Price (RRP): $499.95
The Belkin Thunderbolt 3 Dock Pro is its latest Intel Titan Ridge powered Thunderbolt 3 and USB-C 3.1 backwards compatible dock.
Unlike all earlier docks, Intel Titan Ridge enables a downstream Thunderbolt 3 port for daisy-chained devices. Oh, and it has 85W PD upstream charging.
A note on Thunderbolt 3 (TB3) and UBS-C 3.1 speeds
The full-duplex (both ways simultaneously) controller in your Mac or Windows device outputs either TB3 (40Gbps but some are only 20Gbps) or USB-C 3.1 Gen 1 (5Gbps) or Gen 2 (10Gbps). BTW – 1Gbps is 125MBps.
All provide downstream power to a maximum total of 5V/3A/15W for connected devices like portable SSDs etc.
Absolutely everything goes up and down that single TB3 ‘pipe’. The pipe segments into
- 8Gbps for dedicated video (DisplayPort and that is why all older TB3 docks have one DP)
- 32Gbps for audio/video/data (the maximum that all attached devices get). To complicate things, it divides this into PCIe Gen 3, 4 x 8Gbps lanes
For example, the higher the monitor resolution, the more bandwidth it takes. [email protected] uses around 8-22Gbps, [email protected] is about 18-22Gbps. Speeds are reliant on refresh rate, colour depth etc.
As the pipe gets congested it may start to compress data, drop frame refresh rates etc. So, no Dock can power everything at maximum speeds. Still, Titan Ridge-based ones are intelligent enough to do things like time-slice resources and distribute data most efficiently over those four PCIe lanes.
Techy types can read more here (it is a PDF so check downloads).
What is Intel Titan Ridge Thunderbolt 3?
Belkin Thunderbolt 3 Dock Pro uses an Intel Titan Ridge JHL 7440 chip. Compared to previous Thunderbolt chips it adds one downstream Thunderbolt 3 port and support for two DisplayPort (DP 1.4) streams as part of the 40Gbps. But that is only part of what it does.
The dedicated DP 1.4 HBR3* port/stream provides up to 25.92Gbps (32.4Gbps with overheads) and can support a single [email protected]/[email protected] display without compression. Or with Display Stream Compression 1.2 (DSC) a [email protected]/[email protected] monitor. By comparison, DP 1.2 (HBR2) is 17.28Gbps (21.6Gbps with overheads).
Before you get excited, remember that you only have the original bandwidth to share.
The only other Titan Ridge dock we have reviewed is the Plugable TBT3-UDC1 here, and it scored 4.9/5. As all Titan Ridge docks perform similarly, you can look forward to this doing the same.
The primary monitor uses the dedicated DisplayPort 1.4 port. The second monitor uses the downstream TB3 port.
But there may be a catch. The maximum speed requires that monitors support High Bit Rate 3 (HBR3) and as far as we are aware, there are very few compatible monitors.
If you have High Bit Rate 2 (HBR2) monitors and video cards (most likely), you will not achieve maximum speeds. So, if a 5K monitor is what you need or [email protected], you may need to check if it works first.
Techy types can read a technical explanation here.
Australian review: Belkin Thunderbolt 3 Dock Pro F4U097au
- Website here
- Price: 499.95
- Warranty: 2-year limited ACL
- Country of manufacture: Thailand
- Belkin (Est 1993) is now part of the Taiwanese company Foxconn Interconnect Technology. Its HQ is in Playa Vista, California and has three brands – Belkin, Linksys and WeMo.
- In the box: Aluminium enclosure 200x81x26mm x 422g, .8m Thunderbolt 3 cable and 170W AU charger weighing 670g – it’s a desktop device.
Ports – Front
Please note that the ports specifications are not clear in the documentation, and we have reported on what we can test.
- 1 x USB-C 3.1 gen 2, 5V/3A*
- 1 x USB-A 3.1 gen 1, 5V/1.5A**
- SDXC Card reader
- 3.5mm combo audio
- 4 x USB-A 3.0 – 5V/1.5A ***
- 1 x Thunderbolt 3 upstream connection to PC with up 85W PD 3.0 charge ****
- 1 x Thunderbolt 3 downstream 40Gbps, 15W, ALT DP (supports up to 5 daisy chain Thunderbolt 3 devices (but not docks)
- Gigabit Ethernet
- DisplayPort 1.4 HBR3
20V/8.5A/170W. It supports up to 85W upstream charging. It is not Apple MFi certified but works with Mac and Windows devices to 85W.
