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Belkin Thunderbolt Dock review

Add ports to your Thunderbolt Mac

Our Verdict

For

  • Adds useful expansion ports
  • More Thunderbolt devices!
  • Provides for quick connections

Against

  • Incapable of full USB3 speed

The Belkin Thunderbolt Dock adds a selection of extra ports to Thunderbolt-equipped Macs. It costs a lot especially once the Thunderbolt cable is added, but it has three USB3 ports compared to just one on Matrox DS1 Thunderbolt dock.

However, their speed is capped at 2.5Gbps, just like the Matrox's. Not a problem with hard drives since they operate well below this ceiling - our test drive worked as well through the dock as with a modern Mac - but you won't get the most out of high-performance SSDs.

Our test SSD reads sequentially in excess of 400MB/sec when connected to a Mac. It failed to surpass 200MB/sec through the dock, averaging 170MB/sec. Random read speeds averaged just under 100MB/sec. While better than USB2, it's a disappointing drop from 170MB/sec with a Mac with USB3 built in.

The dock also provides FireWire 800 (missing from Matrox's dock), Gigabit Ethernet and audio input and output mini-jacks, all on the back side. A channel on the dock's underside allows a cable to run to the front and be held in place, allowing portable storage to be quickly connected.

Sheer convenience goes some way to justifying the expense if you'll use the dock with a MacBook. You only have to connect one cable when you return to your desk in order to use speakers, storage and other devices left attached to the dock. That includes an extra display, if you use a Mini DisplayPort to attach one to a Thunderbolt port.

As for Thunderbolt cables, Apple sells one that's 0.5m long (£25), which is a better choice than longer alternatives.

Tech Specs

Product TypeDocking Station
Total Number of USB Ports3
Connectivity TechnologyWired
Brand NameBelkin
Device SupportedNotebook/Desktop PC
Network (RJ-45)Yes
ColourSilver
ManufacturerBelkin International, Inc
Product NameThunderbolt Express Dock
Manufacturer Part NumberF4U055CW
Manufacturer Website Addresshttp://www.belkin.com/uk
Marketing Information

Thunderbolt is a quantum leap forward. Suddenly everything is faster, easier, better. Thunderbolt moves data on two bidirectional 10Gbps channels. That's 20 times faster than USB 2.0, 12 times faster than Firewire 800. And it means an entire

EASY IS BEAUTIFUL.

With Thunderbolt™ Express Dock, all your drives, networking, input and output devices connect to the 8 ports on the back. It in turn connects to your laptop through 1 Thunderbolt port. In short, eight cables become one cable.

So taking your laptop when you go, and bringing it home when you return means dealing with a single cable. Which connects you to a very brave new world indeed.

BEAUTIFUL IS BEAUTIFUL.

We thought that a technology as brilliant and beautiful as Thunderbolt deserved a dock that not only performs at the highest level, but looks the part as well. So we designed The Thunderbolt™ Express Dock with an elegant, low profile. Simple is beautiful, and Thunderbolt™ Express Dock is a shining example.

Host InterfaceThunderbolt