As we all know the docking station is becoming very popular with many users with the introduction of Thunderbolt. It has opened a world of possibilities for vendors to add increased port counts and higher bandwidth connections as well. CalDigit isn't known to shy away from new markets, so with the introduction of the travel dock, we go to them first as they introduced their Thunderbolt 3 Mini Dock.
Right off the bat, I've had three vendors reach out with their version of a Mini Dock. CalDigit was the first to arrive so here we are fresh off testing to see what it's all about. CalDigit has decided to release two models of their solution, one with dual DisplayPort and the other Dual HDMI. Both appear to share the same enclosure the only difference being the front I/O. The Caldigit unit offers an attached cable design, our unit has dual HDMI along with USB 3.0 and USB 2.0, at the end Gigabit ethernet.
Compatibility includes both Windows 10 and macOS 10.12+. MSRP of the CalDigit Thunderbolt 3 Mini Dock comes in at $109.99 for the HDMI version and $99.99 for the DisplayPort; both units have a one year warranty.
CalDigit offers attractive packaging for the Mini Dock. The gives us an image of the device along with specifications below.
As mentioned we opted for the HDMI version; this includes both a USB 3.0 and USB 2.0 port along with Gigabit ethernet, the DisplayPort version does not offer USB 2.0.
The bottom of the unit offers the model and serial number along with rubber feet for the unit.
For testing, I ran the USB 3.0 port through DST in macOS. We came up with 348 MB/s read, and 278 MB/s write using our SanDisk Portable SSD.
In Windows 10, this same portable SSD reached 350 MB/s read, and 300 MB/s write, holding it through 2M with a steady drop from there.
CalDigit does use Intel Gbe for their Mini Dock, that said we found very consistent performance during testing peaked and held 952 Mbps.
In my eyes, CalDigit has done it again. After building one of the best full-service docking solutions with the TS3+ they have come back to create likely one of the best portable docking solutions with the Mini Dock. Build quality from the materials down to the finish is fantastic but on the flip side, I'd rather not see an attached TB3 cable ever again as it restrains the device to be within inches of your machine. In both of my use cases, iMac and Notebook this led to me fumbling around behind the machine to plug things in or with a large dongle looking device hanging from my iMac.
The performance was stout; I had no issues with HDMI as it pushed to my 4K panel at 60Hz with ease. The USB 3.0 gave us 350 MB/s read and 280 MB/s write and the gigabit ethernet was up to par with expectations. I'm not quite sure what the deal is with adding legacy USB 2.0 to the device, but my guess is they implemented a two-port host controller over USB 3.0 to handle the ethernet functionality, so there was no room to have two USB 3.0 and Gbe. That said it does make for a solid place to plug in a smartphone charge cable or for wireless KB mouse dongles.
The best part about the CalDigit Mini Dock by far is the pricing, and quite honestly, I've never seen Caldigit so aggressive, at $109.99 for the HDMI or $99.99 for the DP solution, these docks come in $50 cheaper than competing solutions.
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: CalDigit has once again proved itself with the Mini Dock easily the best bang for your buck if you are int eh market for a bus powered solution.
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