MacRumors Giveaway: Win a TS3 Plus Thunderbolt 3 Dock From CalDigit

For this week's giveaway, we've teamed up with CalDigit to offer MacRumors readers a chance to win a Thunderbolt Station 3 Plus dock, which offers 15 ports for Apple's Thunderbolt 3-compatible Macs.


Priced starting at $299.99, the TS3 Plus can replace all of your other dongles because of the sheer number of ports that it offers. Available in both silver and a new space gray option, the TS3 Plus will match Apple's devices.

Design wise, the TS3 Plus, which is designed to be a desktop dock, is made from aluminum with ribbing on the sides, and it can be positioned either horizontally or vertically to work with any desk setup.


At the front and back, the dock includes two Thunderbolt 3 ports, an SD card reader, five USB-A ports, one USB-C Gen. 1 port, one USB-C Gen. 2 port, a DisplayPort 1.2 port, a Digital Optical Audio port, Audio In & Out, and a Gigabit Ethernet port.

The included USB-C Gen. 1 port offers 5Gb/s throughput, while the USB-C Gen. 2 port offers 10Gb/s throughput, ideal for high-performance SSDs.


The TS3 Plus provides 85W of charging power so it's able to charge Apple's 15-inch MacBook Pro models, along with the 13-inch 61W models with an included Thunderbolt 3 cable. It supports one 60Hz 5K display via Thunderbolt 3 or two 60Hz 4K displays using the DisplayPort and Thunderbolt 3 connections.


CalDigit's TS3 Plus is compatible with 2016 and later 13 and 15-inch MacBook Pro models that support Thunderbolt 3, the 2017 iMac models, and the iMac Pro. We have two of the CalDigit docks to give away.

To enter to win, use the Rafflecopter widget below and enter an email address. Email addresses will be used solely for contact purposes to reach the winners and send the prizes. You can earn additional entries by subscribing to our weekly newsletter, subscribing to our YouTube channel, following us on Twitter, or visiting the MacRumors Facebook page.

Due to the complexities of international laws regarding giveaways, only U.S. residents who are 18 years or older and Canadian residents (excluding Quebec) who have reached the age of majority in their province or territory are eligible to enter. To offer feedback or get more information on the giveaway restrictions, please refer to our Site Feedback section, as that is where discussion of the rules will be redirected.

a Rafflecopter giveaway
The contest will run from today (September 7) at 11:00 a.m. Pacific Time through 11:00 a.m. Pacific Time on September 14. The winners will be chosen randomly on September 14 and will be contacted by email. The winners will have 48 hours to respond and provide a shipping address before new winners are chosen.


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Review: CalDigit’s Thunderbolt 3 Mini Docks Let You Connect to Dual 4K Displays Wherever You Go

Last month, CalDigit debuted a pair of Thunderbolt 3 mini Docks, offering the ability to connect dual 4K 60Hz displays, Ethernet, and USB all from one travel-sized accessory that doesn't require its own external power source. Available in dual DisplayPort and dual HDMI versions, CalDigit's Thunderbolt 3 mini Docks are a convenient way to make sure you can easily connect to multiple high-resolution displays wherever you go.


I've had an opportunity to test out both versions of the dock, and I came away impressed with their performance, compactness, and usefulness in making sure you have the connectivity you need available away from your usual workplace.

Design


Both versions of the Thunderbolt 3 mini Dock have the same primarily aluminum design with plastic on the two long edges where the ports line one side and the short built-in Thunderbolt 3 cable exits the other side. The aluminum is an attractive gray that's significantly darker than Apple's Space Gray shades, and there is a CalDigit logo on the top of the dock. The bottom includes a pair of non-skid strips to help keep the dock stable.


Both docks measure just under 5 inches long by about 2.5 inches deep and 0.75 inches thick. That makes them just a bit smaller but considerably thicker than an iPhone 8, and at a little over 5 ounces they're just about the same weight as an iPhone 8 as well. Overall that makes them much smaller and lighter than a desktop Thunderbolt 3 dock, and they don't require a massive power brick (or any external power beyond the Thunderbolt cable), so they're very transportable.

The two versions each include a Gigabit Ethernet port, a 5 Gbps Type-A USB 3.0 port, and a pair of either DisplayPort 1.2 or HDMI 2.0 ports. The HDMI model also includes a second Type-A USB port, although it is limited to 480 Mb/s USB 2.0.

