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OWC Announces Mac Compatibility for New Thunderbolt Hub

OWC Thunderbolt Hub

Previously certified for Thunderbolt 4 PCs, the OWC Thunderbolt Hub is now available for new M1 Macs and all Thunderbolt 3-equipped Macs once upgraded to Apple’s new macOS 11 Big Sur. The OWC Thunderbolt Hub will give both Mac and PC users the additional Thunderbolt ports they’ve always wanted.

Hubbing Technology

The OWC Thunderbolt Hub offers the newest in Thunderbolt hubbing technology. You can now have four Thunderbolt ports, plus one USB port on your new Apple M1 Mac, Apple ‘Intel’ Mac with Thunderbolt 3, or any Thunderbolt 4 PC with this compact hub. You can connect and charge any device with a USB-C or USB-A connector. Support up to two 4K displays or a single 5K/6K/8K display. Add high-performance storage, including NVMe solutions, and generally make your workflow work for you by adding A/V mixers, phone or tablet, even desktop accessories like a keyboard or mouse – all through a single Thunderbolt port. Accessories with past, present, or future USB or Thunderbolt interfaces connect to the OWC Thunderbolt Hub.

“Mac users, like me, have been waiting for years to add more Thunderbolt ports. Now, thanks to OWC and the new macOS 11 BigSur, we can finally do it! For those of us with lots of Thunderbolt – we can now have even more bus-powered devices, better manage our device chains, and even optimize for better device performance. Adding more devices and creating new workflows to optimize better workflows just got a whole lot easier.” 

Larry O’Connor, CEO, and Founder of OWC.

OWC Thunderbolt Hub interface diagram

OWC Thunderbolt Hub Highlights:

  • The Thunderbolt hubbing technology you’ve always wanted: Made possible for the first time by OWC, you have four fully functional Thunderbolt ports for your computer. All Thunderbolt ports are backward compatible for USB too.
  • Plug everything in: Same device compatibility and performance, whether plugged into the hub or directly into your machine.
  • Manage more devices: Connect storage, two 4K displays or one 5K/6K/8K display, multiple accessories – you name it, you can use it.
  • Revolutionary development: New multi-port accessory architecture reinvents the daisy chain and allows more bus-powered devices.
  • Adjustable LED: Customize illumination for your unique work setting.
  • Built-in security: Kensington Nano Security Slot™ for anti-theft cabling.
  • OWC ClingOnTM ready: secure your Thunderbolt (USB-C) connections to prevent work session interruption and possible data loss from cable strain and accidental disconnect in active, heavy traffic flow workspaces.

Pricing & Availability

The fully Mac and PC/Windows certified OWC Thunderbolt Hub is available now for pre-order through MacSales.com for $149.00 and will begin shipping in early-December.

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  • It must be great to work at OWC and get to play with all the new toys that come out!

    I grew up in Illinois and brought the children to visit my parents the Christmas before I retired from the Air Force. It got up to 20º once while we were there. My resumés stayed in my briefcase and returned to Florida with me. That was 27 years ago.

    • Many of us Northern-Illinoians would agree that Florida was the smarter choice! But you are correct, being at the forefront of technology and constantly moving and shifting to leverage our ability to offer the best solutions on the planet is pure awesomess! Of course, I am a bit biased… :-)

  • So what can be used on Catalina vs Big Sur on an intel based 201x mac?

    What more do you get with Big Sur?

    If I have 3 thunderbold drives, that I don’t want to daisy chain, will they work with Catalina or only in Big Sur? And will I still get the 3000MB/sec+ on u2 nvme thunderbolt drives?

    • On 10.15.7 – there is not support enabled for what allows the addition of more Thunderbolt ports. The Thunderbolt hub, which is for adding more ports, will not work. Any other Hub or Dock to come that adds more Thunderbolt ports will not work to do so.

      But everything else that’s out right now and storage solutions we’re set to release over the next six months, these thunderbolt devices already all work, will work, and work on any Mac with OS 10.13.x or later. In fact, the vast majority of our solutions work on OS 10.11.x or later – which is the first MacOS version with Thunderbolt 3 support.

      The maximum throughput on Thunderbolt for the data channels is typically 2800MB/s – that is the case for all Macs with Thunderbolt 3 since 2016.

      no one forces you to daisy-chain…. but of course, if you have more Thunderbolt devices than you have Thunderbolt ports, that’s the only way to connect them all without using such as one of our new Thunderbolt Hubs. To use a Thunderbolt Hub which has the purpose of adding more Thunderbolt ports, you must be running Apple MacOS 11 BigSur.

  • It only adds 2 Thunderbolt ports to a machine, not 4. 2 of the 4 ports are used to connect to and pass-thru the existing machine port. I also don’t like why external power is necessary and that the connector is one of the older plug types prone to breaking easily.

    • The Hub provides 60W of power delivery – 15W to each of the downstream ports, and power to the USB port. You would not be able to bus-power anything off the Hub if it didn’t use a power supply.

