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Other World Computing (OWC) is one of the leading companies in the manufacture of Mac and PC accessories. It is a top provider of External drives, docking solutions, performance upgrades kits, SSDs, and memory. The company recently released new accessories, and we selected the best OWC Thunderbolt products for your Mac and Thunderbolt 3 PC.

With today’s laptops becoming thinner and lightweight, the need for external peripherals, such as docking stations and adapters, is inevitable. While these ultraportable laptops are perfect for portability, they limit the number of accessories that you can use. For instance, the latest MacBook Pro and Dell XPS 13 weighs around 3 pounds, which is excellent for carrying around, but they only have Thunderbolt 3 ports.

And unlike desktops, laptops do not have extra expansion slots for future upgrades, meaning you’re stuck with the factory configuration forever. Some allow you to replace the SSD and add extra RAM sticks, but there is no much you can upgrade besides the memory and storage.

The good news is that you can do more with that single Thunderbolt 3 port than you can imagine. OWC is one of the companies with all the accessories you need to harness the full power of Thunderbolt 3 and transform your thin laptop into a desktop-class powerhouse.

Whether you want more graphical power, more storage, or to expand the number of ports, OWC has the best Thunderbolt 3 performance upgrade kits for you.

Here are the 3 OWC Thunderbolt products that we find cool:

1. OWC Thunderbolt 3 10G Ethernet Adapter – Best Thunderbolt 3 to Ethernet Adapter

The new OWC Thunderbolt 3 10G Ethernet adapter brings high-speed 10GBASE-T connectivity to devices with no Ethernet ports or those limited to a Gigabit Ethernet port. The adapter requires a computer with Thunderbolt 3 port to provide lightning-fast speeds of over 900MBps.

The adapter features Marvell’s Aquantia AQtion AQC107S controller and Intel’s JHL6540 Thunderbolt 3 controller, alias Alpine Ridge. It’s compatible with both Mac and Windows PCs with a Thunderbolt 3 port.

Design

OWC Thunderbolt 3 10G Ethernet adapter features a ventilated aluminum build with a heat sink for maximum airflow and heat dissipation. It is wrapped with a rubber sleeve to protect it from the bumps of everyday use and give it an extra grip in portable use. Since there is no fan, it runs silent, perfect for office use.

The adapter has two interfaces — a 10GbE port for connecting to a wired network and a Thunderbolt 3 port for your computer. It draws power from the Thunderbolt 3 connection, so you don’t need extra power cables. However, it uses an Alpine Ridge controller and may not work with some USB-C devices.

Performance

OWC Thunderbolt 3 10G Ethernet adapter transforms your workplace with 10Gbps Ethernet connectivity with real-world-tested speeds of up to 900MBps. It makes a huge difference when upgrading from Gigabit Ethernet or even lower Ethernet standards. You can copy a 50GB file in under a minute.

While it would take you more than 10 hours to transfer 4TB files with Gigabit Ethernet, the OWC Thunderbolt 3 10G Ethernet adapter only takes one hour.

Leverage the incredibly fast speeds of this 10GbE adapter access Network Attached Storage (NAS) system, transfer your day’s raw photos, or copy 4K and 8K footages to start editing right away. It’s a suitable accessory for professional content creators and photographers who work with large multimedia files.

OWC Thunderbolt 3 10G Ethernet adapter ensures you don’t have to wait for hours anymore for your content to finish copying. You can start retouching or editing content directly from shared RAID storage or NAS and collaborate with fellow professionals.

Seamless Video Streaming and Wake-on-LAN

The adapter supports Audio Video Bridging (IEEE 802.1Qav, AVB), which ensures lower latency for audio and video streaming. Watch Netflix or stream your gameplay to Twitch or YouTube without experience lag or synchronization issues.

With Wake-on-LAN, you can wake your computer from sleep for remote access. You don’t have to leave your laptop on at all times to access it remotely. Hibernate your machine or put it in sleep, saving on energy, and access it from anywhere with network Wake-on-LAN.

Improve Performance of Existing Network

The OWC Ethernet adapter supports auto-negotiation for 10Gbps, 5Gbps, 2.5Gbps, 1Gbps, and 100Mb/s Base-T Ethernet standards, meaning it works with most existing networks. Most home and small enterprises use 2.5 – 5Gbps equipped router or switches, but are often limited to GbE speeds by their devices such as the Mac mini 2018. Adding the OWC Thunderbolt 3 10G Ethernet adapter can provide up to 5x performance increase without changing the existing infrastructure.

Ethernet Cables

OWC Thunderbolt 3 10G Ethernet adapter is compatible with older cables, but not all will give you 10Gbps speeds. The adapter supports 10Gbps with Cat 7 and Cat 6a cables, 5Gbps with Cat 6, 2.5Gbps with Cat 5e, and 1Gbps with Cat 5, at lengths up to 100 meters. Cat 6 supports full 10GbE speeds but up to 55 meters.

