Elgato Thunderbolt 3 Dock
True one-cable convenience for MacBook Pro $300 Manufacturer Elgato, elgato.com Requirements macOS 10.12 or later, Thunderbolt 3 port
The capabilities of Thunderbolt 3 enable this dock to deliver on the promise of great convenience in a way earlier models couldn’t; as you come and go, you only have to deal with one cable, which now carries power to your MacBook Pro, video to a display, and data to peripherals.
On top of that, Elgato provides a utility that sits in the menu bar, from which you can safely eject devices with a couple of clicks before unplugging your Mac. When we’ve reviewed older docks, only a few rival manufacturers recognized that this is an integral part of a dock’s convenience.
This particular dock is capable of delivering up to 85W to a computer, so you can use it even with 15-inch MacBook Pros. It took us just a couple of days to appreciate that we no longer had to carry an extra charger in case our Mac needed a top-up during the day. There’s a downside, though: the cost of this dock is considerably higher than its $199 predecessor.
When considering the dock’s value, weigh up how many ports you’ll use from day one against the cost of USB-C adapters to do the same job. (Of course, adapters have the added convenience of being portable in their own right.) And, since the dock charges your MacBook Pro, also consider that the cost of a second power adapter is $88 or $98, depending on your model.
In terms of ports, there’s little change from Elgato’s previous docks. There’s a USB 3 (Type A) port on the front, plus discrete 3.5 mm ports for a mic and headphones. At the back are two more USB 3 (Type A) ports, Gigabit Ethernet, a full-size DisplayPort (so you may need to buy a new cable), and a passthrough Thunderbolt 3 port for daisychaining more devices.
You can chain a 4K or 5K display, or even just a USB-C to Lightning cable to charge an iOS device; you’ll need to connect your Mac for the latter scenario, or switch to using a USB-A cable with one of the older ports to charge without your Mac around. And if you have an older dock and don’t have, nor plan to get, a high-res display, a Thunderbolt 2 adapter is cheaper.
the bottom line. Costly but convenient. Some docks have more ports, but Elgato’s latest is a sound investment, capped off with an app that shows consideration for how you’ll use it with a MacBook Pro. Alan Stonebridge