For some time now I’ve been on a search for the ultimate docking solution for my late 2016 MacBook Pro with Touch Bar. While I’ve found many wonderful docks/hubs, none of them really fit my needs completely. Fortunately, OWC has created an amazing Thunderbolt 3 Dock that suits me very well.
The OWC Thunderbolt 3 Dock is the perfect blend of design and function for my setup. There are 13 ports on it. Let me say that again. There are 13 PORTS on the OWC Thunderbolt 3 Dock. Let’s start with the front. There is an SD card slot, aux port for audio connection, and one USB 3.1 port for quick charging or data transfer. The SD card slot on the front is a clear winner in my book, but I also really like the convenience of the USB port for plugging in the occasional flash drive.
When you turn the dock around, you will find the remaining ten ports.
- Four (4) USB 3.1 Gen 1 — Delivers 5Gbps of data and offers high-speed charging
- S/PDIF — Professional-grade digital audio connection.
- Firewire 800 — Allows up to 800 Mbps data transfer and allows you to connect to legacy devices to retrieve data.
- Gigabit Ethernet — Allows you to connect to high-speed Internet with a wired connection.
- Two (2) Thunderbolt 3 — Data transfer up to 40 Gbps and acts as a USB-C connection for the MacBook Pro. Supports video pass-through up to 4K @ 60Hz and one (1) 5K Thunderbolt 3 display.
- Mini Display — Allows a connection to external displays that were previously using a Thunderbolt 2 port. Supports 2K or 4K @ 60Hz.
One very important note I want to make about the OWC Thunderbolt 3 Dock is that with its power input (100 ~ 240V, 50/60Hz), it can power and charge my MBP. This is a wonderful feature as most other docks require that I not only use my own power cable, but they also don’t provide enough pass through power to charge my laptop (the 15-inch MacBook Pro 2016 requires 87W). This dock has enough power to charge my MBP and it does it with its own power adapter.
Now we come to why the search for the ‘perfect dock’ has eluded me. First of all, I’m rocking a 34-inch LG display that connects to the MacBook Pro via Thunderbolt. While I’m at my desk, I prefer to use it as my display instead of the laptop’s screen. So I use my MacBook Pro in Clamshell Mode (this is where your MacBook Pro is on and you are using an external display but your laptop lid is closed). You need certain connections to make this happen. Many of the docks/hubs I’ve used lack those features. OWC’s dock and the inclusion of Thunderbolt 3 make the display/Clamshell mode a possibility.
While the display connection was a primary issue for me, it wasn’t my only concern. Most of the other third party hubs I’ve tried have USB-3 compatibility but lack an SD card slot. Since I collect a lot of photos and videos when doing reviews, the lack of an SD Card slot on a dock is a pretty big inconvenience. Having the aforementioned SD card slot on the OWC dock — front and center — is really a huge time-saver. I can easily slide the SD card in and within a few seconds, the images and video are transferred over to the computer.
As for the rest of my set up, I also utilize one of the USB 3.1 ports for my Rode microphone and I have full functionality of the mic as it works with macOS. This was a problem with other docking options. I had the functionality of the microphone, but not use of features like Dictation or Siri.
One additional feature you will find is that LED’s are located on the bottom of the dock. I can see the light when the dock is powered on, but just barely. I’m not sure if this was to keep it from blinding you or if this just happened to be a design choice.
While the problems I had are seemingly small things, when you are on the hunt for the perfect solution for the 2016 MacBook Pro with Touch Bar, you want to find something spectacular — like the OWC Thunderbolt 3 Dock.
I would have loved to see a third Thunderbolt 3 port included on the dock. My current setup requires me to use one to connect to my laptop for power and the other to connect to my monitor. I also have an external Thunderbolt storage array that I do all of my video editing off of. So instead of plugging it into the dock, it’s plugged into my MacBook Pro. This is not a big deal as I have four Thunderbolt 3 ports on the MacBook Pro. It just would have been nice to have only one cable connected to it.
So when you hear my slight complaint, you can obviously see that I’m really reaching to find a suggestion for improvement. The OWC Thunderbolt 3 Dock is truly an amazing device and if you own the new MacBook Pro it’s a must have product. I’ve not had any issues with it at all and in my opinion, it’s perfection.