Performance


I tested the performance of both docks using an array of accessories and found solid performance. Both the DisplayPort and HDMI versions offered smooth video performance while connected to dual 4K displays running at 60 Hz with no lag or visual artifacts. You'll want to choose the version that best fits your display needs, but keep in mind that the DisplayPort model can also drive non-DisplayPort monitors such as DVI, Mini DisplayPort, or VGA, as long as you don't mind dongles for your dongle.


USB 3.0 speeds were fast, with a CaDigit Tuff external SSD registering speeds of 360 MB/s read and 340 MB/s write when connected to a MacBook Pro through the docks. That's a little slower than a direct connection to a 5 Gbps USB port on a Mac, but in line with performance seen when connecting through other docks and hubs. You'll be lucky to get much more than one-tenth of those speeds when connecting over the USB 2.0 port on the HDMI version of the mini dock, so you'll want to limit that port to mice, keyboards, and other peripherals where you're not trying to move a lot of data quickly.


While there are a number of bus-powered USB-C hubs and docks on the market that offer an array of ports and other options, CalDigit has opted to use Thunderbolt 3's capabilities to focus on the external display connectivity and include only a bare minimum of additional ports.

CalDigit says this is in part an effort to remain within the Thunderbolt 3 power specifications, which limit bus-powered devices to a total of 15 watts of draw. USB-C adapters can in some cases be limited to 7.5 watts total, but with so many available ports on many of these docks, it's easy to hit that figure and cause potential power issues. The USB 3.0 port on CalDigit's mini docks can provide up to 4.5 watts, while the USB 2.0 port on the HDMI model can deliver up to 2.5 watts.

Wrap-up


These Thunderbolt 3 mini Docks meet a specialized need, catering to those who need to connect to multiple high-resolution external displays on the go, but they do their job well. If you're primarily looking to expand the available ports on your MacBook Pro, you'll likely want to look at other options that offer a greater number and variety of ports and can perhaps run over USB-C. These port-focused USB-C hubs also tend to come in at cheaper price points, with $60 being a common figure.

But CalDigit's solution is great for users who need solid display connectivity that cheaper USB-C hubs can't match, while also offering a couple of handy extras in the form of Ethernet and USB ports. Compared to traditional desktop Thunderbolt 3 docks, CalDigit's mini docks are cheaper, easily portable, and don't require external power, so they're handy for on-the-go use.

CalDigit is currently offering the DisplayPort version of the Thunderbolt 3 mini Dock for $99.99, while the HDMI model is priced at $109.99, both a $30 discount over their eventual regular prices although CalDigit tells me it plans to offer the promotional pricing for an extended period of time. Both models are also available through Amazon, although they're priced $10 higher than buying directly from CalDigit, coming in at $109.99 for DisplayPort and $119.99 for HDMI.

Note: CalDigit provided the Thunderbolt 3 mini Docks to MacRumors free of charge for the purposes of this review. No other compensation was received. MacRumors is an affiliate partner with Amazon and may earn commissions on purchases made through links in this article.


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Review: CalDigit’s T4 RAID Offers Lots of Fast Storage, Thunderbolt 3, and 85W Charging

Popular storage and dock company CalDigit recently launched a Thunderbolt 3 version of its T4 RAID storage hub, offering demanding Mac users a four-bay setup with capacities up to 32 TB of traditional hard drive or 8 TB of SSD storage.


Compatible with Thunderbolt 3 Macs including the MacBook Pro, iMac, and iMac Pro, the T4 connects over a single cable and not only offers a storage array but can also deliver up to 85 watts of power to the host computer and supports downstream displays via Thunderbolt 3, USB-C, and DisplayPort, as well as other standards using adapters.

Installation and Setup


Setting up the T4 is straightforward, but requires that you first download CalDigit's Thunderbolt RAID Utility Installer from the company's site and get the utility installed on your system. As of macOS High Sierra, this requires an extra authorization step in the Security & Privacy section of System Preferences, but the installer walks you through the process.

With the utility installed and your computer restarted, it's just a matter of using the included 2-meter active Thunderbolt 3 cable to connect the T4 to your computer, plugging in the power cord, optionally connecting a downstream display, and starting up the T4.

