First look: Belkin's Thunderbolt 3 Express Dock short on ports, but provides full charging...

Posted:
in General Discussion edited June 2017
Belkin has refreshed its line of Thunderbolt docks for the MacBook Pro's Thunderbolt 3, and AppleInsider takes a quick look at the most recent version.




Belkin continues to use the same form-factor as it has for its Thunderbolt and Thunderbolt 2 offerings. Like all of the Thunderbolt 3 docks we've looked at, the power supply is still massive, and gets hot with use.

Belkin has gone its own way with its cable choices, providing three USB 3.0 type A ports with 1.5A of charging each, one combination audio in and out port, a dedicated audio out port, and a Gigabit Ethernet port.




As with all of the Thunderbolt 3 docks we've tried, the Belkin unit has dual-4K support, with the DisplayPort and the Thunderbolt 3 pass-through port utilized for displays. It also provides full charging power to a 15-inch MacBook Pro at 85W.

As a bonus, the Belkin Thunderbolt 3 Express Dock has a usable cable -- a full meter. We understand that the Thunderbolt 3 docks are the first ones to more or less universally include a cable, and the possibilities of short, passive, inexpensive cables allow it, but there's a big difference between a useful length, and a useless one.




Over the next week, AppleInsider will test the Belkin Thunderbolt 3 dock, including benchmarks with Thunderbolt 3, USB 3.0 type C and USB 3.0 drive enclosures.

The Thunderbolt 3 Express Dock HD retails for $349, and is available from Amazon, at Apple's online store and some retail stores, and from Belkin directly.

Comments

  • Reply 1 of 13
    appexappex Posts: 687member
    Bring eSATA ports.
  • Reply 2 of 13
    sflocalsflocal Posts: 4,685member
    appex said:
    Bring eSATA ports.
    Why?  Besides you, who else uses it and for what?

  • Reply 3 of 13
    Mike WuertheleMike Wuerthele Posts: 4,791administrator
    appex said:
    Bring eSATA ports.
    CalDigit TS3 is your choice. Only one.
    cmka~+
  • Reply 4 of 13
    I bought one and have an issue.  I have two Dell 24-inch 4k monitors when I plug in a display port to the dock the screen constantly flickers.  Using a USB C cable works great but display port just flickers.  Contacted Belkin and they are sending me a replacement.  
  • Reply 5 of 13
    Mike WuertheleMike Wuerthele Posts: 4,791administrator
    aramosjr said:
    I bought one and have an issue.  I have two Dell 24-inch 4k monitors when I plug in a display port to the dock the screen constantly flickers.  Using a USB C cable works great but display port just flickers.  Contacted Belkin and they are sending me a replacement.  
    Not seeing that so far with a pair of Acer displays. Let me know how it goes.
  • Reply 6 of 13
    cmka~+cmka~+ Posts: 33member
    Dear AI... since you've done all these nice reviews on thunderbolt 3 docks, could you help answer a burning question?

    Can you do some performance comparison tests to show us how the bandwidth is distributed on these docks? Is the 5Gbps shared on all USB ports, or could we get up to 15Gbps aggregate if we had high speed SSDs connected to each of the three USB ports? Same question for CalDigit's eSata ports. 

    For those of us who are chiefly interested in distributing the 40Gbps bandwidth of a single thunderbolt3 connection to as many cheap usb drives as possible, $300+ seems like a lot to pay for the same speeds we can get from the plethora of USB 3.1 Gen1 hubs on the market.  (I understand of course there are 5k monitors and other valid reasons to get a TB3 dock). If on the other hand, these docks have dedicated 5Gbps bandwidth for each USB port, there's a real upside.

    Thanks! :-)
  • Reply 7 of 13
    Mike WuertheleMike Wuerthele Posts: 4,791administrator
    cmka~+ said:
    Dear AI... since you've done all these nice reviews on thunderbolt 3 docks, could you help answer a burning question?

