The Most Ports and the Most Useful Dock on the Market
Review by Erik Vlietinck
All-in-one computers, like the iMac, rarely have enough ports to satisfy our needs. CalDigit’s small-footprint, cast aluminum Thunderbolt Station 3 Plus (TS3 Plus) is a dock that adds a whopping 15 ports to any Thunderbolt 3 machine. The options go beyond the conventional, allowing users not only to expand connectivity but also charge their laptops.
The TS3 Plus has the following: two Thunderbolt 3 (40 Gb/s) ports; one USB-C 3.1 Gen.2 (10 Gb/s) port; one USB-C 3.1 Gen.1 (5 Gb/s) port; five USB-A 3.1 Gen.1 (5 Gb/s) ports; stereo audio I/O ports; an S/PDIF out port; a Gigabit Ethernet port; a DisplayPort 1.2 (4K/60Hz) port; and an SD 4.0 UHS-II card reader.
Some of these ports are unique to the TS3 Plus. No other dock currently on the market offers a 10 Gb/s USB-C, as well as an S/PDIF port and a UHS-II card reader. Thanks to Thunderbolt 3, I was able to connect three 5 Gb/s USB-A devices and one 10 Gb/s USB-C device. I had no trouble backing up to a USB-C 10 Gb/s CalDigit Tuff SSD drive, offloading to an OWC Mercury Elite Pro Dual, and playing a music piece without any hiccups using Audirvana Plus as the player app from the CalDigit AV Pro 2.
A real boon, in my opinion, is the addition of the high-speed card reader. It does require you to use an SD adapter and it needs to be a UHS-II type to get the fastest possible offloading performance, but offloading 5.58 GB of image data took only a few minutes instead of the 15 minutes or more with slower readers.
The TS3 Plus provides both Mac and PC charging at 60W or 85W. Finally, it’s the only dock that’s small enough to be unobtrusive and that handles as well standing up as on its side. In the vertical position, it’s only a tad harder to read the port labels. ■