Connect to all your favorite devices with just one cable.
About 15 years ago, I made the leap from using a traditional tower desktop computer to working exclusively off of a laptop. Since then, I’ve fought the endless cable clutter battle that comes with using a laptop as your main computer. Then, about 4 years ago, I transitioned over to a MacBook Pro. That was the year that Apple limited the I/O ports to only be USB-C/Thunderbolt 3 compatible. At that point in time, I was forced to use a variety of hubs and dongles to be compatible with external devices. I quickly moved over to using full-size docks like the TBT100 Thunderbolt 3 Dock from Corsair.
The Corsair TBT100 dock is designed to connect a wealth of devices to your Mac or PC computer. Because it connects using Thunderbolt 3 the dock boasts speeds up to 40Gbps while it charges your laptop with smart charging technology. The dock has 10 ports in total: USB-A (2), USB-C (2), HDMI 2.0 (2), Gigabit Ethernet (1), Thunderbolt 3 (1), Audio – Combo headphone/microphone jack (1), and SD Card slot (1). In addition to those I/O ports, the dock also features a Kensington Security Slot (full diagram of ports included below). The dock case is made from aluminum and it can be turned on and off using the power button on the front of the dock (press & hold for 3 seconds to turn off; press once to turn it back on). The TBT100 provides up to 85W of power to connected devices thanks to the Smart Charging Technology.
The smart charging function shares power between the host system and your connected devices when needed. TBT100 is able to utilize a smaller power supply by distributing power only where needed, up to a maximum of 85W. When under full load, TBT100 can deliver up to 30W of power to the USB ports, with the remaining available power delivered to the host system. At any point in time, the minimum power delivered to the host is 45W and the maximum is 85W.
The TBT100 requires the use of an external power supply to function (included). In order to use the dock, you must plug it into an external power source. Power will automatically be turned on when you plug the dock into a power source. After you connect all the external peripherals that you want to use, you can connect the dock to your computer using the supplied Thunderbolt 3 cable. This action will not only provide power to your laptop, but it will also stream data signals between your computer and any connected devices. Windows users will likely have to ensure their Thunderbolt 3 drivers and firmware are up-to-date.
Users of macOS systems should not have any extra steps to be compatible with the TBT100 since it’s plug-and-play with Apple machines. There is, however, a utility app for macOS that enables iPad charging, as well as support for the Apple SuperDrive and the Apple Keyboard. The utility app will properly and safely eject all drives connected to the TBT100 when you use the “Unplug Thunderbolt Dock” command.
|Ethernet||10/100/1000; supports wake on LAN|
|HDMI 2.0||2x 4/60Hz|
|USB-A||SuperSpeed 5 Gbps / 1.5A output; supports wake-on-USB and booting over USB|
|USB-C||SuperSpeed 10Gbps / 1.5A output|
|Thunderbolt 3||40 Gbps / up to 85W (upstream)|
|Audio||Combo 3.5mm stereo out port, >95dB s/n ration, 2V rms output into 32 Ohms, mono microphone input|
|System Requirements||macOS 10.14 Mojave or later or Windows 10 or later|
I’ve been a fan of Corsair products for years so you can imagine my excitement when I heard they were starting to work with docking stations. The dock came in a classic Corsair branded box. Their brand colors – yellow and black – stand out really well. I don’t think there will be any issues with the product being seen on retail shelves. The front of the box has a nice image of the dock along with the name (TBT100 Thunderbolt 3 Dock Station) printed below the picture. The back of the box has close-up images of the front and back of the dock displayed so that customers can view the ports that are available. Basic details including the availability of Smart Charging Technology in four languages including English, French, Spanish, and Portuguese. The dock itself resides inside an interior black box along with its power adapter, warranty guide, and a quick start guide. The QSG really only provides the basic getting started instructions and information about the utility.
Even though the sequence about set-up of the docking station isn’t 100% clear, I prefer to plug in my peripherals before connecting power to my dock. So, I made sure to plug all the external devices into the dock first. My set-up includes the following devices. I have also noted how I have each device connected.
- 2016 13-inch MacBook Pro with TouchBar – Thunderbolt 3 port
- 34-inch Viotek Curved Monitor (GN34CW) – HDMI port
- SteelSeries APEX M800 Mechanical Keyboard – USB-A port
- Logitech MX Anywhere 2S wireless mouse – wireless received plugged into the keyboard
- Jabra Panacast Video Conferencing Camera – USB-A port
Things I Like: As I mentioned above, I’ve used my fair share of docking stations over the past few years. With that in mind, I can comment on several things I like about this particular dock, and some things I hope are improved over time. First, I love that there is an SD Card reader incorporated into this dock. Not all docking stations have this and sometimes the ones that do don’t put it in a convenient location as the TBT100 has. I also really like that an Ethernet port is included. Again, this is left off of a lot of docking stations and it’s severely missed by MacBook Pro users. The size of the dock is proportionate to the laptop and is very similar to most docking stations I’ve used that have a similar number of i/o ports. I love how easy the dock is to use – especially for Apple users. Plug-and-play interfaces are always a welcome feature in my opinion.
Things I Hope Change: I believe Corsair did a really nice job designing this dock, but naturally, there is always room for improvement. Some of the features I hope are improved over time include adding more USB-A ports. It’s really nice that there are two USB-C and two USB-A ports, but I would love to see at least one more USB-A port if not two added. Both the USB-A ports are on the back of the dock, which is ok for permanently attached devices like my keyboard, but when it comes to external hard drives and flash drives, it would be nice to be able to plug it directly into the front of the dock so that it could be easily removed. I like to place my docking stations into my desk set-ups so that they are more of a permanent installation. So, with the absence of a USB-A port on the front, I feel like I have to leave this dock out on my desk.
Another improvement that I hope is made concerns the power adapter. I find it odd when the power brick is almost larger than the device it’s powering. That is actually the case with this dock. I hope that maybe a different power can be utilized in the future rather than this enormous power brick. The dock does heat up the longer it’s actively in use. I typically use my computer 10-12 hours a day (at the low-end) and I noticed that the dock gets quite warm. It’s not ‘hot’ to the touch, but it is definitely warm.
I love that Corsair is starting to develop this category of accessories for Windows and macOS users and the TBT100 is a great option for users who don’t have a large amount of devices to connect. Because I have several USB-A devices, I would have liked to see more ports that would allow me to connect to the dock rather than an additional connectivity device. Aside from my personal usage, I found the TBT100 dock to be an exceptional device for connecting external peripherals to laptops and other Thunderbolt 3 computers.