The OWC Thunderbolt Go Dock was designed to be taken on trips, which is unusual for a hub that uses this extremely fast connection standard. While portable, it still has room for eleven ports in a range useful types, including Thunderbolt 4 (of course), USB-A, HDMI, USB-C and more.
I put the dock through a series of real-world tests to see how well it performs.
OWC Thunderbolt Go Dock review
Any professional creator who’s using a USB-C hub (or god forbid USB-A) really should upgrade to a Thunderbolt hub. Transferring large media files will be so quick that you’ll soon earn back the cost of the new hardware in time saved. I’m always amazed when I transfer a 10GB file in a flash.
But many who need to set up a remote office are hesitant to go with a Thunderbolt hub because they’re so very bulky. OWC got the message and its Thunderbolt Go Dock is far more portable that nearly all its rivals because it doesn’t need the usual hefty external power supply.
But it does include all the ports that a professional requires to be productive.
- A genuinely portable multiport Thunderbolt dock
- 11 useful ports
- OWC Thunderbolt Go Dock final thoughts
A genuinely portable multiport Thunderbolt dock
At first glance, you might be skeptical about claims that the OWC Thunderbolt Go Dock is designed to be portable. It looks chunky. And it is, admittedly.
But what you have to realize is that other Thunderbolt hubs are generally just as hefty, and they add a power brick that nearly doubles the total size and weight.
OWC’s newest dock doesn’t have an external power supply. Not at all. Nothing else is needed but a power cable with a three-prong plug.
To get specific, the Thunderbolt Go Dock measures in at 9.5 inches by 3.6 inches by 1.4 inches. That’s hardly svelte but it fits in a gear bag.
Plus, OWC built in a nice selection of ports. There’s a pair of high-speed Thunderbolt/USB-C ones, a slower USB-C port plus three USB-A ports. The list also includes an HDMI port, an SD card reader, 2.5G Ethernet and a 3.5mm audio jack.
OWC prioritized functionality over style in the design. The dock space gray to match a MacBook but otherwise the exterior is all business. It’s covered in vents to allow heat to dissipate, but the aluminum exterior is thick enough to still feel solid. The build quality is excellent.
11 useful ports
Testing this dock has to start with the two Thunderbolt 4 ports on the back. These offer a theoretical maximum of 40Gbps. In my testing, real-world performance can’t watch that. Still, I can transfer a 10GB file in under 10 seconds.
Those are downstream ports. There’s also a separate upstream port on the right edge. This can transfer up to 90w of PD power to the host computer.
Don’t forget, Thunderbolt accessories can be daisychained so you can connect up to six additional devices.
Also on the back is the dock’s HDMI port, which can handle up to 8K. I tested it with my 4K monitor and the display looks every bit as good as it does with a USB-C connection.
There are a pair of USB-A ports on the back of the OWC Thunderbolt Go Dock ready for you to plug in a keyboard and mouse or trackpad. I tested both type of accessories with no problems. These support USB 3.2 Gen 2 if you must connect a drive to them.
The Thunderbolt 4 hub has 2.5G Ethernet on the back edge, which is more than double the speed of Gigabit Ethernet. It’s so fast I can’t fully test it — its top speed is vastly greater than my Internet connection.
OWC added several ports to the front of the Thunderbolt Go Dock where you can easily plug and unplug accessories.
That includes a USB-C port that supports USB 3.2 Gen 2. Don’t think this is any slouch just because it doesn’t have Thunderbolt. I moved 28 files totaling 4.1 GB in just under 10 seconds from my computer onto an external drive plugged into this port. A single 1GB file goes in 2 seconds.
There’s also a USB-A port, but this is considerably slower: just USB 2.0. Moving a 1GB test files to or from a drive in this port takes roughly 30 seconds.
Those who have a drone or other camera that uses SD cards should be pleased by the Thunderbolt Go Dock’s SD card reader. OWC promises up to 302 MBps. My real-world test wasn’t that fast, but the reader did move a 1GB test file in about 10 seconds.
Because all work and no play makes Jack a dull boy, OWC added a standard 3.5mm audio jack. This can be used for headphones and headsets. I tested both without issue.
Plus there’s a Kingston Security Slot on the right edge to help prevent theft.
OWC Thunderbolt Go Dock final thoughts
I’m very familiar with working on the road. Over the years, I’ve set up temporary offices and worked for weeks in hotel rooms, coworking facilities, vacation homes and my in-law’s house. When planning to work from somewhere remote for an extended period, “just barely good enough” won’t cut it.
If you’re going to be working with large files from a remote location, don’t torture yourself with painfully slow file transfers. OWC’s Thunderbolt 4 hub can move those files around at blinding speed, plus it has a range of other useful ports. And it’s considerably less bulky than its rivals.
It’s pricy, though. Thunderbolt hubs always are, but this one is probably out of reach for anyone but professionals.
The OWC Thunderbolt Go Dock launched February 22 and so can be ordered now.
It’s priced at $349. That’s a bit above the typical cost of a Thunderbolt hub, but it offers a feature set you won’t find in competing devices.
Buy from: OWC
I recently reviewed the Hyper Thunderbolt 4 Power Hub, which is even smaller and more portable than OWC’s offering. It offers a trio of downstream Thunderbolt ports but none of any other type. It’s available now for $299.99.