These are pass through voltage and amperage under load
- * USB-C 3.1 Gen 2 5V/3A (15W) – the test shows 2.4A (12W) and PD 3.0 – PASS
- ** USB-A 3.1 5V/1.5A – PASS
- *** Each of the four rear USB-A ports supplies 5V/1.5A/7.5W. As we could only test one at a time, we set up a test to exploit the 6A envelope. We estimate that it will support a total of 4.8A. That is consistent with four-port chargers that distribute the total on an as-needed basis. PASS
- **** Upstream Thunderbolt 3 power using a 2019 HP Spectre with a 65W power supply. It negotiated to the maximum 65W PD 3.0. Had we had an 85W device I am sure it would work to a maximum of 85W – PASS
- We did not test a MacBook Pro 16”, but we understand it requires 96W PD charger. In this case, you should use the Apple charger connected to one of its Thunderbolt ports. The dock should be smart enough not to try to charge the MacBook Pro as well.
- Tests as DP 1.4 HBR3 compatible and will support [email protected] (not tested as we don’t have a suitable monitor)
- 2 x [email protected] monitors – PASS
- 2 x [email protected] – PASS
- [email protected] – some issues. The one connected to the DP was fine, but the one via a Thunderbolt 3 (using a USB-C to HDMI 2.0 Samsung Dex adapter) would only support [email protected] We suspect either the cable (most likely) or that the dual monitor requires Thunderbolt 3 or USB-C monitor (not able to test due to COVID restrictions)
- Gigabit Ethernet – PASS (we experienced rock-solid connections over a five-day test)
- SDXC slot – there are wide variations in SD card brands and performance. It achieved 25MBps sequential read/write that is suitable for 1920×1080 video. We suspect that with right V60 or V90 UHS-II cards card it should achieve 4K and 8K read/write video speeds – PASS
Belkin’s site states: The SD (secure digital) card slot supports Ultra-High-Speed II (UHS-II), to transfer data at up to 312 MBps bus speed (not half-duplex read/write rate). It supports standard SD cards, SDHC (High-Capacity) cards and SDXC (Extended-Capacity) cards. UHS-II can transfer data three times faster than UHS-I.
MacBook Pro Issues
We note that on the US Amazon site that it may not be entirely compatible with MacBook Pro (Apple site here). Issues include not waking up monitors, overheating and loss of LAN. We were unable to test on a MacBook Pro, but it is unlike Belkin to release a faulty product, and later reviews reflect increasing satisfaction.
In all our tests in Windows, it worked flawlessly. The only minor inconvenience is tying up the second Thunderbolt 3 port with a Thunderbolt 3 (or USB-C) monitor. The Plugable mentioned earlier has dual DisplayPort 1.4 opting to use the bandwidth for an extra port instead of a downstream Thunderbolt 3 port.
GadgetGuy take – Belkin Thunderbolt 3 Dock Pro F4U097au did it for me
Windows – perfect. I suspect any issues with Mac could have been user-related – probably the wrong cables (there is a difference between USB-C and Thunderbolt 3 even though they look the same).
Regardless it is a great dock and one that, under Australian Consumer Law, you can take back if it has issues for you. Belkin is a highly reputable company and will try to help. Support is from the Central Coast of NSW.
The Intel Titian Ridge chipset is now in several docks. If there are Mac issues, it will apply to all dock brands.
At the beginning of this review, I mentioned the Plugable was rated 4.9/5, and this uses similar Intel Titan Ridge technology. The key difference is that the Plugable has as two dedicated DP Ports sacrificing the downstream TB3 port. For many that is probably a more convenient setup and it still has USB-C 3.1 Gen 2 (10Gbps) ports that cover the fastest external SSD devices.
But Belkin elected to use that port for TB3 downstream, so if you need that, then it is for you. Otherwise, both score 4.9/5.