Review: OWC's 'USB-C Dock' Expands MacBook Connectivity Options With Ten Ports

Discussion in 'Guides, How Tos and Reviews' started by MacRumors, Jan 18, 2016.

  1. MacRumors macrumors bot


    Apr 12, 2001

    Since the launch of Apple's Retina MacBook last April, users have been looking for ways to expand the functionality of the single port included on the machine, a USB-C that can support a multitude of functions including power and data. Many third-party companies have begun shipping single-use dongles and small hubs for MacBook fans to be able to get full use out of their ultra-thin 12-inch notebooks.

    All pictures in the review are of a pre-production unit lacking proper screen printing with port designations​

    OWC's USB-C Dock is one of the first full-featured alternatives for the MacBook. At $159.00, the 8-inch by 3.5-inch dock comes with ten ports for users to take advantage of: four USB Type-A, one USB Type-C, an SD card reader, HDMI with 4K display support, Gigabit Ethernet, an audio headphone jack, and one USB 3.1 Type-C computer link.


    The first thing that should be noted is that the dock requires two included cables to fully function: an external 80W power source that plugs into an outlet, and the USB-C cable that connects everything to the MacBook. Thankfully, the power adapter also charges the MacBook while it's in use; after that initial setup, most things plugged into the dock work without any added steps.

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    Article Link: Review: OWC's 'USB-C Dock' Expands MacBook Connectivity Options With Ten Ports
  2. NickD73 macrumors regular


    Jan 21, 2013
    I guess MacBook users don't trip over their power cords anymore.
  3. spaceballl macrumors 68030


    Nov 2, 2003
    San Francisco, CA
    Can you discuss the USB-A ports and their ability to charge? Do they charge iOS devices even when the MacBook isn't plugged in? Do they charge iOS devices when the MacBook is plugged in? How many devices can it charge at the same time?
  4. kironin macrumors 6502a


    May 4, 2004
    Ives, if I have to buy and carry a separate device just to charge and use a USB flash drive, that's a major design failure.
  5. SlipperySlop Suspended

    Sep 14, 2015
    Hmmm. Interesting. But I have no idea what you mean.

    I'm not sure who the "you" is, but I think you should call OWC to get the definitive answers to your questions and you could post them for the benefit of all. Thanks so much.
  6. purplehaze0 macrumors regular


    Oct 19, 2011
    Harrogate, England
    It's all such a fuss though isn't it. All this just to have a laptop that's useful. I wish they would stop the clamour to build a computer thinner than an After Eight mint and just keep them functional.
  7. ja', Jan 18, 2016
    Last edited: Jan 19, 2016

    ja' macrumors newbie


    Oct 26, 2015
    No? Wow…

    I’m dying.
  8. jclardy macrumors 68040


    Oct 6, 2008
    Not really...the point of this is to have a desktop dock. Say you have an external HDD, a monitor, speakers, wired keyboard/mouse at your you really want to take your macbook and plug/unplug 5 cables every time you want to dock/undock?

    The point of having ports on a laptop right now is to have them available when you are mobile. But 95% of the time I plug things in when I am at home at my desk.

    Just to note, I have a MacBook Pro, but will probably eventually switch to a MacBook once they get some more spec bumps (And a second USB-C port...)
  9. earthTOmitchel Contributing Editor


    Staff Member

    Mar 6, 2015
    Sure, so essentially the dock has two USB-A ports that function normally when the dock isn't plugged into the MacBook (aka only plugged into a wall outlet). Referred to as "High-Power Ports," there's one on the front and one all the way on the left of the device's backside, you can see 'em labeled as such in pictures on OWC's site:

    You could charge an iOS device through these without plugging the dock itself into the MacBook. Otherwise, when the dock is attached to the laptop, every USB port functions like you'd expect them to, even the non "High-Power" ones. And, in my testing, I found the company's claim of five devices powered at once on the dock to be essentially accurate. Although, as I said in the review, heat issues can potentially crop up.

    Hope that answered your questions!
  10. tyr2 macrumors 6502a


    May 6, 2006
    Leeds, UK
    I have the CalDigit dock on pre-order. These both look very useful, however I'll be sticking with the CalDigit dock as it has DisplayPort in addition to the HDMI port. In theory at least this means the Macbook can drive 2 external monitors with the CalDigit dock. I can't imagine the performance will be all that great but it should work which will be fine for me.

