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An Introduction to the Best OWC Thunderbolt Docks and Hubs

Which Thunderbolt Dock or Hub is Right For Me?

Thunderbolt Logo Stacked

It’s been ten years since Intel introduced “Light Peak.” Apple incorporated the technology into their 2011 MacBook Pro and dubbed it “Thunderbolt.” Now we see Thunderbolt 3 on most Macs and the fourth generation of Thunderbolt on PCs. It feels like the promises made by Apple and Intel are really coming together and bearing fruit on both Mac and PC. Thunderbolt docks and hubs provide you with the ultimate in flexibility, portability, and speed. They are awesome if you’re looking for the best USB-C dock, too, because TB3 and USB-C share the same style connector. We’re going to work our way through OWC’s docks so you can find the one that fits your workflow the best.


OWC Thunderbolt Dock: 11 ports for maximum daisy chaining

OWC Thunderbolt Dock with Cables

This groundbreaking dock is available to order now. Three Thunderbolt ports allow you to connect a couple 4K displays or dive into the world of 5K/6K/8K display technologies. There’s a thunderbolt cable right in the box too. This hub is really made for the creative professional who has run into problems taxing other hubs. It’s so frustrating when you hit power limits and ports stop working, or you try to figure out which hard drive is the one causing another peripheral to not be recognized. This Thunderbolt 4 dock solves this by reimagining the daisy chain letting you create three separate “tree branches” of devices. Now your gear can keep up with your creativity.


OWC Thunderbolt 3 Dock: 14 ports flexibility today

Need to connect 14 things to your computer today? We’ve all had those days! The Thunderbolt 3 dock is available now and brings you a bevy of connections, especially for legacy devices. The 4 USB ports make it straightforward to hook up your existing peripherals. Standard mics and headphones plug right in. SD/MicroSD cards plug in the front, so no more searching for your card reader in the deepest recesses of your laptop bag. And the gigabit ethernet jack makes rock-solid networking a snap. If you need the best Thunderbolt 3 dock, look no further.


OWC Thunderbolt Hub: A portable port expander

OWC Thunderbolt Hub

If you’ve modernized your workflow, and most of your devices run USB-C and Thunderbolt, you’ll want to pre-order this hub. You’re probably on the hunt for the best USB-C dock. The included Thunderbolt cable connects to your Mac or PC. The remaining three Thunderbolt 4 jacks allow you to create “3 tree branches” of devices. That means you can disconnect a drive without taking offline the devices further down the chain. And don’t forget about the blazing-fast USB-A jack on the front. It supports USB 3.2 10Gb/s, so everything runs at top speed!


OWC Mercury Elite Pro Dock: Hardware RAID + Thunderbolt Dock

Most thunderbolt drives sit at the end of a daisy chain creating a “dead-end”. That’s not true of the Mercury Elite Pro Dock! It’s an ingenious combination of a hardware-based RAID array and port configuration. That means two drives can work together and bring you instant backup, or stunning speed. The hardware RAID controller brings you reliable performance right on the device. That way you don’t have to maintain separate software just to run your hard drive. Then you can still connect a 4K display or other Thunderbolt devices. There’s even an SD card reader built right into the front. 


OWC Thunderbolt 3 Pro Dock: 10Gb/s monster

OWC Thunderbolt 3 Pro Dock

This dock means business. The 10Gb/s ethernet connection provides cutting-edge speed to your server. The secure power connection ensures accidents don’t ruin your life. There’s even a switch to shut off the internal fan for 0db operation – ensuring silence on the set. OWC even included eSATA just in case you’ve got some trusty drives from an older generation that need to be quickly connected. Best of all, it’s AVB ready (Audio Video Bridging) for time-sensitive a/v media streams, making it perfect for AVID users.


OWC Thunderbolt 3 Mini Dock: Easily add HDMI displays

TYhunderbolt 3 mini dock

This mini dock packs a unique trick – two HDMI jacks. Now you can fire up a couple of 4K displays from a single jack on your laptop. Then you can still hook up a couple of USB devices. And when you’re fighting spotty WiFi, hook up the gigabit ethernet connection. It’s all wrapped up in a sleek aluminum design. No wonder Macworld magazine awarded it Editors’ Choice 2020!


