Macbook Pro Thunderbolt Docks – 2019

I don’t think I have particularly demanding requirements for a Macbook Pro dock, but it seemed unusually difficult to find one that obviously matches my requirements, and is going to work properly with OS X.

My requirements are pretty simple, I think?

  • 85w power delivery
  • Dual monitor capability
  • Front-facing audio jack

But “dual monitor capability” is where I’ve been getting mixed up, because Apple doesn’t properly support the DisplayPort Multi-Stream Transport whateverydo – which is a necessity for a lot of docks with multiple dedicated video outputs.

Fortunately, if the docks have a spare Thunderbolt 3 port, we can use a USB-C Alt-Mode adapter to attach another DisplayPort or HDMI display. Apple will be perfectly happy with that!

After some thorough Googling…

My recommendation would be the Caldigit TS3+.

There’s a few docks that meet my requirements but the Caldigit was the cheapest, and surprisingly – the most flexible, with more of each type of port than all of the other options.

The only thing it’s missing is a microSD slot. If you need one of those, have a look at the Elgato Thunderbolt 3 Pro Dock or the OWC Thunderbolt 3 Dock.

The research

I’ve not purchased and physically evaluated any of these docks. All I’ve done is scour the internet to try and figure out what does and doesn’t meet my requirements, and map everything I’ve found into a giant table:

Dock PD HDMI? DisplayPort? Requiries MST? TB3 USB-A USB-C Ethernet Audio Jack Card Digital Audio Meets my requirements
Caldigit TS3+ 85w - 1x - 2x 7x 2x Gigabit Front SD Yes 👍
Elgato Thunderbolt 3 Dock 85w - 1x - 2x 3x - Gigabit Front - - 👍
Elgato Thunderbolt 3 Pro Dock 85w - 1x - 2x 2x 2x Gigabit Front SD, microSD - 👍
Kensington SD500T 85w - 1x - 2x 2x 1x Gigabit Front - - 👍
OWC Thunderbolt 3 Dock 85w - 1x (mini) - 2x 5x 1x Gigabit Front SD, microSD Yes 👍
Cable Matters Thunderbolt 3 Dock 60w 1x - - 3x 5x - Gigabit Front SD -
Caldigit Thunderbolt 3 Mini Dock (DP) - - 2x - - 1x - Gigabit - - -
Caldigit Thunderbolt 3 Mini Dock (HDMI) - 2x - - - 2x - Gigabit - - -
Elgato Thunderbolt 3 Mini Dock - 1x 1x - 1 1x - Gigabit - - -
Dell WD19TB 130w 1x 3x (1 via USB-C Alt Mode) Unclear 1x 3x 2x Gigabit Front - -
HP Thunderbolt Dock G2 120w - 3x (1 via USB-C Alt Mode) Yes 1x 2x 3x Unclear Front - -
Lenovo Thinkpad Thunderbolt 3 Dock Gen 2 90w 2x 2x Yes 1x 5x 2x Unclear Front - -
Pluggable TBT3-UD1-83 - - 1x - 2x 2x 1x Gigabit Rear - -
Pluggable TBT3-UDV 60w - 1x - 2x 5x - Gigabit Front - -
Promise Technology TD-300 60w 1x - - 2x 5x - Gigabit Front SD -