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Review: OWC Thunderbolt 3 Dock

About six months ago I purchased an OWC Thunderbolt 3 Dock to replace my Anker PowerElite Thunderbolt 3 Dock (see my review here). While there was nothing necessarily wrong with the Anker PowerElite, it lacked a digital audio port that I could use to send audio to a soundbar positioned under my monitor. (I’d grown accustomed to using a soundbar when my 2012 Mac Pro was my primary workstation.) In this post, I’ll provide a brief review of the OWC Thunderbolt 3 Dock.

Note that I’m posting this as a customer. I paid for the dock with my own money, and I have not received any compensation of any kind from anyone for this review.

First Impressions

The OWC Thunderbolt 3 Dock feels well-built, but is larger than the Anker PowerElite. To be frank, I think I prefer the smaller footprint of the Anker PowerElite, but the added ports available on the OWC Thunderbolt Dock sealed the deal for me. Your priorities may be different, of course.

As one might expect, setup was truly “plug-and-play.” I connected all my peripherals to the dock—see below for the list of what I use on a regular basis—and then plugged in the Thunderbolt cable to my 2020 M1-based 13" MacBook Pro (see my review here). All the devices were recognized and started working immediately; no further action needed on my part.

More In-Depth Impressions

Connectivity

I was able to connect all my peripherals with no issues at all:

  • Samsung U32J59x 4K monitor (via Mini DisplayPort)
  • Logitech C922 webcam (via USB)
  • Samsung sound bar (via optical audio cable)
  • Heil PR40 microphone (via Blue Icicle XLR-to-USB converter/preamp)

I still have several USB-A ports, a USB-C port, SD/microSD card readers, and another Thunderbolt port available, as well as an Ethernet port. The unused USB-C port and one of the USB-A ports are front-facing, and I’ve had to use the latter a number of times for USB flash drives.

Reliability

I’ve had zero issues with the dock. All the peripherals work every time I plug in, and there’s been no “drops” in connectivity with any of the devices.

My only complaint—and I don’t know if this is the dock or how Apple’s M1-based Macs work—is that the display is sometimes recognized “late” and all of my window layouts are “forgotten,” making me move windows back where I want them. I haven’t found a workaround yet, nor have I identified a root cause.

Other Notes

In comparison to the Anker PowerElite, the OWC Thunderbolt 3 Dock generates very little heat. It’s a tad warm to the touch on the underside of the dock, but that’s it.

Summary

Overall, I’m quite happy with the OWC Thunderbolt 3 Dock. Although I prefer the smaller form factor and the aesthetics of the Anker PowerElite, the extra ports that are available on the OWC Thunderbolt Dock make the difference for me, and I still have room for additional peripherals. I would’ve preferred HDMI over Mini DisplayPort, but this is a minor quibble.

Feel free to contact me on Twitter if you have any questions, and I’ll do my best to answer them for you. Happy Holidays!

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