Review: Belkin's $350 Thunderbolt 3 Express Dock HD Looks Great, but Could Use More Ports

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With the flood of full-featured Thunderbolt 3 docks about to hit the market, it's time to take a look at Belkin's Thunderbolt 3 Express Dock HD, one of the major contenders users have been waiting for in addition to the OWC Thunderbolt 3 Dock and CalDigit TS3 that we've also recently reviewed. As with the other docks we've looked at, Belkin's offering includes a variety of ports and even charging capabilities all over a single Thunderbolt 3 cable, making it a great option for turning the new MacBook Pro into a robust desktop setup.


Belkin's Thunderbolt 3 Express Dock HD is launching this Monday, June 5 (exact time still to be determined), and will be available directly from Belkin and through Apple, as well as from other select retailers, but we've already had a chance to spend a little time with it to see how it compares to the competition.


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Article Link: Review: Belkin's $350 Thunderbolt 3 Express Dock HD Looks Great, but Could Use More Ports
 

gwilliams07

macrumors newbie
Nov 2, 2016
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Waiting to see how this compares to the upcoming Elgato one. They both have similar ports, but the Elgato is $50 cheaper. Just will depend upon quality probably. Belkin stuff in the past has been pretty reliable. Don't know much about Elgato.
 
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zorinlynx

macrumors 603
May 31, 2007
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Still wonder how these hubs cost as much as a low end laptop.
That's what I'm wondering too. The cost is absolutely ridiculous for what they do.

Anyone know why the cost is so high? Is it because these are low volume so they have to make more on each unit to turn a reasonable profit? Are they banking on Apple customers having money to burn? It doesn't make much sense.

Hell, I can *afford* one of these! Yet I still won't buy them because I don't like to feel like I'm being ripped off.
 
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doelcm82

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Feb 11, 2012
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That's what I'm wondering too. The cost is absolutely ridiculous for what they do.

Anyone know why the cost is so high? Is it because these are low volume so they have to make more on each unit to turn a reasonable profit? Are they banking on Apple customers having money to burn? It doesn't make much sense.

Hell, I can *afford* one of these! Yet I still won't buy them because I don't like to feel like I'm being ripped off.
There are limited choices. They'll be cheaper soon enough.

The high price offends my sensibility, too. I don't yet have a need for a hub like this, but I would wait on principle.
 

Queen6

macrumors G3
That's what I'm wondering too. The cost is absolutely ridiculous for what they do.

Anyone know why the cost is so high? Is it because these are low volume so they have to make more on each unit to turn a reasonable profit? Are they banking on Apple customers having money to burn? It doesn't make much sense.

Hell, I can *afford* one of these! Yet I still won't buy them because I don't like to feel like I'm being ripped off.
Hazarding a guess; complexity and lack of demand...

Q-6
 

RMo

macrumors 65816
Aug 7, 2007
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For what it's worth, we've been testing out the Lenovo docs. They work just fine with MacOSX.
I'd expect most USB docks to work on macOS, but that is good to know. Do note that the Beklin reviewed here is a Thunderbolt 3 dock, however, and not "just" a USB 3.1 Gen 2 dock (both of which use the same USB-C connector, so I think people are likely to get confused by this).

Alternatively, relevant ports and USB C would elevate us of the mandatory need for such secondary peripherals, just to regain the connectivity once offered natively...

Q-6
A dock isn't just about adding more ports. In fact, it's not even necessarily about adding ports at all. The point of a dock is ... docking: you can take your laptop away then put it back on your desk and just connect the dock in order to get power, video, keyboard/mouse, etc., without having to disconnect and reconnect all those cables individually. At this price point, however, I'd definitely expect to get more than three USB ports (and only two on the back)--but at least it comes with a regular DisplayPort, I guess.
 
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theluggage

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Jul 29, 2011
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Anyone know why the cost is so high?
The problem is, a Thunderbolt dock is quite a complex beast internally c.f. USB hubs and port replicators which appear, superficially, to do much the same thing.

Whereas a USB hub just splits a USB "input" between several outputs, a Thunderbolt dock contains a Thunderbolt controller to extract PCIe and DisplayPort signals, and an internal PCIe bus to which are attached USB controllers, SATA controllers (in some docks) and maybe Ethernet and Sound controllers (I dunno if those are driven from PCIe or hang off an internal USB port - if you have one you could probably tell from System Report).

Unless you really need the full bandwidth of Thunderbolt 3, most users would probably be better off going with cheaper USB-C stuff, especially if you primarily want more USB ports. The wheels come off USB-C if you want to run a 4k display at 60Hz - which, on a single USB-C connection, only leaves enough bandwidth for USB 2. Still, if you've got 4 TB3/USB-C ports on your MBP you could always run your displays direct from the machine and use a USB-C dock for charge, USB and ethernet.
 

Cougarcat

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Sep 19, 2003
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Thunderbolt peripherals have always cost a lot, but Intel will be eliminating royalty fees to accelerate adoption so that might help a bit.
 

carestudio

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Aug 6, 2008
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looks good but Caldigit's TS3 is still the best option and cheaper. oh and comes with eSATA ports.
 

nt5672

macrumors 68020
Jun 30, 2007
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Still wonder how these hubs cost as much as a low end laptop.
Well if Apple did this inside the computer it is likely $10 to $15 worth of parts. When done externally you all of a sudden need a power supply, case, some management chips (which are likely programmed), standalone circuit board, and an extra conversion from TB.

These boxes, rather than talk to the computer directly have to go through the IO conversion. All in all, a lot of waste that could be avoided if Apple (who claims to be the environmental superstar) pulled their head out.
 

doublesupercool

macrumors member
Apr 15, 2009
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It costs the price of a small laptop or PS4 plus extra controller/game to add standard port options to a "pro" computer? Why not punch me in the groin while you are there.

My 2011 MBP is dying and I am finding it very, very hard to justify the price of a new MPB when it has less options than my current 6 year old computer. . .
 

theluggage

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Jul 29, 2011
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looks good but Caldigit's TS3 is still the best option and cheaper. oh and comes with eSATA ports.
Yeah - suspect that the street price will be lower, but I don't quite see the Unique Selling Point of this one c.f. the Caldigit (eSATA ports) and OWC (SD Card mini displayport, SP/DIF and Firewire (hey, I've got a couple of old FireWire drives and Macs that can do FW target disk mode)).

I'd say that the OWC one looks best by a mile, unless Caldigit's eSATA trumps it for you. Or, rather, it will be the best when its available. Only fly in the ointment is the 60W max charging.

Has anybody tried the 15" MBP on a 60W charger? If its just a case of "won't charge while in use" then that's not too bad for a desktop dock, but if it actually runs down in use... not so good.
 

derrickP

macrumors newbie
Jun 3, 2017
1
0
One thing that's been unclear to me with all of the docks is if you can add a USB hub to expand the number of supported ports. I have an ancient keyboard with a PS/2 to USB adapter (maybe this is 1.0 USB?), a USB A mouse, USB A webcam and USB 3.0 external drive, a USB to lightning cable for my phone, and a USB headset. Could I get a cheap hub and connect 2 of my USB devices where I don't care about throughput, such as the keyboard and mouse to the dock? I read on one of the early dock reviews that may not work. But no where in any of the reviews have I ever seen it mentioned as a working alternative.
 
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