilled into the chassis that match up with a mounting bracket (sold separately). With the extra hardware, you can mount the dock below your desk or anywhere else the bracket fits into.

Kensington SD5780T

(Image credit: Windows Central)

The SD5780T's HDMI 2.1 port is ideal for those who prefer native video out.

The front of the dock has an upgraded USB-A 3.2 (Gen 2) port with speeds up to 10Gbps and charging up to 7.5W. This is a big upgrade over the USB-A 2.0 port on the older docks. The SD5780T otherwise has a single Thunderbolt 4 connection for the host PC, a 3.5mm audio combo jack, and a speedy UHS-II SD card reader. Testing it with a UHS-II card, I saw 270MB/s read and 139MB/s write speeds, ideal for photographers or anyone who often needs to transfer larger files. A small power button lives next to colored LEDs that show power and link status.

One of my gripes about the older SD5700T was its lack of native video out. That's been solved here, at least for those who can make use of HDMI 2.1. It takes the place of one of the three downstream TB4 ports that the SD5700T offers, but still having two TB4 ports to work with should be enough for a lot of people. And if you do want the third TB4 port and don't mind a lack of video out, you can always go back to the SD5700T.

(Image credit: Windows Central)

The rest of the SD5780T's rear port layout is identical to the SD5700T. Three USB-A 3.2 (Gen 2) ports with 10Gbps speeds and 4.5W charging capabilities are clustered toward the right side, making it easy to connect older accessories. Gigabit Ethernet is also included to help with offices using shoddy Wi-Fi, and rounding things out is a barrel charging port. Thanks to the beefy 180W AC adapter included with the dock, the SD5780T can offer up to 96W of charging power to the host laptop via the host cable.

The SD5780T comes with a three-year warranty to protect your investment. To put that into perspective, CalDigit offers a two-year warranty for its TS4 dock and Razer offers just a one-year warranty for its Thunderbolt 4 Dock Chroma.

Kensington SD5780T: What I don't like

(Image credit: Windows Central)

Kensington has done a great job combining its SD5700T and SD5750T docks to come up with the universally compatible SD5780T. One of my gripes with the older docks was a lack of native video out for those who don't want to add adapters or high-end monitors, and that's been fixed here with HDMI 2.1. 

One of my other issues with the dock was the plastic faceplates which have returned here. It's not a huge deal, but some other docking stations that cost the same (or less) go with full metal build that just seems more durable. Plastic ages differently that aluminum, it gets scratched up from cables going in and out, and it just makes the dock seem a bit cheaper than it really is. 

Kensington SD5780T: Competition

Kensington SD5700T (Image credit: Windows Central)

Kensington's SD5700T and SD5750T (designed for Surface specifically) are both still available to buy. The best price I could find for the former dock is about $289 at Amazon, while the latter dock is quite a bit more expensive at about $340. If you aren't using a Surface device and don't mind a lack of native video out or six fewer watts of charging power, the SD5700T can save you about $60. If you often switch between Surface devices and other PCs, I'd still recommend the newer SD5780T that I reviewed here.

CalDigit TS4 (Image credit: Windows Central)

Our collection of the best Thunderbolt 4 docking stations is topped by the CalDigit TS4, a monster dock with the most ports, best charging capabilities, and a versatile design that can work vertically or horizontally. It has a slightly shorter warranty period at two years (compared to three) and it has DisplayPort 1.4 instead of HDMI. The dock's popularity means it's often out of stock, and even when you can find stock you'll be paying a premium price. It's currently listed at about $400 at Amazon.

Razer Thunderbolt 4 Dock Chroma (Image credit: Windows Central)

If you're a gamer who can't get enough RGB lighting on your desk, the Razer Thunderbolt 4 Dock Chroma should be considered. It's also one of our picks for the overall best docking stations thanks to its port selection (very similar to the SD5700T with three downstream TB4 and no native video out), 90W charging capabilities, full aluminum build with black finish, and customizable RGB underglow lighting. It costs about $330 at most major retailers.

Should you buy the Kensington SD5780T?

(Image credit: Windows Central)

You should buy this if ...

  • You want a dock that works with Windows, Surface, and Mac
  • You want a dock with native video out (HDMI 2.1)
  • You need up to 96W charging power
  • You can make use of Kensington lock slots and mounting options

You shouldn't buy this if ...

  • You don't have a laptop with Thunderbolt 4 or USB4 (and don't plan on getting one anytime soon)
  • You want three downstream Thunderbolt 4 ports
  • You can't spend $300+ on a docking station (there are plenty of more affordable docks)

In my Kensington SD5700T review, I noted that it's geared mostly toward a professional setup. The lock slots, mounting options, and unobtrusive design means it will fit in well in just about any office. Other than the price (which has come down since I wrote the SD5700T review), the lack of native video out and the dock's plastic faceplates were my only complaints. 

The SD5780T has successfully combined the SD5700T and the Surface-oriented SD5750T. You no longer have to navigate compatibility, there's now an HDMI 2.1 port taking the place of one of the downstream TB4 ports, USB-A 2.0 has been replaced by a fourth USB-A 3.2 (Gen 2) port, and the price is competitive with other high-end docks on the market. The plastic faceplates are still here, but they're a minor issue that doesn't interfere with the dock's overall usability.

This is Kensington's best Thunderbolt 4 dock yet, and while it's certainly geared toward a professional environment, it can help anyone with a modern laptop get the connectivity they need for multi-screen and multi-accessory setups.

Cale Hunt
Senior Editor, Laptop Reviews

Cale Hunt is a Senior Editor at Windows Central. He focuses mainly on laptop reviews, news, and accessory coverage. He's been reviewing laptops and accessories full time since 2016, with hundreds of reviews published for Windows Central. He is an avid PC gamer and multi-platform user, and spends most of his time either tinkering with or writing about tech.