TekRevue reviews CalDigit Thunderbolt Station: Recommended

“The CalDigit Thunderbolt Station is the most stable Thunderbolt dock we’ve tested, and that’s an important victory in and of itself,” Jim Tanous reports for TekRevue. “During our multi-week testing period, we connected a variety of displays, external hard drives, thumb drives, and adapters to the CalDigit dock, and everything worked as expected. No freezes, no need to power cycle, it just worked.”

“This is a pet peeve of ours, the CalDigit dock does not include a Thunderbolt cable, a trend we’ve noticed with Thunderbolt docks,” Tanous reports. “We certainly understand the economics behind the decision, especially in light of how much Thunderbolt cables cost compared to cables for other technologies, but it’s unfortunate that products are still shipping today without the necessary cables in the box. With this in mind, you’ll have to factor in the cost of a Thunderbolt cable with the dock’s price [US$199 MSRP], unless you have a spare already on hand.”

CalDigit Thunderbolt Station
CalDigit Thunderbolt Station

 
“If you are primarily looking for USB 3.0 and networking support, the CalDigit is the only Thunderbolt dock that we can clearly recommend at this point. The other products on the market either lack too many features or suffer from functionality issues,” Tanous reports. “So if you’re looking to add some more ports to a new MacBook Air or, more interestingly, if you’re looking to add USB 3.0 support to 2011-era Macs, the CalDigit Thunderbolt Station might be just what you’re looking for.”

Read more in the full review here.

28 Comments

  1. It’s costs like this that will make the Mac Pro sink like a rock out of sight even before it’s launched. Thunderbolt peripherals are super expensive and no one wants them. No one sane. I predict this will be the downfall of the Mac Pro. Apple is going to have to eat big time losses on this piece of overdesigned crap. Blame that idiot Ives.

      1. What? Calling it the pro market will suddenly generate millions of sales out of thin air? How stupid of you. The pro market represents but a tiny subset of the general market. Besides a few diehard fanboys, how many people will be willing to spend huge amounts of money buying a Mac Pro only to have to spend thousands more buying peripherals to make it usable. What’s the market size of these people? Less than 10,000 units per quarter I’d say. This thing is as dead as a dodo the moment it’s released.

        1. You sound really confused.

          Of course the Pro market, by definition, is a subset of the overall market, and thus much smaller. The key here is that it’s a much higher margin market with higher profits per unit.

          It’s also a very strategic market because pro-sales end up feeding many other consumer sales as well as providing a path for the prosumers.

          How many pros will spend thousands on peripherals? Uhm… I’d say pretty much all of them. Not that they aren’t entirely price-insensitive, but the incremental price difference between Thunderbolt and USB isn’t an issue with real pros. Even if it was, it’s not like as if Thunderbolt has to be used. It has 4 USB 3 ports built in (in addition to things like dual-Ethernet, HDMI and the 6 Thunderbolt ports can be used for DisplayPort/HDMI as well).

          This whole thread doesn’t belong here. This product, the CalDigit, won’t be used with a Mac Pro. It’s more likely to be used with a MacBook Air, although the CalDigit is still a very specialized product with limited appeal.

        2. Answer me this have XSANS devices disappeared? Has fiber channel disappeared? Lol you obviously do not understand workstation class computers and are looking at this like a consumer. The Mac Pro and workstation class from HP and Dell are far more expensive for a reason because of the there design to be workhorses for day in day out 24 hr without pauses types of machines. Go price yourself a comparable HP workstation with a 12 core xeon. They start at $9000.00 with no graphics card. The Mac Pro is a bargain. Almost all of the video professionals that I work with have all of there work on a cloud server or external hard drive raids. 4k video is so massive uncompressed that you could not possibly store it internally. The biggest requirement for true professionals is durability and uptime and speed, speed and more speed. Oh and more speed.

          The faster your video renders or 3d renders the faster you get paid and the more jobs you can take in.

        1. I’m confused: is there a connection for video monitors that’s better than HDMI? (besides Thunderbolt)? It can support any video resolution with zero loss in fidelity – so I doubt a better video connection is even possible.

          I’m sure pros use other connections for their analog monitors, but only because those monitors don’t support higher quality digital connections.

          I’m not going to pretend I’m a video professional, but I did learn a thing or two about it in school.

          1. Did some quick research and answered my own question. Looks like HD-SDI is the preferred connection. It’s advantages over HDMI are the cables are less expensive, can be up to 10 times longer, can be locked to prevent accidental unplugging, can switch sources more quickly because it lacks DRM, and is backwards compatible with VGA.

        2. Those mini jacks are optical too. They provide both. If you need a digital out for audio plug in a pci expansion chassis into thunderbolt and put your card in it. The point is you expand the mac pro for what you need. Most professionals can make back the cost of those within a few jobs.

        3. lol have you ever heard of mini display port?
          The thunderbolt ports are both data and mini display and will run 4k monitors. How much resolution do you as a pro need?
          I would think that 3840 x 2160 would be enough for you. That is supported by the Thunderbolt ports on the new mac pro.