Once the T4 is up and running and the drive showing on your desktop, you're ready to go. The T4 comes pre-formatted in RAID 5 to offer a combination of redundancy and performance. If you prefer a different RAID mode (0, 1, or JBOD/SPAN), you can use the CalDigit Drive Utility menu bar app to reconfigure things.

Design


The T4 has a rectangular aluminum enclosure that measures 9.5 inches deep, 5.8 inches high, and 5.3 inches wide. The sides are ribbed to aid in heat dissipation, while the top is smooth with a CalDigit logo. The front of the T4 is dominated by the four drive modules, and underneath you'll see a power button, a blue LED that lights up when the T4 is fully powered up, and then four additional blue LED status for the four drives. These illuminate when data is being written to or read from the specific drive. At the far right of the bottom front is an air intake.


On the rear of the T4. You'll find a fairly large exhaust fan opening covered by a grille, as well as a Kensington security lock slot, two Thunderbolt 3 ports, a DisplayPort port, and the connection for the power adapter. The power adapter is quite bulky, but that's unsurprising given the hardware it needs to power in the T4 itself and the extra 85 watts it needs to be able to deliver to the host computer. Overall, it's capable of putting out 230 watts.

With the enclosure, electronics, and all the drive modules, this is a heavy beast checking in at 13 pounds, so once you set this up, it's going to stay there.


Drive Speed


Thunderbolt 3 offers terrific data throughput possibilities, but the speeds you see will depend on other limiting factors. The biggest one is obviously SSD versus traditional hard drive. An SSD setup will obviously be much faster, but it's still expensive and maxes out at only 8 TB of total storage. If you need more storage and can put up with somewhat slower speeds, the traditional hard drives are the way to go.

My 32 GB review unit came with 7200 rpm Toshiba N300 drives, which are well-regarded storage drives optimized for NAS storage setups. Configured in RAID 5 out of the box, I saw read and write speeds of around 500 MB/s, which is pretty solid performance that takes advantage of that RAID configuration's ability to write to multiple drives simultaneously.

RAID 5 speed test

Switching to a RAID 1 setup where all of the data is mirrored across each drive for maximum redundancy, I saw write speeds around 175 MB/s and read speeds of roughly 270 MB/s.

RAID 1 speed test

CalDigit uses proprietary drive modules that make it easy to swap in and out while preventing accidental removal. A pin hole on the front of the module pops out lever that allows you to slide the module out of its bay in the T4. For additional security, a drive lock can also be turned to prevent the pin release from operating. CalDigit's drives are compatible across products, so if you have a RAID 1 or JBOD module in your T4, you can pull it out and transfer it straight to either an AV Pro 2 or the company's previous Thunderbolt 2 T4 model.

Display Connectivity


I connected an UltraFine 5K display to the extra Thunderbolt port on the T4, and experienced no lag or other issues on the display. The Thunderbolt 3 port allows for displays up to 5K running at 60 Hz, but lower resolutions are of course also supported, as are USB-C displays. Other types of displays can be connected to the Thunderbolt port by using a USB-C video adapter.

Alternatively, the DisplayPort port supports up to 4K displays running at 60 Hz, and active adapters can be used to connect other display types such as HDMI, Mini DisplayPort, VGA, or DVI. Dual displays running at up to 4K and 60 Hz each are supported using the DisplayPort and Thunderbolt ports simultaneously, along with any required adapters.

Unfortunately, the T4 must be at least in standby mode in order for connected displays to function, and that means an internal fan runs either continually or cycling on and off every few minutes. It's not nearly as loud as when it's in full feature mode with the drives mounted, but it's definitely noticeable in a quiet office or bedroom. The SSD model of the T4 should run significantly quieter in general, given the lack of moving parts and significantly less heat generated.

CalDigit Drive Utility


The Drive Utility app is a persistent menu bar application, which offers convenient access to drive management functions. You can use it to check on the status and health of each drive in the T4, manage RAID modes, set S.M.A.R.T. check frequencies, and configure notifications for various types of disk events like drive connect/disconnect, temperature warnings, or health issues. It even includes a built-in disk speed test function.


The app does a lot, but it doesn't look terribly pretty doing it. The app window has a jarring black outline that doesn't match the design aesthetic of macOS or most other third-party apps, while other user interface elements just a feel a bit off like the shadowing used to highlight the active tab. I'd prefer a more standard macOS look for the app, but ideally this isn't something you're going to need to use all that often, so it's a fairly minor quibble.


