Thunderbolt 3 docks continue to flood the market, and today I'm taking a look at IOGEAR's Thunderbolt 3 Quantum Docking Station. IOGEAR's dock offers many of the same features typically seen on other Thunderbolt 3 docks, including multiple USB ports, a Gigabit Ethernet port, headphone and microphone jacks, a DisplayPort port, and a pair of Thunderbolt 3 ports to allow for daisy chaining, all in a familiar horizontal design used by many other docks.

iogear tb3 dock
Most notably, the IOGEAR Thunderbolt 3 Quantum Docking Station looks identical to CalDigit's TS3 Lite that I reviewed a few months ago, with the exception of color and finish. While CalDigit's dock has an enclosure of brushed aluminum and black matte plastic, IOGEAR's has more of a satin matte finish that's slightly lighter in color, paired with white matte plastic. In size, shape, and port layout, however, these two docks are identical.

iogear caldigit tb3 docks

Caldigit's TS3 Lite (left) vs. IOGEAR's Thunderbolt 3 Quantum Docking Station (right)

The IOGEAR dock looks decent, with its aluminum finish coming close to the silver color Apple uses on its notebooks. A fairly unobtrusive IOGEAR logo is printed on the top of the dock, and it comes with an external power brick and a 0.5-meter Thunderbolt 3 cable for connecting to a host computer at maximum speeds.

Meeting the standard for Thunderbolt 3 docks, IOGEAR's version supports up to a single 5K display over Thunderbolt 3 or dual 4K displays over a combination of Thunderbolt 3 and DisplayPort. I experienced no hiccups connecting an LG UltraFine 5K display at up to 60 Hz through one of the dock's Thunderbolt 3 ports.

iogear tb3 dock front
In line with every other dock I've reviewed with the exception of OWC's Thunderbolt 3 Dock, IOGEAR's dock includes three USB ports, with IOGEAR opting to go with one Type-A on the rear and one each of Type-A and Type-C on the front for easy access.

iogear tb3 dock rear
All three ports run at 5 Gbps USB 3.1 Gen 1 speeds, and the inclusion of a Type-C port is a nice benefit as peripherals start to move in that direction. The USB ports operate at expected speeds once overhead is accounted for, with a CalDigit Tuff SSD running at 325 MB/s write and 350 MB/s read over both Type-A and Type-C, in line with other Thunderbolt 3 docks featuring 5 Gbps USB ports.

iogear tb3 dock usb
As with the TS3 Lite, one of the main limitations with IOGEAR's dock is that it only supports up to 15 watts of charging power over Thunderbolt 3/USB-C, meaning it won't be able to power your MacBook Pro over the same cable used for data and video and you'll need to hook up your computer's power brick.

Attempting to power my 2016 15-inch MacBook Pro solely through the dock merely slowed the rate of battery life decrease, even under light usage. Depending on your setup such as willingness to use your Mac's power brick or having another monitor with higher charging power already connected, this might not be a deal breaker, but with many other Thunderbolt 3 docks offering 60 or even 85 watts of charging power it's an unfortunate limitation.

The real deal breaker, however, is price, unless you're very careful in shopping around. IOGEAR's dock carries a list price of $299.95, in the same range as docks with better features such as higher charging power, and a full $100 more than the essentially identical TS3 Lite from CalDigit. You can certainly find cheaper prices on IOGEAR's dock such as current $225 pricing at Amazon, but even that is still higher than the TS3 Lite.

Authorized reseller Provantage currently has it for $178, but with shipping starting at $27, the deal isn't quite as good as it first appears. Even with those deals, it's disappointing how much hunting you need to do to try find a good price on this dock.

As a result, it's hard to recommend the Thunderbolt 3 Quantum Docking Station unless you can find it at a really great price. The TS3 Lite is generally cheaper for identical features, while other docks like OWC's Thunderbolt 3 Dock with more USB ports and an SD card slot or Elgato's dock or CalDigit's TS3 with more features at the same list price offer better values.

Note: IOGEAR provided the Thunderbolt 3 Quantum Docking Station to MacRumors free of charge for the purposes of this review. No other compensation was received. MacRumors is an affiliate partner with Amazon and may earn commissions on purchases made through links in this article.

Top Rated Comments

theluggage Avatar
66 months ago
Can someone explain to me the difference between those hub adapters (hyperdrive, satechi) and these 'docks'? What's the diff...and why such a high price?
Different technologies & higher bandwidth.

The cheaper options are "USB-C hubs/docks" - that is, the connection to the computer uses USB 2, USB 3.1 and "USB-C displayport alt mode" (which physically allocates 1 - 4 of the high-speed data lanes in a USB-C cable to DisplayPort signals). The max bandwidth for peripherals is (theoretically) 10Gbs USB 3.1gen2 (but AFAIK the currently available products only use 5Gbps USB 3.1gen1) which has to be shared between the devices connected to the hub (much like an old-school USB hub). Also, to drive a 4k@60Hz display, all 4 of the high-speed data lanes have to be allocated to DisplayPort, and all that is left for other devices is 480 Mbps USB2 (which has its own pair of wires in the cable).

