With the flood of full-featured Thunderbolt 3 docks about to hit the market, it's time to take a look at Belkin's Thunderbolt 3 Express Dock HD, one of the major contenders users have been waiting for in addition to the OWC Thunderbolt 3 Dock and CalDigit TS3 that we've also recently reviewed. As with the other docks we've looked at, Belkin's offering includes a variety of ports and even charging capabilities all over a single Thunderbolt 3 cable, making it a great option for turning the new MacBook Pro into a robust desktop setup.

belkin tb3 dock
Belkin's Thunderbolt 3 Express Dock HD is launching this Monday, June 5 (exact time still to be determined), and will be available directly from Belkin and through Apple, as well as from other select retailers, but we've already had a chance to spend a little time with it to see how it compares to the competition.

The Belkin Thunderbolt 3 Express Dock HD is fairly stylish, with a horizontal design constructed primarily of aluminum and tapering slightly back to front in both horizontal and vertical dimensions. The sides and rear port panel of the dock are a glossy black plastic that come with a clear plastic protection film that's surprisingly difficult to get a fingernail under to remove.

At 8.17 inches maximum width by 3.4 inches deep by a maximum of 1.2 inches high, it has the same general footprint as OWC's dock and CalDigit's TS3 Lite. The silver aluminum finish complements silver MacBook Pro machines well, and the darker gray Belkin logo and word mark in the front corner of the top are not overly distracting. A small LED near the left side of the front glows orange when there is power to the dock and turns green when the dock is connected to a computer.

belkin tb3 dock desk
As with other docks, Belkin's offering comes with a fairly large external power brick that rivals the dock itself in size, although it can usually be tucked away a bit. Belkin also includes a 1-meter Thunderbolt 3 cable in the box.

Like the CalDigit TS3 and Elgato's upcoming dock, Belkin's dock supports up to 85 watts of charging power over its Thunderbolt 3 cable, enough for not only the 13-inch MacBook Pro but also its larger 15-inch sibling. Docks with lower ratings, such as OWC's at 60 watts, may be unable to keep up sufficiently with a 15-inch MacBook Pro under heavy load.

belkin tb3 dock front
One area where Belkin's dock comes up a bit short is in the array of ports offered. The front of the dock includes a single USB 3.0 (5 Gbps) Type-A port and a combined audio in/out port for easy access. The rear of the dock hosts a Gigabit Ethernet port, an audio port, two more USB 3.0 Type-A ports, a pair of Thunderbolt 3 ports, and a DisplayPort port. It's a basic set of options that may be sufficient for many users, but there aren't any advanced options here as seen on some other docks, and something as simple as a few more USB ports would have been nice to include.

belkin tb3 dock rear
As with other Thunderbolt 3 docks, Belkin's dock can support a single 5K display or dual displays at up to 4K resolution using a combination of one Thunderbolt 3 port, the DisplayPort port, and any necessary adapters.

Priced at $349.99, Belkin's dock is a bit more expensive than most of the other flagship models, which tend to come in at around $300, although Belkin's previous docks have frequently been available at less than list prices through Amazon and other retailers, so we'll have to wait and see whether that premium based on list prices can be overcome once it launches.

At the full $350 list price, it's hard to recommend the Belkin dock over other options though, especially since its array of ports is more on par with the $200 TS3 Lite from CalDigit than the $300-level docks that include additional ports such as an SD card slot, FireWire, eSATA, or extra USB ports.

The full 85-watt charging support is a welcome inclusion, which helps separate the Belkin dock from some other competitors. It's also a pretty good looking dock, with the subtle tapers in multiple dimensions and smooth curved aluminum body offering a sleeker look compared to some other simpler or more industrial looking designs.

Despite its drawbacks, Belkin's dock performs well for the features it has and is likely to be a popular option given the company's reputation for quality and its close relationship with Apple that should see prominent placement in Apple retail stores and at Apple.com.

Update: This review has been updated to remove a comment about the USB ports supporting stand alone charging even when there is no data connection to a computer. After additional testing, it appears this is not the case.

Note: Belkin provided the Thunderbolt 3 Express Dock HD to MacRumors free of charge for the purposes of this review. No other compensation was received.

Top Rated Comments

mkeeley Avatar
68 months ago
Still wonder how these hubs cost as much as a low end laptop.
Score: 12 Votes (Like | Disagree)
theluggage Avatar
68 months ago
Anyone know why the cost is so high?
The problem is, a Thunderbolt dock is quite a complex beast internally c.f. USB hubs and port replicators which appear, superficially, to do much the same thing.