    Can you do some performance comparison tests to show us how the bandwidth is distributed on these docks? Is the 5Gbps shared on all USB ports, or could we get up to 15Gbps aggregate if we had high speed SSDs connected to each of the three USB ports? Same question for CalDigit's eSata ports. 

    For those of us who are chiefly interested in distributing the 40Gbps bandwidth of a single thunderbolt3 connection to as many cheap usb drives as possible, $300+ seems like a lot to pay for the same speeds we can get from the plethora of USB 3.1 Gen1 hubs on the market.  (I understand of course there are 5k monitors and other valid reasons to get a TB3 dock). If on the other hand, these docks have dedicated 5Gbps bandwidth for each USB port, there's a real upside.

    Thanks! :-)
    Sure. So far, all the docks we've tested are limited to 32Gbit/sec in total assuming it's the only device on the chain, minus 12Gbit per 4K monitor attached. So, if you've got a pair of 4K, then you're down to 8Gbit/sec.

    Regarding cheap USB drives, you'll be limited to 5Gbit/sec or 6Gbit/sec on the eSATA connector ones per port. Drive speeds and access times are probably still more limiting than a dock will be. Cheap hubs also don't generally support UASP, like the docks do.

    Other than just a pile of cheap drives, what's the use case?
    edited June 2017
  • Reply 8 of 13
    MacProMacPro Posts: 18,359member
    Just a request, given I recently learned from Mike here that the Apple TB3/TB2 cable is bidirectional can these reviews include test showing equipment tested data rates, usability or not etc., using this cable to connect said hardware  to the likes of my antiquated 2014 (technically called late 2013) 6 core Mac Pro please?  :)

    p.s. Sorry to all every post I have made in the last decade and more on AI is edited.  I am profoundly dyslexic and only see my screw ups when I read them after posting.  Go figure?
    edited June 2017
  • Reply 9 of 13
    Mike WuertheleMike Wuerthele Posts: 4,791administrator
    MacPro said:
    Just a request, given I recently learned from Mike here that the Apple TB3/TB2 cable is bidirectional can these reviews include test showing equipment tested data rates, usability or not etc., using this cable to connect said hardware  to the likes of my antiquated 2014 (technically called late 2013) 6 core Mac Pro please?  :)

    p.s. Sorry to all every post I have made in the last decade and more on AI is edited.  I am profoundly dyslexic and only see my screw ups when I read them after posting.  Go figure?
    It can. The pass-through TB3 port needs to be adapted back down to TB2 if you're going to continue the chain, but I recommend that it be the last device.

    It won't do a single 4K, much less two, with TB2, though.
  • Reply 10 of 13
    MacProMacPro Posts: 18,359member
    MacPro said:
    Just a request, given I recently learned from Mike here that the Apple TB3/TB2 cable is bidirectional can these reviews include test showing equipment tested data rates, usability or not etc., using this cable to connect said hardware  to the likes of my antiquated 2014 (technically called late 2013) 6 core Mac Pro please?  :)

    p.s. Sorry to all every post I have made in the last decade and more on AI is edited.  I am profoundly dyslexic and only see my screw ups when I read them after posting.  Go figure?
    It can. The pass-through TB3 port needs to be adapted back down to TB2 if you're going to continue the chain, but I recommend that it be the last device.