The more expensive "thunderbolt 3 docks" connect to the computer via Thunderbolt 3 at up to 40Gbps - they contain USB 3.1 controllers to drive their USB ports - and sometimes SATA controllers as well. Up to 2 4k@60Hz DisplayPort streams (i.e. enough to drive one 5k display) can be encoded as part of the Thunderbolt signal while still leaving bandwidth for other high-speed data.

If you're using 4k or better displays and/or want to connect high performance disc drives etc. via the dock, you really need a Thunderbolt dock. If you just need more sockets to connect mice, printers, slow backup drives and/or connect sub-4k displays, then a cheaper USB-C hub should do the job - especially if you have spare USB-C ports on your computer...
[doublepost=1504091126][/doublepost]
OWC haven't even bothered to explain why exactly their dock can't do 85 watts. Which given they market themselves at Apple customers, is frankly stupid.
Actually, what is frankly stupid is that Apple - when they made the courageous decision to suddenly drop all the "legacy" ports from the MBP - didn't make sure that there was at least one decent TB3 dock (not built into a $1000 5k display) available at the launch. Also, things like USB-C to DisplayPort/MiniDisplayPort cables - absent from the Apple store - which have proven a bit of a crapshoot to get from third parties.

If it were just OWC's dock turning up a day late and a dollar short then maybe you could blame OWC, but these delays and glitches have been standard operating practice for both TB3 products and earlier TB1 & 2 products from most sources so maybe, just maybe, it is harder than it looks to get it right. I'm sure Apple's resources could have helped.

Even the LG 5k Thunderbolt display looks distinctly as if Apple started to design a new display and then couldn't be bothered to produce the casing (bet it would't have had that EM shielding problem if it had been in an aluminium case...) - Apple today seem to want to live in a world where they just produce the big-ticket computers and the surrounding ecosystem take care of itself.
Score: 3 Votes (Like | Disagree)
theluggage Avatar
66 months ago
Even then, no dock has TB2 support, so you still need to have a dangling TB3 --> TB2 dongle and now...you've just ended your TB3 chain and can't daisy-chain any more TB3 devices.
I think the answer is "don't do that, then". All Apple's TB3-capable computers have at least two ports, and if you're needing to chain more than two TB devices off a hub (which presumably also has multiple devices) then you're probably in the market for the touchbar MBPs with 4 ports and 2 TB3 controllers, so you can spread the load.

A single TB3 connection isn't a bottomless pit of bandwidth - especially if you're using it to drive 4k or 5k displays - and I've never met a packet-based interface that didn't start to have latency issues when running at a significant fraction of its theoretical bandwidth.

(actually, maybe not a realistic solution, but the TB2-TB3 adapter works both ways so you could add another adapter and convert the chain back to TB3 - but obviously not at 40Gbps. Not that we're knee deep in 40Gbps-capable TB3 devices at the moment, anyway.)

I now see that there are "ifs" and "buts" over whether the Caldigit and OWC can support 4k@60Hz on some displays via the DisplayPort connection (you have to download the manuals to see details), which is really annoying. Its around that point where I start wondering whether the whole idea of a TB or USB-C dock is a busted flush - just too many potential compatibility glitches.
Score: 1 Votes (Like | Disagree)
maerz001 Avatar
66 months ago
What an expensive brick for not even having hdmi or a SD card reader
Score: 1 Votes (Like | Disagree)
dilbert99 Avatar
66 months ago
many monitors have them built in already. And many laptops do also.
Not if its an Apple laptop :D
[doublepost=1504082525][/doublepost]
In a general use office setting the vast vast majority of users do not use either HDMI or SD Card readers.
Perhaps in a business office, at home most users would be connecting up digital cameras so not having an SD card means those users will just pass on to a competitor.
Score: 1 Votes (Like | Disagree)
jimthing Avatar
66 months ago
If only the OWC dock did 85 watt charging. I'd buy it in a shot.

But until then, no sale on ANY of these docks.

Not one of them offers the ports of the OWC, with the 85 watts power of the full Caldigit.

OWC haven't even bothered to explain why exactly their dock can't do 85 watts. Which given they market themselves at Apple customers, is frankly stupid. Are they really expecting Apple customers who expect the best to buy a pre-gimped product... just because?!

