We Review the CalDigit Element Hub

The number of devices we need to connect to our computers on a daily basis seems to be never-ending. From SSDs to monitors and graphics tablets, it seems like we never have enough ports. The CalDigit Thunderbolt 4 Element Hub attempts to address this by simply giving us a large number of our most commonly used ports, USB and Thunderbolt, and making sure they all operate at full speed.

What Is the Element Hub? 

Caldigit has made several full-featured docks over the years, but the Element differs from those in the sense that it is a much more straightforward device. You get seven USB ports. Three of those are USB 4/Thunderbolt and four are USB Type-A Gen 3.2 ports. Considering how much those Type-C/Thunderbolt ports are capable of, the hub comes with a power adapter to ensure that no matter how much you plug in, everything will still operate to its full capacity. As the name suggests, this is a no-frills hub that offers excellent expandability for desktop and laptop users. 

USB 4/Thunderbolt

The three Type-C/Thunderbolt ports are of the full-featured variety. No functionality has been left out, and they do not limit each other. Thus, if you want to run an 8K monitor and a few SSDs copying data at full rate, you can. The same thing goes for dual 4K 60Hz monitors. For on-location work, where you may need to connect several monitors and back up a large amount of data, this might just be the perfect solution.

Being that I’m an editorial and family photographer, I haven’t had a lot of need to invest in an 8K monitor or even dual 4K monitors. However, I was able to test a single 4K monitor running over a Type-C to HDMI connector alongside a USB-C DP Alt monitor from Asus. While playing back 4K video, running Capture One, and making a huge file copy across a pair of SSDs on my Lenovo Yoga Slim 7 (Ryzen 7), everything ran smoothly and uninterrupted. 

Limitations

Of course, there are certain devices that don’t play nicely with hubs. I’ve found that my Wacom tablet and Loupedeck+ didn’t want to connect at all through this (or any hub, for that matter), so you’ll likely still need other ports/connectors for devices like these. Of course, that’s not a reflection on this hub, but a limitation of the devices. Of course, your mileage may vary on what does and doesn't play nicely with your configuration. 

As photographers, we’ll often need a card reader, and I would definitely consider this to be one of the basic elements of my workflow. That is maybe the one thing I wish had been included. However, it is quick and easy to connect a card reader for the type of cards you use, and my StarTech Dual SD UHS-II reader has been working flawlessly through the Element Hub. 

Compatibility

The Element Hub requires a minimum of a basic USB-C port to get connected, but certain features like multiple monitors and extremely fast transfers will benefit from, or in some cases, require a Thunderbolt 3 and up or USB 4 enabled port. 

In terms of operating systems, Mac OS 11, Windows 10, or iOS 13.6 are supported. So, a Windows laptop or tablet, Apple computer, or iPad will all work flawlessly. As a curiosity, I did try to get Samsung Dex running, but was unable to get it to display to external monitors. File transfers worked fine, however. 

Who Is It For?

I can see it being useful on set when multiple devices need to be connected to, for example, a laptop or tablet. It is quick and easy to connect multiple monitors and fast SSDs to ensure a shoot goes off without a hitch. Especially for those using USB 4 or Thunderbolt-enabled workflows, there are a plethora of connection options opened up by this tiny device. 

For my needs, this hub is likely overkill. But, it has been extremely useful to have all the ports I need operating to their full potential without having to worry about what is connected. I primarily work from a desktop machine, so the biggest benefits for my workflow have been not having to reach behind the machine and find the Type-C port as well as having multiple Type-C ports for my ever-growing collection of devices.

In Conclusion

If you’re in the market for a hub with no frills that just offers the best performance our current ports are capable of, this is a solid option. Check out the full specs and pick one up here

Things I Liked

  • Speed
  • Number of ports
  • Powered to allow for all ports to be used simultaneously
  • Size

Things I Felt Could Be Improved

  • Including a card reader
Log in or register to post comments

6 Comments

Kenneth Voigt's picture

It would be even better if it were reliable. My first one failed completely after 6 mo.; 2nd 0ne has 2 ports that failed after 30days. Caldigit makes it extremely difficult to return a unit but it makes a good paper weight.

Marc Perino's picture

That is interesting to hear since I flirted with the idea to buy one.

I am also thinking about a 2nd TS3+ for my 2nd computer. The first one worked great for me - I had to return it once but the replacement is very reliable.

Maybe it is a TS3+ again. 🧐

Lee Christiansen's picture

The only Caldigit device I ever owned, (USB-3 adapter), fried two hard drives in succession. Caldigit tech personnel admitted it must have been their device, but Caldigit management decided to ignore this and said "not us." It cost me a bunch of £££ in replacements.

I'll never touch a Caldigit anything ever again.

Fristen Lasten's picture

Amazon

Currently unavailable.

We don't know when or if this item will be back in stock.

Bert Nase's picture

My Wacom pro tablet works well with a cheap standard usb hub!

Uldis Plinte's picture

CalDigit SOHO have a card reader
Using for a while, no regrets so far