Solid docking station has a few drawbacks.

Not too long ago, I found myself in possession of a 2016 MacBook Pro with Touchbar. It wasn’t really a planned transaction but I was in the right place at the right time to be able to acquire it. Because this remarkable machine only has USB-C ports on it, I quickly began changing the way I was working in order to accommodate this new workflow. When I’m working remotely, it’s easy enough to plug in a USB-C adapter or hub so that I can connect to my favorite USB-A flash drive or upload photos from an SD card, but when it comes to stationary work, I would much prefer to connect through a dock like the Thunderbolt 3 Docking Station from StarTech.

StarTech Thunderbolt 3 Docking Station REVIEW

This docking station makes it possible for me to not only connect to different devices, but I can also charge through it. The StarTech docking station actually has two versions – one that supports power delivery up to 85W and one that does not. I have the one that does. I have the 13-inch MBP so it only requires 61W for successful battery charging whereas the 15-inch with TouchBar needs 87W.

In addition to the power delivery, the dock also provides connection to:

  • 4K display through a display port
  • Two (2) Thunderbolt 3 ports
  • One (1) USB-C port
  • One (1) headphone port
  • One (1) microphone port
  • Two (2) USB 3.0 ports – one is fast-charging
  • One (1) Ethernet port

StarTech Thunderbolt 3 Docking Station REVIEW

The dock comes in a StarTech branded box with some basic information on the outside of it. On the inside, you will find the dock itself along with a Thunderbolt 3 cable, USB-C to Display Port cable, universal power adapter, power cords (NA/JP, ANZ), and an instruction manual. Even though it comes with a manual, using the dock is fairly self-explanatory. You plug it into power, plug all the peripherals into it that you want to be connected to and then you plug your laptop into it.

The first test I ran was to ensure that the laptop was indeed charging through the dock. I plugged the dock into power and then connected the Thunderbolt 3 cable to the dock and to the laptop. I immediately heard that familiar ‘ding’ from my MBP when power is connected. The menu bar utility showed me that it was plugged into a power adapter and that the battery was receiving a charge.

StarTech-Thunderbolt3Dock

The next test I wanted to run is a standard speed test I run on docks and hubs. I grabbed a trusty USB 3.0 flash drive and plugged it into the dock. The flash drive mounted quickly within just a few seconds of being inserted into the dock. I then transferred a file (2.36GB in size) over to the flash drive from the computer. The transfer took approximately 36 seconds to complete. This was using a passive Thunderbolt 3 cable.

This docking station very similar to other brands I’ve seen, but it has some slight drawbacks to it. While it has a great number of ports for connectivity, it lacks an SD/Micro SD card slot. To me, this is sort of a deal breaker since I use them so much. The docking station works fine, but I felt that there not being a slot for the SD card was a huge misstep in the design.

StarTech Thunderbolt 3 Docking Station REVIEW

In addition to that, I think it’s slightly overpriced. If I were to compare this directly to another docking station the biggest difference between the two is that the other model has 3 USB 3.0 ports and 2 USB-C ports, while this one has 3 USB-C ports and only 2 USB 3.0 ports. I guess it’s sort of a toss-up based off of your usage on which docking station works best for you. This is a very well-built docking station and will do a great job providing extra connectivity to laptops that have limited connection options.
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