As my desktop iMac continued to age and start to show, I realized that the cost of maintaining a home computer and a laptop was really starting to bog me down. On top of dealing with software licenses, it just stopped making sense. Twice the amount of updates, dealing with syncing files, transferring photos between different Lightroom catalogs just became a lot of extra time. After a lot of thinking and research, I decided to pull the plug on the iMac and look into a docking system for my laptop.
Having a 2016 15″ MacBook Pro w/touchbar, I knew I had the raw power to make this work. It was just doing the research to figure out what it would take to get everything to hook up, make it easy to connect/disconnect and to investigate what type of burden this setup would case to my MacBook Pro.
The first thing I wanted to research was getting a good pair of large monitors that would work out best. I immediately began looking for USB-C monitors. Since it had been a solid year and that there should be plenty of options out there. I wasn’t a fan of the large price tag that came along with the LG monitors from Apple (plus the 4K monitors are only 22″). So the quest for the best monitor at a decent price began.
My findings, there really isn’t anything out there that would do what I wanted. A few models came highly recommended but were now backordered for months or non-existant. Disappointed, I gave up the search for USB-C and looked into HDMI 2.0 and DisplayPort connections. I knew that there were plenty of cables/adapters around so no matter what, I could make this work. I finally settled on a pair of Samsung U28E590D 28-Inch UHD LED-Lit Monitors. My MacBook Pro could drive these two 4K screens and give me a pretty solid experience. With my monitors selected, it was time to find the perfect dock.
Now there are a ton of docking stations still in Kickstarter phase or being developed. The problem was I was switching computers now and needed to find a solid solution. Something that could handle driving 4K screens, had audio in/out (for podcasting), and had a solid ethernet port (when streaming I’m always hardwired in). This didn’t leave me with a lot of options, especially ones that were available. I first hit up the Apple store to see what was there, and all I found was a single docking system with terrible reviews.
Trusting the audience of my fellow Apple-folks, I ended up looking into the Elgato Thunderbolt 3 Dock. This slim dock would power/charge my MacBook Pro (meaning I wouldn’t have to dedicate another port just to charging or worry about another power brick), it had all the connections I could want, and it matched my laptop in look/feel (now I know that sounds dumb, but when Apple puts that much effort into the design, I want to respect that and not dump on some large black accessory). For added connivence, I picked up a laptop stand to help with height and also give me place to stash this new Elgato Thunderbolt 3 Dock. This thing is truly solid, looks great, and places my laptop at a great height.
The Complete Docking System
This entire docking system together has been absolutely great. If I want to sit on the couch and work, I can. But if I need the extra power behind monitor space, a keyboard and mouse, it just takes two plugs and I’m good to go. Here is the full list of products I have to accomplish this docking station with links to Amazon. Every purchase you make through these links helps fund the server space for this blog – we appreciate you!