OWC unveils Thunderbolt Hub with multiple Thunderbolt 3 ports

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OWC's new Thunderbolt Hub is compatible with all Thunderbolt 3 Macs running Big Sur including the newly launched Apple Silicon Macs, and will give you three Thunderbolt 3 ports.

OWC announces new Mac-compatible Thunderbolt hub


The hub comes with four Thunderbolt 3 ports, capable of 40Gb/s transfer speeds in total. In addition to data transfer, it offers up to 60 watts of charging power to keep your MacBook Air, or MacBook Pro charged up. While 60W is sufficient for simultaneously powering and charging the Apple Silicon MacBook Air and MacBook Pro, it is short of what the 16-inch MacBook Pro demands to run and charge the battery simultaneously.

OWC says that the Thunderbolt Hub allows users to connect up to two 4K displays or a single display up to 6K on compatible equipment. It will not allow you to exceed limitations on displays for any given monitor, however. So, in the case of any Apple Silicon Macs, it will still only support one display at 6K with 60Hz refresh.

It also includes a single USB-A (USB 3.2) port, allowing for transfer speeds of up to 10Gb/s, and allowing users to use legacy devices, dongles, and flash drives.

ports


For those who are worried about leaving the device unattended, it includes a Kensington Nano slot, enabling users to secure the hub to a desk.

Included with the hub is a 2.5-foot Thunderbolt cable so users can quickly get the device up and running. AppleInsider has confirmed that the hub functions properly on Intel Macs with OWC -- but only under macOS Big Sur.

The OWC Thunderbolt Hub is available for preorder from MacSales and costs $149. Orders are anticipated to ship in early December.

Comments

  • Reply 1 of 19
    I think this works only for devices that support Thunderbolt 4, which allows for hub topology, unlike the daisy-chaining that Thunderbolt 3 requires. Thunderbolt 4 is only released on Intel 11th gen mobile chipsets, which a few early PC ultrabooks will be shipping with.
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 2 of 19

    OWC unveils Thunderbolt Hub with multiple Thunderbolt 3 ports


    But the images show they're Thunderbolt 4 ports.
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 3 of 19
    Please allow me to vent: The Thunderbolt and USB standards remain a muddled mess for the average person to understand! Apple's own technical specs page for the new M1-based Mac mini shows a photo labeling the ports as "Thunderbolt / USB 4" but the text beneath the graphic says, "Two Thunderbolt / USB 4 ports with support for: DisplayPort; Thunderbolt 3 (up to 40Gb/s); USB 3.1 Gen 2 (up to 10Gb/s); Thunderbolt 2, HDMI, DVI, and VGA supported using adapters (sold separately)." I've been an IT professional for 30 years (and a Mac user since 1984), but I can't easily make sense of it. Based solely on Apple's own tech specs for the M1-based Macs, the average non-IT expert will ask very reasonably: "What's the difference between USB 4 and USB 3.1 Gen 2?" And the answer will be even more unclear because multiple standards exist, including USB 3.2 Gen 1, USB 3.2 Gen 2, USB4 Gen 2, USB4 Gen 3, and others. 

    Anyway, all that said, OWC's product page says "Now you can do more, effortlessly on your Apple M1 Mac, any Apple ‘Intel’ Mac with Thunderbolt 3, or any Thunderbolt 4 PC." So the product itself apparently supports Thunderbolt 4 even though the new M1 Macs' ports are only Thunderbolt 3.
    edited November 2020 aderuttermknelsonwatto_cobra
  • Reply 4 of 19
    Mike WuertheleMike Wuerthele Posts: 6,487administrator
    I think this works only for devices that support Thunderbolt 4, which allows for hub topology, unlike the daisy-chaining that Thunderbolt 3 requires. Thunderbolt 4 is only released on Intel 11th gen mobile chipsets, which a few early PC ultrabooks will be shipping with.
    Confirmed: This works on any TB3 Mac with Big Sur.

    We'll be discussing it more in December.
    edited November 2020 jdb8167watto_cobra
  • Reply 5 of 19
    sflocalsflocal Posts: 5,978member
    I didn't realize one can do this with pre-USB4 (i.e. Thunderbolt3) ports.  So if I can use this on my new 2020 iMac, then that's a really good thing.  I like the direction it's going, but... (and of course there's a "but"), they should have included the basics like ethernet, SDcard, some USBA ports as well.  The way it is, I would have to buy a separate dock to get extra ports and it's just not something I want to do.

    Either way, it's a good thing and it's a first good start.
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 6 of 19
    I think this works only for devices that support Thunderbolt 4, which allows for hub topology, unlike the daisy-chaining that Thunderbolt 3 requires. Thunderbolt 4 is only released on Intel 11th gen mobile chipsets, which a few early PC ultrabooks will be shipping with.
    Confirmed: This works on any TB3 Mac with Big Sur.

    We'll be discussing it more in December.
    I'd love if this were true, as Intel said that Thunderbolt 3 is hardware (ie the controllers) limited to not being able support a tree-like hub topology - it's not a question of OS as far as I thought. But if true it would really help with devices that have only 2 TB ports.

