Use the Caldigit TS4 with Mac mini M1?

I’m trying to wrap my head around what use cases the Caldigit TS4 is suitable for.

I have a Mac mini M1 with a dual Monitor setup (HDMI + USB-C) and a Macbook Pro M1 from work.

My main challenge is that I am repeatedly running out of ports for my Mac mini. My basic setup works, but whenever I need an extra port, e.g. when I needed to connect another external drive the other day, it becomes fiddly. I need to figure out which of the the other devices I can unplug to add the extra device. I’m probably also not getting the speed I could get on my external SSD, but, it’s not a terrible problem.

The solution for this, is of course a hub. But I don’t need a a lot of extra ports and I would also like to try and actually use my Work Macbook for work and my Mac Mini for non-work (currently, I also use my Mac mini for work when I’m working from home). So I was thinking that the TS4 could be a good solution. It gives me some extra ports while also allowing me to easily switch between the mac mini and the Macbook.

But I’m not sure.

For example, if I understand the limitations of M1 Mac correctly, they only allow one (additional) external display. So when I plugin the MacBook, I will not be able to use the same dual Monitor setup as I use on my Mac mini. I will have the built-in screen plus one of my other monitors, right?

Also, I suppose I can’t have the macbook and the mini plugged in simultaneously, right? Which means I need to plug the thunderbolt cable into and out of the back of the mini whenever I switch computer. Doesn’t make sense when what I want is to stop fiddling at the back of that machine… But maybe I’m missing something?

So, long story short, is there any way of setting up the TS4 for my use case?

The limitations that you’re working with are that:

  1. The MBP will be able to drive only 1 external dispaly natively. There are klugey solutions that give a slightly degrated experience but allow for more than 1 external display. You may find them to be fine for you. I think the technology is branded DisplayLink.

  2. You cannot have both computers connected to the same TB dock at the same time.

Yes, and you are correct, not all DisplayLink branded devices are of equal quality. I’ve heard Plugable is reputable, though I have yet to try them out. Startech products have really good ratings, and I’ve heard it’s because they have in-device graphics cards that work with DisplayLink chips, but I don’t know enough about them to confirm it.