Running out of expansion ports on your Mac can happen rather quickly these days. Especially if you prefer to have wired peripherals over wireless.
As such finding the right Dock or item that helps you both expand, and manage to work area can be difficult.
The Elgato Thunderbolt dock allows you to do just that, without standing out like a sore thumb. Perfect for all Macs, but especially so for MacBooks, and Mac Mini users that have limited ports.
Coming in at a small size barely larger than many USB 3.0 docks, one could easily confuse it for something similar at first glance.
Although underneath the sleek brushed aluminium case is something rather spectacular. Not only does it allow you to expand connectivity through Three USB3.0 ports, but thanks to the nature of Thunderbolt, and it's rather generous 10Gb/s bandwidth there's far more expandability.
On the front we have a single USB 3.0 port, along with a Headphone, and Mic in port.
With the back populated by two more USB 3.0 ports, two Thunderbolt 1 ports ( one is used to connect to the mac) an HDMI port, and a Ethernet Gigabit port.
This allows the Elgato dock to become the hub you might need for smaller and portable systems.
It works rather simply, you connect your Mac using the included thunderbolt cable, or a longer one you might have purchased separately. Connect the power to the Elgato dock, and connect all your accessories. It could not be more simple. There are no drivers, or software to install. Simply plug and play.
Despite everything connected through a single cable, there are no real bandwidth issues thanks to Thunderbolt's generous 10Gb/s. Although users that run multiple external Storage drives and a display might reach it, that would be unlikely unless all external drives are accessed at the same time, and/or are SSDs.
Since this is also a powered dock, all the USB ports provide power, and as such can charge your phone, tablet, or portable external drives without issue.
Although the main limitations of the dock are simply the number of USB ports. For some it would be fine, although and extra port or two would be a welcome sight. Allowing a person to consolidate their peripherals even more; and while the front USB port is extremely useful, many might have preferred the port on the back to avoid desk clutter.
This can be rectified by connecting a USB hub to one for the ports, although this will result in more clutter, and further cutting the bandwidth.
Conclusion & Price
It's no secret that Thunderbolt devices are expensive, and it's certainly the same of the Elgato dock. It currently costs €179 which is certainly quite a bit, although the blow is softened thanks to an included Thunderbolt cable.
Does all this make the Elgato Thunderbolt Dock worth it? That's certainly up to you to decide, and your needs and wants will certainly be the deciding factor. For me however, it has been nothing but a pleasure to use. Reducing cable clutter, and allowing me to connect more items without issue. The four USB3.0 ports on the new Mac Pro are sadly not enough, especially if you're not a fan of too many wireless peripherals.