    [Edit] Going through the order flow OWC now added a dialog that lets you select TB3 Mac and M1 Mac vs a TB4 version.
    edited November 2020 svanstromaderutterwatto_cobra
  • Reply 7 of 19
    Finally! A true Thunderbolt 3 dock.  I don’t need USB-A ports. Would really like this to have 6 Thunderbolt ports, but I guess I’ll just buy 2 😊
    aderutternetroxwatto_cobra
  • Reply 8 of 19
    Mike WuertheleMike Wuerthele Posts: 6,487administrator
    I think this works only for devices that support Thunderbolt 4, which allows for hub topology, unlike the daisy-chaining that Thunderbolt 3 requires. Thunderbolt 4 is only released on Intel 11th gen mobile chipsets, which a few early PC ultrabooks will be shipping with.
    Confirmed: This works on any TB3 Mac with Big Sur.

    We'll be discussing it more in December.
    I'd love if this were true, as Intel said that Thunderbolt 3 is hardware (ie the controllers) limited to not being able support a tree-like hub topology - it's not a question of OS as far as I thought. But if true it would really help with devices that have only 2 TB ports.

    [Edit] Going through the order flow OWC now added a dialog that lets you select TB3 Mac and M1 Mac vs a TB4 version.
    When I called them with the same question, they said that it absolutely works on Intel TB3 Macs running Big Sur.
    design4usewatto_cobra
  • Reply 9 of 19
    Is it two different products then? One for TB3 computers and one for TB4 computers?
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 10 of 19
    This sounds great! 

    So glad there’s finally a product with multiple TB ports and none of the garbage I don’t need like SD card readers, ethernet and lots of ancient USB-A.
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 11 of 19
    crowleycrowley Posts: 10,249member
    Very confusing, it’s been said many times that TB3 hubs aren’t possible.
  • Reply 12 of 19
    Mike WuertheleMike Wuerthele Posts: 6,487administrator
    crowley said:
    Very confusing, it’s been said many times that TB3 hubs aren’t possible.
    We have questions that OWC danced around on the phone. They published a video yesterday discussing it, but what they're talking about, seems contrary to the TB3 spec.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SwJgCxmjh8A&feature=youtu.be
    jdb8167design4usewatto_cobra
  • Reply 13 of 19
    flydogflydog Posts: 1,094member
    Is it two different products then? One for TB3 computers and one for TB4 computers?
    Not only that, but TB4 for PCs only?
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 14 of 19
    netroxnetrox Posts: 1,193member
    Finally! I have been waiting for a hub with more USB-C ports or TB3 ports. Why did it take this long?!?! A lot of my devices are USB-C. 
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 15 of 19
    crowley said:
    Very confusing, it’s been said many times that TB3 hubs aren’t possible.
    We have questions that OWC danced around on the phone. They published a video yesterday discussing it, but what they're talking about, seems contrary to the TB3 spec.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SwJgCxmjh8A&feature=youtu.be
    Especially weird because up until the M1 Macs, Apple used Intel Thunderbolt 3 chips. Maybe Intel always intended TB3 to be hub capable but just never got around to completing the spec until TB4. Waiting for your review.
    edited November 2020 watto_cobra
  • Reply 16 of 19
    Larry O’Connor, owner and founder of OWC (OtherWorld Computing aka MacSales.com) had an interview on MacObserver.com earlier this week. He’s a geek’s geek. He started OWC at age 15 and has grown the company and product line to be a significant and very reliable supplier of Mac peripherals and storage solutions. 

    He explained that PC suppliers have often offered TB3 that was only partially implemented. 
    He further explained that Thunderbolt3 (TB3) has always been fully implemented on Macs and that we’ve had it good on the Mac.

    TB4 is actually TB3 as we’ve had on the Mac all along (40 Gb/s). The difference is that it will be certified on PCs only if it’s the full implementation under the new USB4 spec. 
     
    Meanwhile, USB4 is now 40Gb/s. The new standard for USB4 includes TB3 and power requirements of at least one port supplying 100 watts of power  it also enforces capability of 4 port hubs or docks plus  capability for both USB4  & TB4 (te TB3 we’ve already enjoyed on Macs).   
    The 4 port dock should work under Big Sur on all TB3 Macs. The cables have to be certfied as USB 4 as well and they have to be able to carry 100 watts of power. 

    I’m not sure why OWC is only varying 60 watts of power.
    Detnatorentropyswatto_cobra
  • Reply 17 of 19


    TB4 is actually TB3 as we’ve had on the Mac all along (40 Gb/s). 
    I am sure Larry O'Connor is very cool, and while this is true re:speed, how come no one was able to implement a hub structure even for the accessories on the market for Mac?
    To my knowledge, Intel has said multiple times that there a few things that TB3 is tied to, among other things a daisy-chained expansion architecture. 
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 18 of 19
    Mike WuertheleMike Wuerthele Posts: 6,487administrator


    TB4 is actually TB3 as we’ve had on the Mac all along (40 Gb/s). 
    I am sure Larry O'Connor is very cool, and while this is true re:speed, how come no one was able to implement a hub structure even for the accessories on the market for Mac?
    To my knowledge, Intel has said multiple times that there a few things that TB3 is tied to, among other things a daisy-chained expansion architecture. 
    Intel's published spec for TB3 still is explicit about no hub and spoke in TB3, so yeah. 

    We'll see how it goes.
    design4usewatto_cobra
  • Reply 19 of 19
    Intel's published spec for TB3 still is explicit about no hub and spoke in TB3, so yeah. 

    We'll see how it goes.
    Don't get me wrong I'd love what OWC is saying and it's great news, if it works reliably.
    For an extra fee you could overcome the 2 TB ports only restrictions on the new M1 macs which makes them inherently more useful to me!
    watto_cobra
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