Thunderbolt 3 has been around for a while now and the technology has finally found its way into most modern devices and gadgets. This is great news for consumers as Thunderbolt 3 technology offers a range of benefits that provide both speed and simplicity to a world of devices that was becoming a complex mess of different cables and connectors. This guide looks at the top devices using Thunderbolt 3 across a variety of different categories, giving users a better idea of some of the best ways that Thunderbolt 3 can be utilized.

Budget
budget-Thunderbolt-3-Device
CalDigit Mini Dock
4.6/5.0
Speed: Dual [email protected]
Thunderbolt 3 Ports: 1
For those on a budget, the CalDigit Mini Dock is a great device offering plenty of functionality for a dock at this price-point. It isn’t as feature-rich as the other docks on this list but some users simply won’t need the majority of the ports on those devices. For those users, the CalDigit Mini Dock is a very convenient, affordable option.
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Best Value
best-value-Thunderbolt-3-Device
CalDigit TS3 Plus Dock
4.8/5.0
Speed: Dual [email protected]
Thunderbolt 3 Ports: 2
When it comes to value for money, the CalDigit TS3 Plus Thunderbolt 3 Dock is very well priced and comes with a very impressive number of ports, making it suitable for a wide range of setups. Able to output 4K to two monitors at once and the secondary Thunderbolt 3 port provides 15W for downstream devices.
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Top Pick
top-pick-Thunderbolt-3-Device
LG UltraFine 5K Monitor
4.8/5.0
Screen Size: 27 inches
Thunderbolt 3 Ports: 1
It may be pricey but the LG UltraFine 5K Monitor is simply stunning. It makes perfect use of Thunderbolt 3 with its 5K resolution and although it doesn’t have many ports or internal speakers, users will likely forget about all of that once they the amazing visuals that this monitor can produce.
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The benefits of Thunderbolt 3

Thunderbolt 3 is a technology developed by Intel. It currently provides the fastest, most versatile connection to any dock, display, or peripheral device. Thanks to its super-fast data transfer speeds of 40Gbps, the technology can be used for many different purposes such as outputting 4K video, charging devices such as laptops, and even providing external graphics performance.

Another huge benefit of the technology is that uses a USB-C connection. This latest of iteration of USB-C is fast becoming the standard for charging and transferring data. By using this connector, Thunderbolt 3 has the opportunity to be adopted by devices far quicker than it would be otherwise. This is not just because of the popularity of the connector but also because USB-C ports are relatively small, and being able to combine multiple outputs into one port makes the design process for new devices a lot simpler.

Top Thunderbolt 3 Accessories/Devices Comparison Table

Make and ModelAccessoryMain FeaturesPrice
Samsung Portable X5 SSDExternal SSD
  • Up to 2TB storage capacity
  • Read speed – 2800Mb/s
  • Write speed – 2300Mb/s
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LG Ultrafine 5K MonitorMonitor
  • 5120 x 2880 resolution
  • 178° viewing angles
  • 14ms response time
  • Built-in webcam
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Plugable Thunderbolt 3 DockDocking Station
  • 60W power output
  • 9 ports
  • Can output video up to a resolution of 4096 x 3160
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ASUS ROG-XG-STATION-2External GPU
  • Compatible with Nvidia GTX 9/10 series and later or AMD Radeon R9/RX and later
  • Supports 1 x full length, dual-wide PCIe x16 card
  • 5 x USB 3.0 ports
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CalDigit Thunderbolt 3 CableThunderbolt 3 Cable
  • 40Gbps speed
  • Supports 100W power delivery
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CalDigit Thunderbolt 3 Mini DockDocking Station
  • 2 x HDMI ports, 1 x USB 3.0 port, 1 x USB 2.0 port, 1 x Gigabit Ethernet port
  • Can output to two displays at 4K
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Cable Matters Aluminum Thunderbolt 3 DockDocking StationCheck Price
CalDigit TS3 Plus Thunderbolt 3 DockDocking StationCheck Price
Cable Matters Active 40Gbps Thunderbolt 3 CableThunderbolt 3 Cable
  • 40Gbps
  • Supports 100W power delivery
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Akitio Node ProExternal GPU
  • Supports full-length, full-height, double-width graphics cards
  • 2 x Thunderbolt 3, 1 x DisplayPort
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1. Samsung Portable X5 SSD

Samsung Portable X5 SSDView on Amazon

Editor’s Rating: 4.6/5.0

The Samsung X5 SSD is an NVMe-based SSD that uses a Thunderbolt 3 connection. Thanks to this combination of technologies the drive is capable of producing some ridiculous read/write speeds that are around five times faster than SATA drives.

