OWC Thunderbolt 3 Dock Review: A 14-Port Do-All Solution for Working from Home

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The Lowdown

While the OWC Thunderbolt 3 Dock will certainly clean up your standing desk and look sleek, the lack of a proper HDMI port in a world where many devices still utilize them is a bit mind-boggling. It does get fast transfer speeds which are great, and its overall performance is stellar, despite the glaring lack of HDMI. If I were given the option to tweak anything, it would be to eliminate two of the USB-A ports and replace them with a single HDMI port and potentially another USB-C port.

Overall
4

Pros

  • Small footprint with a grippy bottom that won’t move around on desk
  • Plenty of extra ports for almost all of your needs, and one each of the most important ports to the front of the device — USB Type-A and USB Type-C
  • Transfer speeds for memory cards are good

Cons

  • No physical power button
  • No proper HDMI port(s) — will have to daisy chain
  • Can sometimes have difficulty powering two monitors by default
OWC Thunderbolt 3 Dock Review: A 14-Port Do-All Solution for Working from Home Listen to this article

When I first began working from home, one of the biggest issues I had was that there were too many peripherals needed for my workflow and not enough ports. Then I had the opportunity to check out the OWC Thunderbolt 3 Dock. Ever since I received it, it’s been the ideal approach to connecting my external monitors and hard drives, creating an “office-like experience” all from the comfort of my home. 

OWC Thunderbolt 3 Dock

The OWC Thunderbolt 3 Dock is compatible with Mac or Windows, but I’ve exclusively used it for my MacBook Pro and two external monitors for this review. Before having this setup, I had a daisy-chain setup that caused me to use an HDMI splitter for the two monitors connected to a USB-C Dongle which I would plug into my MacBook to power everything. It was messy, to say the least!

But the OWC Thunderbolt 3 Dock manages all of my peripherals well while looking very impressive with its aluminum and black frame; it makes my desk look so much more organized.

At the front of the dock, you’ll notice it has the “essentials” in terms of daily usage. On the front, there is a microSD reader, an SD card reader, an analog audio in/out port, a USB Type-A (31.1, Gen 1) port, and a USB Type-C 3.1 Gen 1 port. The audio out port is handy when you want to use wired headphones or a microphone. The SD and MicroSD card slots have pretty fast transfer speeds in my testing (depending on the file size, of course).

I am very immersed in Apple’s ecosystem and usually resign myself to waiting on Airdrop’s speed to move files to my device, but it’s nice to have the SD card option for bigger HEIC or RAW files. I’ve also moved mp4 podcast recordings from my audio interface to my Macbook using the OWC Dock and found it moved a 300MB file in about 6-8 minutes.

OWC Thunderbolt 3 Dock

The back of the device features four USB-A ports, an SDPIF out, a Gigabit Ethernet connector, two Thunderbolt 3 ports, a mini-DisplayPort, and a 180-watt power port to power on. Noticeably missing are two key things — A proper HDMI port and a physical power button.

OWC Thunderbolt 3 Dock

The lack of HDMI ports truly baffled me! OWC states that the dock itself can charge up to 85-watts which does hold true. I noticed that when charging the MacBook Pro with the two monitors also plugged into the dock, the dock prioritized the MacBook. This meant that the two 24-inch monitors would occasionally be in a situation where when I logged on for work in the morning — one monitor would power on. I had to physically unplug/re-plug the HDMI from the monitor that didn’t turn on to start my day.

It’s a minor inconvenience, but this could certainly be a dealbreaker for some, especially those with a larger monitor or power-intense usage. OWC clearly states that the OWC Thunderbolt 3 Dock can power a single 5K monitor, which is great. Still, with dual-monitor setups common these days, it’s an annoyance when it requires an extra step or some fiddling to ensure everything is properly powered.

OWC Thunderbolt 3 Dock

So is the OWC Thunderbolt 3 dock worthwhile as a work from home desktop solution? It truly depends on your needs. While the OWC Thunderbolt 3 Dock will certainly clean up your standing desk and look sleek, the lack of a proper HDMI port in a world where many devices still utilize them is a bit mind-boggling. It does get fast transfer speeds which are great, and its overall performance is stellar, despite the glaring lack of HDMI. If I were given the option to tweak anything, it would be to eliminate two USB-A ports and replace them with a single HDMI port and potentially another USB-C port.

The OWC Thunderbolt 3 Dock sells for $399.99 (currently, it is priced at $249.99); it is available directly from the manufacturer and other retailers, including Amazon.

Source: Manufacturer supplied review sample

What I Like: Small footprint with a grippy bottom that won’t move around on desk; Plenty of extra ports for almost all of your needs, and one each of the most important ports to the front of the device — USB Type-A and USB Type-C; Transfer speeds for memory cards are good

What Needs Improvement: No physical power button; No proper HDMI port(s) — will have to daisy chain; Can sometimes have difficulty powering two monitors by default

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About the Author

Greg Alston
Diehard Apple fanboy, and lover of all things tech. Born and raised in Washington, DC, Greg enjoys spending time with his wife, family, and friends, live sporting events, good bourbon, Tetris, and pizza. In that order.