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OWC Thunderbolt Pro Dock Review

The OWC Thunderbolt Pro Dock is perfect for multimedia editors & data-heavy workflows.

Price

The newest version of the OWC Thunderbolt Dock is priced at $399 MSRP with free shipping. Included with the dock is an OWC Thunderbolt 4 cable.

Features

Includes 85W of charging power, 10G Ethernet port, SD 4.0 slot, CFexpress Type B slot, Displayport 1.4 (two 4K or one 8K monitor supported) and a fanless design.

Function

Suitable performance for the powerhouse specifications allows ample power, speed, cooling, and convenience for heavy data workflows like video editing.

Pros

  • Variety of high-speed data ports (USB A, USB-C & Thunderbolt 3)
  • 10 Gigabit Ethernet port
  • Thunderbolt 4 connectivity
  • 85W of charging power for notebooks
  • Supports a single 8K or two 4K displays
  • Silent, fanless cooling design
  • 2-year OWC warranty

Cons

  • Expensive at a $400 price-point
  • Misses some traditional docking ports for non-power users (such as 3.5mm audio jack)
  • SD 4.0 card slot is upside down (confusing at first)
  • Shipping is delayed at time of review (3+ month estimate on MacSales)

Review Summary

The OWC Thunderbolt Pro Dock is a powerful device that is perfect for multimedia editors and data-heavy workflows. It has a variety of high-speed data ports, a 10 gigabit Ethernet port, and 85 watts of charging power for those running a notebook or laptop machine.

One downside is that it is expensive at a $400 price-point which isn't ideal for prosumers, but reasonable for professionals. Additionally, it misses some standard ports for non-power users (such as a traditional 3.5mm audio jack) and the SD 4.0 card slot is upside down, which was rather confusing at first.

Overall, the OWC Thunderbolt Pro dock is a great option for anyone looking for a powerful docking station with plenty of professional-grade features that come at a premium. If you are interested in ordering, just keep in mind this newer model just was refreshed so shipping is delayed at the time of this review (3+ month estimate on MacSales).

PRICE
DESIGN & BUILD
FEATURES
FUNCTION
OVERALL

A Great Buy For Some

The Ideal Buyer

The ideal buyer for the OWC Thunderbolt Pro Dock is someone who needs a lot of power and connectivity options in a single docking device. This might be creators looking to edit high-resolution media since the OWC Thunderbolt Pro Dock supports extending to a single 8K or two 4K displays.

´╗┐This person might be a multimedia editor or a data-heavy worker who needs to quickly connect to a variety of devices and networks. The ideal buyer will appreciate the 10 gigabit Ethernet port, the 85 watts of charging power, and the variety of high-speed data ports.


While modern Macs offer great versatility and portability via their sleek design, the connectivity of these modern MacBook models is lacking for many power users. This often requires the need to purchase a third-party docking station, especially for professionals who really require high speed connectivity to help aid their data-heavy workflows.

In order to accomplish this, OWC has just refreshed their Pro edition of their Thunderbolt Dock which is perfect for multimedia editors and heavy data-workers. This dock has a variety of high-speed data ports, a 10 gigabit Ethernet port, and 85 watts of charging power for users running a laptop or notebook machine.

In this review, we will take a look at the Thunderbolt Pro Dock in more detail to see how it stacks up for the price in terms of design, features, functionality and how it might be the right product for you to help improve your workflows.


Pricing

The OWC Thunderbolt Pro Dock has an MSRP of $399 which means it isn't a cheap option for the budget-conscious crowd, but it isn't meant to be either. This model has Pro in the title and for good reason. It is meant for professionals who are making a living through their work and need to utilize a full range of high-speed connectivity options to do so. Each purchase comes with a 2-year warranty from OWC.

OWC Thunderbolt Pro Dock Pricing

If you are looking for something cheaper or maybe a docking station that isn't as hardcore as this one, look into OWC's cheaper Thunderbolt 3 Dock which has an MSRP of $299 along with support for more traditional ports like a 3.5 mm audio jack. There are also even cheaper OWC Dock options with fewer ports or less impressive specifications, which are still likely plenty for the average user.


Design & Build Quality

The Thunderbolt Pro Dock has a very sleek and professional design that will fit in perfectly with any modern workspace. The exterior chassis is made of aluminum and has a black finish with white lettering. It is comparable in size to a single external hard drive enclosure and can fit easily in a small drawer for storage while not in use.

One of the nice things about this new Thunderbolt Pro Dock is that it offers a new fan-less design that keeps the accessory cool without needing to turn on any noisy fans that can interrupt your focus or audio recording workflow.

