Expand your laptop’s capabilities while decluttering your desk space.
As a laptop user one of the things I struggle with is having a well-equipped desktop station. I love working remotely off of the laptop, but I also love having an external monitor and hard drive RAID system. So, how do I find a balance between peripherals and desk clutter? I utilize an all-in-one dock/RAID system like the Thunder3 RAID station from Akitio.
The Thunder3 RAID Station is an all-in-one Thunderbolt 3 Dock with RAID storage built-in. With it, you can expand the capabilities of your laptop while decluttering your desk space. In addition to having a powerful RAID storage system connected to your computer, you will also have access to interfaces such as Gigabit Ethernet, USB-A, and a DisplayPort. The Thunder3 RAID Station also provides power delivery to your computer (up to 27W of power).
- Thunderbolt 3 for lightning fast transfer speeds up to 40 Gbps
- Second Thunderbolt 3 port supports Thunderbolt 3 (40 Gbps), USB 3.1 (10 Gbps), and DisplayPort devices
- Power delivery provides up to 27W of power to recharge compatible laptops
- Two USB 3.1 Gen 1 host ports with Type-A connectors for older USB devices
- 1 Gigabit Ethernet port supporting auto-negotiation for 1G, 100M, 10M
- Hardware RAID controller (RAID 0, RAID 1, SPAN, Non-RAID)
- Tool-less drive installation for 2.5-inch and 3.5-inch drives
- Cooling fan with power switch for noiseless operation
- Dedicated DisplayPort for additional 4K monitor
- Built-in SD card reader
I was quite amazed at how easy it was to integrate the RAID station into my desk set-up. At first, I really thought I was getting into yet another hard drive RAID, which quite frankly, was a little bit a of a boring thought. That said, when I discovered all the things this little box of wonders can do, I was thrilled. First of all, let me describe my desk set-up.
- 34-inch Ultrawide Monitor by Viotek
- USB Mechanical Keyboard (108-key)
- 13-inch MacBook Pro (2016)
- docking station to connect it all
- one or two spare external hard drives for media storage purposes
With all of these essential products being apart of my set-up I wanted to make sure that I could incorporate the Thunder3 RAID Station without any trouble. As it turns out, the Thunder3 RAID Station replaces the docking station I was using before along with the external hard drives. So, with one device, I was able to eliminate two others. When it connects to your computer, it appears as a single hard drive on your desktop. You can eject the raid from your computer and still be using the station as a dock, which is a nice option if you don’t want the drives to be in use. I’ve been
Even though there are larger RAID options, I really like that this is a slim option for those who have smaller desktops, like me. With the Thunder3 RAID Station users do have the options between using a 3.5” or 2.5” SATA drives. I chose to use a couple of 2.5” SSDs I already had for testing purposes. The drives have proven to be very quick in the past. I used them inside another Akitio RAID system — the AKiTiO Thunder3 Quad Mini 4-Bay Storage Device. That storage device did provide power delivery to my laptop, but it was not a dock like the Thunder3 RAID Station is. So if you need a dock along with your RAID, then the Thunder3 RAID Station is the better route to take for your needs.
Now, as far as speed goes, I found that it the Akitio Thunder3 RAID Station was on par with other tests I’ve done in the past. I ran three separate tests — a Blackmagic Disk Speed Test, an AJA System Speed test, and a performance test where I transferred a large file to the RAID and timed it with a stopwatch. With the Blackmagic Speed Test, I found that the results were slightly slower than when I used the same hard drives in the Thunder3 Quad Mini. In that case, I had 4 drives working together which may have contributed to the increased speed.
I did not run the AJA Speed Test on the Thunder3 Quad Mini, but I had run it on other external SSDs and I was surprised to find that the Thunder3 RAID Station was substantially slower than those other tests. For example, the G-Drive Mobile SSD Portable Hard Drivehad a 1121 Mbps WRITE and 2307 Mbps READ speed with the AJA Speed Test for 4K Full Video while the Thunder3 RAID Station only registered a 541 Mbps WRITE and 725 Mbps READ speed. Both devices were using the Thunderbolt 3 connection and both tests were using the same perimeters.
The real test for me was actually the performance test though. I transferred a file that was 12.48 GB in size from my MacBook Pro to the Thunder3 RAID Station. The transfer only took 23.68 seconds, which ends up being a transfer rate of 0.52 Gbps. That was quite a bit faster than the Thunder3 Quad Mini, which was only getting a transfer of 0.22 Gbps when I ran the same type of performance test.
The Thunder3 RAID Station is a wonderful device to rely on for your docking and storage needs. It does have some limitations, but when you are working with limited desk real estate, this is a great option for being able to connect your laptop to all the other peripherals in your set-up. I love the flexibility you get with being able to select your own hard drives and think it’s a really great way to set-up a workflow with a laptop.