Caldigit Ts3 Plus Thunderbolt Review

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Docking stations may not seem to be amongst the exciting peripherals currently, but the sudden rise of thin-and-light laptops which doesn’t need traditional ports has made the docks become more popular than ever.

Introduction

While there is yet to be a popularity as regards the thunderbolt 3 ports, it is now quite difficult to get a premium laptop (including Mac books) which doesn’t come with one. This explains why the TB3, with its power delivery options as well as its 40Gbps transfer speeds is seen as the preferred technology being used on a lot of high-end docking stations such as the OWC Thunderbolt 3. Caldigit sent its flagship model, the TS3 Plus which provides not less than 15 ports in a chassis which is not bigger than two Blu-ray boxes stuck together. It also has a budget-friendly price.

Design

The TS3 Plus also has an industrial feel which permeates every part of the compact box. It is made of metal and has fins which serves as heat spreaders and also help to cool down the device. It can be used vertically, which is the default position due to the positioning of the logo, or placed horizontally.

It is quiet smaller than expected with a dimension of 131×40×98.5mm and has a weight of just 470g which makes it portable. This also includes a sizable 170W power supply adapter which is heavier than the dock. Fortunately, it has a long cable, which means it can easily be tucked away safely.

It has an LED, an SD card reader, analog audio in and out, plus USB Type-C Gen 1 and as well as a USB Type A 3.1 ports (both limited to 5Gbps) all situated at the front fascia. At the back are four additional USB Type-A 3.1 ports, one USB Type -C Gen 2, two Thunderbolt 3 ports (including one capable of. delivering up to 85W to a machine) a DisplayPort 1.2, a Gigabit Ethernet connector and also an SPDIF port. A total of 15 ports.

In use

As a reminder, you might need to update your laptop’s Thunderbolt firmware and drivers in order to work properly with the dock, the official Thunderbolt technology site rounds up the vendor’s critical support pages nicely.

There were no major issues encountered with the Caldigit TS3 plus in use. The device didn’t   heat up much and remained lukewarm all through its use.  The stacked USB at the back may be a tight fit, but overall, the connectors are judiciously well placed. It also doesn’t come with a power button.

There was no 5k monitor to test the ability of the gadget to output to this sort of resolution but in theory, using the right adaptor, you should easily be able to pair it with others like liyama XB2779QQS-S1. You will need an adapter for everything else, especially as there are no HDMI ports (this would need the provision of an extra converter on the circuit board).  Content creators will enjoy that the memory card reader is SD 4.0 Compatible with the UHS-II interface – the latter comes with a maximum theoretical throughput of 312 MBps, triple that of UHS-I.  This means you’ll need compatible SD cards to make the most out of it.

It is important to note that this docking station makes use of the older Alpine Ridge Thunderbolt 3 controller (JHL6340) other than the newer model (Titan Ridge).  It was introduced last year and adds support for the DisplayPort 1.4 and probably, greater compatibility with USB-C clients through a USB-C fallback mode.

The TS3 Plus is among the very few TB3 docks which can provide 85W of power to the host computer, this means it is quite powerful enough for mobile workstations such as the 15-inch Apple MacBook Pro or the Dell Precision 5520.

Final verdict

If you’re in need of a docking station with enough ports, 85W power delivery and can drive a 5K monitor, then the Caldigit TS3 plus is sure to serve your needs. Although it doesn’t come with HDMI ports and some might be a bit expensive, this device still promises to provide a unique service unlike whatever is in the market. It also has a moderate price, yet the features give you real value for your money.

The major competition worthy of mention is the OWC Thunderbolt 3. This has a fewer port and when carrying our review, we were unsure of the size as well as the finish of the OWC offering. On the flip side, it comes with a two-year warranty (Caldigit has just one-year offer) and doesn’t cost as much.

There are little drawbacks with the TS3 Plus which include its jack of HDMI ports, due to just one DisplayPort, the absence of a power on/off button as well as the mix of Type-C connectors. (Gen 1 and Gen 2) although seen as nit-picking. Yet, the advantages outweigh the missing features.

The device has about 40 Thunderbolt 3 docking stations in the market with some providing old but useful ports such as the VGA or providing new tricks (built-in storage or an integrated monitor, for instance) – so it is necessary you check well before purchasing.

Last update was on: July 26, 2020 10:44 pm

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