The Finest Thunderbolt Three Docks for Your MacBook Professional

While the modern MacBook Pro is powerful and portable, there are times when you need more of a desktop setup with a larger monitor and tons of peripherals.

Thanks to Thunderbolt 3 technology, you can enjoy the best of both worlds. While the ports are the same as USB-C, there are some significant differences between Thunderbolt 3 and USB-C.

Thunderbolt 3 docks plug into a compatible port and can solve the dongle dilemma by offering USB, HDMI, and many other connections. We're introducing some of the best Thunderbolt 3 docks that you can use to turn your MacBook Pro into a desktop workstation.

With the Plugable Thunderbolt 3 Dock, you don't have to worry about getting enough power to your MacBook. It offers up to 96 watts of power, enough to charge any model at full speed. Another great option is the dual monitor design. The dock has two HDMI and DisplayPorts so you can easily use a monitor without the need for an external adapter.

To fit the dock into your workspace, you can orient it either horizontally or vertically. There are a total of 14 ports on the docks, including five USB 3.0 ports. The front of the dock provides quick access to a microSD and SD card slot, a USB-C port, a 10 Gbit / s USB-A port and an audio input / output socket.

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main features

  • 96 W of power can charge any MacBook model at full speed
  • Provides flexibility in using HDMI or DisplayPort
  • Five USB 3.0 ports

Specifications

  • Brand: Pluggable
  • Connection: Lightning 3
  • Ports: Thunderbolt 3, HDMI, DisplayPort, USB-C, USB-A 3.0, Gigabit Ethernet, audio input / output, SD / microSD

benefits

  • Two year guarantee
  • The dock can be oriented either horizontally or vertically

disadvantage

  • Expensive compared to other options

An excellent all-round choice is the Anker PowerExpand Elite. It has an output of 85W that can charge most MacBooks at full speed. You can even quickly charge your iPhone using the 18W USB-C port with a compatible Lightning cable.

If you don't have enough monitors in your work area, you can use three external monitors at the same time via the dock. Another big plus is the dock's SD and microSD card reader. The dock has a total of 13 ports. Anker grants a warranty of 18 months on the dock.

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main features

  • The 18 watt USB-C port can quickly charge your iPhone
  • 85 watts from the Thunderbolt 3 port can charge most MacBooks at full speed
  • SD and microSD card readers

Specifications

  • Brand: anchor
  • Connection: Lightning 3
  • Ports: Thunderbolt 3, HDMI, USB-C, USB-A 3.0, Gigabit Ethernet, audio input / output, SD / microSD

benefits

  • Can connect up to three displays
  • 18 months guarantee

disadvantage

  • Requires an external adapter to use the DisplayPort monitor

Docking stations aren't just intended for home use. The CalDigit Thunderbolt 3 Mini Dock is perfect for on the go. Just plug the built-in Thunderbolt 3 cable into your MacBook Pro and you're good to go. No additional power plug is required. And instead of having to deal with dodgy or non-existent hotel WiFi, the dock has Gigabit Ethernet connectivity.

With its two HDMI connections, you can easily connect up to two 4K displays at 60 Hz at the same time. There is also a USB-A 3.0 and a USB-A 2.0 port for additional legacy devices. A version of the dock with two DisplayPorts, a single USB 3.0 port and Gigabit Ethernet is also available. Both types are made of aluminum so that the dock can withstand the tough driving conditions.

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main features

  • Two HDMI ports for two simultaneous 4K displays
  • Two different types available
  • Gigabit Ethernet connectivity

Specifications

  • Brand: CalDigit
  • Connection: Lightning 3
  • Ports: HDMI, USB-A 2.0, USB-A 3.0, Gigabit Ethernet

benefits

  • Does not require a power plug
  • Made from aluminum for extra protection when traveling

disadvantage

  • Doesn't have as many ports as other options

When using the CalDigit TS3 Plus Thunderbolt 3 dock, you don't have to worry about a power supply module and a cable. The dock offers up to 85 watts of power, more than enough for most MacBook Pro models at full power. An additional Thunderbolt 3 port offers up to 15 watts of power for downstream devices.

There are a total of 15 ports on the dock, including five USB-A 3.1 ports and two USB-C 3.1 ports. Thanks to a DisplayPort 1.2 connection, you can connect two 4K monitors at 60 Hz or a single 5K 60 Hz display. You can connect directly to an amplifier, loudspeaker or home theater receiver using a digital optical audio connection.

There is also an SD card reader for transferring photos and videos. Other connections are audio input / output and Gigabit Ethernet. As a nice touch, you can use two sets of feet to place the dock horizontally or vertically on a desk.

