Elgato Thunderbolt 2 Dock For Mac
Search Wirecutter For: Search Reviews for the real world Browse Close. Browse Close. After spending more than 20 hours researching and hands-on testing with more than $4,000 worth of high-end gear, we’ve concluded that is the best option for those looking to add more inputs and outputs to their older Thunderbolt- or Thunderbolt 2-equipped computers (a few PCs but mostly Macs made between 2011 and 2015).
A dock also simplifies the process of plugging and unplugging peripherals. Our pick has five USB 3.0 ports, the most of any unit we tested, and its USB and Thunderbolt ports were as fast as or faster than those on any other dock in our tests. (We have a separate.). I was the accessories editor at for a little more than three years and have been covering accessories at Wirecutter for a little longer than that. During my tenure, I’ve reviewed more than 1,000 iOS and Mac products, including numerous docking stations over several iterations of this guide.
Wirecutter editor Dan Frakes—who also helped with the testing for this guide—spent more than a decade reviewing gear and coordinating accessory coverage at Macworld. I also spoke to Roman Loyola, a senior editor at Macworld who has covered technology since the early 1990s and who wrote a comprehensive guide comparing Thunderbolt docks. Who needs this.
If you have a computer with a Thunderbolt port and want to connect several peripherals to that computer using a single cable, a Thunderbolt dock is for you. This guide is for computers with Thunderbolt 1 and 2, which uses a Mini DisplayPort connector and was mainly found on Macs introduced between 2011 and 2015. (If you have a Mac from 2016 or later, or a newer PC with Thunderbolt, you have Thunderbolt 3, which uses a USB-C connector; you want our guide to.) A dock can help you if your computer doesn’t have enough ports and connections or if those connections are inconveniently located.
If you use a laptop as your main computer and regularly move that laptop to and from a desk with multiple peripherals—drives, input devices, a printer or scanner, and even an external display—you can leave all of those accessories plugged into the dock so when you sit down at your desk, you can simply plug a single Thunderbolt cable into the laptop to connect everything instantly. Our testing shows that if you already have a Thunderbolt 1 dock, you don’t need to upgrade to a Thunderbolt 2 version, as no consumer-level devices come close to maxing out even Thunderbolt 1.
A dock is different from a hub, which simply gives you more of a single type of port. We haven’t seen any Thunderbolt hubs, but since Thunderbolt lets you daisy-chain peripherals, one Thunderbolt port is theoretically all you need to hook up all of your Thunderbolt accessories. If you have an older computer with Thunderbolt 2 but plan to eventually upgrade your computer, you should be able to use any Thunderbolt 3 dock with. Performance will be limited to Thunderbolt 2 speeds (and you won’t be able to charge a laptop or use DisplayPort displays through the adapter), but you won’t have to upgrade your dock when you upgrade the computer. Thunderbolt 1 and 2 accessories are interoperable, and the two standards use the same cable.
Our testing shows that if you already have a Thunderbolt 1 dock, you don’t need to upgrade to a Thunderbolt 2 version, as no consumer-level devices come close to maxing out even Thunderbolt 1. (The exception: if you need to drive a 4K display—you need Thunderbolt 2.) If you have a Thunderbolt 1 or 2 dock that fits your needs but you upgrade to a new computer that has only Thunderbolt 3, may allow you to continue using it without having to pay for a whole new dock. How we picked and tested.
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A great Thunderbolt dock extends the functionality of the computer that it’s connected to by offering the most additional connections at the fastest speeds. These docks are particularly useful for computers that have a limited number and variety of ports—a single cable from the dock to the computer adds a ton of functionality—but they’re also useful as a way to make connecting peripherals to a computer more convenient. Thunderbolt docks have always been somewhat niche, so you won’t find all that many. We tested every dock available starting in August 2015 and tested new models as they became available.
We tested the docks with a mid-2015, 15-inch MacBook Pro using these procedures:. USB-A: We ran speed tests using. To measure how fast each dock could charge other devices, we connected an iPad Air 2 and read the power draw with. Thunderbolt 2: We ran AJA System Test speed tests using. HDMI: We connected each of the docks via HDMI to a with the resolution set to 4K; we repeated this test using a Mini DisplayPort–to–DisplayPort cable from each dock’s Thunderbolt port to the display. DisplayPort/Mini DisplayPort: We connected each of the docks via DisplayPort to a with the resolution set to 4K and used to verify the refresh rate.