    For me the MacBook and a dock like this is perfect combination for my needs, I really don't need much connectivity when out and about but do want a full sized screen, keyboard/mouse and hardwired ethernet when at my desk. It might not be the fastest machine in the world and certainly has plenty of compromises but coupling it with a dock like this makes for a great option.
  11. KPOM macrumors G5

    Oct 23, 2010
    No it isn't. There are USB-C flash drives out there. This is a docking station. It's pretty impressive that you get all this functionality from a single industry-standard connection to a MacBook. At $159, it's pretty comparable to other proprietary docking stations from PC manufacturers.
  12. MonkeyMommy macrumors newbie

    Jan 18, 2016
    Thanks for the writeup! Got my wife a gold macbook and been looking for a docking solution. I have looked and if anyone can help with these question I would be sure grateful!

    1) Can the dock be use with the macbook in clamshell mode (i.e. closed after initial docking) ?

    2) What is the refresh rate on 4k ?

    Maybe I am missing something but cannot find answers to these...

    Thanks - long time reader and first post.
  13. The Samurai macrumors 68000

    The Samurai

    Dec 29, 2007
    - People trying to replace their laptops for iPads (only to buy a keyboard for it)
    - Laptop users trying to ditch their desktops (only to buy additional hubs etc)

    What is the world coming to :D
  14. ZipZap macrumors 603

    Dec 14, 2007
    Seems to me, if you are using the rMB as it was intended all that is needed is the $19 USB-C to USB-A. How many folks really chose the rMB as their primary computer?
  15. macs4nw macrumors 601


    It was a bit of a mocking comment. I think he meant MacBook users, with this dock, now have a lot more choice in wires to trip over.....
  16. Justim macrumors 6502

    Sep 26, 2011
    I did. And I have to say I haven't regretted it once. I chose it specifically for the display and portability. Illustrator and InDesign run well on it, and I couldn't be happier.

    I use cloud based storage almost exclusively. I have a very small $2 usb a to c adapter for when I need it, and it works pretty well.
  17. mattopotamus macrumors G5


    Jun 12, 2012
    Exactly! When I am using a laptop on the go, I don't need things plugged into it. At the office a single cable is a much cleaner docking solution.
  18. lyngo macrumors 6502a

    Sep 10, 2007
    What's all the fuss? If you want more ports get an Air or a Pro model of the MacBook. Man, I wish the whining would end! You have options!
  19. NickD73, Jan 18, 2016
    Last edited by a moderator: Jan 19, 2016

    NickD73 macrumors regular


    Jan 21, 2013
    No MagSafe
  20. KPOM macrumors G5

    Oct 23, 2010
    I don't know the answer to the first question, but I believe the maker of the similar HydraDock says that the maximum refresh rate for 4K on the rMB is 30Hz.
  21. Amacfa macrumors 68000


    May 22, 2009
    All first Gens suck. The second generation MacBook will be far more useful now with all these added accessories on the market, and by that time we should have tiny USB-c drives. Third Gen device will be much more powerful, and likely carry multiple usb ports.

    It didn't make sense to buy this on launch but it is slowly becoming less gimped.
  22. ipedro, Jan 18, 2016
    Last edited: Jan 21, 2016

    ipedro macrumors 601


    Nov 30, 2004
    Toronto, ON
    Is your iPhone or iPad plugged in while you're using it?

    The MacBook lasts more than enough to not have to be tethered to power while you use it. Just like we aren't chained to a rotary phone anymore, we don't have to be tethered to a power cable all day while we use our MacBooks. Some people's obsolete habits die hard, I guess.
  23. unplugme71 macrumors 68030

    May 20, 2011
    Can we please get dual Ethernet? It's 2016 for crying out loud. 1G just doesn't cut it anymore when you are pushing multiple 4K streams.
  24. SteveBlobs macrumors member

    Jan 29, 2013
    Sexy looking product, but way too expensive for what it is.
  25. furi0usbee macrumors 68000


    Jul 11, 2008
    Call me old-fashioned, but I like my hardware ports. Docking stations, external options, yuck. Still rocking my 2012 rMBP 15" and loving the ports. To the folks at Apple. It's thin enough! I don't want to lose ports at the expense of thinness. What's next, taking away the keyboard?

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