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

Discussion in 'Guides, How Tos and Reviews' started by MacRumors, Jun 2, 2017.

  1. MacRumors macrumors bot


    Apr 12, 2001

    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.

    Click here to

    Article Link: Review: Belkin's $350 Thunderbolt 3 Express Dock HD Looks Great, but Could Use More Ports
  2. 4RUNRCLB macrumors member


    Nov 3, 2016
    Eh. Pass. If I'm adding ports... Let's add more ports.
  3. mkeeley macrumors 6502

    Sep 18, 2007
    Still wonder how these hubs cost as much as a low end laptop.
  4. gwilliams07 macrumors newbie


    Nov 2, 2016
    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.
  5. Dozer_Zaibatsu macrumors member


    Mar 16, 2017
    North America
    For what it's worth, we've been testing out the Lenovo docs. They work just fine with MacOSX.
  6. chucker23n1 macrumors 68020


    Dec 7, 2014
    Only charges 60W, though. Not ideal if you're on a 15-inch MBP.
  7. Queen6 macrumors 604


    Dec 11, 2008
    Flying over the rainforest at dawn - Priceless
    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...

  8. zorinlynx macrumors 603


    May 31, 2007
    Florida, USA
    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.
  9. doelcm82 macrumors 68040


    Feb 11, 2012
    Florida, USA
    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.
  10. Queen6 macrumors 604


    Dec 11, 2008
    Flying over the rainforest at dawn - Priceless
    Hazarding a guess; complexity and lack of demand...

  11. OldSchoolMacGuy Suspended


    Jul 10, 2008
    Certainly options with more ports for the same or lesser price.
  12. RMo, Jun 2, 2017
    Last edited: Jun 2, 2017

    RMo macrumors 65816


    Aug 7, 2007
    Iowa, USA
    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).

    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.
  13. theluggage macrumors 68040

    Jul 29, 2011
    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.
  14. jayducharme macrumors 68040


    Jun 22, 2006
    The thick of it
    Not exactly attractive, but it offers more ports at less than half the price. What Belkin is offering for the price is no bargain.
  15. Cougarcat macrumors 604

    Sep 19, 2003
    Thunderbolt peripherals have always cost a lot, but Intel will be eliminating royalty fees to accelerate adoption so that might help a bit.
  16. sudo1996 Suspended


    Aug 21, 2015
    Berkeley, CA, USA
  17. magicschoolbus macrumors 65816


    May 27, 2014
    Looks great but could use more ports.

    Funny that's how I feel about the current line up of macs
  18. Marx55 macrumors 68000

    Jan 1, 2005
  19. carestudio macrumors 6502

    Aug 6, 2008
    looks good but Caldigit's TS3 is still the best option and cheaper. oh and comes with eSATA ports.
  20. nt5672 macrumors 68000

    Jun 30, 2007
    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.
  21. doublesupercool macrumors member

    Apr 15, 2009
    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. . .
  22. Applebot1 macrumors 6502a

    Jan 4, 2014
    Just shows whilst Apple's vision is to have no ports at all reality is we need more!!
  23. theluggage macrumors 68040

    Jul 29, 2011
    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.
  24. derrickP macrumors newbie

    Jun 3, 2017
    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.
  25. Macgied macrumors newbie

    Feb 19, 2010
    Does it do 4K at 60hz?

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