Elgato Thunderbolt 2
Audio: We tested each dock’s audio inputs and outputs by plugging microphone-equipped headphones into each of the dock’s audio jacks, making sure the input or output source was properly set in macOS and monitoring the resulting audio levels. FireWire: We connected an SSD-equipped version of and measured the transfer speed using.
Ethernet: We verified the connection speed in Network Utility on a Mac, which displays the link speed. The best Thunderbolt 2 dock: OWC Thunderbolt 2 Dock.
The OWC dock has a total of 12 ports: five USB 3.0 ports (two on the side, three on the back), two Thunderbolt 2 ports (one for connecting to the computer, and the other for connecting Thunderbolt peripherals), HDMI, Gigabit Ethernet, audio in, audio out, and FireWire 800. Like every other dock we tested, it relies on an external power supply. Most Thunderbolt 2 docks we tested include just three USB ports; the OWC’s extra USB ports, along with the FireWire 800 port, give you additional options for connecting and charging accessories. Though FireWire 800 has long since been depreciated, it used to be common on external hard drives aimed at Mac owners (who are similarly more likely to buy a Thunderbolt 2 Dock because the port was mainly found on Macs); eSATA, present on some other docks, has more limited appeal, as fewer consumer-level drives or accessories use that port.
All the Thunderbolt 2 docks we tested performed essentially identically, so which to choose depends largely on features and price. OWC’s dock did very well in our speed tests, though none of the models we tested did badly. Its Thunderbolt read and write speeds were right around the average: 323 MB/s versus the average of 321.4 MB/s for read, and 262.9 MB/s versus the average of 264 MB/s for write.
The USB 3.0 read and write speeds were also in the same ballpark: The read speed of 304.6 MB/s was slightly less than the 310.5 MB/s average of all the docks, but the write speed was higher at 254.7 MB/s compared with 250.7 MB/s. The bottom line is that all the Thunderbolt 2 docks we tested performed essentially identically, so which to choose depends largely on features and price. The size of our pick compared with a 2015 15-inch MacBook Pro with Retina display. Photo: Nick Guy On the other hand, the OWC dock’s USB 3.0 ports provide a higher total current than the competition’s, making the OWC better suited to charging smartphones, tablets, and other accessories. Its two side-facing ports provide up to 1.5 amps, which isn’t particularly impressive compared with, many of which provide up to 2.4 amps per port, but is a match for the USB ports on any other dock. The three USB ports on the back of the OWC dock put out up to 1 amp. Together, the five ports offer a total of 6 amps, compared with 4.5 amps for the dock with the next-highest output.
The OWC dock in action. Photo: Michael Hession The other tests we conducted didn’t produce terribly exciting results, but they did prove that the OWC dock lives up to its claims. 30 Hz 4K video via HDMI? Gigabit Ethernet speeds?
Audio in and out? Check and check. (We couldn’t compare this dock’s FireWire speeds with any other dock’s because no other dock had that port, but the average throughput of 81.4 MB/s read and 76.1 MB/s write are just a hair below the standard’s maximum throughput.) We didn’t find many in-depth reviews of the OWC Thunderbolt 2 Dock, but those we did find were generally positive. A says, “Compared to the other docks in this roundup, OWC offers a whole lot of dock” for its price. When we spoke to Roman Loyola, the author of that Macworld review, he reiterated that he liked how you get so much for your money with the OWC dock.
Flaws but not dealbreakers The OWC Thunderbolt 2 Dock doesn’t come with a Thunderbolt cable, but OWC sells a that’s highly rated and reasonably priced. (Unfortunately, that adds $35 or so to the price, and you won’t find a third-party option for much cheaper.) An earlier version of the OWC Thunderbolt 2 Dock exhibited intermittent connection issues, both for us and for some Wirecutter readers. The company updated the dock in late 2016, and over several months of testing the current version, we found that the issue seemed to be fixed.
