Price (RRP): $529.95
The Belkin Thunderbolt 3 Express Dock is a must have for MacBook Pro owners with Thunderbolt 3 ports.Thunderbolt 3 is the way to the future allows both Mac and PC to have smaller, lighter and thinner laptops. The only problem is that many laptops now only have Thunderbolt 3 ports forcing owners to carry a menagerie of dongles and adaptors.
Belkin Thunderbolt 3 is a MacBook Pro owners friend offering up to 85W power/charge, 2 x USB-C/Thunderbolt 3 40Gb/s ports, Gigabit Ethernet, 3 x USB-A 3.0 ports (with sleep charge), a full-sized DisplayPort and a 3.5mm combo audio port.
We say for Mac because it tested flawlessly with both the MacBook Pro 13 and 15” models.
We had issues using it on a Windows HP EliteBook x360 1030 G2 where error messages about power charging and driver issues stymied us. In any case the fine print on the website states, ‘The Thunderbolt 3 Express Dock HD is not PC compatible.” D’oh!
With that one caveat out of the way on with the review
It follows the brushed aluminium style of its previous docks. It looks good on any desk as most of the ports are on the rear. One USB-A and 3.5mm audio are on the front for convenience.
The first thing we noticed was the 1m long ‘passive’ Thunderbolt 3 cable supplied. Other docks use a passive .5m cable.
Let’s look at Thunderbolt 3 USB-C cables 101
A good overview of Thunderbolt 3 is here. here. After reading about it that is all you will want for your next computer.
According to Thunderbolt 3 specifications, the .5m passive USB-C cable that comes with most docks provides
- 40Gb/s downstream data (from a computer to the dock)
- One 5K or two 4K displays via DisplayPort 1.2
- Supports all USB versions (up to 3.1, Gen 2 10Gb/s)
- And up to 60/15W upstream/downstream power.
Belkin provides a 1m 60W/20Gb/s F2CD081 cable for convenience. Those .5m cables are often just a little too short for easy placement. My only gripe is that it should have included a .5m cable as well.
So, if you need 85W/40Gb/s performance go back to a .5m passive cable. Or fork out somewhere north of $100 for an active 2m F2CD083 cable that uses fibre optics and has an integrated controller chip. This is a not a USB-C substitute cable.
How to connect monitors
USB-C/Thunderbolt 3 standard assumes that all graphics processing is via the host computer.
How to connect a single up to 5K monitor
The Dock’s full-sized DisplayPort 1.2 supports sound and video up to 5K. You can get DisplayPort to HDMI/VGA/DVI adapters.