Capacities and Pricing


CalDigit offers several capacity options in its online store, starting at $899 for an 8 TB traditional hard drive model. Higher-capacity models are available at 12 TB ($1099), 16 TB ($1399), 24 TB ($1999), and 32 TB ($2299). If you're looking for the ultimate in speed, there's a single 8 TB SSD option available that will set you back $3499. CalDigit is also offering the T4 through Amazon, although pricing is currently higher on all models except the base 8 TB traditional hard drive model, which comes in at $799.

The T4 is a custom "hybrid RAID" solution from CalDigit combining hardware and software aspects, and it's only compatible with Macs, so be aware of that if you have any Windows PCs in your workflow.

In addition to the complete T4 packages, CalDigit offers separate drive modules in the various capacities if you want to have extras to swap in and out or if one fails. The T4 comes with a five-year warranty on the enclosure and electronics, while the drives themselves have a three-year warranty.

Keep in mind that if you plan to use RAID for redundancy, the actual capacity of your volume will be less than the total capacity of the drives. For example, in a four-disk volume like the T4 configured as RAID5, the volume size will only be 75 percent of the total capacity, as the remaining 25 percent is dedicated to parity to enable you to recover data if one of the drives fails.

Overall, the T4 Thunderbolt 3 RAID performs well and offers a nice balance of storage, redundancy, and speed from a company with a strong reputation for quality and customer support. It doesn't necessarily come cheaply and with four disks it's likely overkill for consumers just looking for backup security, but if you have a significant amount of high-value data that you want to ensure isn't lost, this definitely a RAID storage option worth considering.

Note: CalDigit provided the T4 RAID to MacRumors free of charge for the purposes of this review. No other compensation was received. MacRumors is an affiliate partner with Amazon and may earn commissions on purchases made through links in this article.


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Review: CalDigit’s ‘TS3 Plus’ Dock Gives You 15 Ports, 85W Charging, and an SD Card Reader for $250

If you've followed all of my Thunderbolt 3 dock reviews over the past year, you know that in general these docks carry a lot of the same features in slightly different combinations. But usually, there's at least one fairly important feature that's missing in each model, whether it be enough USB ports, an SD card reader, or enough power output to fully support a 15-inch MacBook Pro. Price tags pushing to $300 and beyond are also an issue for many potential customers.

So if any of those concerns resonate with you, you're going to want to read on to learn more about CalDigit's upcoming model, the Thunderbolt Station 3 Plus.


The TS3 Plus takes the original TS3 dock that I reviewed last May and addresses nearly every concern I had with it and even lowers the price during the promotional pre-order period to $250 with a 0.5-meter Thunderbolt 3 cable included. Packages with a 1.0-meter or 2.0-meter cable are also available for $270 and $280 respectively.

Design


The general design here is nearly identical to that of the earlier TS3 and even the Thunderbolt 2-based TS2 dock that preceded it. While most Thunderbolt docks have horizontal designs, CalDigit has generally opted for a boxier design that can sit either horizontally or vertically on a desk. Oriented vertically, the TS3 Plus stands just over 5 inches tall, a little under 4 inches deep, and just over an inch and a half wide, and weighs a hint over a pound. That makes it almost exactly the same size as and quite a bit lighter than the TS3.

If that's too tall for your desktop, just slide on the included pair of rubber strips for cushioning and tip the dock over on its side, and it'll fit just about anywhere. The aluminum casing has a ribbed design that gives it a bit of an industrial look while also offering some extra surface area for heat dissipation.


CalDigit touts a total of 15 ports on the TS3 Plus, with the front of the dock housing one USB-A port, one USB-C port, separate analog audio in and out ports, and even an SD card slot. A small blue LED lights up to let you know the dock is powered up and has a connection to the host computer.


Turn the TS3 Plus around and you'll find a host of other ports, including four more USB-A ports, another USB-C port, two Thunderbolt 3 ports, a DisplayPort 1.2 port, a Gigabit Ethernet port, an S/PDIF digital optical audio port, and the DC-in connection from the power supply.