    It won't do a single 4K, much less two, with TB2, though.
    Thanks.  I keep wondering if there is a way to hang a 4 or 5k off my Mac Pro with this cable whatever other trade offs I have to make.  I'd wondered if a dual TB2 > TB3 arrangement might exist or come to exist?    I also wonder of OWC might come up with a few more MP internal upgrades going forward that might add bus access to higher throughputs.  That said I suspect sales were far too low to warrant much if any development in that area.  I know I am really trying to stave off the day in 2019 I have to buy a new new Mac Pro (and that's assuming the iMac Pro isn't really it!).
    edited June 2017
  • Reply 11 of 13
    Mike WuertheleMike Wuerthele Posts: 4,791administrator
    MacPro said:
    MacPro said:
    Just a request, given I recently learned from Mike here that the Apple TB3/TB2 cable is bidirectional can these reviews include test showing equipment tested data rates, usability or not etc., using this cable to connect said hardware  to the likes of my antiquated 2014 (technically called late 2013) 6 core Mac Pro please?  :)

    p.s. Sorry to all every post I have made in the last decade and more on AI is edited.  I am profoundly dyslexic and only see my screw ups when I read them after posting.  Go figure?
    It can. The pass-through TB3 port needs to be adapted back down to TB2 if you're going to continue the chain, but I recommend that it be the last device.

    It won't do a single 4K, much less two, with TB2, though.
    Thanks.  I keep wondering if there is a way to hang a 4 or 5k off my Mac Pro with this cable whatever other trade offs I have to make.  I'd wondered if a dual TB2 > TB3 arrangement might exist or come to exist?    I also wonder of OWC might come up with a few more MP internal upgrades going forward that might add bus access to higher throughputs.  That said I suspect sales were far too low to warrant much if any development in that area.  I know I am really trying to stave off the day in 2019 I have to buy a new new Mac Pro (and that's assuming the iMac Pro isn't really it!).
    https://support.apple.com/en-us/HT206587

    You can hang a SST 4K display off of a TB2 port, with the right cabling, just not through an adapted TB3 dock.
    edited June 2017
  • Reply 12 of 13
    MacProMacPro Posts: 18,359member
    MacPro said:
    MacPro said:
    Just a request, given I recently learned from Mike here that the Apple TB3/TB2 cable is bidirectional can these reviews include test showing equipment tested data rates, usability or not etc., using this cable to connect said hardware  to the likes of my antiquated 2014 (technically called late 2013) 6 core Mac Pro please?  :)

    p.s. Sorry to all every post I have made in the last decade and more on AI is edited.  I am profoundly dyslexic and only see my screw ups when I read them after posting.  Go figure?
    It can. The pass-through TB3 port needs to be adapted back down to TB2 if you're going to continue the chain, but I recommend that it be the last device.

    It won't do a single 4K, much less two, with TB2, though.
    Thanks.  I keep wondering if there is a way to hang a 4 or 5k off my Mac Pro with this cable whatever other trade offs I have to make.  I'd wondered if a dual TB2 > TB3 arrangement might exist or come to exist?    I also wonder of OWC might come up with a few more MP internal upgrades going forward that might add bus access to higher throughputs.  That said I suspect sales were far too low to warrant much if any development in that area.  I know I am really trying to stave off the day in 2019 I have to buy a new new Mac Pro (and that's assuming the iMac Pro isn't really it!).
    https://support.apple.com/en-us/HT206587

    You can hang a SST 4K display off of a TB2 port, with the right cabling, just not through an adapted TB3 dock.
    Cool, would that cabling be this reversal cable and the extra one required for gender?  What's your recommendation for a 27"?  I wonder if I need 5K given cost and had looked at Dell 4Ks as they were very reasonable.  I am mainly using for Photography but I am sure I'll get back into FCPro X if I could see >4K.

    EDIT: I m an idiot, I was mixing HDMI and TB2 up, of course my Mac can support 4K already! It seems not 5K though?   https://www.macrumors.com/guide/4k-5k-displays-buyers-guide-mac/

    BTW how in this new interface AI uses do you get emails when you get a reply like this?  I had that in the old blog but never fathomed it in this one.
    edited June 2017
  • Reply 13 of 13
    Mike WuertheleMike Wuerthele Posts: 4,791administrator
    Yeah, you're out of luck with 5K. There's a Dell display that uses two MDP connections, but I don't know that much about it.

    Re: emails, no idea, really.
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