Whereas a USB hub just splits a USB "input" between several outputs, a Thunderbolt dock contains a Thunderbolt controller to extract PCIe and DisplayPort signals, and an internal PCIe bus to which are attached USB controllers, SATA controllers (in some docks) and maybe Ethernet and Sound controllers (I dunno if those are driven from PCIe or hang off an internal USB port - if you have one you could probably tell from System Report).

Unless you really need the full bandwidth of Thunderbolt 3, most users would probably be better off going with cheaper USB-C stuff, especially if you primarily want more USB ports. The wheels come off USB-C if you want to run a 4k display at 60Hz - which, on a single USB-C connection, only leaves enough bandwidth for USB 2. Still, if you've got 4 TB3/USB-C ports on your MBP you could always run your displays direct from the machine and use a USB-C dock for charge, USB and ethernet.
Score: 6 Votes (Like | Disagree)
doublesupercool Avatar
68 months ago
It costs the price of a small laptop or PS4 plus extra controller/game to add standard port options to a "pro" computer? Why not punch me in the groin while you are there.

My 2011 MBP is dying and I am finding it very, very hard to justify the price of a new MPB when it has less options than my current 6 year old computer. . .
Score: 3 Votes (Like | Disagree)
4RUNRCLB Avatar
68 months ago
Eh. Pass. If I'm adding ports... Let's add more ports.
Score: 2 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Cougarcat Avatar
68 months ago
So will this support two standard displayport/mini displayport monitors?
Yes, just use a USB C to displayport cable for the second monitor.

Why do these things keep having DisplayPort instead of HDMI? I thought full size DP was a flash in the pan protocol around 8-10 years ago?
Far from it. DisplayPort is the preferred protocol for computer monitors. The reason they are better on docks is that it's easier to go from Displayport to HDMI than HDMI to Displayport with adapters. HDMI 1.4 also doesn't support 4K @ 60.
Score: 2 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Applebot1 Avatar
68 months ago
Just shows whilst Apple's vision is to have no ports at all reality is we need more!!
Score: 1 Votes (Like | Disagree)

Popular Stories

iPhone 14 Pro Purple Front and Back MacRumors Exclusive

Five iPhone 14 Rumors You May Have Missed

Thursday August 4, 2022 6:05 am PDT by
With August upon us, the countdown is officially on. We're just weeks away from when we're expecting Apple to announce the iPhone 14 lineup. Rumors of the next iPhone start early in the year, and as a result, some details about the upcoming device sometimes get lost in the crowd. Exclusive MacRumors iPhone 14 Pro renders by graphic designer Ian Zelbo To help MacRumors readers, we've created a ...
oneplus 10t and iphone 13 pro

Camera Comparison: The New OnePlus 10T vs. iPhone 13 Pro Max

Wednesday August 3, 2022 8:30 am PDT by
Android-based smartphone company OnePlus today announced the launch of its newest device, the OnePlus 10T, which we were able to check out ahead of time. The OnePlus 10T, priced starting at $649, boasts upgraded camera technology, so we thought we'd pit it against the iPhone 13 Pro Max to see just how it measures up. Subscribe to the MacRumors YouTube channel for more videos. The OnePlus 10T...
apple watch series 7 titanium

Apple Watch Edition Begins Selling Out Ahead of Series 8 Launch

Tuesday August 2, 2022 7:55 am PDT by
Apple Watch Edition models are beginning to sell out just weeks before the Apple Watch Series 8 lineup is expected to be announced. Several of the high-end Apple Watch Series 7 models with titanium casings are listed as "currently unavailable" on Apple's online store in the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom, and select other countries. In the United States, availability of 41mm...
iPadOS 16 Header

Apple to Delay iPadOS 16 Launch Until October

Wednesday August 3, 2022 10:26 am PDT by
Apple is planning to delay the launch of iPadOS 16 until October, which means the iPad software will not launch alongside iOS 16 in September as it typically does, reports Bloomberg. Apple has been developing a new multitasking feature for the iPad called Stage Manager, with the option designed to offer a more Mac-like multi-window multitasking experience. The delayed launch of iPadOS 16 is...
iPhone 14 Lineup Feature Teal

Rumor: iPhone 14 to Start at $799, Same as iPhone 13

Wednesday August 3, 2022 3:20 am PDT by
Apple's forthcoming iPhone 14 base model will start at $799, the same entry price as last year's 6.1-inch iPhone 13, according to a new rumor coming out of East Asia. According to a post from the account "yeux1122" on the Korean blog Naver, Apple will not increase the price of its upcoming entry-level flagship device in order to boost sales and offset declining demand amid the global...