OWC Thunderbolt 3 Dock, 14 ports, plenty of style

With 14 ports of connectivity, the OWC Thunderbolt 3 Dock delivers every conceivable connection technology you may need and is available in space grey and silver. The dock’s front is designed for easy connection of portable devices, headphones and media cards, while the rear features a multitude of ports for static devices.

The cardboard box that houses the Thunderbolt 3 Dock was wrapped in crispy clear plastic that gave a luxurious feel to unpacking the thing, but which is, unfortunately, bad for the environment… Having said that, the Thunderbolt 3 Dock has the traditional OWC dock design: it’s a long, flat, high quality aluminium box with a glossy black top and bottom standing on four rubber feet and with yellow and blue power and activity LEDs glowing from the bottom onto your desktop surface.

The design is elegant as much as it is functional. You can place this dock underneath your iMac’s screen, next to it, or away from it. The only thing you can’t do is put it on its side. The devices you’re bound to use the most can be plugged in in one of the front ports, i.e. the SD/SD-micro 4.0 card slots, the headphone port, a USB 3.1 Gen 1 and USB-C type USB 3.1. Gen 2 port (note: which is now called USB 3.2 Gen 2).

The OWC Thunderbolt 3 Dock provides 85 watts of power to your computer via the Thunderbolt 3 connection and has four high-power USB ports to charge your mobile devices — the two front ports and two back ports (one of which is the Thunderbolt 3 port). All are compliant with Battery Charging 1.2 specifications. The dock itself is powered by a large power brick with a nice long power cord so you can hide the big but flat adapter away from your desk. In the box you’ll also find a Quick Start Guide and a 50cm Thunderbolt 3 cable.

The back of the unit has a Mini DisplayPort 1.2 (supports DP++), four USB 3.1 Gen 1 Type-A ports in all, a Gigabit Ethernet port and an S/PDIF digital audio output port. The dock’s Thunderbolt port supports up to one 5K display at 60Hz or two 4K displays at up to 60Hz — the former via a native Thunderbolt 3 display or 4K at 60Hz via a native display or a USB-C display adapter. The Mini DisplayPort 1.2 port supports up to 4K at 60Hz.

The two media readers are both version 4.0 compliant, which means they are capable of 300MB/sec offloading. What puzzles me, though, is why OWC has chosen to fit two SD card readers instead of two different formats. Admittedly, one is an SD and the other a micro-SD port, but almost every micro-SD card coming with an SD adapter, I don’t see a need for a separate micro-SD slot. And, in fact, the micro-SD slot was a bit awkward to use. If you keep your fingernails very short as I do, you’ll need a pair of tweezers to push the card out of the slot once it’s been inserted properly.

Except for that one detail, the OWC Thunderbolt 3 Dock is a very well thought out product that not only compensates for the port shortage on Apple laptops but also solves the iMac’s ports being on the wrong side for easy access.

The OWC Thunderbolt 3 Dock retails at €223.27 ex VAT.

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