OWC Announces First Thunderbolt 3 Certified Bus-Powered Storage Enclosure

OWC today introduced the Envoy Express, which it describes as the first Thunderbolt 3 certified bus-powered storage enclosure for Macs and PCs.


Designed to support any 2280 M.2 NVMe SSD, the key benefit of the Envoy Express is that users can install their own drive in it, including OWC's Aura SSDs with up to 4TB of storage or larger-capacity options in the future.

The Envoy Express supports sustained data transfer rates of up to 1553 MB/s and has an integrated 10.2-inch Thunderbolt 3 cable.

The Envoy Express can be pre-ordered on OWC's website now for $68.

Note: MacRumors is an affiliate partner with OWC. When you click a link and make a purchase, we may receive a small payment, which helps us keep the site running.
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Apple Begins Selling Standalone 2-Meter Thunderbolt 3 Pro Cable for $129

Apple has quietly started selling its 2-meter Thunderbolt 3 cable priced at $129, offering a braided design and active cable technology that supports full Thunderbolt 3 data transfer speeds of up to 40Gb/s. This marks the first time the cable has been available as a standalone purchase, as it is otherwise only available included with the Pro Display XDR.


Featuring a black braided design that coils without tangling, this 2-meter cable supports Thunderbolt 3 data transfer up to 40Gb/s, USB 3.1 Gen 2 data transfer up to 10Gb/s, DisplayPort video output (HBR3), and charging up to 100W. Use this cable to connect a Mac with Thunderbolt 3 (USB-C) to Thunderbolt 3 devices such as Pro Display XDR, docks, and hard drives.
Passive Thunderbolt 3 cables like Apple's standard version are limited to shorter lengths of less than a meter, as they are unable to maintain maximum speeds over longer lengths. Active electronics in the cable connectors are required for longer-length cables, which adds significantly to the cost. Even so, Apple's Thunderbolt 3 Pro Cable carries a price premium over many other active cables, including an $80 Belkin one also carried by Apple.

Lengths beyond two or three meters require optical cables that are even more expensive, and optical Thunderbolt 3 cables are only just now starting to come to market with prices starting at several hundred dollars.
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Optical Thunderbolt 3 Cables Begin Rolling Out in Lengths Up to 50 Meters

The Thunderbolt 3 standard has been available for roughly four years now, but cable lengths have so far generally been limited to a couple of meters due to signal degradation over long distances of copper wiring. While the use of copper Thunderbolt 3 cables limits their length, it does allow for additional features like the ability to carry power and fallback use of USB modes at slower speeds.

Areca's 30-meter optical Thunderbolt 3 cable

There is an alternative to copper cables that allows for longer cable lengths, and that's optical fiber cables, which use light to transmit signals over long distances with high fidelity. While there have been optical versions of Thunderbolt 1 and 2 cables, the Thunderbolt 3 standard has been very slow in seeing optical cables come to market.

The market for optical Thunderbolt cables is relatively small given their expense and the fact that the vast majority of users have no need to run cables longer than a couple of meters, but for those who do need long cables, the wait for Thunderbolt 3 cables has been a long one.

That wait finally appears to be coming to an end, however, as we're starting to see signs of the cables coming to market. Taiwanese company Areca has recently launched optical Thunderbolt 3 cables, available in 10-, 20- and 30-meter lengths. The cables are available through B&H, but with pricing coming in at $559, $699, and $799 respectively, these are obviously only for pro-level users who absolutely need the highest performance over long distances. And remember that these cables can only carry Thunderbolt 3 data and don't fall back to USB or provide power to or from connected devices.

B&H currently lists expected availability of 7-10 business days on all three cable lengths, and Areca told me a few weeks ago that supplies were somewhat constrained as its factories were still trying to ramp production back up. Areca tells me that beyond the cables that have shown up at B&H, the company is also planning a special-order 50-meter cable and has also been considering a shorter 5.5- or 6-meter cable, although the minimal price difference between that and the 10-meter version may not make it worthwhile.

Corning's optical Thunderbolt 3 connectors

One of the major optical cable manufacturers users have been looking to for Thunderbolt 3 cables is Corning, and it appears its cables may be close to coming to market as well. One MacRumors reader let us know that Corning's cables have started appearing on websites of some European resellers like MacConsult in lengths ranging from 5.5 meters to 50 meters. Based on these listings, Corning's pricing looks like it will be starting at around the equivalent of $400 in the U.S., a bit less than Areca but still out of the range of the average consumer.

