TS3 Plus Testimonial

"Whether you’re looking for a robust docking solution, or just need something with more performance than a USB hub, I can’t recommend the TS3 Plus highly enough."




Conor MacLeod Keenan is a freelance Filmmaker, Colorist, and DIT, based in Tokyo and New York.

As a DIT (digital imaging technician), arguably the most critical part of my job is ensuring the terabytes of data from the cinema cameras get backed up safely (usually in triplicate) on the hard drives and RAIDs that will later be used for editing. On a big Hollywood set this can involve custom built RAIDs and other proprietary hardware for data wrangling, but for a documentary shooting on location, things need to be more agile, while being just as reliable.
Enter the Thunderbolt Station 3 Plus. It’s not an exaggeration to say that the TS3 Plus makes up the heart of my mobile workstation.

As a longtime user of CalDigit’s rock-solid Thunderbolt Station 2 (TS2) I’d been eyeing the Thunderbolt Station 3 ever since migrating to a Thunderbolt 3 based workflow. When I saw the specs on the newest TS3 Plus though, I knew I had to have one.

For me the killer feature of the TS3 Plus is that it actually spreads its seven USB ports across three USB busses (two 5GB/s Gen.1 and one 10GB/s Gen.2). That means if I’m going to dual disk USB RAIDs (which usually perform around 450MB/s). I can be reading from one and copying to three others without ever having any of the drives perform below their maximum speeds. For me the performance provided by having three discrete USB busses is huge.
Having Power delivery for the MacBook Pro is also an essential feature. Compared to plugging into a separate power adapter and what I refer to as a “dead end” (single port) Thunderbolt device, it’s like gaining two Thunderbolt ports. It’s also great having everything prewired through a dock. At home it’s a joy to plug one wire into my laptop and be fully connected to all my media drives, Gigabit Ethernet, and so forth. On the road it’s a huge time saver having a device that’s small and robust enough that I can prewire it to RAIDs and card readers, so that when I get to a location I can simply open up my case and start working.

As for what I have connected to it? It’s a long list!
At the home office:
4 USB RAIDs (both Gen.1 and Gen.2, totaling 64TB) • USB-C Gen.2 8TB SSD RAID • 1Gbps fiberoptic internet (via ethernet) • Yamaha MSP5 Studio Monitors • Akitio Node Pro with Red-Rocket X Raw decoder card • Black Magic Design Intensity Extreme video IO box (daisy-chained via Apple Thunderbolt 3 to Thunderbolt 2 adapter, and connected to a calibrated video monitor) • Davinci Resolve Mini Control Panel • i1Diplay Pro
On the road:
I use a 12v DC step-up power adapter so I can run my whole kit from a cigarette lighter outlet or a V-Lock Camera battery (Great because I don’t need a separate adapter for my laptop now). Downstream I also have connected: USB-C Gen.2 8TB SSD RAID • RedMag Card Reader • USB-C C-Fast Card Reader • USB multi card reader (which I can use in tandem with the integrated SD UHS-II card reader) • Up to three 2.5” USB 4TB RAIDs/client drives • Davinci Resolve Studio Dongle.

Build & Reliability:
The TS3 Plus is discernibly lighter than its TS2 brethren, but it’s still built like a tank––a very compact tank. Given all I pipe through it, it can understandably run hot on occasion, but I’ve never had any performance issues as a result, and I’ve been using it practically non-stop for several months now.

Whether you’re looking for a robust docking solution, or just need something with more performance than a USB hub, I can’t recommend the TS3 Plus highly enough.




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