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

Mac|Life - - CONTENTS -

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

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