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OWC Thunderbolt 2 Dock Review

OWC Thunderbolt 2 Dock Review
Other World Computing (OWC)'s Thunderbolt 2 Dock goes under the spotlight today as we examine its many features and discuss its performance details.
By: Tyler Bernath | Docking Stations in Displays & Projectors | Posted: Mar 6, 2016 6:40 pm
TweakTown Rating: 89%Manufacturer: OWC

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OWC is one of a few vendors that while operating its own e-commerce site designs its own products. Over the years, I have had many solutions from them and have always been quite happy with the quality and performance.

 

The latest is a long line of Thunderbolt enabled solutions from OWC comes in the form of an all new docking station. This dock harnesses the power of Thunderbolt 2 converting it into eleven additional ports of connectivity including legacy solutions like Firewire 800. Going into further detail, the rear I/O has been filled unlike any other dock I have seen with full support for USB 3.0 with high current charging along with Gigabit Ethernet, HDMI offering 4K support at 30Hz, and 3.5mm audio in and out. Dimensions of this device come in at 230mm x 25mm x 90mm weighing just under 1lb.

 

Operating system compatibility includes OS X 10.9.4 or later with the MSRP for the OWC Thunderbolt 2 Dock listed at $249.99 with a two-year warranty.

 

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The packaging for the Thunderbolt 2 dock has an image of the dock centered with connectivity options across the top.

 

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On the back side, OWC has taken the extra step to give you pictures of the side and rear with all the options available.

 

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The scope of delivery includes the power brick, user guide, and dock.

 

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The front of the dock doesn't have too much going on, but we do get our first look at the single piece aluminum ring that surrounds the enclosure of the dock, the top and bottom are a glossy black plastic.

 

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The side of the dock houses dual high current charging ports rated at 1.5A.

 

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GO TO TOP OF THE NEXT COLUMN ^

 

The backside of the dock houses the Thunderbolt 2 ports that do allow daisy chaining. To the left, we have three more USB 3.0 ports along with the Firewire 800 and Gigabit Ethernet. To the right, we have the HDMI port for connecting up to a 1.4b device.

 

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Diving into the PCB of the Thunderbolt 2 dock, we have a ton of surprises here with the main chip being the Intel DSL5520 four port dual-channel Thunderbolt 2 controller. Moving on, we have a few Parade ICs to the left for the video output along with a Texas Instruments audio controller to the right next to both USB 3.0 controllers.

 

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USB 3.0 performance for the OWC Thunderbolt 2 Dock was decent but not quite what we get when directly connected to the MacBook Pro. Read performance topped out at 341 MB/s with write at 277 MB/s.

 

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Setting the OWC next to many of the docks we have tested in the past, we find it to have some of the best throughput in our network testing, most likely due to OWC using a highly regarded Intel chipset, the i218.

 

I haven't seen too many Thunderbolt 2 docks in the past. In fact, the last one I can truly remember testing is the CalDigit TS2 and I'm talking mainstream Thunderbolt 2 docks, not the top dollar Sonnet Echo 15+ with the internal SSDs and Blu-ray optical. As far as true Thunderbolt 2 docks go, I'm not sure I have ever seen one deploy as many options as this OWC solution.

 

With this dock, you get everything from an extra Thunderbolt 2 to daisy chain to your heart's content through USB 3.0, Gigabit Ethernet in addition to decent audio and legacy connections like Firewire 800. Build quality is quite good with this unit, the aluminum ring around the enclosure looks and feels like the same material used to cast the MacBook. And while the plastics are glossy and attract finger prints and scratches from every angle, it's quite durable.

 

Performance in the area I was able to test was quite good with Gigabit Ethernet reaching top marks quite easily. The USB 3.0 could have been better as I was only able to reach 341 MB/s read and 277 MB/s write but is ample for most duties.

 

In closing, the Thunderbolt 2 Dock from OWC is a great device with multitudes of connectivity and is surely an excellent companion to any Mac device and just may be the best Thunderbolt 2 dock on the market at this time.

 

 

 

Tyler's Test System Specifications

 

Product Summary Breakdown

TweakTown award
Performance87%
Quality including Design and Build90%
General Features91%
Bundle and Packaging85%
Value for Money92%
Overall TweakTown Rating89%

The Bottom Line: When it comes to pure Thunderbolt 2 docks, the OWC solution has everyone beat. With its solid connectivity options and price point that beats everything on the market, it's hard to pass up.

    We at TweakTown openly invite the companies who provide us with review samples / who are mentioned or discussed to express their opinion of our content. If any company representative wishes to respond, we will publish the response here.

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