There are a few different versions of the X5 available, depending on storage including a 500Gb variant, a 1TB variant, and a 2TB variant. As the device is so fast, it is somewhat of a surprise not to see an even higher capacity option such as a 4TB model, however, given how expensive the device already is, it may simply have been too expensive to bring to market.

According to Samsung, the design of the device takes inspiration from a supercar and this is evidenced by its dynamic and streamlined shape. It has a metal construction, topped off with a glossy finish that boasts premium quality. Inside the device is a cleverly designed internal protection layer that keeps the components safe without compromising the aesthetics of the drive.

The X5 is slightly larger than the average SSD with a length of 4.7” but thanks to its streamlined design, its size shouldn’t pose a problem for users and the device will fit easily into most bags and even some pockets.

The security features on this device are also very good. It has built-in 256-bit hardware encryption as well as password protection so users can rest assured that their data is securely protected. There is one downside to the security software, however. For some reason, software updates are only supported on Windows PC’s. Samsung hasn’t explained why but regardless, it is not ideal for users of MacOS or Linux machines as they won’t be able to update the drive’s software if a vulnerability is found and patched.

The main thing holding this drive back from a perfect score is its price. Unfortunately, the latest and greatest technology is always costly and the X5 is no exception to this rule. Aside from that though, the X5 is arguably the best SSD on the market right now and for the right user, the extra speed will be worth paying for.

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Tech Specs
Storage Capacity: Up to 2TB
Speed: Read – 2800Mb/s, Write – 2300Mb/s
Materials: Metal
Size: 4.7 x 0.8 x 2.4 inches
Security: Optional password Protection, AES 256-bit hardware encryption
The Pros
Large capacity
Can store plenty of different files
Extremely fast read/write speeds
No other external SSD comes close in terms of speed
Durable body
Internal protective layer
Compact size
Very portable
Has password protection
Built-in encryption/decryption
The Cons
Some drives offer larger capacities
Doesn’t offer a protective outer shell like some other external SSDs
Could be prone to scratches
Software updates are only available on Windows PC’s

2. LG Ultrafine 5K Monitor (Top Pick)

LG Ultrafine 5K MonitorView on Amazon

Editor’s Rating: 4.8/5.0

The LG UltraFine 5K Monitor is one of the highest quality monitors available right now. It is well known that LG is a major player when it comes to TVs and Monitors and the UltraFine is no exception.

The monitor has a 27” IPS LED display with a resolution of 5120 x 2880 (5K). Thanks to its LED panel users can enjoy great color accuracy as LED panels are capable of producing deeper blacks and more vibrant tones than LCD panels, which are the common alternative. The only issue with such a high resolution is that users may run into scaling issues. This will be unlikely, but if a user needs to use a piece of software that is relatively niche, that program may not support 5K.

There are three ports on this monitor including three USB-C ports, and one Thunderbolt 3 port. As the Thunderbolt port will need to be used to input video, users a left with three USB-C ports for other devices, such as peripherals. This could pose a problem for some users, as their peripherals may not be compatible with USB-C, meaning an adapter could be necessary.

One of the most disappointing aspects of this monitor is that no speakers are included in the device. This isn’t uncommon, with many manufacturers choosing to leave internal speakers out of their monitors. This is usually because monitor speakers have a reputation for being average and many users opt to use an external sound system instead. However, at this price point, it still would have been nice to see some speaker system integrated into this device.

A very premium monitor with incredible picture quality. It is quite expensive though and although it boasts some impressive specifications, it also lacks a couple of important features, restricting it from a perfect score.