USB Ports


If you did the math in the previous section, you've realized that the TS3 Plus has a total of seven USB ports. The previous TS3 had just three, while about the most I've seen in other competing docks is five. The inclusion of five USB-A and two USB-C ports and their distribution between front and back of the dock give you some great flexibility in what you can connect to this dock. The USB-C port on the rear is even a 10 Gbps USB 3.1 Gen 2 standard, the first time I've seen that in a dock I've reviewed. The remainder of the USB ports are 5 Gbps USB 3.1 Gen 1, which is the speed typically seen on these docks.

In my testing with a 10 Gbps USB 3.1 Gen 2 CalDigit Tuff external SSD and Blackmagic's speed testing software, I saw read and write speeds come in around 350 MB/s and 315 MB/s respectively through all of the 5 Mbps USB ports, both Type-A and the front Type-C style. Those are very typical speeds for these types of docks.

CalDigit Tuff connected to 5 Gbps USB-A port

Where the TS3 Plus has a leg up on the competition in the speed department is the extra Type-C 10 Gbps USB 3.1 Gen 2 port on the rear of the dock. Connecting the CalDigit Tuff to that port yielded a 45–50 percent increase in transfer speeds, coming in at around 500 MB/s read and 475 MB/s write.

CalDigit Tuff connected to rear 10 Gbps USB-C port

Other docks can match that performance if you use the downstream Thunderbolt 3 port, but then you have to sacrifice connecting a Thunderbolt 3 or USB-C display to that port. With the TS3 Plus, you can have both, and transfer speeds over the 10 Gbps USB-C port aren't impacted by also having a 5K display connected to the Thunderbolt 3 port, as there is enough bandwidth over Thunderbolt 3 to support both without compromise.

SD Card Reader


An SD card slot is another one of those features that a lot of people like to see on these docks, eliminating the need for a separate reader to plug into one of the dock's USB ports. For a long time, OWC was about the only major company to offer an SD card reader on a Thunderbolt 3 dock, but Promise Technology joined the club a few months ago with its TD-300 that I just reviewed last week.

CalDigit is now joining the club by offering an SD card reader in the TS3 Plus, and it even supports the SD 4.0 spec over a UHS-II bus interface for the faster speeds with compatible SD cards. Theoretical transfer speeds of 312 MB/s are three times that of the UHS-I bus with SD 3.0 used on other docks. The reader supports standard SD, SDHC, and SDXC cards.

Displays


As with other docks of this type, the TS3 Plus includes a pair of Thunderbolt 3 ports, one for connecting to the host computer and one for connecting other peripherals such as a Thunderbolt 3 or USB-C display. The dock can support a single 5K external display at 60 Hz over Thunderbolt 3, or a pair of 4K displays using the Thunderbolt 3 port and the DisplayPort 1.2 port. Various adapters sold separately allow the Thunderbolt 3 and DisplayPort connectors to be used with various types of displays including HDMI and DVI.

The TS3 Plus and other CalDigit Thunderbolt 3 docks support a variety of combinations of displays up to 4K from the two ports, and I experienced no issues testing with several LG 4K displays. A single LG UltraFine 5K display connected via Thunderbolt 3 also worked fine, maintaining a 60 Hz refresh rate.

It's worth noting that the two USB-C ports on the TS3 Plus, including the 10 Gbps one on the rear, are data-only, so they can not be used for connecting additional USB-C displays.

Charging


While many other Thunderbolt 3 docks offer up to 60 watts of upstream charging for a host computer, the TS3 Plus offers a full 85 watts of charging power to support even the 15-inch MacBook Pro. If you're running your 15-inch MacBook Pro under very heavy loads or you want to ensure the fastest recharge of a depleted battery, 85-watt support is a feature you definitely want to look for in a dock. Unlike some other docks, the TS3 Plus can also support charging of PCs over Thunderbolt 3.

The higher 85-watt charging power of the TS3 Plus drives up the size of the external brick, which is quite large, but many users will have the ability to hide it away behind other items on their desks or even off their desks entirely.

Nearly all of the USB ports also support pass-through charging, allowing connected devices like iPhones, iPads, and Apple Watches to charge even when the dock doesn't have an active connection to a host computer.

The TS3 Plus will also support CalDigit's downloadable drivers and software utility to boost USB power output to 1 A for slightly faster iOS device charging and to support Apple's external USB SuperDrive. The software utility is a menu bar item that makes it easy to eject all peripherals connected to the dock with a single click.