OUR TAKE
OWC Thunderbolt 3 10G Ethernet adapter is a feature-packed and handy accessory for your office or home setup now that many laptop brands are ditching Ethernet ports. It provides higher bandwidth for sharing and transferring large files, which can help streamline your workflow. It can boost your existing infrastructure with incredibly fast speeds without extra costs. It’s a highly recommended solution for computers with no Ethernet or those limited to Gigabit Ethernet.
PROS

  • Fast speeds over 900MBps
  • Supports Wake-on-LAN and AVB
  • Durable build quality
  • Compatible with other Ethernet standards
  • Compatible with Mac and Windows
CONS

  • May not work with USB-C devices
 

2. OWC Thunderbay Flex 8 – Best Thunderbolt 3 Enclosure

OWC Thunderbay Flex 8 is the best Thunderbolt 3 enclosure for your Mac Pro and MacBook Pro. It’s an all-in-one upgrade kit providing storage solutions, docking, and PCIe expansion over Thunderbolt 3. The Thunderbay Flex 8 is suitable for users working with terabytes of data such as professional content creators.

In terms of design, this enclosure has a slightly larger footprint. It measures 5.9 x 13.7 15.4 inches (WHD) and 20.3 pounds in weight. It comes with a black finish, ventilation for airflow, and carry handles for easy portability. With its bulky design, this enclosure fits excellently on a desktop, but it is not the best for portability.

Flexible Storage

OWC Thunderbay Flex 8 has eight SATA/SAS drive bays that accepts both 2.5-inch and 3.5-inch drives. The top four ports support U.2/M.22 NVMe drives, which deliver insane speeds up to 2750MBps. You can upgrade your Mac’s storage or any Thunderbolt 3 PC with up to 128TB total capacity and leverage RAID for even faster and reliable storage access.

Docking Flexibility

OWC Thunderbay Flex 8 isn’t just an enclosure. It doubles up as a docking station to expand the number of ports of your Mac and ultraportable PC. Expand your laptop with eight additional ports, including two USB-A 10Gbps, one USB-C, DisplayPort 1.4, SD 4.0 and CFexpress card reader, and two Thunderbolt 3 ports that support daisy-chaining of five additional Tb3 devices.

In addition to the myriad of ports, OWC Thunderbay Flex 8 provides 85W power delivery for laptop charging, ensuring a clean and clutter-free working space.

This enclosure also features a four-lane PCIe x16 expansion slot for flexible upgrades in the future. The expansion slot accepts half-length, full-height, single-width expansion cards to expand your workflow with more functionalities such as 4K video capture card, networking, hardware, RAID card, or additional I/O card. This enclosure can transform your ultraportable laptop into a powerful desktop with just a single Thunderbolt 3 port.

OUR TAKE
OWC Thunderbay Flex 8 is the best Thunderbolt 3 enclosure for professionals. It opens up your PC to unlimited possibilities with just a single Thunderbolt 3 port. Whether looking for additional storage for your 8K footage or add legacy ports for your peripherals, this enclosure provides everything you need to boost your productivity. It’s a professional solution for professionals who need more from their computers.
PROS

  • More storage options with RAID
  • Insane NVMe speeds
  • Supports Thunderbolt 3 daisy-chaining
  • 85W charging power
  • PCIe slot for add-in cards
  • Carry handles for portability
CONS

  • Heavy and bulky
  • Not cheap
 

3. OWC Thunderbolt 3 Mini Dock – Portable Thunderbolt 3 Docking Station

As an alternative to the OWC Thunderbolt 3 10G Ethernet adapter and OWC Thunderbay Flex 8, OWC launched another new Thunderbolt 3 mini docking station with a few ports, perfect for portability and working on-the-go. The 5-in-1 Thunderbolt 3 hub lets you connect dual 4K displays, legacy USB peripherals, and Gigabit Ethernet network over a tethered Thunderbolt 3 cable.

The OWC Thunderbolt 3 mini dock features a compact and lightweight design. It measures 0.7 x 4.9 x 2.6 inches (HWL) and only 0.33 lbs weight. You can take this mini docking station just about anywhere to stay productive on-the-go and take advantage of your PCs Thunderbolt 3 dock. It comes in a black finish with white branding and a tethered Thunderbolt 3 cable.

The tethered cable is the only drawback with the design since damage to the Thunderbolt 3 cable renders the whole dock faulty.

OWC Thunderbolt 3 mini dock comes with five ports. Two HDMI 2.0 ports support up to dual 4K60 displays for vibrant and crystal-clear images. Connect USB peripherals, including card readers and mouse, to the two USB ports with one supporting 5Gbps speeds. OWC ensures you get access to wired networking with a Gigabit Ethernet port, which completes the essential selection of ports.

OUR TAKE
The OWC Thunderbolt 3 mini dock is an essential solution for everyday use and mostly portability. If you want more ports and high-speed Ethernet, you can upgrade to the OWC Thunderbolt 3 10G Ethernet adapter or OWC Thunderbay Flex 8. For users looking for a few additional ports, this mini dock is the perfect solution that won’t break your bank.
PROS

  • Runs dual 4K at 60Hz displays
  • Lightweight for portable
  • Bus-powered
  • Extra USB ports for legacy peripherals
CONS

  • Tethered Thunderbolt 3 cable
  • No Power Delivery
Categories: Reviews