CalDigit TS3 Plus Thunderbolt Dock
Last updated date: November 15, 2019
Why Trust The DWYM Score?
DWYM is your trusted product review source. Along with our in-house experts, our team analyzes thousands of product reviews from the most trusted websites. We then create one easy-to-understand score. Learn more.
We looked at the top Thunderbolt Docking Stations and dug through the reviews from some of the most popular review sites. Through this analysis, we've determined the best Thunderbolt Docking Station you should buy.
For the widest range of device compatibility, trust the CalDigit TS3 Plus Thunderbolt Dock, which has more ports than most competitors. You'll get plenty of USB hookups, as well as connections for all your peripherals and a high-speed SD card reader. You can connect up to two monitors and retain reasonably good screen resolution. In our analysis of 71 expert reviews, the CalDigit CalDigit TS3 Plus Thunderbolt Dock placed 1st when we looked at the top 10 products in the category. For the full ranking, see below.
Editor's Note November 21, 2019:
Checkout The Best Thunderbolt Docking Station for a detailed review of all the top thunderbolt docking stations.
Expert Summarized Score
User Summarized Score
Our Favorite Video Reviews
What experts liked
What experts didn't like
From The Manufacturer
To The Power of 15 With the TS3 Plus, a single Thunderbolt 3 port from your laptop expands to 15 ports! Power users need as many ports as they can get hold of and the TS3 Plus delivers on this promise. Whether you need multiple USB ports, dual 4K display connectivity, Digital Optical Audio out, or an SD Card Reader, the TS3 Plus packs everything into an incredibly compact unit. Don’t compromise on connectivity with the TS3 Plus! 7 USB Ports With five USB 3.1 Type-A ports and two USB 3.1 Type-C ports, users have a total of seven ports to connect multiple USB devices to their ultra slim laptops. Featuring both front and rear USB ports, the TS3 Plus packs a large amount of connectivity into such a compact device. The rear Type-C port features USB 3.1 Gen. 2 (10Gb/s) which allows users to connect their ultra-fast SSD drives for incredible performance. 85W Computer Charging Thunderbolt 3 incorporates power delivery, allowing the TS3 Plus to charge Thunderbolt 3 laptops. Mac and PC users can put their laptop charger away and power their laptop through a single Thunderbolt 3 cable. The 85W power delivery will charge laptops in no time. The secondary Thunderbolt port can deliver 15W of power to charge other devices. 5K or Dual 4K Displays The TS3 Plus' extreme connectivity is not just confined to data as it can also achieve extreme visual fidelity. Users have the option to connect dual extended 4K 60Hz monitors or a single 5K 60Hz monitor. The versatile DisplayPort connector can be used to connect to any monitor through the use of an active DisplayPort cable/adapter. Fast SD Card Reader With the advent of digital media, transferring data from SD cards to computers has become an integral part of any project, especially digital photography and 4K videography. TS3 Plus’ SD card reaper supports SD 4.0 and UHS-II speeds with a maximum theoretical throughput of 312MB/s, which means that transferring data from SD, SDHC or SDXC cards will be done in no time. Why use a USB card reader when you can connect through the most powerful interface available, Thunderbolt 3! Digital Optical Audio When it comes to high quality audio playback, every audio enthusiast knows the benefits of using the best equipment to retain optimal audio signals in its purest state . The Digital Audio port allows users to connect directly to their amplifier, speakers, or home theatre receiver for a pure digital signal. You can playback high bit-rate audio files from the TS3 Plus on your stereo amplifier or hear every detail on your TV’s surround sound speakers. Audio from an external docking solution never sounded this good! Thunderbolt 3 Ports The extreme connectivity available through the TS3 Plus is only possible because of Thunderbolt 3’s unprecedented 40Gb/s throughput. Featuring 15 versatile ports that take productivity to the next level, the TS3 Plus has connectivity options for any advanced workflow. Pro users will be able to take advantage of the dual Thunderbolt 3 ports for adding multiple powerful devices into a Thunderbolt 3 daisy-chain. Horizontal or Vertical The beauty of the TS3 Plus' design allows users to choose how the device is positioned on their desk. Traditionally, most docks are only able to be used in a horizontal position. The TS3 Plus' sleek design integrates two sets of feet which allow flexible placement in either orientation. What The Press Is Saying “The TS3 Plus is the best Thunderbolt 3-enabled dock that I’ve tried thus far…” 9to5Mac “The most ports and the most useful dock on the market.” Photoshop User “The Best Thunderbolt 3 Dock.” The Wirecutter “...CalDigit’s TS3 Plus is my new favorite. It has all the features I’m looking for in a dock.” MacRumors “CalDigit TS3 Plus is the new King of Thunderbolt docks.” iDownloadBlog Technical Specifications Dimensions and Weight Height : 5.15 inches (131.0 mm) Width : 1.57 inches (40.0 mm) Depth : 3.87 inches (98.44 mm) Weight: 1.04 lbs (0.47 kgs) System Requirements Computer with Thunderbolt 3 Port MacOS 10.12 or later Windows 8, 8.1, 10 or later In the Box 1 x CalDigit TS3 Plus 1 x Power Adapter 1 x Power Cord 1 x Thunderbolt 3 Cable Max. Video Resolution Thunderbolt 3: 5120 x 2880 60Hz DisplayPort : 4096 x 2160 60Hz Compliance FCC, CE, VCCI, RoHS
Overall Product Rankings
An Overview On Thunderbolt Docking Stations
Workers are more mobile than ever. Whether you report to an office 40 hours a week or not, chances are you have a need to take your computer with you when you leave. Docking stations have long been a convenient way for workers to enjoy the mobility of a laptop while still having access to the screen, mouse and keyboard they prefer when they’re seated at a desk.
