I'm pretty disappointed with Thunderbolt accessory offerings

Discussion in 'MacBook Pro' started by Essenar, Nov 2, 2015.

  1. Essenar macrumors 6502a

    Oct 24, 2008
    I really want to expand some USB 3.0 ports.
    I have a 2011 MacBook Pro Sandy Bridge, which has USB 2.0 ports. I have FireWire which is useless in 2015, and a Thunderbolt.
    I'm willing to spend on a good dock (because it will follow me to whatever Mac I get in the future) but there's honestly no 5/5 in quality thunderbolt docks.
    I mean really, the highest reviewed one has intermittent disconnections with data storage causing necessary reboots of the entire dock, meaning it's pretty much useless in that capacity.
    Why hasn't Apple made its own? I feel like they know Thunderbolt is more or less only useful as a display adapter and that's why they're concerting efforts into USB-C.

    I mean look at USB 3.0. It came out AFTER Thunderbolt and already has extremely high quality display, port expanding powered docks.

    We have a StarTech Thunderbolt dock in the office, massive disconnection issues. Only works well for HDMI display but USB 3.0 ports constantly "drop connection".

    Same thing with the OWC unit. I'm feeling like Thunderbolt is nothing but the next Mini DP port...
  2. Samuelsan2001 macrumors 604

    Oct 24, 2013
    You can't blame apple when intel (who own thunderbolt) pretty much priced thunderbolt out of reach and therefore gave no incentive or competition on thunderbolt peripherals.
  3. Essenar thread starter macrumors 6502a

    Oct 24, 2008
    I do blame Intel, but I can definitely blame Apple for pushing this horrible port with its horrible implementation on us. Even the 15" Retina has two USB 3.0 Ports, meaning you have to use a 3.0 hub/dock to bypass the horrible nonsense that is Thunderbolt.

    Don't get me wrong, most of my blame is on Intel, but I'm sensationally disappointed that I'm stuck with these options. I feel like Apple should've pressured Intel into making Thunderbolt more accessible or at least producing their own first party accessories... They seem to be openly embracing USB-C.
  4. maflynn Moderator


    Staff Member

    May 3, 2009
    It was foolish for intel to develop this, and likewise just as foolish for apple to help intel on this. They didn't learn a thing with the whole firewire debacle.

    As it stands, Thunderbolt is an apple only feature that no other company will embrace. Like FireWire it will whither and die. Yes, Fire wire was slowly being embraced by some people, but overall it was not accepted.
  5. Richdmoore macrumors 68000


    Jul 24, 2007
    Troutdale, OR
    I don't know if you are looking for recommendations but my caldiget thunderbolt station has been rock solid on my 2011 iMac. No disconnects or other problems. I have a USB 3.0 hub and several USB 3.0 drives connected to the caldiget without issues.

    I do have the driver installed, that allows the caldiget to increase power to charge the iPad and power the Apple SuperDrive, otherwise everything else works even without the driver in OS X.

    Only thing I wish it would allow is to make the USB 3.0 drives bootable, but that is a problem on all USB 2.0 only macs and thunderbolt docks, not just caldiget. I added a thunderbolt ssd drive (delock enclosure) to allow an external boot drive, it is working great as well.
  6. g4cube macrumors 6502a

    Apr 22, 2003
    Different strokes for different folks.

    Thunderbolt works fine, at lower cost for the few that need the performance. There are many factors that cause intermittent performance. Can usually be traced to software, build quality, or cable. Essentially, Thunderbolt is a PCIe extension cord, with power delivery capability.

    I've got a huge collection of Macs, PCs, and peripherals with various generations of Thunderbolt capabilities, and overall, have had very few issues. Having a job that permitted me to test various configurations gave me the opportunity to see the best and the worst.

    Being an early adopter for some of the products gave me some insight as to what causes "problems".

    Few realize the data rates/interface speeds that are required for Thunderbolt. Intel provided guidelines for developers, but not every guideline was always followed by some developers. Simple things like PCB layout, PCB material, and component selection. Certification process makes sure that the submitted products meet all requirements, but some manufacturers may have substituted components or materials when ramping up manufacturing. Developers and manufacturers are not supposed to make any changes unless products are recertified with each change. That doesn't always happen.

    On the user side, some products lack proper margin on the edge conditions, so when connecting multiple devices, the edge conditions add up, leading to marginal performance as a system.

    Even Apple products demonstrate this. The original Thunderbolt Display is a very early implementation, and its internal hub doesn't always work as expected.

    What works well for me?
    - LaCie: Rugged w/SSD, Little Big Disk, 5big and 2big Thunderbolt2
    - LG Thunderbolt2 21x9 display
    - Mac Pro
    - 2013 13" MBPr
    - Caldigit Thunderbolt2 dock

    I would say that the Thunderbolt2 products are better quality than the earliest Thunderbolt1 products.

    Akitio does a pretty good job with their products. A testament to that is that their technology shows up in some of the others developers via private labeling and rebranding. Also, keep an eye on some of the products Caldigit is doing.

    G-Tech is a curiosity, with some of their newer products. For some reason, they are using Promise technology inside their latest Studio products.

    For an informal indication of what meets Apple's strict requirements for their online and retail stores, look at what they choose to resell. On store shelves here in the US, LaCie has more product than G-Tech by almost 4-to-1 in most stores, and WD has been removed completely. Promise is available online only, but this is likely an indication of not really having products aimed at most consumers.

    That is my 2-cents.

    PS I have plenty of USB 3.0 products, and for single HDD or SSD devices, USB is more than sufficient. Again, quality is all over the map.
  7. Barna Biro, Nov 4, 2015
    Last edited: Nov 4, 2015

    Barna Biro macrumors 6502a

    Barna Biro

    Sep 25, 2011
    Zug, Switzerland
    Thanks to Thunderbolt I can hook my maxed out 13" rMBP up to an external GPU ( slightly overclocked GTX 760 ) and play games and do stuff that you can't really even dream about doing on most notebooks. I for one am looking forward to having Thunderbolt in future models as well ( they should leave at least 1 Thunderbolt port ). In my opinion, prices should not be an issue for anyone who has +2-3k to burn on a notebook. It's like getting an AMG but then complaining about fuel or servicing prices...

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