Corning tells me that while samples of its optical Thunderbolt 3 cables have been shown at trade shows over the past couple of years, it's not quite ready to officially launch them and shared the following statement:
Corning’s Thunderbolt 3 cables have not yet been launched publicly, although we have shown preliminary samples at industry events. We look forward to their launch, although a date has not been scheduled.
It seems likely that Corning is still awaiting final certification from Intel and that a distributor may have gotten a bit ahead of itself in pushing out preliminary listings to some resellers, but hopefully we can expect Corning's cables to hit the market fairly soon.

The annual NAB show in April would have been a good opportunity for Corning to launch its cables if final certification from Intel was imminent, but as with nearly every other trade show, NAB 2020 has been canceled, so we'll have to wait and see what Corning's plans are.

Optical Thunderbolt 3 cables are hitting the market just as Intel has started teasing Thunderbolt 4, although it's unclear what the differences between the two versions will be, as they appear to offer the same maximum transfer speeds. USB4 is also coming to market in the relatively near future and will essentially unify Thunderbolt 3 and USB with Thunderbolt 3's theoretical maximum 40 Gb/s speeds.
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Review: CalDigit’s USB-C Pro Dock Adds Ports to Your Thunderbolt 3 or USB-C Mac, or Even an iPad Pro

Over the past few years, Thunderbolt 3 docks have become nearly ubiquitous, with a variety of different docks offering varying sets of ports in a few different body styles. Similar docks, albeit with more limited capabilities, exist for connecting over USB-C to machines that lack the more powerful Thunderbolt 3 standard, even in some cases including the iPad Pro.

Since the introduction of Thunderbolt 3 docks, users have typically had to choose either a Thunderbolt 3 or a USB-C dock to provide additional connectivity for their devices. Thunderbolt 3 docks offer more capabilities, but they lacked backward compatibility with machines that only offer USB-C.

A new generation of docks has started hitting the market, however, offering both Thunderbolt 3 and USB-C support for compatibility with a wider range of devices. I've had some time to test out CalDigit's recently launched USB-C Pro Dock, which does exactly that.


Using both a 2016 15-inch MacBook Pro with Thunderbolt 3, a 2015 MacBook with USB-C, and an 11-inch ‌iPad Pro‌, I've tested the capabilities of CalDigit's dock and come away impressed with the versatility and performance that come at a rather reasonable price compared to similar docks from other manufacturers.

I'll start by noting that I've long been a fan of CalDigit, and the company's TS3 Plus Thunderbolt 3 dock has been my favorite for everyday use with my ‌MacBook Pro‌ among all of the many Thunderbolt 3 docks I've tested. It offers the perfect set of ports for my needs, 85-watt charging to fully support my 15-inch ‌MacBook Pro‌, and a compact form factor that sits nicely under one of my external displays.

CalDigit's TS3 Plus (left) and USB-C Pro Dock (right)

Given my experience with the TS3 Plus and some of CalDigit's other products, I was excited to test out the new USB-C Pro Dock, and for the most part it lived up to my expectations.

Front ports: USB-A, USB-C, SD card, audio in/out

The USB-C Pro Dock has a horizontal design more typical of Thunderbolt 3 docks, as opposed to the TS3 Plus. I prefer the design of the TS3 Plus, but the USB-C Pro Dock design is certainly suitable and allows the dock to sit unobtrusively on a desk. It comes in a Space Gray aluminum that closely matches Apple's notebooks of that color, with some finning on the sides to potentially assist with heat dissipation and black plastic on the front and back.

Rear ports: Ethernet, 2x USB-A, upstream Thunderbolt 3, 2x DisplayPort, power adapter

The dock weighs just under a pound and measures in at about 8.5 inches wide, an inch high, and a little over three inches deep. It's powered by a fairly large external power brick as is typical of these docks, although the brick included with this dock is a bit flatter than some others I've seen and most users should be able to tuck it away on or behind a desk.