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Tech Specs
Screen Size: 27 inches
Resolution: 5120 x 2880
Panel: IPS LED
Aspect Ratio: 16:9
Ports: 3 x USB-C, 1 x Thunderbolt 3
Speakers: Nones
The Pros
Comfortable size
The go-to for most users
5K display
Highest resolution on this list
IPS panels provide great viewing angles
Standard ratio
A generous number of USB-C ports
Thunderbolt 3 port allows for 5K
The Cons
Doesn’t have any fancy features like a curve or ultra wide display
High resolution may cause scaling issues
IPS panels tend to use more power
An adapter must be used for any other connectors
At this price point, speakers should be included

3. Plugable Thunderbolt 3 Dock

Plugable Thunderbolt 3 DockView on Amazon

Editor’s Rating: 4.4/5.0

The Plugable Thunderbolt 3 Dock is widely regarded as one of the best docks on the market and with good reason.

The dock is packed with ports including two Thunderbolt 3 ports, and a DisplayPort, allowing users to output video to multiple sources at any one time. On top of this, the dock also has plenty of regular USB ports, an Ethernet port, and an Audio Jack. This makes the dock very versatile and allows laptop users to potentially only need one cable connected to their laptop when in use. This is extremely convenient and allows users to be more productive, as everything else can stay connected to the dock to be used when needed. The dock doesn’t include any HDMI ports, however, which could be an issue for some users.

The dock is able to output video in up to 4K with a 60Hz refresh rate. Although this means users can enjoy high-resolution video playback through the dock, gamers may run into issues as the refresh rate is rather average.

The dock has been constructed using anodized aluminum, making it both durable and stylish. The dock can also stand either vertically or horizontally, thanks to its optional stand, increasing its versatility.

A disappointing feature of this product is the support provided. The dock comes with a 1-year limited parts and labor warranty, which, at this price point is rather poor. The company does also provide email support, however, it doesn’t change the fact that if the device is faulty the user may not be covered.

A good looking dock with plenty of functionality. It does lack an HDMI port though, which is still widely used by many, and the warranty provided is disappointing.

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Tech Specs
Connectivity: 2 x Thunderbolt 3 port, 5 x USB 3.0 ports (5Gbps), 1 x DisplayPort, 1 x Gigabit Ethernet, 1 x Audio Jack
Formats & Speed: DisplayPort: Up to [email protected]
Construction: Anodized Aluminum
Support: 1-year limited parts and labor warranty, email support
The Pros
Very good selection of ports
Includes two Thunderbolt 3 ports
Able to output 4K
Very durable
Stylish construction
Warranty and support provided
The Cons
No HDMI ports
A higher refresh rate would have been preferred
Warranty is rather poor
Support is limited

4. ASUS ROG-XG-STATION-2

ASUS ROG-XG-STATION-2View on Amazon

Editor’s Rating: 4.6/5.0

Thanks to Thunderbolt 3, eGPUs have become a very popular alternative for gamers looking to bring gaming performance to their laptops and the ASUS ROG XG Station 2 is the pick of the bunch.

The device is an enclosure style eGPU, meaning that it doesn’t come with an internal graphics card. This style of eGPU is very common and although it does mean having to purchase a GPU separately, this is actually often preferred as it allows users to customize their gaming setup more thoroughly, which is one of the most appealing factors of PC gaming. The downside is that having to buy everything separately though, is that in most cases it works out to be more expensive.

One of the best aspects of this eGPU is its selection of ports. The device has three Display Ports, allowing users to output video to multiple displays as well as four regular USB ports for connecting peripherals. There is also an HDMI port, one DVI port, and an Ethernet port, giving the eGPU versatility on par with some docking stations.

The device supports a wide range of graphics cards including high-end cards such as the GTX 1070 and 1080, so users have little to no issues in terms of compatibility. It is still recommended that users check the GPU is compatible with their laptop though, as this is where compatibility issues most often occur

As far as eGPUs go, this is one of the best, however, it has a very strange aesthetic that will almost certainly divide opinion, but in terms of functionality, it is an excellent device.