  2. I have had one for about a month now (pre-orders came with a TB cable) I agree that it works seamlessly I use it as a dock at my desk with network, monitor, and a usb headset. all the ports work perfectly when I plug the TB cable in.

    1. I did the pre-order as well. It has been excellent with my 2011 15″ MBP – now I have USB 3! And I drive a 24″ Cinema Display with the Thunderbolt pass thru on the device. I’m using the Ethernet connection, audio out, and the USB ports. Way nice.

  3. This is too oriented towards laptop users. I would love to see something like this that was more oriented towards the needs of upcoming MacPro users. To me, this means dropping ethernet and HDMI, and providing more USB 3.0 and Firewire.

  4. Sigh, wish someone would just make a simple and portable Thunderbolt -> USB 3 converter (without the need for a power supply) for my MacBook Pro that has Thunderbolt but only USB 2.
    I’m tired of using a camera card reader to suck my photos through a USB 2 straw.
    They don’t make FireWire card readers anymore.

  5. I was just looking at this on OWC’s web store. They have it for $10 off the retail price (ships in 9 days). Seems to be very popular, as Amazon is sold out.

    I would like this even more if it had a pair of eSATA ports, in place of the Ethernet, audio connectors, and HDMI. I have older external hard drives with that are FireWire 400 and USB 2.0, but they also have eSATA.

  6. They’re rather expensive for the hobbyist, but what most actual income-generating pros are looking for is something more like Sonnet’s products.

    http://www.sonnettech.com/product/echo15thunderboltdock.html

    There are various configurations, with and without SSD, hard, or even BluRay drives.

    But if you’re making money with it, this helps the Mac Pro crowd. I think what LikeARock is bemoaning is that the days of casual users buying Mac Pros (for expandability, or because they already have displays, or because they don’t like the poor recyle-ability of built-in displays) are fast coming to a middle.

    Having been one of those casual G5 and Mac Pro users (because I could afford it), I personally can’t imagine buying an iMac or Mac mini. But I’m loth to crowd my workspace with over $5000 in new Mac Pro, expansion boxes, and the snakes’ nest of cabling that will go with it, just to get Thunderbolt and USB 3.0.

    And finally, some people will end up using the new Mac Pro while keeping their old Mac Pro as the expansion chassis.

      1. You’re right, of course. I should have said Firewire, e-sata, additional storage,optical drive and USB ports on the front where you can reach them without pulling the cables out when you rotate the Mac Pro. With one of these boxes the computer doesn’t need to be put on the desk near the workspace anymore.

  7. The person who kicked this discussion off is thinking like a private individual with no money. We are a production company. With the high cost of content creation talent we will recover the cost of the Mac Pro in a month or so. If we could get another doubling the speed for three times the price we would buy it for some of our staff.
    We use Apple’s video editing software it has made some complex edits much simpler. Given the hourly rate we have to pay for video talent the cost of the software is negligible.
    We had a concern with Apple’s software moving to the ProAm market, but that worry is receding fast. The new architecture makes everyday edits much quicker.
    The original poster needs to understand that time is money, and content creation talent is expensive.

    1. What are you even talking about? There is no Mac Pro X to buy? We still have no idea how much a properly kitted system will cost. How can you say this new architecture will improve your performance, there is no way to compare? What is you point of reference? You mention “doubling the speed”. There is no doubling with the new Mac Pro X. Or are you one of the idiots on these forums with a 1,1 getting all hot and bothered that Apple hasn’t release a new Pro and it not cool that you have had to wait so long? There have been 4 revisions since the 1,1. Please stop crying.

      You are right in that the cost of a basic computer is a minor expense in the scope of doing professional video production. And that keeps being used for justifying the Mac Pro X costing whatever it will. Bullsh!t. I’ll skip the engineering that lets it fit into a coffee can (and require me to replace all my peripherals) to save a couple grand per. That could save me tens of thousands of dollars across a couple years. Whether or not the work pays for it, is irrelevant. I’d rather that money in my pocket (or used for even more tools and toys), then giving to Apple just because I’ll “recover”.

      1. Who mentioned Mac Pro X?
        You live in the world of the cheap. We live in the world of getting work done.
        You need to read the “doubling the speed” comment again, then you will understand my point. 4K video rendering takes a long time.

  8. No FireWire, no point. This box just isn’t that useful. Other than Ethernet, it just replicates ports that are already on my laptop. I can buy an Gigabit Ethernet adapter for $20. Oh right, pass through. $200 for the privileged of a new interconnect standard that ties all of my peripherals together (with $50 cables) in a chain rather than having each piece connect on its own, letting me add, remove or swap at my convenience.

  9. The CalDigit product has no value to us. However, the thread changed to the value of the new Mac Pro. The connectors work well for us, especially for 4k video production.
    We will still use some of our old Mac Pro, with four internal drives, to boot native with the last four versions of OS X. We could do this with the new Mac Pro, but speed is not so important when testing compatibility with older OS X releases. If you understood 4k video production you would see why the new Mac Pro is ideal.

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