Corsair TBT100 Thunderbolt 3 Dock review: Turns a Thunderbolt 3 Mac into a port-festooned powerhouse
November 20, 2020
The sleek Corsair TBT100 Thunderbolt 3 Dock ups the game for a Mac laptop, Mac mini, or iMac by providing a full complement of ports for those that lack them and offering additional--and more easily accessible--ports for those already possessing many.
The compact dock, which weighs in at a pound (0.5 kg), provides ready access to useful jacks, while offering a solid design contrast that doesn't imitate Apple's aesthetic. The $259.99 price is right in line with the array of options.
The TBT100 has five high-speed data ports: two USB Type-A SuperSpeed (3.2 Gen 1 or 5 Gbps), two USB Type-C SuperSpeed+ (3.2 Gen 2 or 10 Gbps), and one Thunderbolt 3. That Thunderbolt 3 port, however, is reserved to connect to a Mac, as the 40Gbps throughput is necessary to power all the peripherals. It also provides up to 85 watts to power an attached laptop, removing the need for the laptop to have a separately connection to power. (The dock also supports Windows systems with Thunderbolt 3.)
It's become almost standard for Thunderbolt 3 to sport two HDMI jacks that allow one or two 4K displays at 60Hz, as the TBT100 does. Even if you have an iMac, Mac mini, or MacBook Air--even a MacBook Pro--you would likely prefer to not occupy your Thunderbolt 3 ports with monitor adapters. This dock takes care of it. While that's most useful for a laptop, it's also handy to have more ports free when adding two 4K monitors to a Mac mini or iMac.
The dock also includes gigabit ethernet and a standard SD card slot on the front. The only thing it's lacking is a MicroSD card slot, common on docks, though easily remedied with a simple SD card adapter. A front-side 3.5mm stereo jack support both audio input and output.
The TBT100's power button at first worried me, until I consulted the product's manual. It's a soft switch, meaning there's no "click" or physical on/off state that's visible. It seems like brushing up against the switch could turn it off--except Corsair designed it cleverly to require a three-second press to either turn on or off. The dock powers on automatically when plugged into power, too.
Corsair offers a downloadable dock ejection utility, which requires approving a system extension and restarting your Mac to use. With it installed, you can click a button to unmount all connected devices before powering off the dock instead of having to manage those devices separately. (When I tried to follow the URL in the manual, it led to a 404 page at Corsair's site--which loaded an in-browser pirate videogame as an apology for not having an available page. Arrrrrhhhh! I found the software on its main downloads page, however.)
The box the TBT100 ships in seems bizarrely heavy, but don't let that fool you. The dock by itself weighs just one pound, but the AC adapter and power cord weighs about 20 ounces! Keep that in mind if you want to tote it from place to place.
If you're looking to gain ports, add monitors, and retain flexibility, the TBT100 is an excellent choice for a Thunderbolt 3 Mac laptop, and quite useful with an iMac or Mac mini as well. It's the perfect way to set up a docking station, whether you're working from home indefinitely, or you want to have a full-featured setup wherever you plug a laptop in.
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