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With port-limited lightweight laptops, external docks can expand connectivity. The Anker PowerExpand+ 7-in-1 Thunderbolt 3 Mini Dock provides the essential ports in a compact format. However, its constantly humming fan seems at odds with silent ultraportables.
This review examines the dock’s specs, real-world usage, and pros & cons. I evaluate if the overall value outweighs the audible noise for improving workspace connectivity.
Table of Contents
The Anker PowerExpand+ offers several useful features for today’s professionals:
The multiple ports and power delivery make it easy to connect and charge various devices, while the compact size maximizes portability.
The unboxing experience is straightforward. Within the package, you’ll find:
Setting up the Anker PowerExpand+ is a breeze, especially if your system already has the necessary Thunderbolt drivers installed. It’s pretty much a plug-and-play experience, as evidenced by the prompt on my Mac OS, which requested permission to connect to the dock.
The compact size of the dock is evident when placing it beside the laptop, as shown in the size comparison image:
The Anker PowerExpand+ is sleek and has a small footprint, which works great with slim and light laptops like my MacBook Air.
It truly shines by expanding connectivity options for laptops that are scant on ports while persevering that minimalist aesthetic.
The dock delivers on its promise of 4K @60Hz video output over HDMI. It worked flawlessly when connected to a 4K monitor.
The PowerExpand+ also features LED indicators that clearly display when the dock has power and a secure connection to the host laptop. This provides easy and intuitive confirmation that the dock is ready to use.
The variety of ports on the dock is well-illustrated in the following images, showcasing the Thunderbolt 3 port, card readers, and ventilation system that attempts to keep the unit cool.
Although the dock claims to provide a maximum of 45W charging, this output drops to 36W when all ports are in use.
One major limitation is the single Thunderbolt 3 port, which is used to connect to the host laptop. This rules out daisy-chaining other Thunderbolt devices, which was a bummer when I realized my Envoy PRO SX Thunderbolt SSD couldn’t connect to the non-Thunderbolt 10Gb/s USB-C port on the dock:
The Anker PowerExpand+ offers a versatile selection of ports, making it a useful companion for port-limited laptops like the MacBook Air.
However, its loud fan noise seems at odds with pairing it with slim, silent laptops. In testing, the dock produced a noticeable humming that was louder than a fanless laptop. It did not appear to throttle the fan speed at any time.
The decision to focus on portability and not include an external power brick resulted in a portable product that is loud and hot.
Due to the constant audible noise, the Anker PowerExpand+ may not be an ideal match for thin and light laptops that require 35-45W power delivery and have very few built-in ports. These ultraportable devices are designed to run silently, so the loud dock interferes with that experience.
For laptops with existing fan noise, the dock’s humming may be less obtrusive. But for truly silent laptops, the noise could be a drawback despite the convenient port expansion.