With a Thunderbolt, you get the benefits of speedy technology to charge compatible devices quickly. But as technology and parenting blogger Molly Thornberg explains, Thunderbolt docking stations come in a variety of options.
“Each Thunderbolt Docking Station has its own unique set of ports and features,” says Thornberg, the brains behind the Digital Mom Blog. “Research before buying a docking station to ensure that all of your needs are covered. Some commonly found ports and features include: additional Thunderbolt ports, USB-A ports, USB-C ports, computer charging, displays, a Gigabit Ethernet port, an SD reader and an audio port.”
But there are several things to consider before you choose a docking station. The first is compatibility with the devices you use every day. With some docking stations, you can plug in multiple electronic items, which means you can charge your mobile devices while using your laptop. You’ll need to check to make sure your docking station has ports that will work with the cables that connect to your devices.
When it comes to ports, advances in technology have made things a little complicated. You’ll see both USB-A and USB-C ports advertised, as well as the rating of USB 3 and USB 2. These are standards applied to data transfers, and both USB-C and USB 3 are newer. You’ll recognize USB-C by its smaller port size, as seen on newer computers and mobile devices. USB-A is the type you’ve seen for years, with a larger port on both the devices and the cables you plug into them.
When looking at ports, consider all the things you’ll need to plug in. If you prefer to have two monitors, make sure your docking station will support that and check how much the video quality will degrade when the signal is split between two monitors. Also keep in mind whether the ports are in the back or front of the docking station, as that will influence how far your cable will have to reach.
There are some cosmetic considerations, as well. You probably have limited space on your desk, so a docking station that sits vertically rather than horizontally can provide some relief. You should also take a look at the basic design of your docking station, as it will become an important part of your office aesthetic.
For many people, it may not matter, but for photographers and videographers, an SD card reader is essential. These professionals often need to quickly offload photos or videos to a memory card at the end of each day. If they’re in a rush, the process of transferring the data can be cumbersome. With a good SD card reader, you can get the high-speed transfer you need, allowing you to spend less time waiting and more time working.
DWYM Fun Fact
At one time, workers reported to an office and sat in a designated workstation all day. As remote work and mobile devices have become more popular, though, a trend called hotdesking has emerged. This setup involves allowing personnel to choose where they work each day. This type of environment is typically seen in an open-plan layout, where workstations aren’t sectioned off by walls and desks may be a combination of tables, benches, booths and sofas. Hotdesking makes it essential for workers to bring in their own electronic equipment every day, with each workstation typically equipped with power outlets and possibly even docking stations and peripherals.
The Thunderbolt Docking Station Buying Guide
- You likely already know what devices you want to dock. If you need your docking station to power a MacBook Pro or PC, you’ll want a unit with plenty of power. The CalDigit TS3 Plus Thunderbolt Dock, gofanco Mini DisplayPort, StarTech Monitor Thunderbolt 3 Dock and Plugable Triple Display Docking Station are all compatible with the Apple MacBook Pro, although the gofanco Mini DisplayPort won’t work with 2015 MacBooks.
- The CalDigit TS3 Plus Thunderbolt Dock and StarTech Monitor Thunderbolt 3 Dock provide 85 watts of power, which is plenty to charge a 15-inch MacBook Pro at full speed.