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main features

  • 15 ports
  • 85 watts of power to charge most MacBook Pro models at full speed
  • Gigabit Ethernet port

Specifications

  • Brand: CalDigit
  • Connection: Lightning 3
  • Ports: Thunderbolt 3, DisplayPort USB-C, USB-A 3.0, Gigabit Ethernet, audio input / output, SD, digital optical audio

benefits

  • SD reader for transferring photos and videos
  • Can be placed in a horizontal or vertical orientation

disadvantage

  • Big size isn't made for travel

For a small workspace or when traveling, take a look at the Belkin Thunderbolt 3 Dock Core. The Thunderbolt 3 cable weighs less than a pound and is plugged in so it is always connected to the dock.

As a great benefit to save space, you can plug your laptop's power cord into the USB-C power inlet on the dock. The dock has seven connections, including a DisplayPort and an HDMI input for two monitors as well as a Gigabit Ethernet connection.

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main features

  • Offers a DisplayPort and an HDMI connection
  • Connect up to two 4K monitors at 60 Hz
  • Powered by your laptop

Specifications

  • Brand: Belkin
  • Connection: Lightning 3
  • Ports: DisplayPort, HMDI, Gigabit Ethernet, USB-A, audio output

benefits

  • Small and portable
  • The Thunderbolt 3 connector is attached to the dock and cannot be removed

disadvantage

  • Not as many ports as larger dock options

The OWC Thunderbolt 3 Pro Dock has multiple ports that are difficult to find on other docks. An eSATA connector enables access to external drives with multiple slots. Another great feature is a CFast 2.0 card reader that can import media at up to 370MB / s on the front of the dock.

The device offers an output of 60 watts. This is the maximum performance for a 13-inch MacBook Pro. You can connect two 4K monitors or a 5K display via the DisplayPort 2.1 connection. Other ports are three USB-A 3.1 ports, an SD card slot, a 10 GB Ethernet port, a security slot and two Thunderbolt 3 ports.

A fan switch allows you to work temporarily without noise from the dock. The dock's power connector is designed to be secure so that there are no unexpected interruptions.

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main features

  • Security slot to protect the dock from theft when using the correct hardware
  • eSATA connector for accessing multi-bay drives

Specifications

  • Brand: OWC
  • Connection: Lightning 3
  • Ports: Thunderbolt 3, DisplayPort, USB-A 3.0, Gigabit Ethernet, SD, CFast 2.0, security slot

benefits

  • Secure power connection
  • Can temporarily turn off the dock fan

disadvantage

  • Not enough to deliver maximum performance for larger MacBooks

If one of your main drivers for buying a dock is using multiple monitors, check out the StarTech.com TB3DK2DHV Thunderbolt 3 Dock. The dock offers three monitor connection options with two DisplayPorts as well as an HDMI and a VGA option.

You can use two 4K 60Hz monitors at the same time. Other ports on the dock are Gigabit Ethernet and two USB-A 3.0 ports. The dock delivers 85 watts of power, more than enough to fully charge most MacBooks.

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main features

  • VGA, DisplayPort and HDMI options
  • Two USB-A 3.0 ports
  • Gigabit Ethernet port

Specifications

  • Brand: StarTech.com
  • Connection: Lightning 3
  • Ports: Thunderbolt 3, USB-A 3.0, Ethernet, VGA, DisplayPort, HDMI

benefits

  • Two DisplayPorts
  • Provides up to 85 watts of power for your MacBook

disadvantage

  • No additional Thunderbolt 3 ports

FAQ

Q: Are Thunderbolt 3 and USB-C the same?

While a Thunderbolt 3 and a USB-C port are optically identical, the two technologies differ. Thunderbolt 3 offers two main advantages: First, Thunderbolt 3 enables data transmission at speeds of up to 40 Gbit / s. That's twice as fast as the 20 Gbps of USB-C.

Thunderbolt 3 offers a few other benefits, including the ability to power other devices and share and share video for two 4K monitors or a single 5K monitor over a single cable.

Q: What is a Thunderbolt 3 Dock?

With a Thunderbolt 3 Dock, you can get the most out of the technology. You connect the dock to a single Thunderbolt 3 dock on your Mac. Then you can use a variety of ports and other functions of the dock.

Q: Can you use Daisy Chain Thunderbolt 3 docks?

Another major advantage of Thunderbolt 3 is that you can daisy-chain multiple docks. That said, you can plug one Thunderbolt 3 dock into another dock and both will work fine. The ability to daisy chain is definitely useful if your Mac only has a single Thunderbolt 3 port.

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About the author

Brent Dirks
(161 articles published)

Brent was born and raised in sunny west Texas. He graduated from Texas Tech University with a BA in Journalism. He has been writing about technology for over 5 years and enjoys everything Apple, accessories, and security related.

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