We take a look at the Thunderbolt Hub from OWC that makes three Thunderbolt connections out of one.
Moving from a 15 inch MacBook Pro to the smaller size was quite a revelation. The reduction in dimensions doesn't sound a lot, but when you carry a laptop around everyday it certainly makes a difference. The introduction of the Apple Silicon 13 inch models made the downsizing argument even stronger as processing power and daily battery life wasn't a problem.
Connectivity was however.
On location edits, I had taken my old 15 inch Intel MBP and connected that up to a RAID, card reader, HDMI out etc. All used to produce content sitting on location in a hotel room or similar.
But with the new 13" MacBook Pro, I only had two Thunderbolt/USB 4 ports. Yes, peripherals can be daisy-chained together, but a lot of the equipment I use for editing hasn't got a pass-through. An end of chain card reader is exactly that, it's at the end of the chain. Counting up what I needed to edit (even without unplugging card readers and plugging back in after ingesting media), two ports wasn't going to be enough. Why don't you use a USB hub I can hear you say? I would, but I need Thunderbolt connectivity for a separate monitor and an attached RAID.
So with a location editing job happening imminently, I purchased an OWC Thunderbolt Hub. Again, for full disclosure, I paid for this out of my own money without a discount! However, OWC do support this site with advertising & links and we are very grateful!
The OWC Thunderbolt HUB is a $149 unit that splits a single Thunderbolt connection into three. It's a small unit, about the same depth and length as a Magic Mouse, but slightly wider.
On the front of the unit is the 'in' Thunderbolt connection to the hub. This can also charge a device up with 60W of power. Next to that is a single USB 3.2 10Gb/s port.
On the back is the connector for the mains (more about that later), a Kensington Nano security slot, then three 'out' Thunderbolt connectors which all share the bandwidth of the input. Each output will support a bus powered device. Those little holes above the connectors are for OWC's 'ClingOns' which make the port connections more secure by holding the cable in. A 0.8 metre Thunderbolt cable is supplied, but Kirk's enemies are extra.
You can of course take one of the Thunderbolt outputs and then attach another dock to allow even further connectivity, although you will only be sharing the one Mac port's bandwidth.
It worked perfectly, allowing me to run a 4K edit screen, connect to a Thunderbolt RAID and leave the multiple card readers attached at all times. I also had a wired keyboard connected and a backup SSD for disk images from the camera cards.
There is something I'm not that keen on though and maybe I should have twigged earlier when I first saw the shipping box. The power unit compared to the hub is huge! With an IEC mains cable in and a connecting lead out, it takes up a lot of space as well.
I contacted OWC and asked them why a small unit needed such a large and heavy companion. They answered that it was the best they could find that did the job of supplying the power needed, if you know of a better unit they are very keen to hear from you!
This is a perfect companion to expand the Thunderbolt connectivity of any Mac, but it is especially handy for those laptops with only one or two Thunderbolt connectors. It is even the same gunmetal colour.
However, just make sure you leave enough space for the mains adaptor when packing!