Wrap-up


Of all the Thunderbolt 3 docks I've tested so far, CalDigit's TS3 Plus is my new favorite. It has all of the features I'm looking for in a dock, including a plethora of USB ports with both Type-A and Type-C options and even a 10 Gbps Type-C port. It also has an SD card reader, 85-watt charging, and a compact footprint in either vertical or horizontal orientation. And to top it all off, it’s currently priced at just $250 during pre-orders, below the $300–$350 pricing seen on most other feature-rich docks. Pricing for the TS3 Plus will rise to $350 once the pre-order promotion ends.

The TS3 Plus does away with the pair of eSATA ports found on the original TS3, but with eSATA usage dwindling, I find it a very worthwhile tradeoff to instead make room for many more USB ports, optical audio, and an SD card reader.

The TS3 Plus begins shipping on February 20, but CalDigit will be offering pre-orders through its own site with a temporary $100 discount off the regular price. For pre-orders, the TS3 Plus with 0.5-meter Thunderbolt 3 cable is priced at $249.99, while versions with 1-meter ($269.99) and 2-meter ($279.99) cables will also be available.

It's important to note, however, that these longer lengths require active cabling in order to maintain the full 40 Gbps bandwidth and 100-watt charging maximum of Thunderbolt 3, but that also prevents compatibility with USB 3.1 and USB 3.0 standards. As a result, it's best to stick with the 0.5-meter cable that has full backwards compatibility if you can, even if it means rearranging your desk to get the dock close enough to your computer.

B&H Photo will be CalDigit's exclusive retail launch partner for the TS3 Plus, but won't be offering the pre-order discount.

In addition to the new TS3 Plus temporarily starting at $249.99, CalDigit is also dropping the price of its TS3 to $199.99, down from $299.99. CalDigit claims this makes the TS3 the first Thunderbolt 3 dock with 85-watt charging priced under $200, so be sure to check out our earlier review of the regular TS3.

Note: CalDigit provided the TS3 Plus to MacRumors free of charge for the purposes of this review. No other compensation was received. MacRumors is an affiliate partner with B&H Photo and may earn commissions on purchases made through links in this article.


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Review: CalDigit AV Pro 2 Combines External USB-C Storage With a USB Hub and 30W of Charging Power

CalDigit recently launched its AV Pro 2 storage hub, a USB-C accessory that serves not only as an external drive with up to 8 TB of storage, but also acts a peripheral hub with two additional Type-A USB 3.0 ports and can charge a connected computer at up to 30 watts.


The AV Pro 2 is available in a range of capacities in both traditional 7200 rpm hard drive and solid-state drive models, ranging from 3 TB to 8 TB for the HDD models and coming in at 1 TB or 2 TB for the SSD models. I've been able to spend time with a 3 TB HDD model, and I've come away impressed with its capabilities. Stepping up to an SSD model would offer even more performance, although at substantially higher cost and lower capacities.

Overview


The AV Pro 2 can be oriented either vertically or horizontally, with small cushioning pads provided on one of the large faces for horizontal placement. For vertical placement, CalDigit includes a clear plastic stand, also equipped with cushioning pads, to provide stability.

A large green LED power button is located on the front of the AV Pro 2, making it easy to turn the drive on and off. The LED shines steady when there is an active connection, flashes while the drive is being accessed, and turns off when the drive goes to sleep, keeping you informed of its status and helping protect against data loss. As always, you should eject the drive from your system before physically disconnecting it, and you can use either the built-in eject function in macOS or a dedicated menu bar utility from CalDigit.

MacBook Pro with AV Pro 2 and Tuff external drive

CalDigit is still in the process of finalizing the utility software for the AV Pro 2 and it should be available as a download from the company's support site "in a few weeks," although I was able to use CalDigit's existing menu bar utility for other docking stations and it worked fine with the AV Pro 2.

The AV Pro 2 itself measures 9.5 inches deep by 5.8 inches wide by 1.8 inches tall (in horizontal orientation), and weighs approximately 4.37 pounds. It's not light, as there is quite a bit of aluminum making up the enclosure and the drive module, plus the drive itself and the electronics inside the enclosure.

It certainly has a hefty feel, so this is something you're going to want to leave on a desk rather than take with you unless absolutely necessary. The enclosure is made of a silver brushed aluminum that matches Apple's Mac finishes, with aluminum ribbing along the narrow sides.