Runner-up: Elgato Thunderbolt 2 Dock. Doesn’t have as many ports as our top pick, but the ports it does have are just as fast. It has a USB 3.0 port and separate audio input and output jacks on the front; turn it around and you’ll find two additional USB 3.0 ports, two Thunderbolt 2 ports, HDMI, and Gigabit Ethernet. One advantage the Elgato dock has is that it comes with a Thunderbolt cable (something you pay extra for with the OWC dock). Elgato also provides a software utility for both Mac and Windows that lets you eject all connected peripherals at once.
If the OWC goes out of stock or you don’t need FireWire 800 or extra USB ports, the Elgato is a good buy. The competition. Performed well in our tests overall: It had the slowest average Thunderbolt write speeds, but the difference was small enough that it shouldn’t determine your buying decision. On the other hand, it has fewer USB ports than our top pick, and though it offers eSATA, we don’t find that connection to be important for most people—especially the Mac users more likely to buy a Thunderbolt 2 dock. We do like the size and shape of this one: Unlike most Thunderbolt 2 docks, this model stands vertically, so it takes up less space on a desk.
Originally seemed to be a great alternative for about the same price as the OWC dock, and it was our former runner-up. Its port array is a little different—we’d say it’s less impressive—but it has the second-most USB ports of any dock out there.
To our disappointment, it exhibited the same kind of disconnection issues as the original OWC dock over long-term testing. We ruled out before the testing phase simply based on ports. It offers only two Thunderbolt ports, two USB 3.0 ports, two eSATA ports, and a FireWire 800 connection. Compared with the other models we tested at around the same price, it was simply lacking.
Is more expensive than any Thunderbolt dock we tested and has no compelling advantages. Is appealing at first glance, but our testing revealed some problems. It has just three USB 3.0 data ports, with a fourth USB port for high-speed charging—but only to around 1.7 amps, not 2.1 amps or 2.4 amps as we prefer. It also has no FireWire or eSATA ports, but it does include the rest of the expected connectors. Although we experienced no disconnections during our testing, we found that our monitor took longer to wake up with this model than with the OWC dock. We also heard a frequent and annoying popping sound from connected speakers; the problem persisted even after we switched to a different cable.
New: Up to 2x 4K No-compromise displays Elgato Thunderbolt 3 Dock features a built-in DisplayPort that can drive any display up to 4K resolution. Whether you're looking for a professional-grade setup to meet your standards of color reproduction, a non-glare solution to cope with reflections in your office, or a display that surpasses all others in size, benefit from built-in versatility that meets your demands. Better yet, simultaneously connect a second 4K display to the USB-C port and enjoy unmatched productivity, without compromise. Stand-alone Charging No-compromise power Providing up to 85 W of power, Elgato Thunderbolt 3 Dock charges your MacBook Pro or Windows notebook via the same cable you use to connect it. Gone are the days of lugging around your power brick, or running out of juice if you forgot to pack it. Your USB devices will also benefit from superior power management: USB-C accessories are always properly powered with up to 15 W, while the built-in USB 3.0 ports can even charge your iPad, boost your iPhone charge, or power your Apple SuperDrive.
And don’t think twice if you need to shut down or head out – Elgato Thunderbolt 3 Dock will charge your devices regardless of whether your computer is off or disconnected. No-compromise versatility. Elgato Thunderbolt 3 Dock offers two Thunderbolt 3 ports: one to connect and charge your computer, and one to extend the versatility of Thunderbolt even further. Connect cutting-edge accessories such as a 5K Thunderbolt 3 display, an ultra-fast storage solution, or an adapter for your legacy Thunderbolt 2 devices. And thanks to the versatility of USB-C, you can also opt to connect your USB accessories or an additional display to the same port – just as you would on your MacBook Pro or Windows laptop, minus the cable mess. No-compromise access.
With three SuperSpeed USB 3.0 ports, your workspace remains organized even when you unplug your notebook. Rest assured that your backup drive is there to provide safety in the background, and don't keep re-plugging your devices in and out because of your computer's limitations. Even better, an easily accessible USB port on the front of Elgato Thunderbolt 3 Dock makes plugging in that client's thumb drive a breeze, without having to deal with adapters or unreliable connections.