With Apple changing the design of the 2016 and later MacBooks to offer fewer connectivity options, it has seemingly opened an entirely new market for users of these solutions. While Apple does provide every type of adapter to go from the Type-C connection whether the technology behind it be USB or Thunderbolt, it can get pretty damn expensive to regain legacy functionality.
DockCase is a vendor that has pushed their first product to Kickstarter offering a seemingly must have solution for any user of the 2016+ MacBook or MacBook Pro. With these models offering just Type-C connectivity, DockCase is looking at easing the burden on users with the option of a 12" model for the standard MacBook and a 13" and 15" option for the MacBook Pro.
As the name suggests, the DockCase starts as a protective case for your MacBook while traveling with a microfiber leather exterior that is said to withstand more daily abuse. Once you arrive at your destination, the DockCase transforms into a Type-C docking station that offers gigabit ethernet, HDMI connectivity, USB-C and USB 3.0 ports, and finally SD card readers for both full size and micro cards.
The MSRP for the DockCase comes in at $129.99 with a one-year warranty, with its Kickstarter campaign offering it at $79.99.
For this review, I requested the 15" model, because bigger is better, right? Packaging shows an image of the DockCase and below the model in inches.
The spine shows a DockCase logo.
Opening the packaging, we have the DockCase with its black microfiber leather.
The scope of delivery includes a short Type-C cable the case and reading materials.
Connectivity options include Gigabit Ethernet, HDMI and two USB-C one of which supports power delivery. Moving on, we have three USB 3.0 ports and the card readers.
To test the performance of the DockCase, I used my Alienware 15 R3 and its Thunderbolt 3 port. Type-A USB 3.0 performance on the dock brought in 439 MB/s read which is on par with typical USB 3.0 performance.
Using the same drive and moving to a USB-C port, we gained a significant amount of write performance, nearly 300 MB/s. Read stayed the same at 441 MB/s.
Testing the Gigabit ethernet port, I confirmed the port connects at 1 Gbps on our PC but actual throughput was terrible, reaching just 300 Mbps.
I've had the DockCase now for a few weeks, I've used it a handful of times, and I really enjoy the build quality. The microfiber leather is rather durable as described and the inside is smooth, so it leaves no scratches. As far as functionality goes, this is a fantastic USB 3.0 hub for both Type-A and Type-C connections, the HDMI works as advertised pushing 1080p60 with ease, but that's where it ends.
For me, neither one of the SD card ports worked, at all. The gigabit ethernet at best reached 300 Mbps, and there's an issue of throughput with the Type-C ports. As you could see in our testing, it appears DockCase is using a USB 3.0 controller with a Type-C input and then splitting throughput of the Type-A ports, gigabit ethernet and possibly the SD card ports leaving the Type-C as passthrough with full throughput. This would explain low throughput from the gigabit ethernet port and low write performance using Type-A USB 3.0.
With all of that said, I think they need to increase the quality of the internal design. Yes, it will cost more, but they have room to work with considering competing solutions like proper Thunderbolt 3 docks push well into the $250+ market and buying these adapters alone would cost $200+.
In closing, the aesthetic design of the DockCase is fantastic along with its materials, but the electronics themselves just need more work.
The Bottom Line: DockCase has their work cut out for them. If they can fix the issues I found with my unit, It really could be a solid solution for MacBook and MacBook Pro users.
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