Powered Docking station or Dongle for MacBook Air

Now with BlackFriday going, I might try and get a good MacBook Air Dock. The two USB-C ports in my MacBook Air aren’t enough for my needs:

  • Power (there’s docks/dongles that let you also power your macbook right?)
  • External Harddrive
  • Overbridge over USB
  • Potentially an Audio Interface in the future
  • Potentially a monitor screen

I have an unpowered USB-dongle but I can’t run Overbridge and my monitor (via a HDMI dongle) screen through it at the same time.

Any good experiences with certain Docks/Dongles for MacBooks Airs? (that let you also power your laptop so you don’t lose the USB-C port of the Dongle?)

I use a cheap-ish knock-off USB adaptor with power distribution and HDMI out on my first gen M1 MacBook Air. It’s worked flawlessly since I got it.

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I use a random dongle similar to the one above when out and a OWC thunderbolt hub at home:

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Thunderbolt is the way to go. Enough power and bandwidth for everything, rock solid, and well-built, thanks to strict certification.

They’re expensive, but you only have to swallow it once, and never worry about it again.

I also have an Overhub hooked up to my thunderbolt dock, for lots of full-bandwidth USB hookups.

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I use this and been solid so far. Also use it with my iPad Pro and opz. I could do with another USB port in it though

Kenton Nucleum looks Nice.

No Thunderbolt but is USB-C type 3 the same? Their website specifically mentions MacBooks…

It also has “powerthru” or something which I believe is official terminology for powering your laptop. [edit: Power Pass Through]

Any brands you’d recommend? It’s really a forest of options - and last time I tried one (affordable-ish) it didn’t really work well.

Yep it charges laptop when you plug usb c power cable into it

I’m not sure of numbers but thunderbolt is faster, usb c has been fast enough for anything i am doing so far

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All the Thunderbolt options that also charge your laptop are around €250-€350, which I really would hope not to spend. So I might try the USB-C Nucleus for €50.

The most affordable OWC that seems to power your laptop whilst offering a bunch of USB ports (that then appear like the “first port” to your laptop) seems to be this one:

It only offers USB-C ports. Does that come with disadvantages? I seem to remember that in the generic dongle that I have, some gear doesn’t get noticed by my laptop if I plug it in the dongle with a dongle in between (for example when I plug in a USB-B tot USB-A cable with. USBA>USBC in between) (@koam I found it through you mentioning this brand, and now I see it’s the exact one you have lol. Would you recommend it? No problem when using USB-A>USB-C converters/dongles to make regular USB-A cables fit?)

I can’t speak for every use case of course, but for me the OWC hub has been excellent.

No issues connecting stuff usb c > usb c (audio interface, external drives) or usb a/b > usb c (printer, midi controllers, synths).

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Perfect. Happy it’s working for you. And indeed it powers your laptop too?

I might just try this one and be done with it.

I use a Caldigit Ts4, it’s expensive but it works seamlessly; easy to wake up when asleep and tons of Thunderbolt 4 and Usb C ports.

If you’re just looking for a bunch of high speed powered USB ports, this one is essentially a budget overhub.

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Yeah it powers my laptop fine.

I’m using it with a 14” macbook pro and the hub only provides 60W power delivery, but that’s been ok for me - never had to worry about it not providing enough power.

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I use a Qgeem TB4 dock.

Not cheap. But I got mine off eBay for a fraction of the price.

But they make a smaller one that’s still very useful, and half the price. You could just use USB B to USB C cables for overbridge instruments.

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I was wondering if this works, thanks

The OWC version is on sale right now for $125 btw

I’m in Europe, haven’t found any deals in the EU shops I can find - but I’ve found that the OWC hubs/docks are quite prevalent on the Dutch online second hand marketplace

I’ve got one!

Second hand OWC Thunderbolt 3 Dock coming my way - the version before the current one. €110, great value if all turns out to be well.

Current version is this one:

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