Compared to many Mac accessories like dongles and docking stations, the Thunderbolt Pro Dock definitely fits the premium build that you'd expect for the price-point. This makes it a great companion to match the high build quality and premium feel of Apple's MacBook lineup.


Connectivity Features

The OWC Thunderbolt Pro Dock offers some of the most impressive connectivity options that I'd seen on a docking solution that is so portable and quiet in operation. Here are the most notable features found on this Thunderbolt Pro model:

Front Side Ports

  • USB-A 10Gb/s port
  • SD 4.0 card slot (upside down for some reason)
  • CFexpress Type B card slot (used in modern cameras like Canon's R5)

Back Side Ports

  • (2) Thunderbolt 3 (USB-C) ports
  • USB-C 10Gb/s port
  • (2) USB-A 10Gb/s ports
  • DisplayPort 1.4
  • 10 Gigabit Ethernet

Capabilities

  • 90% faster data bandwidth (10Gb/s Ethernet port compared to 1GB/s)
  • Can daisy-chain up to 4 Thunderbolt devices
  • AVB ready for data stream synchronization
  • CFexpress Type B and SD card readers upload up to 1630 MB/s
  • Thunderbolt certified for both Windows and Mac machines
  • Connect two 4K or one 8K display via DisplayPort 1.4
  • 85W of charging power (via USB C port supporting power delivery)
  • Security slot for locking the dock down in public settings

Differences from the last generation Thunderbolt 3 Pro Dock

  • Fanless design compared to a switch to turn off an audible cooling fan
  • 85W power delivery over USB C compared to a lower 60W
  • CFexpress Type B card reader compared to a CFast 2.0 reader
  • DisplayPort 1.4 compared to Displayport 1.2
  • USB 3.2 (both Type C and Type A) compared to USB 3.1
  • eSata port is replaced with an additional USB C 3.2 port

Performance & Function

I've been using the OWC Thunderbolt Pro Dock within my workstation for the last three weeks and I have been really pleased with it so far. I was coming from using OWC's Thunderbolt 3 Dock (non-Pro version) so the usage experience has been a similar feel for me, with great potential for connectivity and high speed data transfers.

This Thunderbolt Pro docking station is highly versatile with plenty of features that I take advantage of and it helps keep my workspace free from a large assortment of individual adapters, dongles or hubs. The 85W of power delivery via USB-C keeps my MacBook Pro with plenty of juice even under heavy power loads.

So far this docking station has performed reliably and there aren't any hoops to jump through with setup as its a plug and play solution. The only thing I've downloaded is OWC's dock ejector program which is a way to safely eject your connected media without risking data loss.

As someone who does a substantial amount of photo and video editing for The Tech Reviewer as well as other projects, I loved the inclusion of the CFexpress Type B card reader. As a Canon R5 owner which relies on this media for ingesting my photos and video files, I had been on the lookout for a solid compatible card reader for this native card type without much success.

SanDisk CF Express Type B Stats OWC Dock
Some sample disk speed tests with my SanDisk Extreme Pro CFExpress Type B Card

The docking station has performed reliably, and I've had no complaints when it comes to performance. Thanks to the solid fan-less design, it runs cool even in heavy use while remaining silent, which is ideal for some creators who need quiet environments while editing or recording media.

The only real gripe I've run into was the SD card reader is upside down for some reason in my unit. At first, I thought that my SD card port was defective. Upon closer inspection, I needed to insert the card upside down to begin reading data and once I learned this, I've had no issues.

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I can appreciate the 10GB/s Ethernet port, but I haven't been able to take advantage as my home networking is capped at gigabit Ethernet ports so it's overkill for me unless your networking setup supports it (which plenty will in a high-end business or professional creative environment).

I do like the ability to have it be future-proof should I purchase a networking hardware upgrade down the line for better LAN transfer speeds, which is something that is entirely possible in the coming years.


Review Verdict

The OWC Thunderbolt Pro Dock is a great docking station for anyone who wants an easy way to connect multiple devices to their computer. It has a variety of connectivity options including a 10Gb/s Ethernet port, several USB-C 3.2 ports, Thunderbolt 3 ports, a CFexpress Type B card reader, and an SD card reader.

The dock is also Thunderbolt 3 compatible, meaning it can be used with the latest laptops and computers. The only negative aspect that I ran into is is that the SD card reader is upside down which is odd, but doesn't affect the performance. Other than that, the dock is a great choice for anyone looking for a way to connect multiple devices to their computer.