Dock provides power and connectivity for USB-C computers.
Earlier this week, I found myself in the possession of a 2016 13-inch MacBook Pro with Touch Bar. This was a rather large jump in performance for me since I was rocking a 2014 13-inch MacBook Pro Retina. There really wasn’t anything wrong with my older MBP, but the opportunity was too good to pass up. Of course, once I brought the lovely new laptop home, I suddenly found myself with a new problem — connectivity through USB-C. Fortunately, earlier in the week we had received the Belkin Thunderbolt 3 Express Dock, which provides a slim profile desktop docking station for the newer MBPs.
While there are some nice options out there for connectivity with USB-C, the Belkin dock was just what I was looking for because of it’s smaller size. I have a smaller desk and don’t like to clutter it with a lot of devices that are just ‘hanging out’. The Thunderbolt 3 Express dock is only around 8 inches long, about 3.5 inches deep, and it only stands 1.5 inches high. So, it’s ideal for my working space in my home office.
One of the features that I truly appreciate and wanted from a dock was the power pass through option. The Belkin dock provides up to 85W of power to connected laptops. This is enough for my 13-inch MBP, which only needs 61W to charge, but it’s not quite enough to charge the 15-inch model. It requires 87W to charge its battery. The reason I really wanted this feature was so I had the freedom to keep my Apple power adapter and USB-C charging cable in my laptop bag, but still charge my laptop at my desk.
In addition to the power pass through feature, the Belkin dock provides 8 ports of connectivity including:
- Gigabit Ethernet
- Audio Out x 2 (one port is on the front)
- USB 3.0 x 3 (one port is on the front)
- Thunderbolt 3 (USB-C) x 2
- Display Port
The Belkin Thunderbolt 3 dock has support for dual 4K displays from both the DisplayPort and the Thunderbolt 3 ports. You can also connect through video adapters such as HDMI and VGA. The really nice thing about USB-C connectivity is that you have power delivery, audio, video, and data transfer with one single cable. The dock allows you to daisy chain up to 5 additional Thunderbolt devices. And of course, with Thunderbolt 3, you can transfer large amounts of data at up to 40 Gbps. I was able to transfer a file that was 16.3 GB in size to a USB 3.0 flash drive in 6 minutes and 21 seconds.
So far, I’ve been very impressed with the Belkin Thunderbolt 3 Express Dock. It has a lovely aluminum casing that matches the Apple silver color. My MBP is Space Gray, but the dock is still a nice compliment to the darker color. The design of the dock has a bit of a slant to it (it tapers off towards the front), so you can’t rest your laptop on it. I would have loved to have a vertical-based dock, but as I mentioned above, because of its slim profile, the Belkin dock tucks away quite nicely.
All the ports are hidden from sight on the rear of the dock with the exception of one USB 3.0 port and a headphone port. The only thing that is really missing from this dock is an SD card reader, which I would have loved to see on the front of the dock, too. But given that the dock has such a small footprint on my desk and that there is a USB 3.0 port on the front, I’ll continue using a USB card reader for now.
The Belkin Thunderbolt 3 Dock is a really nice option for Mac users (it’s not PC compatible) with USB-C connections. It’s got a sleek design and solid connectivity to other devices.