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Amazon Apple’s latest take on the MacBook Pro is impressive, but not without its drawbacks.
It’s faster and slimmer than previous generations, but only has one type of port: Thunderbolt 3.
If you’ve already invested in traditional USB accessories, or rely on SD cards or want to connect to external displays, you’ll be out of luck unless you pick up a bunch of dongles.
Another option is to pick up a Thunderbolt 3 dock, which sacrifices one of your MacBook Pro’s ports to give you access to a bunch of others. For years I would connect all of my peripherals to a Thunderbolt 2 dock, and attach that to my computer with a single cable. It’s cleaner option than attaching a series of dongles that gives you the same result.
I’ve rounded up the current Thunderbolt 3 docks on the market, but there are a couple of things I’d like to mention right of the bat. The first is that connecting things to a dock, and then a computer introduces an extra step in the chain that could occasionally cause problems. For instance, you’ll have to worry about the connection of an external hard drive to your dock and the dock’s connection to your computer.
Second, if something happens to the dock — problems after a power surge for instance — it could impact both what’s attached to the dock and your computer. I never had that happen during the years I used one on a daily basis, but it’s something to consider. Also, if you’re not using a surge protector yet, now is the ideal time to get one.
Finally, Thunderbolt 3 is a new standard and there are bound to be a couple of kinks left to work out. Make sure that you connect these docks to your computer using a Thunderbolt 3 cable. Although it uses the same physical connector as USB-C, they’re different since the latter doesn’t have nearly as much bandwidth.
If you can accept these trade-offs, you’ll be in good shape.
Yes, these docks are expensive, but they’re meant to ease the transition between everything that came before Thunderbolt 3 (and USB-C) and our hopefully single-port future. When you consider how much money it’d take to invest in all new equipment, you’re actually catching a pretty big break.
I’ve broke down what makes each of the docks stand out below, but if there’s a specific feature you’re looking for, make sure to check out each one’s product page.