I confess. I’m a peripheral junkie. Multiple external hard drives, Wacom tablets (medium, large and Cintiq 27QHD display — read my review in the February issue of Rangefinder), card readers, a digital recorder with interviews that need to be transferred to a hard drive and, of course, an iPhone that always needs to be charged. The list goes on and on and it feels like I spend half my time swapping devices between my laptop’s two USB and one Thunderbolt port, not to mention connecting and disconnecting devices from a second laptop. Then I found the OWC Thunderbolt 2 Dock.
The dock measures 1 x 9.1 x 3.5 inches (HxWxL) and weighs 13.6 ounces. It’s nice looking, albeit a bit plain. But turn the dock around and you’ll see why the OWC Thunderbolt 2 Dock was on my most wanted list.
There are 12—count ’em—12 ports (and a power connection). You get five USB 3.0 ports. They’re all powered and three are ideal for external drives. The other two, located on the right side, provide up to 1.5 Amps of power for charging USB devices such as iPhones, iPads, etc. There are two Thunderbolt 2 ports, an HDMI port with 4K support, Firewire 800 for “older” peripherals, Gigabit Ethernet for new MacBooks without wired connections and Audio in/out. All in all, you can connect up to 78 devices (according to OWC; I haven’t done the math though). This includes direct connection of up to 10 devices, then daisy chaining five additional Thunderbolt devices. The dock supports dual displays, although you’ll need to supply your own cables. Need an eSATA port? No problem. OWC has an eSATA to USB 3.0 adapter for $19.
And, OWC claims up to a speedy 20Gbps throughput with Thunderbolt 2 and, as we all know, speed is a critical part of any workflow.
The $219 dock comes with a power adapter and a user guide. You’ll need to supply all your own cables, which shouldn’t be an issue for anyone who needs a 12-port dock.