It seems every spring since 2014; I've have had a Thunderbolt Station from CalDigit on my desk. Today is no different as we take a look at the latest solution CalDigit has put together.
Every year CalDigit comes back adding new technology to their docking solution while removing some of the more dated connectivity. With the latest model, CalDigit has updated the standard TS3 enclosure, removing eSATA connectivity adding in its place three more USB 3.0 ports bringing the new total to five. Additionally to this, CalDigit is the first I know of to throw a Gen 2 USB-C port on a docking station along with an SD 4.0 slot on the front and Optical Audio on the back.
Compatibility includes both Windows and macOS platforms with an available Thunderbolt 3 port. MSRP of the CalDigit TS3 Plus+ comes in at $249.99 with a one-year warranty. However, the warranty can be extended to two years for free by purchasing your TS3 Plus direct from CalDigit.
The box houses a good bit of info on the left including support for 5K60p monitor or dual 4k60p solutions. We also see 85w charging over Thunderbolt 3 with this device, seven USB ports, and the UHS-II capable SD 4.0 slot.
The back goes into more detail with a full specification list and port diagram above.
Included with the TS3 Plus, we have the power brick at 20v 9a for 180W of power output, a Thunderbolt 3 cable, and the docking station.
The front houses CalDigit branding on the left and following that to the right we have a small blue LED indicating power, SD 4.0 port, audio, and two USB 3.1 Gen 1 ports.
The back has changed slightly from the OG TS3. Left to right, we have ethernet optical audio and the Gen 2 USB-C port. This is followed by four USB 3.0 ports, and along the bottom power input, DisplayPort and Thunderbolt 3.
Above, I have the raw performance numbers from each interface on the TS3 Plus. As you can see the Gen 2 USB-C found on the back performed quite well reaching 756 MB/s read and 695 Mb/s write. Both the front and rear USB 3.1 Gen 1 ports performed as expected and the UHS-II slot was able to hit around 250/250.
Above, I used our real-world data test with a 15GB batch of mixed video, music and photos. I ran it through each interface with a SanDisk Extreme 900 and SanDisk Extreme Pro UHS-II card.
Last, we have the throughput numbers for the onboard gigabit ethernet. The TS3 Plus did great pulling in 942Mbps.
CalDigit has done a remarkable job over the past four years pulling in the best technologies and putting it into their Thunderbolt Station lineup. With this latest solution, the TS3 Plus, I'm not sure they can make it any better. The build quality is fantastic with the aluminum construction on point and the small form factor of this device blends with ease into your desktop.
As with past solutions, performance was top notch with each interface reaching the full potential of the device connected. In my testing, the USB 3.0 ports topped out around 350 MB/s with the Extreme 900 and gen2 USB-C peaked near 750 MB/s read 650 MB/s write. The UHS-II slot is a must have for any creative professional and hit 250 MB/s read and write with ease and the gigabit ethernet cut no corners topping out at 942Mbps.
On top of these things, the TS3 Plus can handle dual 4K monitors at 60p and if we add in the MSRP sitting at $249.99 as of this writing, this is simply the best Thunderbolt dock to ever come through the lab at TweakTown.
Tyler's Test System Specifications
- Motherboard: ASUS Prime Z370 (buy from Amazon)
- CPU: Intel Core i3 8350K (buy from Amazon)
- RAM: Corsair Vengeance 32GB 4x8GB DDR4 3200 (buy from Amazon)
- Cooler: Corsair Hydro H115i (buy from Amazon)
- Case: Corsair Air 540 (buy from Amazon)
- OS Storage: Samsung 960 EVO 250GB (buy from Amazon)
- Power Supply: Corsair RM850x (buy from Amazon)
- OS: Microsoft Windows 10 (buy from Amazon)
- Wi-Fi NIC: ASUS PCE-AC88 (buy from Amazon)
- 10Gbe NIC: ASUS XG-C100C (buy from Amazon)
- Thunderbolt 3: ASUS Thunderbolt EX3 (buy from Amazon)
The Bottom Line: Every year CalDigit raises the bar and the market follows, with the TS3 Plus they might have outdone themselves with insane connectivity options making this solution the best docking solution Ive ever seen.
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