Power Output


The USB-C Pro Dock is able to provide 85 watts of power over either Thunderbolt 3 or USB-C, providing full power a 15-inch ‌MacBook Pro‌ or any other Mac notebooks you might use it alongside, with the exception of the brand-new 16-inch ‌MacBook Pro‌ that ships with a 96-watt power adapter. Dock manufacturers are still working out the best way to support this new higher-wattage ‌MacBook Pro‌, but for most users, even 85 watts will be plenty to keep that 16-inch ‌MacBook Pro‌ fully powered up.

To eke out a bit more power, CalDigit has an upcoming firmware update for the USB-C Pro Dock (and the TS3 Plus) that will bump charging to 87 watts, and CalDigit tells me most users won't have any problems charging their 16-inch MacBook Pros at either 85 or 87 watts. For those pushing their machines to the limit on heavy CPU/GPU usage for extended periods of time, CalDigit recommends those users charge their machines with Apple's power brick to ensure they're getting the full 96 watts.

Displays


When it comes to display compatibility, the USB-C Pro Dock includes a pair of DisplayPort 1.2 connectors, and active adapters can be used to convert to other standards like HDMI. When connected to a Thunderbolt 3-equipped Mac like a ‌MacBook Pro‌ or recent MacBook Air, the USB-C Pro Dock is able to drive dual 4K monitors at up to 60Hz, offering great expansion capabilities for turning your notebook into a workhorse desktop machine.

Things are little more limited when you're connecting the dock to a MacBook over USB-C, as the slower connection maxes out at supporting a single 4K display at 30Hz or dual HD displays, although those dual displays are unfortunately limited to mirrored mode rather than allowing for a full extended desktop.

The lack of a downstream Thunderbolt 3 port means I likely won't be using this as my everyday dock, as I currently use a pair of LG UltraFine 5K displays, one connected through my TS3 Plus dock and one directly to my computer. I certainly could route both 5K displays directly to the ‌MacBook Pro‌ and use the dock separately for its other functions, but that increases the number of cables connected to my computer from two to three and so it's overall less convenient, particularly when I've already got a TS3 Plus serving my needs.

But for someone maxing out with one or two 4K displays, particularly DisplayPort ones where you won't need any adapters, the USB-C Pro Dock should work out just fine. In fact, CalDigit intentionally opted to sacrifice the downstream Thunderbolt 3 port in order to include two DisplayPort 1.2 ports, since most people end up using the Thunderbolt port to add another display anyway.

USB Connectivity


One of the other primary purposes of a computer dock is to provide additional USB ports for connecting a variety of accessories to your computer all through a single cable. The USB-C Pro Dock includes three 5 Gbps USB-A ports (one on the front and two on the back), as well as one data-only 10 Gbps USB-C port on the front of the dock.

Read/write speeds for CalDigit Tuff external SSD connected to front 10 Gbps USB-C and a 2016 ‌MacBook Pro‌

Connecting a fast CalDigit Tuff external SSD to that 10 Gbps front USB-C port and to my ‌MacBook Pro‌, I found solid speeds of 475 MB/s write and 500 MB/s read, which is typical for this drive over a 10 Gbps connection. Using the same setup but connected to a 2015 MacBook over USB-C, I saw speeds dip slightly to 411 MB/s write and 415 MB/s read, but that's still solid performance.

The front-facing USB-A port on the USB-C Pro Dock supports standalone charging, so you can charge your iPhone, Apple Watch, or other devices via the dock even when your notebook isn't connected or turned on. CalDigit also provides a driver to increase the power available over USB to allow the dock to support Apple's SuperDrive.

SD, Ethernet, and Audio


Moving beyond displays and USB, the USB-C Pro Dock includes three additional features to increase the capabilities of a connected computer. One is a Gigabit Ethernet port to give you a speedy and reliable wired data connection, and the other is a UHS-II SD 4.0 card reader to make it easy to quickly transfer photos and files from a standalone camera or other devices.

Finally, there is a 3.5mm combination analog audio in/out port on the front of the dock to support speakers, headphones or combined headphone/microphone headsets.

‌iPad Pro‌ Support


While Thunderbolt and USB docks have traditionally been used to expand the capabilities of Macs, the adoption of USB-C on the ‌iPad Pro‌ has opened the door for Apple's tablets to take advantage of USB-C docks as well, and CalDigit's USB-C Pro Dock does the job here as well.

