The Finest Thunderbolt 3 Docks for 2020

Our top pick, the CalDigit TS3 Plus, a small metallic rectangle, with an SD card inserted into the SD card reader. There are also audio and USB ports on the front of the dock.
Photograph: Michael Murtaugh

Our choose

CalDigit TS3 Plus

This dock has essentially the most USB-A ports, plus USB-C ports and an SD card slot, and it could possibly cost a 15-inch MacBook Professional at full pace or a 16-inch mannequin at near that.

CalDigit’s TS3 Plus is one of the best Thunderbolt 3 dock for most individuals as a result of it provides extra USB-A ports than nearly all the competitors and gives USB-C ports and an SD card slot with out sacrificing different essential inputs. It’s additionally one of the crucial compact fashions obtainable, so it takes up much less room in your desk—particularly should you stand it on its finish, an possibility you don’t get with most docks. And the 85 watts of energy it could possibly ship to a related laptop computer means it’s able to charging even a 15-inch MacBook Professional at full pace, or a 16-inch MacBook Professional at near that. The TS3 Plus is costlier than another docks we examined, however should you actually want a Thunderbolt 3 dock fairly than a USB-C one, this mannequin makes the fewest compromises.

  • The front of the CalDigit TS3 Plus Thunderbolt dock, showing it's inputs and outputs.

    The entrance of the CalDigit dock has (from proper) one USB-A 3.2 Gen 1 port, one USB-C 3.2 Gen 1 port, audio-in, audio-out, and an SD card slot. Photograph: Michael Murtaugh

  • The back of the CalDigit TS3 Plus Thunderbolt dock, showing its inputs and outputs.

    The again of the CalDigit dock has two Thunderbolt 3 ports, in addition to 4 USB-A 3.2 Gen 1 ports, one USB-C 3.2 Gen 2 port, Gigabit Ethernet, S/PDIF audio out, and a DisplayPort connector.

The TS3 Plus gives two Thunderbolt 3 ports, 5 conventional USB (USB 3.2 Gen 1 Sort-A) ports, an SD card slot, DisplayPort, Gigabit Ethernet, separate audio-in and -out jacks, S/PDIF digital audio, and two USB-C ports, certainly one of which (the one on the again) helps the quicker USB 3.2 Gen 2 switch speeds.

In our USB-A testing with Samsung’s Moveable SSD T3, we measured common learn speeds of 340 MB/s and write speeds of 264 MB/s on 4 of the 5 ports. These speeds are about 20 to 30 p.c slower than the outcomes we obtained after we plugged the drive into the Mac straight. Nonetheless, the opposite docks we examined supplied comparable outcomes—our take a look at drive exhibited equally slower speeds with each dock. The fifth port (the bottom one on the again of the CalDigit dock) produced quicker speeds of 422.7 MB/s learn and 383 MB/s write. The USB-C 3.2 Gen 1 learn and write speeds have been nearly equivalent to these of the slower 4 USB-A ports, whereas the Gen 2 port was in keeping with the quicker USB-A port.

We additionally measured switch pace with SanDisk’s Excessive 900 Moveable SSD, which CalDigit supplied and which we returned after testing. SanDisk advertises this drive as supporting learn and write speeds as much as 850 MB/s (in contrast with a max of 450 MB/s for the Samsung T3 drive). USB 3.2 Gen 1 ports can’t benefit from this extra pace as a result of they max out at 5 gigabits (or 625 megabytes) per second, however 10-gigabit USB 3.2 Gen 2 ports can. We discovered that USB-A speeds have been barely quicker with the SanDisk drive, hitting a mean learn pace of 347 MB/s and a write pace of 309.7 MB/s, although that backside USB-A port was as soon as once more noticeably quicker, measuring 419.3 MB/s and 373.7 MB/s learn and write, respectively. The extra putting distinction was between the 2 USB-C ports: The slower port, on the entrance of the dock, averaged 351 MB/s learn and 313.3 MB/s write, whereas the rear (Gen 2) port was about twice as quick, with learn speeds of 736.3 MB/s and write speeds of 605.7 MB/s. We noticed even quicker speeds after we plugged the SanDisk drive into the dock’s open Thunderbolt 3 port utilizing the drive’s included USB-C cable: 829.7 MB/s learn and 734.3 MB/s write. All that is to say that the TS3 Plus helps quick switch speeds when paired with the proper {hardware}.

