On November 15th 2019 Apple released the new 16” MacBook Pro.
With it came a radically improved keyboard, slimmer bezels, 6 speaker audio, 11 hour battery life, and most importantly that fantastic 16” display.
Prior to this release Apple’s MacBook Pro line featured 13” or 15” displays with power supplies that charged at 61W and 87W, retiring the MagSafe connector. The new 16” model includes a 96W USB-C charger.
A question we get a lot since the release of the 16” MacBook Pro is if CalDigit’s TS3 Plus dock will charge the 16” model since the dock provides laptop charging at a maximum of 87W.
Before we answer that question we need to look at why CalDigit’s docks, and in fact all Thunderbolt 3 docks, charge at 85-87W.
Up until this generation, laptop charging was not possible through a Thunderbolt dock. The introduction of power delivery has brought with it true “one-cable connectivity”. The Thunderbolt 3 specification provides up to a maximum of 100W for laptop power delivery. However, a dock like the TS3 Plus has many things to balance, not just power delivery. Component firmware and hardware challenges are a major consideration in order to make sure that the 15 ports on the dock all cohesively work together without any issues for the customer.
If we look at the whole spectrum of Thunderbolt 3 laptops from MacBooks to Windows PCs, there is a huge variety of laptop models with different variants that include power supplies which charge at a variety of different wattages. It is not unusual on the PC side to see power supplies in the 140W region, significantly higher than the 16” MacBook Pro’s 96W. As you can imagine catering for every laptop’s specific wattage would not possible, especially since the maximum wattage we are working with is 100W. When it comes to laptop power delivery there is no specific wattage standard and each laptop has its own requirements.
Any thunderbolt 3 device is working within the framework of the specification and as a Thunderbolt 3 developer CalDigit follows Thunderbolt 3 and USB-IF’s 100W power delivery specification. Since a dock offers more than just laptop charging, everything needs to be balanced to maintain optimum performance throughout a dock’s whole spectrum of functionality.
With that being said, will an 87W dock fully charge the 16” MacBook Pro?
Apple decided on 96W to charge the 16” so that when it is used with CPU and GPU-intensive applications there is enough power to charge the laptop at a faster pace.
If you are using the CalDigit TS3 Plus for example with the 16” MacBook Pro you would not see any difference between using the TS3 Plus or the Apple USB-C charger. It is only when you are utilizing very CPU and GPU-intensive applications that really put stress on the laptop’s hardware that you should connect the included Apple USB-C charger.
We actually ran a test when the 16” was released. We drained the battery and firstly charged it to 100% with Apple’s charger and then with the TS3 Plus dock. The TS3 Plus charged the 16” MacBook Pro in roughly the same amount of time as the Apple charger.
In fact the TS3 Plus dock is sold by Apple and is recommended for the 16” MacBook Pro on the Apple Store.
For the majority of customers that use the TS3 Plus with the 16” MacBook Pro they will not see any difference when using the dock’s 87W laptop charging, and for those Pro users that are pushing the 16” MacBook Pro to its limits they would benefit from attaching the Apple charger during peak CPU and GPU usage.
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