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Tech Specs
Type: Enclosure
Ports: 1 x Thunderbolt 3, 1 x USB Type-B, 4 x USB 3.0, 1 x HDMI, 3 x DisplayPort, 1 x DVI, 1 x Gigabit Ethernet
Support: Nvidia 9/10 series and later, AMD Radeon R9, RX and later
The Pros
Versatile
Customizable
It allows for a tailored setup
Plenty of USB ports
Ethernet port included
Compatible with most high-end graphics cards
The Cons
Requires purchasing a graphics card separately
More work involved to set-up
An extra HDMI port would have been nice

5. CalDigit Thunderbolt 3 Cable

CalDigit Thunderbolt 3 CableView on Amazon

Editor’s Rating: 4.5/5.0

When it comes to Thunderbolt 3 cables, CalDigits cable is a great option to go with. Their Thunderbolt 3 cable has a USB-C connector at both ends, which is important, as a true Thunderbolt 3 connection at 40Gbps has to be USB-C at both ends. With speeds of 40Gbps, users can enjoy super-fast data transfers, allowing them the option to output video in 5K, if necessary. CalDigit also produces a cable that provides 20Gbps speed though, so be sure to check before buying.

The length of the cable is two meters. This is a good length that will provide plenty of versatility to its users. It is a shame, however, not to see any other lengths available. Two meters should suit most users, but not everyone needs a cable that long and those that don’t may find the extra slack irritating, especially if it’s on a desk.

The cable is made from plastic and rubber. In general, most cables are made from a combination of these two materials, however, reviews on its durability have been mixed. On paper, the cable should have a decent level of durability but there have been reports of the covers breaking, although, the causes were not specified.

A pretty standard Thunderbolt 3 cable, however, it is one of only a handful of options that genuinely provides a 40Gbps connection and it has a simple design with no gimmicks, which is often preferred.

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Tech Specs
Connectivity: USB-C to USB-C, Thunderbolt 3
Speed: Up to 40Gbps data transfer
Length: 6.6ft
Construction: Plastic/Rubber
The Pros
Thunderbolt connectors at both ends
Super-fast data transfer speeds
Long cable
Versatile length
Cable is durable
The Cons
Some users might prefer a shorter cable
Only one size available
The plastic covers could become damaged

6. CalDigit Thunderbolt 3 Mini Dock (Best Budget)

CalDigit Thunderbolt 3 Mini DockView on Amazon

Editor’s Rating: 4.6/5.0

The Caldigit Thunderbolt 3 Mini Dock is the second docking station to be featured on this list, however, as the name suggests this is a mini dock so the functionality won’t quite compare to the other docks featured in this guide.

For a mini dock, the port selection is rather good. For starters, the dock has two HDMI ports, something not seen on a lot of Thunderbolt 3 docks, as well as two regular USB ports and a Gigabit Ethernet port. This means the dock provides users with some of the most popular ports used today, making it perfect for MacBook users who are limited to Thunderbolt 3 ports only. The one downside, however, is that one USB port is only 2.0, rather than 3.0 which seems unnecessary.

The dock is able to output 4K video to up to two displays at once with a refresh rate of 60Hz. This is fairly average for a Thunderbolt 3 dock but it is still an important feature to have as it is often one of the primary selling points of a dock.

The device is made from aluminum and as a mini dock, the whole thing is quite compact. This combination makes the device fairly stylish for a dock and it shouldn’t look out of place in any desktop setup. The aluminum casing also increases the durability of the device, so in the unlikely event that the dock is dropped, it should cope just fine.

This docking station might not have the same level of functionality as other docks but it is still an excellent device for the right user.

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Tech Specs
Connectivity: 2 x HDMI ports, 1 x USB 3.0 port, 1 x USB 2.0 port, 1 x Gigabit Ethernet port
Formats & Speed: Dual [email protected]
Construction: Aluminum
The Pros
Decent selection of ports
Includes HDMI ports
Able to output 4K to two monitors at once
Very durable
Stylish construction
The Cons
No extra Thunderbolt 3 ports
Only one USB 3.0 port
A higher refresh rate would have been preferred

7. Cable Matters Aluminum Thunderbolt 3 Dock

Cable Matters Aluminum Thunderbolt 3 DockView on Amazon

Editor’s Rating: 4.7/5.0

The Cable Matters Aluminum Thunderbolt 3 Dock is both sleek and functional, offering users plenty of ports while remaining visually appealing.