In our exams utilizing LaCie’s Bolt 3, a Thunderbolt 3 drive, the TS3 Plus’s Thunderbolt 3 learn and write speeds have been many occasions quicker than its USB outcomes, however—as with all of the docks—nonetheless a bit slower than when the take a look at drive was related on to the pc by way of Thunderbolt, and slower than the utmost pace LaCie advertises. With the drive attached on to our Mac’s Thunderbolt 3 port, learn speeds averaged 2,229 MB/s (17.83 Gbps); with the drive related by way of the TS3 Plus, they have been shut, at 2,173 MB/s (17.39 Gbps). Write speeds noticed a a lot greater drop-off, going from 953.3 MB/s (7.63 Gbps) by way of direct connection all the way down to 704.7 MB/s (5.64 Gbps) by way of the dock. Once more, these numbers are comparable with our take a look at outcomes throughout the remainder of the docks, and these figures nonetheless point out blazing-fast speeds subsequent to these of most connection varieties. Nonetheless, you shouldn’t purchase this dock (or any dock, for that matter) anticipating to see the identical efficiency as you’d get with a direct connection between your pc and the quickest Thunderbolt 3 drives.

The TS3 Plus’s SD-card switch speeds have been on a par with these of each different SD-equipped dock we’ve examined: Learn speeds averaged 88.7 MB/s, and write speeds averaged 77 MB/s. That’s slower than what we measured with a standalone card reader for our information to one of the best SD playing cards, but it surely’s nonetheless respectable.

4 of the CalDigit dock’s USB-A ports present 7.5-watt charging every (1.5 amps at 5 volts), which is slower than what you may get from an excellent standalone USB charger however similar to the outcomes from different Thunderbolt docks. The fifth port—the one closest to the tip of the dock—gives slower, 2.5-watt charging (0.5 amp at 5 volts), making it higher suited to transferring knowledge than for charging telephones or tablets. (Sadly, the dock has no label to inform you that port gives much less energy than the others.) Each USB-C ports additionally assist solely 2.5-watt charging.

Most Thunderbolt 3 docks, together with this one, use DisplayPort for video output. We measured a correct 60-hertz refresh charge when the dock was related to a 4K DisplayPort monitor.

Nearly each different Thunderbolt dock we examined is lengthy and flat, designed to lie horizontally in your desk. The TS3 Plus, however, can stand vertically or sit horizontally. It measures 5.2 by 3.9 by 1.6 inches, so when it’s standing on its shortest edge, it takes up solely about 6.25 sq. inches of desk area, in contrast with the 26.6 sq. inches required for the 8.43-by-3.15-inch CalDigit USB-C Professional Dock, our finances choose.

Evaluations of the TS3 Plus have been very optimistic, matching our findings. “Of all of the Thunderbolt 3 docks I’ve examined to this point, CalDigit’s TS3 Plus is my new favourite,” writes Eric Slivka of MacRumors. In one other assessment, 9to5Mac’s Jeff Benjamin writes, “[T]he TS3 Plus’ diminutive design, and 15-ports in complete, make CalDigit’s newest dock a really compelling possibility for Mac customers.” And Mike Wuerthele of AppleInsider calls it “an outstanding alternative.”

Cale Hunt, who examined the TS3 Plus with a PC for Home windows Central, additionally praises its efficiency and flexibility: “With 15 ports, nice efficiency, and a small footprint, the TS3 Plus is about one of the best Thunderbolt 3 dock you should purchase at present.”

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