Review: OWC 14-Port Thunderbolt 3 Dock
While Apple’s new custom chips in the latest MacBook Pros, Mac Minis, and iMacs are extremely impressive in terms of boosting performance, reducing power consumption, and providing a smooth computing experience on every level, many users find that they simply need more ports than can be reasonably fit on a laptop without making the device thick and unwieldy. Fortunately for those users, Other World Computing, which has a long history of providing upgraded solutions for Apple’s devices, has just what the doctor ordered: 14 extra ports to help you make the most of your Mac!
Overview and Design
With a sleek design packing a total of 14 expansion ports, including 5 USB-A ports, 2 Thunderbolt 3 ports, 1 USB-C (USB 3.1 Gen 2) port, ethernet, and Mini DisplayPort, as well as optical audio out, a traditional headphone jack, and separate SD and MicroSD slots, the dock has plenty of connectivity options, and its sleek form factor makes it portable enough to carry around, while not compromising on power delivery or available options.
Speaking of power delivery: as an update to OWC’s previous Thunderbolt 3 dock, this new 14-port version keeps the same sleek form factor while increasing power delivery from 60w to 85w, making it more suitable for powering larger MacBooks. In terms of materials: the device is made of the same type of high-quality aluminum casing that your MacBook Pro’s shell has been made of for years, with a glossy black top that adds a bit of extra class to your desk.
Each of the dock’s ports are very clearly labeled in white, professional font that does not scratch off or remove easily (meaning you don’t have to baby it at the risk of the ports eventually losing their labels), and its 1.2 pound heft, combined with its roughly 9 x 3.5 x 1-inch form factor, give it a very solid feel and an impression of quality and durability. And finally, for those who may need more than the 14 ports provided by OWC’s Thunderbolt 3 dock, the thoughtful inclusion of a secondary Thunderbolt 3 port carries a lot of weight, meaning you can chain several (up to 5) additional Thunderbolt 3 devices to its chain if you need to add things like HDMI, specialized video out, and so forth.
In the “nailing the little things” department, it’s also worth nothing that the rubber feet on bottom of the dock are very good at their jobs – these, combined with the heft of the dock, provide exceptional grip to prevent the dock from sliding around your desk.
Speed and Performance
In my testing, I found that each of the data ports performed as expected, if not slightly better than average depending on the port. For example, I was able to consistently pull both read and write speeds of 500 MB/s to 550MB/s over the fastest USB-C port (10GB/s rated), and well over 30oMB/S over USB-A. I was unable to find a device in my current hardware arsenal capable of maxing out the Thunderbolt 3 interface, as expected.
Unlike competing docks from other brands, such as HyperMac, the OWC 14-Port includes a 180-watt power brick as standard rather than considering it as an option accessory (which, to be honest, never made sense to me for any company selling a premium Thunderbolt dock – that power availability is crucial for performance). It also includes the Thunderbolt 3 cable you will need to connect it to your device, which has not always historically been the case with Thunderbolt-based devices.
Further, for devices that support multiple video outputs (every MacBook Pro or MacBook Air in recent history, with the exception of those with the original M1 chip, which requires some hackery to make this work), the ability to use both a Mini DisplayPort and a secondary Thunderbolt port concurrently allows you to sport up to 3 full-size displays – and unlike docks that do not ship with external power hardware, the OWC dock is powerful enough to employ every single port simultaneously without breaking a sweat. Your MacBook will peak before the OWC does.
Other Thoughts and Considerations
While the dock is technically portable, as stated in my first section, it’s not the sort of think you will want to carry around from place to place frequently – the power brick and dock combined add up to a lot of bulk and heft. However, on that same token, it still remains portable enough to place in the front of a laptop back for, say, moving your setup to a new desk.
Further, while the dock is definitely packed with a host of ports, one that is notably absent is HDMI. While some would consider this a glaring omission, I’m not so convinced – even without HDMI, the dock has a balanced selection of video output options, and a very generous overall assortment of ports. While it is always true for every connectivity device that it could do more, add more, and have more, OWC’s design considerations in reference to the dock’s size and power consumption were intelligently considered.
Wrapping it Up: Verdict and Conclusions
All things considered, between the excellent transfer speed across all ports, the wide selection of ports available, the build quality, and the overall fit and finish of the OWC 14-Port Dock, I consider it one of my most valued desktop accessories – and it just happens to look pretty great sitting on my desk as well! For everything from device charging to data transfers to having a hard-wired ethernet port on hand at all times, this is a dock we could recommend to any professional in need of greater general connectivity on any Mac or Windows notebook (or desktop, for that matter).
Overall, we give the OWC 14-Port Thunderbolt 3 Dock 4.5 out of 5 stars. The OWC 14-Port Thunderbolt 3 Dock is available now for $299 and can be purchased directly from the Other World Computing website.