The Good: Elgato’s Thunderbolt 2 Dock has a clean and functional design, with 3 useful ports positioned conveniently at the front. It also packs an Ethernet port which is super useful, considering my MacBook doesn’t have one!
The Bad: I would have liked to see a heavier build to avoid it being tugged around so easily, and its hefty price tag may put off a lot of potential customers.
The Bottom Line: Recommending Elgato’s Thunderbolt 2 Dock is easy; overall, it’s a great product. The price puts it out of reach for many, but if you’ll get enough value out of the dock in your day-to-day to make the cost worthwhile, it’s a worthy investment.
My MacBook Pro has become my workstation both at home and at my day job, and while I love it’s portability, having to plug in countless peripherals like my headphones, a power cable, an external hard drive for backups and a secondary display every time I get back to my desk is a royal pain in the ass.
Elgato’s Thunderbolt 2 Dock (£189.95/$229.95) aims to solve that problem, offering a range of ports that hook up to your Mac with a single Thunderbolt cable (which Elgato conveniently provide in the box.)
Design & Build Quality
Elgato’s design team made sure that the Thunderbolt 2 Dock looked right at home in an Apple setup. It looks fantastic alongside my MacBook Pro, with a slick aluminium shell covering most of the outside and a black plastic core where the ports are. Sizing up at 7.9 x 3.2 x 1.1 inches it’s got a small footprint on my desk, and at 285 grams it’s lightweight too — perhaps even too light for my liking. Any time I move my MacBook closer to me the Thunderbolt 2 Dock edges along with it, so giving it some extra weight would have been ideal.
The Thunderbolt 2 Dock connects all of your peripherals with just one cable.
As with the first iteration of the Thunderbolt Dock, most of the Thunderbolt 2’s ports are at the back of the dock. Elgato have conveniently kept one USB 3.0 port, one microphone and one headphone port at the front of the dock though, making it nice and easy to connect and disconnect your headphones and any USB devices.
While the dock may have looked nicer with a flush aluminium finish along the front (instead of having ports), I’m more than happy to trade looks for convenience and practicality.
Ports & Performance
Around the back of the Thunderbolt 2 Dock you’ll find another two USB 3.0 ports, two Thunderbolt 2 ports, a HDMI port and one of my favourites, Ethernet. Given that my MacBook doesn’t have an Ethernet connection and the office WiFi can be rather temperamental, having the ability to ‘plug in’ has been a saving grace on more than one occasion!
Selection of ports at the back of the Thunderbolt 2 Dock.
If you’re running a slightly older Mac with USB 2.0 ports, the Thunderbolt 2 Dock’s USB 3.0 ports are bound to give you a very nice performance boost with any external drives. Equally, the newer Thunderbolt 2 delivers much better performance for 4K video editing and other high-bandwidth tasks. In my testing, I found that USB drives performed just as well when connected to the dock as they did directly into my MacBook.
A very useful feature comes in the form of a menu bar app, which essentially allows you to undock all of your connected peripherals at once, saving you from ejecting each drive individually.
Elgato’s menu bar app makes ejecting all your peripherals easy.
Stand-alone charging has been another cool feature; you can just leave your phone or tablet charging up even when your Mac isn’t connected. It’s very convenient when you need to run away from your desk! And lastly, Elgato have also thrown in an integrated amplifier, although I personally failed to notice any significant improvements in audio quality myself.
Elgato Thunderbolt 2 Dock: Verdict
As MacBooks inevitably get thinner and lose ports (like Ethernet), docks like Elgato’s Thunderbolt 2 will be super valuable to users like me who regularly move to and from their desks.
Yes, it’s expensive for what’s essentially “just a dock”, and I do wish Elgato would have made this more accessible to the average Joe, rather than just the power users who’ll be happy to pay. But leaving aside price, I struggle to find major faults with this thing. It’s well constructed, looks good, expands the amount of available ports you have and gives you wired internet connectivity too.
If all you need is a few extra USB ports for your Mac, I suggest you look elsewhere; the Thunderbolt 2 Dock is going to be overkill. But if you’re actually going to benefit from its range of ports and functionality, I can definitely recommend buying one.