      • To be clear, the Hub provides up to 60W of Power Delivery to the host computer and then 15W of power per downstream Thunderbolt port to support devices that bus-power. As a rule, all Thunderbolt 3 or ‘4’ ports must provide 15W of power other than the host port that provide higher levels for host charging/powering. No port though can ever supply less than 15W of power when it is a Thunderbolt type C port.

    • It seems to me that Joey Jay is looking at this hub the wrong way. Rather than the device adding only two additional Thunderbolt ports, my own glass-half-full perspective (and I’m generally a cynic) is that it turns one Thunderbolt port into three. To me, that makes it a worthwhile addition to any of the new M1 Macs that offer only two on-board Thunderbolt ports.

  • Does this allow me to attach multiple thunderbolt drives to my Mac so I can externally boot them, or is anything attached to the hub only recognized after Big Sur is loaded and running?

    I would like to use one of these hubs to attach both my external boot camp thunderbolt drive, and an external macOS Big Sur drive at the same time. I would then hold down the option key to select which one to boot into.

    Obviously, this setup would only work if any storage attached to the thunderbolt hub is bootable.

    If it matters, my plan is to use this with a 2017 iMac, but will hopefully upgrade to Apple silicon in the future.

    • I put a query in with our Product Development team about booting through the hub and will let you once I have more info. I can assume that if you were on an M1 Mac, the Boot Camp scenario wouldn’t work because it isn’t supported on Apple silicon. But on an Intel machine? That’s a great question! Keep your eyes on the blog because it might make for an interesting post. :-)

      • Thank you. I really hope that having multiple startup macOS thunderbolt disks will work, I am waiting to order this hub until it is confirmed (or not.)

        • Apple stopped officially starting external boot drives a bit ago… Although we can do clones and such to work around this. The OWC Thunderbolt Hub does not in any way impact whether you can or can not boot of external drives.

          • Larry,
            Please clarify your statement “Apple stopped officially starting (supporting?) external boot drives a bit ago… “.
            That is contrary to my experience and everything I know about Mac, if I am reading your statement correctly. I routinely install fresh copies (not clones) of macOS to external drives, both USB and TB; in fact I just did an external fresh install of Big Sur to the OWC Envoy Express TB3 enclosure, preserving my working copy of Mojave on the internal storage of a Mac mini 2018. RocketYard still has articles from Nov 2019 on how to install to an external drive. https://eshop.macsales.com/blog/55907-using-an-external-drive-as-your-startup-drive-part-1/

            • I didn’t say that Apple has blocked us from booting external volumes…. And you’re not incorrect in what you say – but Apple’s official support for installation on external volumes left with 10.13 or 10.14 and, especially on newer Macs, the ability to create bootable volumes on anything but the Apple internal drive requires work around vs. straightforward install. That being said – I may be overstating a little bit – but this is the direction and more and more hoops in place.

  • Great! Would be even greater if it had more ports:

    4 USB (10 Gbps)
    HDMI 2.1
    Gigabit Ethernet
    SD Card Reader (SD Express – 3940 MB/s – PCIe Gen.4 × 2 Lane – 8.00)

    It would be great if you could make a Pro version with it!

    • Correct me if I’m wrong but I think the current set of ports included with the OWC Thunderbolt Hub come directly from a single chip – the Thunderbolt 4 controller JHL8440 (excluding any support chips). Every additional feature would add more to the size and cost.

      HDMI 2.1: The Club 3D CAC-1085 adapter can be connected using a USB-C to DisplayPort 1.4 adapter. I prefer adapters because they can be replaced more cheaply if a better DisplayPort to HDMI converter chip becomes available. You can connect up to two displays to the OWC Thunderbolt hub (depends on the computer). Can the hub do three displays if it was connected to a USB4 host that has three DisplayPort connections to the USB4 host controller? Even though such USB4 hosts don’t exist, this can be determined by looking for DPOutAdapter in ioreg in macOS after connecting the Thunderbolt hub.

      USB: The hub already has four 10 Gbps USB ports (Thunderbolt ports can do USB). But if you want more, and for the other ports you would like, a USB hub can be added. Many Thunderbolt docks have two USB hubs internally.

      Ethernet: add using USB or Thunderbolt adapters up to 10 GbE.

      SD Card Reader: Thunderbolt is limited to ~2800 MB/s. USB is limited to ~980 MB/s. If Ethernet or USB is implemented in a Thunderbolt dock using a PCIe controller instead of a USB device, then there will be only 1 or two lanes of PCIe 3.0 remaining for SD Express (Thunderbolt controllers don’t do PCIe 4.0 yet) unless an expensive PCIe switch is added (docks don’t include those to keep costs down).

      Headphone/Microphone: These are usually implemented as a single USB 2.0 device.

      • Thanks. Yes, I know, but then you get out of Thunderbolt ports as well. Sure, such pro hub-dock would be larger and more expensive. No problem. Anyway, maybe that is better accomplished with PCIe4, once Apple releases such Macs.

        Also useful would be the feature of having a hub-dock with physical on-off switches, so that you have all external devices connected, but turn them on or off manually as desired. That is useful when the external devices like SSD do not have such physical switches, which are most external portable SSD. There are USB hubs-docks that have such switches, and it would be great to have them also in Thunderbolt ones.