Why this 11-port dock is perfect for professionals who travel

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OWC Thunderbolt Go dock on a grey background

Adrian Kingsley-Hughes/ZDNET

Docks and hubs are now a common part of life, as we make use of the versatility of ports such as Thunderbolt and USB-C (or, looking at it the other way, the lack of ports on modern systems). 

Most users’ needs are simple, just needing to turn a USB-C port into a USB-A, HDMI, or an SD card reader, and speed and performance aren’t really a big consideration.

Also: Microsoft’s $300 Thunderbolt 4 dock is low-key a dream MacBook Air accessory

Professionals need more. Demand more. And this is where high-end, high-speed docks that are bristling with ports come into play.

But bigger docks usually come with a big, heavy downside — most need a bulky external power supply. They’re fine if you only ever use your dock on your desk, but a real pain if it needs to be portable, as you have to carry a big power brick around.

The OWC Thunderbolt Go Dock changes this. 

OWC Thunderbolt Go Dock

ZDNET RECOMMENDS

OWC Thunderbolt Go Dock

An 11-port dock aimed at media professionals who handle a lot of data. This dock has the huge advantage of not needing a power brick, making it perfect for those who don’t want to be tied to their desk.

OWC Thunderbolt Go tech specs

  • Ports: 3x Thunderbolt 4 (USB-C), with one supporting 90W charging, 1x USB-C 3.2, 10Gbps, 2x USB-A, 10Gbps, 1x USB-A 2.0, 1x 2.5 Gigabit Ethernet, 1x HDMI, 1x SD card slot, 1x 3.5mm audio jack
  • Tough, heat-dissipating aluminum construction in a Space Gray finish
  • Support for up to one 8K display @ 60Hz
  • Power cable and 0.7m (28 inches) Thunderbolt 4 cable
  • 100~240V, 50~60Hz, 1.5A worldwide power input
  • Size: 24.1 x 9.2 x 3.6cm (9.5 x 3.6 x 1.4 inches)
  • Weight: 949.0 g (2.09 pounds)

I make no secret of the fact that I’m a huge fan of the hardware that OWC makes. Primarily aimed at Apple users (although much of the hardware, including this dock, is compatible with PCs), the company has a reputation for making quality products that span over 30 years.

Also: Traveling soon? Take this 6-port charger with you

And the Thunderbolt Go Dock lives up to my exceedingly high expectations for a product carrying the OWC brand.

Closeup on the OWC logo on aluminum

I expect a lot from an OWC product, and this dock delivers.

Adrian Kingsley-Hughes/ZDNET

First, it oozes quality, style, and ruggedness. This is a dock that’s equally at home on an antique wooden desk in an air-conditioned office or the back of a truck up deep in a forest and away from civilization.

It’s beautiful without being flimsy, but robust without looking like a piece of military kit.

And it’s well-finished too — with no sharp edge or rough metal seam to catch and scratch on clothes or other gadgets.

Close up of the polished aluminum finish on the OWC Thunderbolt Go Dock

Adrian Kingsley-Hughes/ZDNET

Another thing that I expect from an OWC product is that it just works, and the Thunderbolt Go Dock delivers. It just works. You plug the dock into the mains, connect your laptop, desktop, or tablet, and everything works as you’d expect. 

Try as I might, I can’t find a weakness. The specs that OWC publishes are what you get.

Every port does what it says it will. 

No ifs, no buts. 

End view of the OWC Thunderbolt Go Dock

End view of the OWC Thunderbolt Go Dock.

Adrian Kingsley-Hughes/ZDNET

As for the enclosure, it does a great job of protecting the dock, dissipating the heat generated, and looking good. At almost a kilogram (a shade over two pounds), you’re definitely going to feel it in a backpack, but since I’ve tested plenty of docks of that weight that came with a power brick that weighed more — sometimes twice as much — this one is most definitely easier to carry.

Here’s another thing I like about OWC docks — all the ports are marked. Why so many other companies don’t do this is beyond me. 

OWC labels all the ports on its docks with clear, white lettering

OWC labels all the ports on its docks with clear, white lettering.

Adrian Kingsley-Hughes/ZDNET

I use this dock so I can rapidly copy videos off the SD and microSD cards from my drones and cameras, and then move that data to my laptop and backup storage. 

The blisteringly fast transfer speeds offered by this dock mean I can get this done in minutes, as opposed to hours.

Also: You might be using the wrong microSD cards

One limitation of the Thunderbolt Go Dock is that it requires mains power. Not a problem in an office or many cafes and airport lounges, but can be a bit of a pain if you’re used to going off-grid. 

My solution is that I have a power station — either something big like the Jackery Explorer 1500 Pro or Bluetti AC200P, small like the Jackery Explorer 240 or Anker 521, or tiny like the Omni 20+ or Omni Ultimate. I can then charge these off the truck’s 12V power outlet or using a foldaway solar panel, depending on the weather and terrain. Not a problem. 

The OWC Thunderbolt Go Dock with SD cards and USB flash drive

Perfect for moving lots of data.

OWC

Power is supplied using a common two-prong “figure 8” power cord. These are super common, and you’re likely to have one already in your bag, or, if you forget it, you can easily pick one up from a local store for a few dollars.

Also: This $30 USB hub finally ended my MacBook port struggle

At $350, this dock isn’t for everyone. If you just want to add a few ports to your MacBook, then something like this $30 Plugable 5-in-1 will be fine. But if you need power, performance, and reliability, and you’re shuffling gigabytes of important data from storage cards and backup drives, or you want to hook up your device to an external display, then the OWC Thunderbolt Go Dock is worth looking at. 

It’s a solid, professional, and reliable bit of kit at a price that’s very reasonable.





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