Suggestions on Thunderbolt Dock/Replicator?

Discussion in 'Mac Accessories' started by adversus, Dec 15, 2014.

  1. adversus macrumors regular


    Sep 11, 2009
    Portland, OR
    So my home office is a mess. For context, I work from home so I'm at my work desk for 15 hours a day or more depending on my evening entertainment plans.

    My setup consists of:
    • 15" rMBP (11,2)
    • Mac Pro (5,1)
    • Asus 27" display (HDMI, DisplayPort, Dual-Link DVI)
    • Several external hard drives for work VM's (USB 3 mostly for use on rMBP)
    • Wired keyboard/mouse
    • Wireless keyboard/magic mouse
    • iPad Mini Retina
    • iPhone 5S
    • iPhone 6+

    I spend most of my day on the rMBP, and have a small USB 3 hub behind my monitor that hosts my keyboard, phones, tablet. This connects to my rMBP during the day and I push video using HDMI to my Asus display.

    When I need more power, I move the USB hub to my Mac Pro (which has a USB extension cable tethered to a clip next to the hub for easy switching), and then I use the wireless keyboard/mouse on the rMBP while the wired devices are on the Mac Pro. It's a Quad Core with 32GB of RAM and 4x SSD's. I can run several VM's (client and server environments) if needed.

    The Mac Pro drives the Asus with a dual link DVI.

    I've gotten used to this setup but feel it's inefficient and it's made my desk somewhat a mess (mostly the bundle of cables under/behind my monitor). I'm thinking of raising my monitor on a monitor stand and using a Thunderbolt dock underneath it. So my laptop would connect to that.

    My only concern is switching my wired keyboard/mouse from the Thunderbolt dock to my Mac Pro. What I really need is a Thunderbolt dock with a built in KVM Switch-style functionality, but I don't know if this really exists.

    Anyone have suggestions?
  2. ColdCase macrumors 68030

    Feb 10, 2008
    Don't think that exists, but those are USB devices right? There are several USB switches available that suffice for KB/Mice. There are some that do auto switching but I dunno how that would work for your setup. They are more convenient when your KB has a USB port that you can plug your mouse into.

    TB is way better than USB for drive access.
  3. adversus thread starter macrumors regular


    Sep 11, 2009
    Portland, OR
    I thought about getting a TB drive but I need one that supports USB 2/3 as well so I can move them around easily enough. My poor Mac Pro doesn't have TB :(
  4. dyn macrumors 68030

    Aug 8, 2009
    If you are using those virtual machines on both Macs it almost sounds like you are better off with either shared storage or a dedicated virtualisation server.

    If you are spending more time at your desk it might also be a better idea to use the MP as a fixed setup and just use the MBP additionally and on the road. So without any docks, just hook up everything to the MP. You can then share the usb disk with the vm's if you must.

    What do you use the vm's for?
  5. adversus thread starter macrumors regular


    Sep 11, 2009
    Portland, OR
    I thought about using my MP as my "primary", everything that I use daily is cloud-based or supports iCloud (Office 365, DropBox, Evernote, Omnigraffle), so using both machines isn't really an issue.

    I use VM's for running environments for the clients I consult for. That means a Windows Server + SQL Server and the related services for the ERP software I support as well as development environments for the architecting and development that I do.

    So I run could have anywhere from 1 to 4-5 going at once depending on what I'm doing and how many clients are bugging me throughout the day.

    My VM's have to be portable because I travel a lot, and my rMBP can't store all of them, so I use a USB 3.0 WD Passbook when I travel. Not thunderbolt because I can hook it up to a client's workstation or laptop when I'm onsite with them, if needed.


    I should note, I just pre-ordered the OWC Thunderbolt dock and am going to give that a whirl. Seems to have most options that I want, I just need to figure out the USB Keyboard/Mouse switching issue.
  6. glenthompson macrumors 68000


    Apr 27, 2011
    I added a CalDigit dock to my MBP which I use in clamshell mode at home. It's attached to a 23" ACD. Lets me unplug the power and TB cable and I'm out the door. Nothing else is connected directly to the MBP.

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