- An 85-watt docking station will also provide enough power for you to set up a compatible host to serve as a charging station.
- For compatibility, you’ll need to make sure your chosen Thunderbolt will work with the devices you have.
“Using just one Thunderbolt port on your computer, a docking station expands that to however many ports your particular docking station offers,” Thornberg says. “These additional ports come in handy when your computer or laptop does not have the ports you need built-in, if you are out of ports or want additional functionality.”
- The CalDigit TS3 Plus Thunderbolt Dock, StarTech Monitor Thunderbolt 3 Dock and Plugable Triple Display Docking Station can connect to any Windows or Apple device that has a Thunderbolt 3 port on board. Thunderbolt 3 was released in 2015 and designed to provide fast connections to docks.
- The CalDigit TS3 Plus Thunderbolt Dock promises to offer the most ports, and it doesn’t disappoint. You’ll get 5 USB-A ports, ideal for plugging in hard drives, mice and keyboards. You’ll also get two USB-C ports for devices that support that. The gofanco Mini DisplayPort has two USB-A ports, while the StarTech Monitor Thunderbolt 3 Dock has two USB-A ports and one USB-C port. The Plugable Triple Display Docking Station has four USB-A ports and one USB-C.
- If you’re limited on desk space, look for a docking station with a smaller footprint. The CalDigit TS3 Plus Thunderbolt Dock and Plugable Triple Display Docking Station stand upright to minimize the real estate they consume.
- Those who need to transport the dock from home to work and back again may want to look for a lightweight model. The gofanco Mini DisplayPort is the lightest at only 6.4 ounces, but both the StarTech Monitor Thunderbolt 3 Dock and CalDigit TS3 Plus Thunderbolt Dock measure around one pound. The Plugable Triple Display Docking Station is 3.25 pounds, making it best for those who plan to keep the docking station in one place for the duration.
- Whether you’re regularly moving your docking station or not, you’ll likely want a unit that’s built to last. The CalDigit TS3 Plus Thunderbolt Dock has a strong aluminum case that should hold up against anything that might fall on it. It also comes with a one-year warranty for added peace of mind. The StarTech Monitor Thunderbolt 3 Dock comes with a three-year warranty, as well as lifetime technical support at no charge. You’ll get a one-year limited warranty and local tech support with the gofanco Mini DisplayPort and the Plugable Triple Display Docking Station.
- As you’re looking at ports, pay close attention to which docking stations have easy-to-access connections on the front of the device. Since your docking station will most likely be on your desk, not having to reach around to plug in those often-used items will come in handy. Your keyboard and mouse may be fine to stay plugged in permanently, for instance, but you’ll be connecting and disconnecting items like your laptop and headphones on a daily basis.
- Some consumers use mobile storage solutions regularly. If you’re a professional photographer or videographer, for instance, you may need to quickly download your footage for safekeeping when you return home at the end of each day’s work. The CalDigit TS3 Plus Thunderbolt Dock has an Ultra High Speed II (UHS-II) SD card reader to transfer your data at lightning-fast speeds.
- If you prefer to use multiple monitors, consider the CalDigit TS3 Plus Thunderbolt Dock, StarTech Monitor Thunderbolt 3 Dock or Plugable Triple Display Docking Station. The Plugable Triple Display Docking Station supports up to three monitors, while the CalDigit TS3 Plus Thunderbolt Dock and StarTech Monitor Thunderbolt 3 Dock can handle up to two monitors along with the usual peripherals. However, if you’re going for the highest resolution possible, you may notice resolution starts to degrade once you’ve split the connection between multiple monitors.
- For those on a budget, the gofanco Mini DisplayPort will be the most affordable choice, but beyond that extremely low cost, you’ll find most other options are similarly priced.
- Resolution can be an important feature, especially if you’re a gamer or you watch video on your monitor. The CalDigit TS3 Plus Thunderbolt Dock and Plugable Triple Display Docking Station let you connect two 4K monitors or one 5K monitor. The StarTech Monitor Thunderbolt 3 Doc gives you 4K resolution on up to two monitors, and the gofanco Mini DisplayPort gives you 1080p resolution.
- The overall design of your docking station may come into play, particularly since it will become a prominent part of your office environment. The CalDigit TS3 Plus Thunderbolt Dock looks similar to a router, but you’ll find the gofanco Mini DisplayPort has a much lower profile, coming in the form of a small box. The StarTech Monitor Thunderbolt 3 Dock is perhaps the most attractive of the options, with a horizontal design that can easily tuck behind other items on your desk.