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OWC USB-C Dock for 2015 MacBook Review

OWC USB-C Dock for 2015 MacBook Review
OWC is back offering up USB-C connectivity in their latest solution, the USB-C Dock for the 2015 Apple MacBook.
By: Tyler Bernath | Accessories in Displays & Projectors | Posted: Apr 9, 2016 11:15 pm
TweakTown Rating: 89%Manufacturer: OWC

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Just last month, I had the opportunity to check out the latest Thunderbolt 2 dock from OWC, and now this month they have launched the USB-C version aimed at MacBook users looking to expand their connectivity over the single USB-C port which Apple deployed.

 

The USB-C dock from OWC is my first experience with a full-on solution. While USB-C will no doubt be more flexible than its predecessors, OWC is looking to start things off right. Via the rear USB-C port, we have a branch of connectivity that includes an SD card slot and four USB 3.0 ports with two capable of 1.5A charging. Additionally, we have gigabit Ethernet and HDMI output and one of the most significant features, an 80w power supply that is capable of charging the MacBook.

 

Compatibility of this solution, of course, includes OS X and optionally a Windows PC with a USB-C port. MSRP for the OWC USB-C Dock listed at $159.99 with a two-year warranty.

 

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Packaging for the USB-C Dock gives a clear image of the device on the front while marketing information is listed across the bottom

 

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

 

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The scope of delivery includes the power brick, user guide, and dock. OWC was also kind enough to supply a USB-C cable.

 

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The front of the dock houses the SD, Audio, and a single USB 3.0 charge port. Of course, we also have the single piece aluminum ring that surrounds the enclosure of the dock, the top and bottom are a glossy black plastic, similar to the OWC Thunderbolt 2 Dock.

 

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The backside houses much of the connectivity including both USB-C ports. Of note, is these are Gen 1 ports with 5Gb/s connectivity. Moving on, we have three more USB 3.0 ports to the far left with Gbe in the middle and HDMI to the far right.

 

GO TO TOP OF THE NEXT COLUMN ^

 

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Diving down into the inner workings of the USB-C dock, I was surprised to find dual USB 3.0 controllers, and this is most likely implemented to allow full throughput for all ports at the same time. Moving on, OWC has deployed a full CMedia 853 audio controller along with a GL3233 SD card reader. Gigabit LAN is running through the Realtek RTL8153 while HDMI is handled by a Parade PS176 IC. Interestingly enough, the Parade controller is capable of pushing HDMI 2.0a which includes 4K60 support, but OWC only advertises HDMI 1.4 support, which is most likely due to lack of bandwidth via Gen 1 USB 3.0.

 

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USB 3.0 performance for the OWC USB-C dock was quite good. I was able to grab 428 MB/s read and 384 MB/s write which is only 16 MB/s shy of what I get with a direct connection.

 

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Setting the OWC next to nearly every dock I have tested, it does do quite well. Networking throughput came in at 808 Mbps not quite what we saw with the Thunderbolt 2 dock, but alas, we are working with less overall throughput within the device.

 

Being that USB-C is relatively new to the market, and while vendors have been releasing multitudes of products using this new connector, as mentioned in the beginning, this is my first real hands-on with a Type-C dock. With that said, I'm quite pleased with it being an OWC device as they have in the past and tend to now produce high-quality peripherals for the Apple market. The USB-C dock is no different; the build quality is top notch with its aluminum and piano black plastic design, and going through the internals, I was even more pleased to see they chose to use dual USB controllers, a top notch audio IC, and solid gigabit Ethernet.

 

The performance was excellent with USB 3.0 as expected and I was able to reach 428 MB/s read and 384 MB/s write. With the Gbe throughput seemingly topped out at 808 Mbps, which isn't quite full gigabit, but it is more than what most other vendor's products will give you.

 

Overall, for users of the 2015 MacBook, you will certainly be happy with a solution such as the USB-C dock from OWC as it enables a bit more freedom than Apple intended. For PC users, I can say the dock does work in Windows 10 without issue and would be a great addition to any Ultrabook with a Type-C port. MSRP for the OWC USB-C Dock is listed at $159.99 with pre-orders being accepted as I write this.

 

 

 

Tyler's Test System Specifications

 

Product Summary Breakdown

TweakTown award
Performance88%
Quality including Design and Build92%
General Features90%
Bundle and Packaging88%
Value for Money85%
Overall TweakTown Rating89%

The Bottom Line: The USB-C Dock from OWC is a solid competitor in a market that is just beginning to bloom. For MacBook users needing USB-C connectivity, this OWC solution has the ability to charge your MacBook while you enjoy the benefits of a full service dock.

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