Storage Drive


One of the great features of the AV Pro 2 is the removable drive module, which is compatible with both traditional hard drives and solid-state drives in 3.5-inch form factors. The removable module, which is fairly rare in a single-drive system, offers flexibility for easily moving the drive to and from other enclosures or managing multiple drives, and is fully compatible with some of CalDigit's other storage products such as the T4 RAID array line.

Traditional hard drive options for the AV Pro 2 include 3 TB, 4 TB, 5 TB, 6 TB, and 8 TB capacities, and CalDigit advertises speeds up to 200 MB/s for these models. In my testing, the HDD model came close to that 200 MB/s mark for both read and write. CalDigit says the 1 TB and 2 TB solid-state drive models max out at 430 MB/s.


The AV Pro 2 includes support for USB attached SCSI protocol (UASP), which can improve single-drive storage device performance by allowing for simultaneous bidirectional commands and thus faster transfers.

The drives arrive pre-formatted for Mac in HFS+ format, although they can obviously be re-formatted as needed.

Swapping out the drive module is a simple two-step process involving a pair of keys provided in the box. The first step is to use the larger drive key to gently twist a drive module lock counterclockwise to unlock it, and then inserting the smaller drive pin into the release hole to release a large spring-loaded lever on the front of the module that can then be easily grasped to pull the module out.


Installing a drive module is even simpler, only requiring you to slide the module in while making sure the lever catches the rim of the enclosure opening and then snapping the lever closed. A quick twist on the module lock with the drive key secures it.

With a spinning hard drive and a small fan inside the AV Pro 2, there is a little bit of noise while the disk is active, but it's not overly distracting. When the disk goes to sleep, the AV Pro 2 is silent.

Ports


The AV Pro 2 includes a USB-C port and a USB Micro B port, both on the 5 Gbps USB 3.1 Gen 1 standard, and CalDigit includes a 0.5-meter USB-C to USB-C cable and a 1-meter USB Micro B to USB-A cable in the box to allow you to connect to both the latest USB-C/Thunderbolt 3 computers and older computers offering only legacy USB-A ports.


The AV Pro 2 also includes a mini USB hub built into it, consisting of a pair of USB 3.0 Type-A ports on the rear of the enclosure. The Type-A ports can be used to connect peripherals such as mice and keyboards, add additional hard drives, or even daisy chain more AV Pro 2 units. The USB ports also include support for Apple's external SuperDrive, and they can provide up to 1.5A/7.5W of standalone charging, so you can recharge an iPhone or other device even if the AV Pro 2 isn't connected to a computer.

I tested CalDigit's fast Tuff external SSD hooked up to one of the AV Pro 2's rear USB ports, and I saw speedy data transfers from my MacBook Pro in the range of 425 MB/s read and write. That performance is actually surprisingly fast considering the connection is only 5 Gbps USB 3.0 and has the AV Pro 2 between the Tuff and the computer.


Beyond its various USB ports, the rear of the AV Pro 2 also includes a DC-in port for the power supply connection, a vent for the small fan to keep things cool, and a Kensington lock slot if you wish to secure the AV Pro 2.

USB-C Power


While MacBook owners will appreciate the 30 watts of power the AV Pro 2 can supply to their computers over a USB-C connection, MacBook Pro owners may find it coming up a bit short depending on their usage patterns, as the 13-inch MacBook Pro can draw up to 60 watts while the 15-inch model can draw up to 87 watts at peak demand.

I did test the charging capabilities of the AV Pro 2 with a Late 2016 15-inch MacBook Pro, and over the course of a workday the AV Pro 2 was able to keep my Mac topped off at 100 percent charge. Granted, I wasn't doing any heavy lifting like video processing with my Mac, but for moderate uses the AV Pro 2 can actually keep up with or at the very least significantly slow the rate of battery discharge.

I asked CalDigit why the AV Pro 2 is limited to 30 watts of charging power, and a representative told me it was a combination of factors. For many users like myself, 30 watts is actually enough. Boosting power output to 60 or 85 watts would require a much larger power supply, and given the relatively small size of the AV Pro 2 as a single-drive storage device, a larger power supply would be an extra cost and a bit of an inconvenience. The AV Pro 2 already includes a 60-watt power adapter, with 30 watts going to the drive itself and 30 watts able to be passed through to a connected computer.