‌iPad Pro‌ connected to external display and SSD via USB-C Pro Dock

With a single cable connecting your ‌iPad Pro‌ to the dock, you can open support for an external display running at up to 4K and 60Hz, USB-connected drives, SD cards, ethernet, and audio in/out. The dock also lets you use external accessories like keyboards and mice, and it allows for fast charging of your ‌iPad Pro‌.

Backward Compatibility


For those users with older computers, the USB-C Pro Dock can be used with Thunderbolt 1 and 2 ports with appropriate adapters, although capabilities are more limited due to the lower bandwidth and you won't be able to charge your device, for example.

You can even get some limited dock functionality out of the USB-C Pro Dock when connecting to a machine that supports only USB-A, provided you have a USB-C to USB-A adapter available. You won't be able to drive any displays or charge your computer over that connection, but you'll at least be able to take advantage of the additional USB ports, SD card reader, Gigabit Ethernet port, and audio capabilities.

Wrap-up


Overall, CalDigit's USB-C Pro Dock strikes a great balance of performance and versatility, giving you the ability to connect to a range of devices to expand your connectivity options. If you want the flexibility to connect to a Mac and an iPad with the same dock, or if you've got both Thunderbolt 3 and USB-C Macs around the house, this dock is definitely worth taking a look at.

If you're all in on Thunderbolt 3, make sure you take a look to see if this dock's capabilities will be sufficient for your needs. If you're using a Thunderbolt 3 external display, for example, you won't be able to connect it through this dock.

On the flip side, if you don't need the full capabilities offered by Thunderbolt 3, there are smaller and cheaper USB-C-only hubs out there that might do the trick for you, although many of those are bus-powered from the computer itself and require passthrough charging with your existing adapter.

With 85 watts of charging power on CalDigit's USB-C Pro Dock, nearly every portable Mac can be charged at maximum speed, with the exception of the brand-new 16-inch ‌MacBook Pro‌, but even on that machine most users shouldn't run into any problems keeping up with power demands.

While many full-featured Thunderbolt 3 docks are priced at $300 more, CalDigit's USB-C Pro Dock undercuts that price point significantly, currently coming in at just $200 on Amazon and in CalDigit's online store. A 0.7-meter cable that works with both Thunderbolt 3 and USB-C connections is included.

Note: CalDigit provided MacRumors with a USB-C Pro Dock for the purpose of this review. No other compensation was received. MacRumors is an affiliate partner with Amazon. When you click a link and make a purchase, we may receive a small payment, which helps us keep the site running.


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OWC Debuts Thunderbolt 3 Pro Dock With eSATA, 10 Gigabit Ethernet, and More

Popular Mac accessory company OWC today introduced its latest Thunderbolt 3 docking solution, the Thunderbolt 3 Pro Dock.


OWC's Thunderbolt 3 Pro Dock is targeted at professional users and includes several features not commonly found on other docks such as an eSATA port and CFast and SD card readers. The dock also includes a 10 gigabit Ethernet port, three USB 3.1 ports, a pair of Thunderbolt 3 ports to allow for daisy chaining, and a DisplayPort 1.2 port. There's also a locking power connection to help ensure the dock doesn't come unplugged if it's moved during use.


For pro users who need some of the more specialized features included in the OWC Thunderbolt 3 Pro Dock, this might be a good option, as we've been impressed with the company's previous dock offerings. It does, however, only offer 60 watts of charging power, so if you've got a 15-inch MacBook Pro you likely want to use your regular power adapter and not rely on the dock to power your Mac.

The dock also includes a switch to turn off the internal fan if you need a quiet environment, although OWC warns this should only be done for short periods of time to limit the risk of overheating.

The OWC Thunderbolt 3 Pro Dock is available as of today and is priced at $328.99.

Note: MacRumors is an affiliate partner with OWC. When you click a link and make a purchase, we may receive a small payment, which helps us keep the site running.


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Thunderbolt 3 and USB Converge With New 40 Gbps USB4 Specification

The USB Promoter Group standards body today announced the pending release of a new USB4 specification.


USB4 converges the Thunderbolt and USB protocols as part of Intel's goal to make Thunderbolt available on a royalty-free basis, which should result in wider and cheaper availability of Thunderbolt accessories like docks and eGPUs.

