“USB-C and Thunderbolt 3 are the way of the future, but most of our accessories are stuck in the past,” Valentina Palladino writes for Ars Technica. “PC and smartphone OEMs lead the way by adopting USB-C as standard, but that often leaves users to search for an adapter or dongle to connect all of the peripherals they already have. On top of that, many new peripherals are still using the old connections.”
“Rising to the occasion are USB-C and Thunderbolt 3 docks—boxy devices punctured by USB-As, HDMIs, DisplayPorts, and SD card readers—and other ports. A dock or hub connects to all your peripherals so you can then connect it to your PC through just one USB-C port,” Palladino writes. “But not all docks are created equal. After reviewing a wide array of what’s available today, we’ve found there are a few key features users should look for to determine which option is best for you to bridge the gap between your PC and everything you want to use with it.”
“The USB-C 3.1 standard now has two generations, Gen 1 and Gen 2, which differ in their transfer speeds. Gen 1 supports transfer speeds up to 5Gbps while Gen 2 support speeds up to 10Gbps. Additionally, USB-C 3.1 Gen 2 offers 20 volts (or 100 watts) of power delivery, allowing it to charge devices as well as connect to accessories like external drives,” Palladino writes. “Thunderbolt 3 ports provide more versatility than USB-C 3.1 Gen 2 ports do. In comparison, Thunderbolt 3 ports can transfer data much faster than USB-C 3.1 Gen 2 ports, supporting transfer speeds up to 40Gbps. They also support 100 watts of power delivery as well as two 4K 60Hz displays, four lanes of PCI Express Gen 3, eight lanes of DisplayPort 1.2, and daisy-chaining for up to six devices… Thunderbolt 3 is also bi-directional, letting you transmit and receive data at the same time.”
“Thunderbolt 3 ports typically have a small lightning bolt next to them, unless you have a device like a MacBook Pro that follows Apple’s stringent design rules (no lightning bolts mark any of that machine’s four Thunderbolt 3 ports),” Palladino writes. “This is where docks come in. Thunderbolt 3 and USB-C 3.1 Gen 2 docks connect to just one of your USB-C ports to add access to a slew of other ports—more USB-C and USB-A ports, HDMI, DisplayPort, Ethernet, and audio jacks, and more.”
Pick the right dock by reading more in the full article here.
MacDailyNews Take: We actually use CalDigit TS3 Plus Thunderbolt 3 Stations (Ars’ “Best Overall”) and can also recommend them.