Great device in a small package comes with a large price tag.
As the owner of a USB-C/Thunderbolt-driven computer, I struggle a lot with how to connect it to external devices. I have desktop-sized docks to keep it connected while I’m at my desk at home or work, but when I’m on the go, I find myself having a bit of a conundrum to deal with because while there are portable USB-C docks available, there aren’t many Thunderbolt 3 ones that will fit easily into a pocket. I recently discovered that IOGEAR makes a device that fits this need in the Thunderbolt 3 Travel Dock (GTD300).
The Thunderbolt 3 Travel Dock is a 4-port dock that helps to expand a laptop or tablet’s ports while you are on the go. It features ultra-fast Thunderbolt 3 data rates up to 40 Gbps and can connect to single or dual 4K displays (4096 x 2160 @ 60Hz). The compact design also features a hideaway cable compartment. The dock also provides users with Gigabit Ethernet network connection. To use the Thunderbolt 3 Travel Dock, a user must have a Thunderbolt 3 enabled computer with Windows 7/8/8.1/10 or macOS 10.7+. NOTE: Many Thunderbolt 3 PCs require software and firmware updates to ensure functionality with Thunderbolt 3 adapters and docking stations.
- Upstream Port: Thunderbolt 3 (40 Gbps)
- Downstream Port: 1x USB 3.0 (Up to 5Gbps, supports Wake-on-USB), 1x DisplayPort 1.2 spec (Up to 4096X2160@60Hz), 1x Ethernet 1Gbps (Supports Wake-on-LAN), 1x HDMI 2.0 spec (4096X2160 @ 60Hz)
- Audio: Supports up to 8-channel LPCM, compressed audio (AC-3, DTS) and HBR audio formats; up to 192kHz frame rate and up to 24-bit sample size
- Protocols: HDMI port: HDCP 2.2, EDID reading
- Dimensions: 4.06” x 0.91” x 2.2”
- Weight: 0.3 lb.
The IOGEAR Thunderbolt 3 Travel Dock comes in a standard IOGEAR box with white and green branded colors on it. There is a nice image of the product on the face of the box and basic details of the product on the back. There are no instructions included since the dock is a plug-n-play device. That said, IOGEAR did include a warranty card with the product.
The dock was a bit larger than I expected. I have a USB-C travel dock from QacQoc that I use regularly to interface with non USB-C devices and it’s about 1/4 of the thickness of the Thunderbolt 3 (TB3) dock. I was also surprised to find that there were only 4 ports on it given the fact that my USB-C dock has 8 ports on it. Because this was surprising to me, I did a little research and found another Thunderbolt 3 Travel Dock by StarTech that also only offers 4 ports. I don’t know if there is a rhyme or reason to why there are only a few options for connection with this dock, but it seems to be the norm with a TB3 dock.
The first thing I actually used the dock for was to connect a USB mechanical keyboard to my 2016 MacBook Pro. I used the keyboard without any issues with connection for several hours and was surprised to find that the dock was warm to the touch. It wasn’t ‘hot’, but noticeably warmer than it had been when I plugged the keyboard in. I noticed this heat collection issue happened frequently while I was actively using the dock. I love the overall design of the IOGEAR travel dock, but have concerns about the heat collection. Even though I know it wasn’t getting hot enough to damage any connected devices or the internal workings of the device itself, it was enough of a heat collection for me to notice by touching it. While this is a concern, the design and size of the dock is good enough for me to keep this with me for on-the-go travel needs.
Because I was curious about the speed of the dock I did a quick speed test using a USB 3.0 flash drive and a USB-C external hard drive using the Blackmagic Disk Speed Test software. I found that both docks — TB3 and USB-C — provided nearly identical data transfer speeds. One thing to remember about this type of test is that while the interface of the dock may provide up to 40Gbps, the connected drive may not. For example, the USB 3.0 flash drive I was using for this test had a maximum of 5Gbps as a transfer speed. So, the most I would be able to get is 5Gbps. That said, I thought the dock performed as expected.
While I love the design of this dock and the opportunity to have up to 40Gbps as a transfer speed, the biggest issue I have with this dock is the price. It is currently being offered for $159.99 through IOGEAR (some other sources have it slightly less). The other TB3 dock I mentioned above is only $121.99 from Amazon while the QacQoc USB-C dock is being offered for around $58. And, while I know that a direct comparison between a USB-C and a Thunderbolt 3 dock isn’t quite accurate, I do feel that when it comes to ‘travel’ docks, one that has more ports instead of less makes more sense. And, since the speed of data transfer will be limited by the connected device’s specs, one has to ask themselves if the added speed of Thunderbolt 3 is worth the considerable investment. I do think professional-level users will find this dock useful especially those who need it for production purposes.
The Thunderbolt 3 Travel Dock is a worthy companion for on-the-go work assignments. It does a good job of staying in one place when on a desktop and provides much faster transfer times than my standard USB-C travel dock. I do wish it was a little bit more affordable since it does only provide one USB-A port and in a travel situation, that is usually what I need the most. While I appreciate the dual-display port option, I think that an HDMI port alone would suffice since it is a travel dock. I think users of Thunderbolt 3 compatible laptops will find this dock incredibly useful and worth the investment.