What a waste of time they're all turning out to be. Disappointing to say the least.
Score: 1 Votes (Like | Disagree)

Popular Stories

apple watch ultra deuglify 1

Apple Watch Ultra User Mods Titanium Casing to 'Deuglify' Design

Tuesday September 27, 2022 8:05 am PDT by
An Apple Watch Ultra user has modified their new device's casing to add a brushed finish and remove the orange color of the Action Button in an effort to make it more visually appealing. The Apple Watch Ultra offers the first complete redesign of the Apple Watch since the product line's announcement in 2014, and while the design has been met with praise from many users, some have criticized...
Dark Sky App Featured

Dark Sky Removed From iOS App Store Ahead of Upcoming Shutdown

Wednesday September 28, 2022 4:27 pm PDT by
The Dark Sky weather app that's owned by Apple is no longer available for download in the U.S. App Store, suggesting that it has been removed ahead of schedule. Apple acquired Dark Sky back in March 2020 and has since incorporated elements of the app into the Weather app available on the iPhone (and soon, the iPad). Dark Sky remained available for purchase as a standalone weather app...
iphone 14 pro max vs 13 max 2

Camera Comparison: iPhone 14 Pro Max vs. iPhone 13 Pro Max

Thursday September 29, 2022 7:44 am PDT by
The iPhone 14 Pro and Pro Max introduce some major improvements in camera technology, adding a 48-megapixel lens and low-light improvements across all lenses with the new Photonic Engine. We've spent the last week working on an in-depth comparison that pits the new iPhone 14 Pro Max against the prior-generation iPhone 13 Pro Max to see just how much better the iPhone 14 Pro Max can be. Subscrib ...
apple watch ultra hammer test

YouTuber Tests Apple Watch Ultra Durability With a Hammer: Table Breaks Before the Watch

Sunday September 25, 2022 2:27 pm PDT by
A YouTuber has put Apple's claims for the durability of the Apple Watch Ultra to the test by putting it up against a drop test, a jar of nails, and repeated hits with a hammer to test the sapphire crystal protecting the display. TechRax, a channel popular for testing the durability of products, first tested the Apple Watch Ultra by dropping it from around four feet high. The Apple Watch...
tony blevins car

Apple Procurement VP Departs Company After Vulgar TikTok Comment

Thursday September 29, 2022 12:38 pm PDT by
Tony Blevins, Apple's vice president of procurement, is set to depart the company after he made a crude comment about his profession in a recent TikTok video, reports Bloomberg. Blevins was in a video by TikTok creator Daniel Mac, who was doing a series on the jobs of people he spotted with expensive cars. After seeing Blevins in an expensive Mercedes-Benz SLR McLaren, Mac asked Blevins what ...
iPhone 14 Pros in Hand Black Background Feature

Verizon iPhone 14 Pro Customers Reporting Cellular Connection Issues

Monday September 26, 2022 6:23 am PDT by
iPhone 14 Pro customers on the Verizon network in the U.S. are reporting issues with slow and unreliable 5G cellular connections and calls randomly dropping. Several threads on Reddit (1,2,3) and the MacRumors forums chronicle issues faced by Verizon customers and Apple's latest iPhone. According to user reports, signal strength on the iPhone 14 Pro is unreliable and weak, while other...
iPhone 15 to Switch From Lightning to USB C in 2023 feature sans arrow

Kuo: iPhone 14 Pro Max Popularity Could Lead to More Differentiation Between iPhone 15 Pro and iPhone 15 Pro Max

Wednesday September 28, 2022 10:22 am PDT by
Apple has seen high demand for the 6.7-inch iPhone 14 Pro Max, which could lead the company to further differentiate the next-generation iPhone 15 Pro and Pro Max, according to Apple analyst Ming-Chi Kuo. Apple could add exclusive features to the iPhone 15 Pro Max in an effort to encourage more people to purchase the larger and more expensive device. Kuo last week said that Apple asked...
iPhone 14 Pro Sports Scores Dynamic Island

iPhone 14 Pro Features Live Sports Scores in Dynamic Island on iOS 16.1

Monday September 26, 2022 7:52 am PDT by
Earlier this month, Apple announced that iOS 16.1 will enable a new Live Activities feature that allows iPhone users to stay on top of things that are happening in real time, such as a sports game or a food delivery order, right from the Lock Screen. On the iPhone 14 Pro and Pro Max, Live Activities also integrate with the Dynamic Island. Premier League match in Dynamic Island via Paul Bradford ...
iOS 16

Everything New in the Latest iOS 16.1 and iPadOS 16.1 Betas: Stage Manager Expansion, Wallpaper Tweaks and More

Tuesday September 27, 2022 11:36 am PDT by
Apple today released new betas of iOS 16.1 and iPadOS 16.1 to developers, tweaking some of the functionality that's been introduced in prior betas and in the case of iPadOS 16.1, adding a major new feature to Stage Manager. We've rounded up everything new in both betas below. Wallpaper Updates Apple has updated the Wallpaper section of the Settings app to allow users to swap between...
General iOS 16 Feature Yellow

Some iOS 16 Users Continue to Face Unaddressed Bugs and Battery Drain Two Weeks After Launch

Monday September 26, 2022 7:34 am PDT by
Today marks exactly two weeks since Apple released iOS 16 to the public. Besides the personalized Lock Screen, major changes in Messages, and new features in Maps, the update has also seen its fair share of bugs, performance problems, battery drain, and more. After major iOS updates, it's normal for some users to report having issues with the new update, but such reports usually subside in...