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OWC Thunderbolt Dock 3 (review)
4.8Overall Score

Price (RRP): $429.99
Manufacturer: OWC/MacFixit

With new MacBooks and more now sporting Thunderbolt 3 ports it is time to invest in a Thunderbolt 3 dock from OWC.

GadgetGuy has recently reviewed several Thunderbolt 3 docks. OWC wins hands down as the “Best for Mac” award for its extensive expansion ports and ease of use.

The review was conducted with a MacBook Pro 13.3 (2017) and a Windows 10 HP EliteBook x360 1030 G2 (2017). While the Mac worked flawlessly – the Windows 10 had a complete fail despite some dock brands claiming the latter compatibility.

What it Thunderbolt 3?

Thunderbolt 3 is merely the next advance and with the ability to daisy chain up to six devices using the one cable. Unless you need external dual 4K monitors and say a NAS and other devices USB-C 3.1 is fine.

USB-C/Thunderbolt 3 supports 40Gb/s data transfer (that is 5,000MB/s) if the cable is less than .5m. It quickly drops to 20Gb/s on longer cables unless you use very expensive active cables. In theory, it can support up to 100W power upstream and 20W downstream.

Many new devices have one or perhaps two Thunderbolt 3 ports and expect you to invest in ‘dongles’ or docks to add HDMI, DisplayPort, USB-C, USB-A, Ethernet and more. OWC ups the ante by adding legacy support for Firewire (1394b), S/PDIF audio, 5 USB-A ports, and an SD card reader – 13 ports all housed in a very Mac-like gloss piano black and space grey chassis.

Specifications OWC Thunderbolt 3 Dock

  • (2) Thunderbolt 3 ports (downstream port can support USB 3.1 Gen 2 devices)
  • mini DisplayPort
  • (4) USB 3.1 Gen 1, .9A Standard-A ports (rear) – 1 compliant with Battery Charging 1.2 spec 1.5A
  • (1) USB 3.1 Gen 1 Standard-A port (front) – compliant with Battery Charging 1.2 spec 1.5A
  • SD 3.0 media card reader
  • Gigabit Ethernet
  • S/PDIF digital audio port (output only)
  • Hybrid 3.5 mm headphone/mic jack
  • FireWire 800 port

Full specifications are here.

How to set up this dock

Plug in the power adaptor – it provides 20V/6.75A but in real terms can handle computing devices with up to a 65W power draw.

The MacBook 13.3” draws 61W. Take care the 15.6” MacBook Pro draws 87W, and we understand it does charge, albeit slower (three hours on the 13.3” and 5 hours on the 15”) but we were unable to test that.

Next plug in the USB-C Thunderbolt 3 cable from the dock to either of the two USB-C/Thunderbolt 3 ports on the MacBook. The Mac will load the appropriate drivers. That is it – simple.

To attach external monitors

USB-C/Thunderbolt 3 assumes the host device (MacBook/Intel GPU) will drive any external monitors connected. That is why there is a practical limit to one 5K or two 4K.

We tested with an LG 34UC98 and an HP Z34c – both 21:9, 3440 x 1440 panels with DisplayPort (1.2), HDMI (2.0).

To attach a single external monitor