OWC USB-C Travel Dock E: “The Best Travel Hub”

We didn’t call it that. The crew at Ars Technica deemed it “The Best Travel Hub” and the “Best Hub for iPad”. HDMI, USB, Ethernet, and an SD card reader come together in this little wonder. The cable is built-in, so you don’t have to worry about scrounging for the right cord. It’s bus-powered, so there’s no power brick to weigh you down. And the OWC Dock Ejector makes unplugging all your devices a single-click affair.


OWC ThunderBay Flex 8: Thunderbolt 3 All-In-Wonder

OWC Thunderbay Flex 8

This Thunderbolt 3 external enclosure adds the horsepower of external cards to your Thunderbolt 3 computer. You can add external SSDs or NVMe drives in RAID configurations. It comes complete with the powerful SoftRAID application to manage and monitor your drives. The Displayport 1.4 connection supports 8K displays, and you can still daisy-chain up to five more Thunderbolt 3 devices.


Conclusion

No matter what your workflow, there’s an OWC Thunderbolt dock that is best for you. Whether you are looking for the best Thunderbolt 3 dock, the best USB-C dock, or even the latest Thunderbolt 4 dock, you’ll find it here. From travel-size to multi-drive RAID configs, Thunderbolt docks and hubs provide you with the connectivity solution you’ve been looking for.


Reuben Evans
the authorReuben Evans
Reuben Evans is an award-winning screenwriter, Executive Producer at Faithlife Films/Faithlife TV, and a member of the Producers Guild of America. He has produced and directed numerous documentaries and commercials. RED Cameras, Final Cut Pro, and DaVinci Resolve are his tools of choice. Reuben has written for such sites as The Frame.io Insider and is part of the Blade Ronner Media writers network.
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7 Comments

  • I was told by OWC support that there is no support (from OWC) for the TB4 Hub for TB Networking since there was no testing of the OWC TB4 Hub for thunderbolt networking

    They do not seem to be aware that TB Networking is a core capability of TB3 and yes, any TB4 dock should be tested and supported for TB Networking use.

    I do know that the OWC TB4 dock does indeed work well for TB Networking with Win machines providing TB3 ports (TB4 testing pending).

    This info may be useful to others reading your well written post re Thunderbolt 3 and 4.

  • Question: I have a 2012 MacBook Pro and a 2015 MacBook Pro. What is the earliest OS I need to be able to use a Thunderbolt hub?

    • The Thunderbolt 3 Dock requires at least Mac OS 10.12 Sierra, however note that some peripherals such as NVMe drives may require newer Mac OS such as Mac OS 10.13 High Sierra. You need to check the minimum requirements for both.

      I think the Thunderbolt Hub is meant for Macs that shipped with TB3 ports and Big Sur is required to connect multiple Thunderbolt devices directly to the hub at once to connect to a Mac

  • I have a question. I have replaced our 2012 MacBook Pro and the associated OWC Thunderbolt hub with a 2020 13″ MacBook Pro and a new OWC 14 port Thunderbolt 3 dock. I have kept the Original Acer 27″ Monitor model B286HK. The monitor connects to the Thunderbolt Dock with the same MiniDV cable used with the original dock. Prior to the upgrade the monitor we left the monitor and MBO in sleep mode and when we activated the key board both devices would start up and connect to one another. Now we must first activate the new MBP and then turn the monitor off and back on to get a connection. I thought this may be an issue because I was trying to power the MBP via the PowerThunderbolt connection on the new dock. I have tired powering the MBP via the the Apple power cube and have the same issue. I have tired directly connecting the monitor to a second Thunderbolt connection on the MBP with a MiniDV adapter and cable with the same results. I have not tried removing the hub totally though.

    What can I do to cause the two devices connect on startup? I want to replicate the ease I had at work with a Dell Lap top and Dell docking station when docking and undocking the Laptop.