From a more general perspective, CalDigit views storage as being the primary function of the AV Pro 2, with the charging capabilities being a bonus. Under many circumstances, 30 watts will be enough to keep even a MacBook Pro topped off, but if you're putting your machine under heavy loads or need to recharge a depleted battery quickly, you'll want to use a higher-powered charger.
A customer will get the convenience of single cable charging but if they're in a rush they'll need to connect the factory charger. It's really only for instances when someone needs to charge quickly before they go somewhere. When working with the files on the AV Pro 2 or overnight charging they won't see much difference.
While tradeoffs in size and component costs are understandable, it's still a bit disappointing that the AV Pro 2 can't fully support charging a MacBook Pro over a single USB-C connection. It seems that it would likely be sufficient as an everyday power source for my needs, even with a 15-inch MacBook Pro, but it definitely wouldn't be for users with heavier workloads, and for many users it could be hard to tell until they really spend some time with it.

Wrap-up


Pricing on the AV Pro 2 starts at $249.99 for a 3 TB HDD model, with higher-capacity options available at 4 TB ($299.99), 5 TB ($349.99), 6 TB ($399.99) and 8 TB ($449.99). If you're looking for faster speeds but with lower capacities, CalDigit offers the 1 TB SSD model for $549.99 while the 2 TB SSD model costs $849.99. All models come with a one-year warranty.

CalDigit is currently offering a 15 percent discount on all capacities through November 6 simply for signing up for the company's newsletter through a pop-over on the AV Pro 2 product page.

Amazon is currently knocking $50 off of several of the lower-capacity models including 3 TB, 4 TB, and 5 TB HDD options for an even better deal, although stock is quite limited.

CalDigit also offers extra drive modules bundled with HDDs ranging from 1 TB ($109.99) to 6 TB ($349.99). Standalone SSD modules will be available in 1 TB ($449.99) and 2 TB ($749.99) capacities, and they should be added to CalDigit's site in the very near future. Each package also includes an archive box for storing and organizing extra modules.

Note: CalDigit provided the AV Pro 2 to MacRumors free of charge for the purposes of this review. No other compensation was received. MacRumors is an affiliate partner with Amazon and may earn commissions on purchases made through links in this article.


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MacRumors Giveaway: Win a Thunderbolt Station 3 From CalDigit

For this week's giveaway, we've teamed up with CalDigit to offer MacRumors a chance to win one of the company's TS3 Thunderbolt Station 3 docks.

The TS3, designed to connect to Apple's most recent Thunderbolt 3 Macs, features a sleek ribbed aluminum enclosure and adds a range of functionality to machines like the MacBook Pro with its wealth of ports.


At the back, the TS3 offers two USB 3.1 Type-A ports, two eSATA ports, a Gigabit Ethernet port, a DisplayPort, and two Thunderbolt 3 ports. At the front, there are audio in and audio out jacks, along with a third USB 3.1 Type-A port. All of the ports are accessible through a single connected Thunderbolt 3 cable, which also provides charging.


CalDigit's TS3 is one of the Thunderbolt 3 docks on the market that's able to offer full 85W charging to the 15-inch Retina MacBook Pro, so there is no compromise to be made when it comes to charging speed.

It is compatible with all Thunderbolt 3 Macs and supports a single 5K monitor or dual 4K monitors.


We reviewed the TS3 earlier this year and we were impressed with the design and the balance of features it offers, along with the 85W charging, and it's one of the only docks to offer eSATA ports.

CalDigit normally charges $250 for the TS3 Thunderbolt 3 docking station, but we have two to give to MacRumors readers. To enter to win, use the Rafflecopter widget below and enter an email address. Email addresses will be used solely for contact purposes to reach the winner and send the prize. You can earn additional entries by subscribing to our weekly newsletter, subscribing to our YouTube channel, following us on Twitter, or visiting the MacRumors Facebook page.

Due to the complexities of international laws regarding giveaways, only U.S. residents who are 18 years of age or older are eligible to enter. To offer feedback or get more information on the giveaway restrictions, please refer to our Site Feedback section, as that is where discussion of the rules will be redirected.

a Rafflecopter giveaway
The contest will run from today (October 6) at 11:00 a.m. Pacific Time through 11:00 a.m. Pacific Time on October 13. The winners will be chosen randomly on October 13 and will be contacted by email. The winners will have 48 hours to respond and provide a shipping address before new winners are chosen.


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