Bottom line: If you're looking for a portable docking station that is powerful enough to transfer large files with advanced speeds, take a look at the Pro Dock from OWC.
40Gb/s transfer speeds with Thunderbolt 3
Up to 370Mb/s CFast 2.0 card reader
SD 4.0 card reader
Charges up to 13-inch MacBook Pro
Multi-bay eSATA port
No audio/mic port
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Apple's laptop Macs, the MacBook Pro and the MacBook Air, are ultra-thin, ultra-light, and ultra-portable, but what they are not, is good for creative professionals when trying to move content from an external device to the Mac and then from the desktop to the internet. With nothing but two to four Thunderbolt 3 ports, you're limited by what you can plug in directly without needing some adapter help. Ideally, you'd have a good docking station for your MacBook Pro. This is where OWC's Thunderbolt 3 Pro Dock comes in really handy. It has an SD Card reader and a CFast card reader right on the front, plus three USB-A 3.0 ports, an eSATA port, two Thunderbolt 3 60W charging ports, and a DisplayPort port. Possibly the most impressive of all is that this Pro Dock has a 10Gb ethernet port.
Fastest dock around
OWC Thunderbolt 3 Pro Dock: The features
If you've ever had a GoPro or a DSLR camera that you wanted to connect to your MacBook to transfer pictures or video, you know what a pain it is to make this happen. If you're smart, you have an adapter that will let you dump your camera files onto your Mac, but it's never as easy as just plugging it in and letting the magic happen. MacBook Pro adapters usually don't offer up the transfer speeds you'd really want if you were a professional photographer or videographer. Ask most creative professionals, and they'll tell you that they do much of the heavy lifting on a desktop-like the iMac, not the MacBook Pro.
You can't easily lug your entire iMac with you on the road, however (though I've heard a rumor that MKDB does just that). What do you do when you need ultra-fast data transfer and direct-wired fast internet? You go pro with your docking station.
The OWC Thunderbolt 3 Pro Dock comes with pretty much everything you need to take your studio mobile.
- 10Gb ethernet support
- CFast card reader with speeds up to 370Mb/s
- SD 4.0 card reader
- Two Thunderbolt 3 ports with up to 40Gb/s transfer speeds
- eSATA support for multi-bay servers
- Three USB-A 3.0 ports for connecting peripherals, like an external hard drive or directly connecting a camera
The dock has a special power connector that ensures it won't accidentally disconnect if you bump it, drop it, or try to throw it across the room. It also has a fan with a switch. OWC strongly recommends keeping the fan on at all times to avoid overheating, but the switch allows you to silence the noise for audio recording needs.
The Security slot on the back is handy for locking your dock when your in areas where you don't want sticky fingers walking away with your valuable footage.
The eSATA port supports adding multiple drives within a multi-bay RAID, and the CFast and SD card readers are right on the front of the dock for quick access.
The dock is reasonably lightweight (for what it provides) and is small enough to fit into a backpack or camera bag.
The OWC logo on top glows white when it's powered on and blue when it's connected to your computer.
OWC Thunderbolt 3 Pro Dock: What I like
The most obvious features are the best ones. Having the SD card reader right in front is invaluable for quickly transferring video and photos from my camera to my Mac. One of the three USB-A ports is also on the front, so I can plug in my flash drive without fiddling about.
With two Thunderbolt 3 ports, I can connect my Mac to an external display for 4K clarity, plus connect the second one into my 13-inch MacBook Pro to charge it up (it will only trickle charge the 16/15-inch MacBook Pro because that model requires 85-watts of power).
Having 10Gb support is probably the biggest and most impressive feature of the OWC Pro Dock. When you're trying to upload files to YouTube or trying to transfer large files to or from a cloud storage service, slow internet is torturous. As long as you have a router nearby, you can connect your MacBook Pro to the internet with the fastest speeds your MacBook can handle.
OWC Thunderbolt 3 Pro Dock: What I don't like
This is definitely a pro grade dock. It's not for the everyday consumer. There isn't an HDMI port, though there is a DisplayPort port. There isn't a 3.5mm jack for dedicated headphones or computer speakers. Though the MacBook Pro has its own 3.5mm jack, for the price, I would have liked to see more port options, in general. With that in mind, I realize that this dock was designed specifically for creative pros, and this meets those specific needs very well.
Because of the premium ports (like the eSATA, CFast, and DisplayPort), this also comes at a premium price. It's not overpriced, but the high cost is something that might be too much for the average non-creative pro.
Should you buy?
OWC Thunderbolt 3 Pro Dock: Conclusion
If you're a professional photographer, videographer, or media representative in the field, the Pro Dock is your one-stop solution to many of the pain points that go along with having a MacBook Pro today. It frees up your extra Thunderbolt ports while providing high-speed transfer support for pretty much any media you want to move off of your camera or external drive and onto your Mac. The 10Gb Ethernet cable makes accessing the cloud and uploading to the internet so much easier than most docking stations for MacBook Pro.
Though the price is high, this dock is built from the ground up for pros, for which this is a reasonably priced addition to their arsenal.
Lory is a renaissance woman, writing news, reviews, and how-to guides for iMore. She also fancies herself a bit of a rock star in her town and spends too much time reading comic books. If she's not typing away at her keyboard, you can probably find her at Disneyland or watching Star Wars (or both).