OWC Thunderbolt Hub Review: The Answer to Thunderbolt 4 Connectivity on Macs, PCs, and Tablets

OWC Thunderbolt Hub Review: The Answer to Thunderbolt 4 Connectivity on Macs, PCs, and Tablets

OWC Thunderbolt Hub

Design
Features
Value

Summary

The purpose-built OWC Thunderbolt Hub brings connectivity for 4 Thunderbolt 4 devices and a USB-A device as well. Ideal for workflows that require multiple devices from cameras to monitors, mixers, and graphics tablets. Turns the M1 iPad Pro into a first-class computing device.

5

OWC Thunderbolt Hub: get your workflow on

If you are worried about a port-challenged computer not supporting your workflow, look to OWC’s Thunderbolt Hub to expand your peripheral capability. This high-powered hub not only connects up to 5 devices directly, but it can also daisy chain other hubs to offer a wealth of ports in support of audio, video, graphics design, gaming, and other workflows and funflows.

If Amazon doesn’t have the $179.00 hub in stock, you can buy it directly from OWC/MacSales.

Keep in mind to get the most out of this hub on a Mac, you will need Thunderbolt 4 and macOS 11.1 ‘Big Sur’ or later. It is also compatible with Thunderbolt 4 PCs and Chromebooks. If you only have a USB-C, like my 12-inch MacBook, it will work, but the hub switches to USB-C without the Thunderbolt features. Thunderbolt requires Apple or Intel chips. It is not supported on AMD hardware.

OWC Thunderbolt Hub in use

What we like

This ‎9.17 x 5.83 x 3.11-inch Power Delivery compatible hub packs a lot of connectivity into its small frame. The total package, with power supply, weighs in at 2.64 pounds, but the hub is only a fraction of that weight.

So what can this hub do?  Start with 4 Thunderbolt 4, USB-C Ports, 1 USB 3.2 Gen 2 Type-A Port up to 10Gb/s (1250MB/s) with USB 2.0/3.0 backwards compatibility. If you own modern equipment, you need a modern hub to connect it all.

The hub supports 2 4K displays or one 5K/6K or 8K display. It manages up to 3 bus-powered storage devices without a need to know where they are in the chain. Just connect and save.

The box includes a Thunderbolt 4 optimized USB-C cable to connect with the computer, and a 60W power supply to drive the hub and charge the connected device. The Thunderbolt Hub also includes a Kensington-compatible security slot for desktop-bound or travel protection.

OWC offers  Dock Ejector software for macOS and Windows. The macOS version also brings Apple Superdrive compatibility to the Thunderbolt Hub.

A light atop the OWC Thunderbolt Hub indicates if it is attached to a computer or not.

For high-traffic areas, OWC ClingOn custom cable stabilizers screw into the OWC Thunderbolt Hub to secure cables.

OWC builds excellent products with a clear understanding of the markets they serve. While the Thunderbolt Hub can be many things to many people, it is ideally suited to those with high-end connectivity needs in complex device workflows.

Like many of its products, OWC believes in the Thunderbolt Hub enough to offer a two-year warranty.

OWC Thunderbolt Hub ports

What could be improved

The OWC Thunderbolt Hub is purpose-built. It is not designed to be a multi-port hub out of the box. It is designed for workflow support, plugging USB-A, C, and Thunderbolt devices in and out of a PC. Other OWC devices, like their Travel Doc, bring additional ports to a Mac, PC, or Tablet—and keep in mind with this hub, a device like the Travel Doc can be plugged into it, immediately offering those ports, along with anything else attached to the remaining USB-C or A ports.

So the answer to what can be improved? Really nothing. There are a lot of use cases for hubs, and hubs to fit most of them. The OWC Thunderbolt Hub aligns with the need for additional powered, high-speed USB ports.

OWC Thunderbolt Hub: The Bottom Line

I’m probably underutilizing this hub by connecting to my 12.9-inch iPad Pro, but the result enhances my iPad experience, and that’s the point of a peripheral. My iPad reaches big SSDs, runs over Ethernet, and drives a monitor, simultaneously. Without a hub of some sort, even the M1 iPad Pro can only connect to one thing at a time. This hub opens up the iPad to connections previously reserved for PCs. And for people with port-challenged Macs and PCs, it increases connectivity significantly without the need to replace the computer. And it looks good doing it.


OWC provided the Thunderbolt Hub for review. Images courtesy of OWC.

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Daniel W. Rasmus

Daniel W. Rasmus, Founder and Principal Analyst of Serious Insights, is an internationally recognized speaker on the future of work and education. He is the author of several books, including Listening to the Future and Management by Design.

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