As USB4 is based on Thunderbolt 3, it offers data transfer speeds up to 40 Gbps, which is twice as fast as the bandwidth of the latest USB 3.2 Gen 2x2 specification. USB4's underlying Thunderbolt 3 protocol also means the specification supports up to two 4K displays or one 5K display over a single cable.

The simplest way to view USB4 is as Thunderbolt 3, but royalty free for manufacturers. Intel will continue to offer Thunderbolt 3 on a standalone basis with a few advantages over USB4, including more support with reference designs and technical issues for manufacturers, according to The Verge.

USB4 will use the USB-C connector design and will be backwards compatible with USB 3.2 and USB 2.0 specifications.

The USB4 specification is on track to be published around the middle of 2019. Over 50 companies are actively participating in the final stages of review of the draft specification, which should include Apple, Intel, and Microsoft, but it might take a few years until the first USB4 devices are released.


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CES 2019: Elgato Unveils Thunderbolt 3 Pro Dock With Dual USB-C, Dual USB-A, Gigabit Ethernet, DisplayPort, and More

Elgato parent company Corsair at CES 2019 this week unveiled its new Thunderbolt 3 Pro Dock. The dock connects to the latest MacBook Pro and MacBook Air with a single Thunderbolt 3 cable and provides a wide variety of additional I/O connectivity options, eliminating the need for multiple adapters.


The dock is equipped with two USB-C ports with transfer speeds up to 10Gb/s, two USB-A ports with transfer speeds up to 5 Gb/s, two Thunderbolt 3 ports with transfer speeds up to 40 Gb/s, one DisplayPort 1.2, one Gigabit Ethernet port, a 3.5mm headphone jack and audio output, and SD and microSD card readers.

The dock can drive a 5K external display at 60Hz over Thunderbolt, or two 4K external displays simultaneously, with one connected via DisplayPort and the other via Thunderbolt. 4K at 60Hz is also supported via HDMI 2.0 with an adapter.

The new Thunderbolt 3 Pro Dock is available now for $349.99 from Amazon, Corsair, and select other retailers and distributors around the world.

Note: MacRumors is an affiliate partner with Amazon. When you click a link and make a purchase, we may receive a commission, which helps us keep the site running.


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Review: OWC’s Updated Thunderbolt 3 Dock Adds 85W Charging, 10 Gbps USB-C Port, and microSD Slot

Nearly a year and half ago, OWC was one of the first companies to launch a Thunderbolt 3 dock, offering over a dozen ports of various types to support a variety of accessories. While I loved the sheer number of the ports offered on the original version of the dock, there were some shortcomings, including a lack of any 10 Gbps USB 3.1 Gen 2 ports and only 60 watts of charging power, which may not be enough for 15-inch MacBook Pro users.

Users for whom those two concerns are dealbreakers will be glad to hear that OWC is launching an updated version of its Thunderbolt 3 dock in just a few weeks, addressing these issues.


The new OWC Thunderbolt 3 Dock is exactly the same size and shape as the original, with a horizontal design constructed of an aluminum band (in silver or space gray) wrapping all the way around the sides and glossy black plastic on the top and bottom.

All ports are clearly labeled in white, and there is an OWC logo and "Thunderbolt 3 Dock" branding printed on the front of the dock. The dock measures in at a hair over 9 inches wide by 3.5 inches deep and an inch tall. It weighs about 1.2 pounds, although as a desktop dock you're not likely to be moving it around very often so weight shouldn't be much of a factor.

Because OWC's new dock is so similar to the original version, I'm not going to walk through all of the features, and I'll instead focus on the differences. But rest assured, the new version continues to have five USB-A ports running at 5 Gbps, a pair of Thunderbolt ports, a Gigabit Ethernet port, a Mini DisplayPort port, and S/PDIF output and combo 3.5 mm audio ports. Two of the USB-A ports (one front and one rear) offer 1.5A of power for faster charging of connected devices.

New version on top, original model on bottom

As for new additions, OWC has added two additional ports on the front of the dock: a microSD card slot that complements the SD card slot from the original version, and a new 10 Gbps Type-C USB 3.1 Gen 2 port. Both of these are great additions that many users will find handy.

