The Bottom Line
Thunderbolt 3 has given way to some of the best docking solutions ever. At this moment we have the TS3 series from CalDigit, OWC alongside Startech have put out docking stations and then we have Akitio, which at this point have released Thunderbolt 3 adapters, enclosures and storage solutions. That changes today as we take a look at the latest from the Thunder3 lineup, the Dock Pro.
As far as Docking stations go, Akitio didn't skimp at all with their latest solution. The dock takes on the standard rectangle form factor although this unit has two layers to aide cooling. On the front of this solution we have USB 3.0, CFast and SD 4.0 for quick access with your memory cards and the reverse of this unit offers eSATA, USB 3.0, Thunderbolt3, DisplayPort and a RJ45 port. Further, this RJ45 port is quite special as Akitio has decided to opt in with 10GBE rather than the standard 1Gbe. The DisplayPort supports 4K60p.
Compatibility includes Windows 10 and macOS 10.13+ machines with a thunderbolt 3 port. MSRP of the Thunder3 Dock Pro comes in at $349.99 with a two-year warranty.
The Thunder3 Dock Pro sticks with the traditional package design we seen in past products. On the front we have an image of the dock with marketing surrounding two sides.
The back offers diagram of the front and rear ports and cables associated with them.
Included with the Dock Pro is a Thunderbolt 3 cable and large power brick.
The front houses branding and mention of the 10Gbe functionality. To the right we have the USB 3.0, CFast and SD 4.0 ports.
The backside offers eSATA, USB 3.0 and 10Gbe on the left and Thunderbolt 3, DisplayPort and 6Pin power connection on the right.
To start off testing, I ran the SD 4.0 slot on the front of the unit through CDM with our SanDisk Extreme Pro UHS II solution. With this card I was able to get 217 MB/s read and 174 MB/s write.
Using DiskMark, we have three sets of tests. The first is Thunderbolt 3 with our portable SSD, the Akitio let through 1954 MB/s read and 645 MB/s write. Next, we have Front panel USB 3.0 at 341 MB/s read and 278 MB/s write. Last rear panel USB 3.0 with nearly exact results 342 MB/s read and 279 MB/s write.
Running the 10Gbe NIC through testing, I found it to be quite consistent with only a few drops, peak performance at 9540 Mbps.
Akitio has pulled out all the stops with the Thunder3 Dock Pro, not only did they come equipped with plenty of ports overall, they made sure to include all the latest technologies along with legacy eSATA for those still using a DAS for storage. Build quality seems to be quite good for the Dock Pro, the aluminum chassis lends to aesthetics especially for iMac or MacBook owners as it has that space grey color.
Ports. Akitio made sure not to disappoint once they got around to releasing their TB3 docking solution. That said we have everything a modern creative professional would want in a dock, TB3 passthrough for your portable SSD, eSATA for your high capacity DAS and 10GBE for those that want to boost the network performance of their Host machine.
Adding to this Akitio offers up UHS-II support on the front mounted SD slot and CFAST 2.0 for those that need even more performance. As far as numbers go, we got 350 read 250 write from the USB 3.0 ports, 1900 MB/s from the Thunderbolt 3 port and the 10Gbe checked in at 9500 Mbps.
Rounding up all of these new findings, I must say CalDigit has been dethroned and the Akitio Thunder3 Dock Pro takes its place as best damn docking station. Period.
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: Akitio comes out swinging with the Dock Pro, creating what could be the only dock you need. Ever.
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