As you may recall, I have a MacBook Pro – 2017 model that has the Touch bar and Touch ID too. It has four USB Type C ports that are also Thunderbolt 3. I have two monitors, an external hard drive for backups, speakers, a power charge cable all attached to my Mac. But I wanted to move that all to a dock so that I had only one connection to my Mac. So when I leave I only unplug one cable and I am done.
I also wanted to do that in a way where I would not negatively impact video quality or performance of things like backups.
Belkin had an older Thunderbolt 2 dock that was very popular. Both of these choices only came available recently. The first one I saw was the Belkin and I bought it, partially due to the past version of it being so good, and I got it from the Apple web site.
I do have only one cable connected to my Mac now. It connects to the Belkin dock which is connected to both monitors, the network, external hard drive and the speakers. I had a little problem doing this as the external hard drive had a USB Type-C Thunderbolt 3 cable, and one of the monitors had a mini – DisplayPort cable. Both of these devices came with multiple cables so the monitor is now a normal DisplayPort to the dock, and the external drive is now using USB Type C to USB 3.0 to connect to the dock. So I had to buy nothing to help this project along other then the dock itself.
Here is a list of the actual ports on the Belkin.
- USB 3
- Audio jack in / out
- Network (1 GB)
- Audio out
- USB 3
- USB 3
- Thunderbolt 3
- Thunderbolt 3
This dock can deliver 85W of power and that is important to know as that is what is needed to charge my laptop. The two Thunderbolt 3 ports are quite a lot faster then the USB 3 ports, and there is 40 Gbps transfer rates too for the Thunderbolt 3 ports. So that means my backup with the external drive is a little slower now as I am using USB 3 and not the Thunderbolt 3 port but that should not be an issue. If it is I have three additional Thunderbolt 3 ports on my laptop.
I can say there is almost no way to make this tidy. But you can stash the dock out of sight and that helps!
There is a nice video on the OWC Thunderbolt 3 doc by Stephen Fosskett which you can check out here. He quite likes the OWC and it does have several extra ports – SD and micro SD. Here is another article by Stephen that is very useful and he calls it the USB C Thunderbolt 3 survival guide.
I did not mention mouse or keyboard as they are both connected to the Mac via Bluetooth. Magic Mouse and the new Magic keyboard with the numbers keypad. They continue to work without issue.
Tests I did:
- Backups work and have similar speed but that could be misleading as they should be slower.
- Both monitors display and work as they did before when directly connected.
- Network performance did not change.
- Speakers still work the same. No discernible difference.
- Facetime camera works as it did before.
- No change after restart of the laptop.
- I simulated going on the road and returning. Which means I ejected my external drive and close the Mac and disconnected the single cable. Went and worked elsewhere and when I came back and connected the cable and opened the lid everything worked as expected.
I have one cable attached and immediate vicinity of my laptop is tidier. But what else did I gain? I have USB ports now that I did not have before, and I have additional USB-C Thunderbolt 3 ports.
In summary, I can say this Belkin dock works, and I like it. Let me know if you have questions.
- 9/28/17 – Over time, I can now say I do not like or use this dock. It was not common at first, but it developed to the point, when I had speakers plugged into it I often heard unexpected and odd noises. Not good. In addition, one of my two external monitors would blink to black and than back to what it was displaying before it blanked. If I pull out the Belkin none of this occurs. I am now using an OWC dock and it has none of these issues.
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