New version on top, original model on bottom

I tested out the new 10 Gbps USB-C port on the front of the dock using a fast CalDigit Tuff external SSD, and I saw solid speeds coming in at over 500 MB/s read and 480 MB/s write. Speeds when connected to one of the 5 Gbps USB-A ports came in at around 350 MB/s read and 325 MB/s write, which typical for this drive over that type of connection.

Speed test using 10 Gbps USB-C port and external SSD

One connectivity option you'll find missing compared to the original version of the dock is a FireWire 800 port, which was formerly located near the center of the dock on the rear. It's not a particularly surprising omission given the continuing decline in use for the standard and the fact that OWC had previously dropped the port from its main Thunderbolt 3 dock lineup. The loss of the port won't be an issue for the vast majority of users, but if you happen to still need FireWire connectivity you'll need to look at other dock options.

If you're a 15-inch MacBook Pro user, you'll be glad to hear that OWC has bumped up the charging capabilities in the new dock to 85 watts from the original 60 watts. That'll be enough to charge up your MacBook Pro at the same speed as from Apple's power adapter, and it'll keep your machine powered up even under heavy loads.

135-watt power brick from original version (left) vs. 180-watt power brick for updated model (right)

It's a very welcome improvement, but it does come at the cost of a larger external brick needed to support the increased power. The power brick included with the new dock is 180 watts, up from 135 watts in the original version. That increases the brick's size fairly significantly, but in most cases you'll be able to tuck it away somewhere and not have to worry about it.

Overall, the new Thunderbolt 3 Dock from OWC is one of my top picks among all of the docks I've tested. CalDigit's TS3 Plus has been my go-to dock since its release, but OWC's dock now gives it a run for its money with the array of ports and full 85-watt charging power that put it just about on par. OWC's dock will be priced at $299, which is competitive with other high-end Thunderbolt 3 docks, some of which can run up to $350 or more. OWC says the new dock will be available from its online store at macsales.com and at other retailers starting in early November.

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


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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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Samsung’s Thunderbolt 3-Enabled Curved Monitor Launching in September for $900

Following an unveiling at CES in January, Samsung has announced the launch of the Thunderbolt 3-enabled CJ79 curved monitor, coming in September for $899.99. The 34-inch monitor is compatible with both Mac and PC computers, marking the first time that Thunderbolt 3 connectivity is available on a curved monitor.


On the unit there are two Thunderbolt 3 ports that transmit display, data, and power at a processing speed of up to 40 Gbps to compatible docks, other displays, computers, external GPUs, and more. Thunderbolt 3 connectivity also allows Samsung's monitor to supply up to 85 watts of charging power to compatible MacBooks.

Thanks to the 3440x1440 ultra-wide curved display and a 21:9 aspect ratio, the CJ79 can also provide a dual monitor experience on one screen. Using a Picture-by-Picture feature, users can multitask by displaying two sources on screen at the same time, and even resize the second source to up to 25 percent of the screen, and position it anywhere.


The CJ79 includes a height-adjustable stand and tilt functionality, ensuring a comfortable position while working for extended periods of time. Samsung lists a few other details on its website:
- Supporting up to 125% sRGB color space, Quantum Dot technology delivers not only more hues than conventional monitors but also colors that are brighter, crisper, and more natural — especially reds and greens. And every monitor is factory calibrated to ensure the most accurate and life-like images

- Samsung’s VA panel technology provides a 3000:1 contrast ratio that delivers deeper blacks, brilliant whites, and richer colors for clearer, more vibrant images.

- AMD FreeSync synchronizes the refresh rates of your graphics card and the CJ79 to minimize image tearing and stutter. The smoother transition between image frames provides seamless gameplay and video playback for uninterrupted viewing.

- The fast 100Hz screen refresh rate provides smoother, silkier mouse sensitivity for enhanced productivity in any application. It also reduces screen stutter in fast-moving action scenes for a flawless gaming experience.
Samsung also briefly mentions the CJ89 43-inch curved monitor, but it does not support Thunderbolt 3 connectivity and is USB-C only. Otherwise, that monitor has a 3840x1200 resolution and a 32:10 aspect ratio.

The company says that both the CJ79 and CJ89 are available in Europe right now, and the monitors will launch worldwide "soon." On B&H Photo, the CJ79 Thunderbolt 3 monitor is listed as being available to purchase around the "beginning of September 2018" for $899.99.

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