OWC’s USB-C Dock Has a Complete Set of Ports and is Fully Powered

| In-Depth Review

There are now unpowered USB-C hubs and docks that are small and lightweight, designed for travel with a MacBook. They have extra USB-A ports, perhaps a VGA port for overhead presentations and maybe USB-C power pass through. Because they're small and light, there's likely not much more.

However, there is a real need for a full-featured dock that has many more kinds of ports: high-power USB-A ports for charging iDevices, Ethernet, HDMI video, and audio. This OWC dock has all that and electrical power to spare.

The most important thing to know about the Other World Computing USB-C Dock is that it is fairly large (specs below) and has a companion power brick that's also fairly large. But it is also conservatively engineered to have plenty of power with a safe margin. As a result, it may well be preferable keep this dock on a desk where the MacBook resides at home or in the office. And then, for travel, one could use one of the smaller hubs such as the ones from Satechi or Minix. Of course, with pass-through power on those devices, one will need the original charger brick that comes with the MacBook.

On my desk, showing relative size of power brick.

The next thing to know about this OWC USB-C Dock is that its has all the ports you could ever need: [A dock, according to OWC, is a device that takes one Type C port and turns it into multiple ports with varying functionality: USB, Ethernet, video, audio, etc. On the other hand, a hub would be a device that takes one, say, Type C port an turns it into multiple Type C ports.] Here's the list of ports:

Note #1: USB 3.1 Gen 1 is actually USB 3.0 @ 5 Gbps, as opposed to USB 3.1 Gen 2 which is 10 Gbps. The design is commensurate with the capability of the MacBook itself.

Note #2. There is plenty of power available for pass through to the MacBook and the two high-power USB-A ports. I was particularly curious about the power and size engineering trade-off, and OWC provided great detail.

The main difference here is that our USB-C Dock has USB power delivery, meaning it can charge the MacBook.... We have three USB ports (two Standard-A high-power and a Type-C that has the same power as the high-powered ports) and amplified audio in/out. The addition of power delivery, three high-powered ports, and amplified audio-in/out means more space is needed on the printed circuit board (PCB) compared to [other devices.] So, the size of the USB-C dock really is as compact as it can be, to be able to deliver the power and connectivity benefits it does.

On the size of the Power Brick: The power brick is large in order to deliver the power needed to support all ports and power the MacBook itself, with a safe margin. A breakdown by port is helpful here: the numbers in the attached graphic are measured in watts:

Credit: OWC

Note #3. The Ethernet port is quasi-functional out of the box and requires the installation of a kernel extension (kext) for full functionality. OWC explains.

Without the driver installed, Ethernet will function if you connect the USB-C to the MacBook after it is booted. However, if you put the MacBook to sleep, or have the USB-C Dock connected to the MacBook before the MacBook is turned on, the Ethernet will not function. Having the driver installed corrects this.

This is not so bad. I have another USB-C dock for review that has an Ethernet port. That port won't function at all unless the developer's driver is installed on the Mac.

I want to point our how very pleased I was do discover that after I downloaded the Ethernet driver, the folder [RTUNICv1.0.11] contained both an installer and an uninstaller. (An admin password, not root, is sufficient.) This is a testament to OWC's thoughtfulness and respect for the customer. One doesn't see that with many developers.

The uninstaller script is a double-clickable .command file, just like the one I described in: "OS X: How to Convert a Terminal Command Into a Double-Clickable Desktop File."

The HDMI port supports up to 4K video output without any impact on the other ports. In addition to pass through power to the MacBook, note from the list above that there is a second USB-C port for direct connect to, say, USB-C drives.

Next page: Product Testing, Weights, Dimensions, Warranty

Product: USB-C Dock

Company: Other World Computing

List Price: US$159.00


We Like It. You Should Get It.


Fully powered with engineering safe margin, ten ports, two high power USB-A ports for charging, status lights, Ethernet (with some restrictions) out of the box,  HDMI suppports 4K, amplified audio out, available in three colors to match the MacBook, two year warranty, excellent manual, uninstaller script included for Ethernet kernel extension (that provides full functionality), beautifully designed, great fit-and-finish.


14 ounce (391 g) power brick required, status lights hidden on bottom, front-rear placement of some ports slightly awkward.

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Hopefully all new Mac have Thunderbolt III with USB-C connectors, more ports with more backwards compatibility. I’d love a MacBook Pro with 6-8 and a Mac Pro with 20 :-D


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