The port selection itself includes a wide range of options including two Thunderbolt 3 ports as well as five regular USB 3.0 ports. This gives users plenty of options for connecting peripherals such as mice and keyboards. The Thunderbolt 3 ports can also be used to output video to an external display or to charge a device thanks to the docks 60W power output. The other ports include a single HDMI port, Ethernet port, SD card slot, and an Audio Jack.

The dock is capable of outputting 4K video at 60Hz to two displays at once, meaning it keeps pace with the other docks on this list. As such it is also prone to the same downsides in this department, such as the refresh rate only being 60Hz.

Also in keeping with the other docks on this list is the construction of the device. It is also made from aluminum, giving it great durability and protecting against small drops and impacts. The dock also has a long slender design, making it very stylish for a dock. The shape might not be ideal for everyone, but in general, it is definitely one of the better-looking docks on the market.

The dock does almost everything a user could want it to. It has a great range of ports, looks great, and is very durable. The only real downside to the device is the lack of a DisplayPort but with so many other options for outputting video, this isn’t really a big deal.

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Tech Specs
Connectivity: 2 x Thunderbolt 3 ports, 5 x USB 3.0 ports, 1 x HDMI port, 1 x Gigabit Ethernet port, 1 x SD card slot, 1 x Audio Jack
Formats & Speed: Dual [email protected]
Construction: Aluminum
The Pros
Very good selection of ports
Includes an HDMI port
Able to output 4K to two monitors at once
Very durable
Stylish construction
The Cons
No DisplayPorts
A higher refresh rate would have been preferred

8. CalDigit TS3 Plus Thunderbolt 3 Dock (Best Value)

CalDigit TS3 Plus Thunderbolt 3 DockView on Amazon

Editor’s Rating: 4.8/5.0

The CalDigit TS3 Plus Thunderbolt 3 Dock is one the most functional docks on the market and when it comes to Thunderbolt 3 docks, not much else comes close in terms of connectivity. It essentially builds on the already popular TS3, however, this model includes a lot more ports while maintaining its strong power delivery.

The dock has fifteen ports which is more than any of the other docks on this list. The selection also goes beyond the conventional, with a wide array of options from regular USB ports to an Optical port. Unfortunately, for some reason CalDigit decided not to include an HDMI port on this device, which is surprising, however, with the number of other options on the dock for outputting video, most users should be able to work around this if necessary.

Like the other docks on this list, the TS3 Plus is capable of outputting video in 4K to two displays at once. It also has the option of outputting to a single display in 5K through Thunderbolt 3 if users have a display that supports such a resolution.

The dock is capable of a power delivery of 85W. This is enough to charge a laptop as well as power a number of peripherals so users should have no issues in terms of power. The second Thunderbolt 3 port also provides a power delivery of 15W for downstream devices, which is a nice bonus.

This dock also follows the trend of having an aluminum construction. This, of course, increases the durability of the device and protects the device against small impacts. Aluminum is also a more premium material than plastic for example, so it adds to the aesthetic of the dock, although it isn’t quite as good looking as some of the other docks on this list.

It might not be the prettiest dock available but in terms of functionality, it is more or less unmatched. It also includes certain ports that aren’t seen on many docks, making it appealing to more users.

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Tech Specs
Connectivity: 2 x Thunderbolt 3 ports, 2 x USB-C ports, 1 x DisplayPort, 5 x USB ports, 1 x Gigabit Ethernet port, 1 x SD card slot, 1 x Digital Optical Audio port, Audio In & Out
Formats & Speed: Dual [email protected]
Power Output: 85W, 15W
Construction: Aluminum
The Pros
Excellent selection of ports
Includes some less in-demand ports
Able to output 4K to two monitors at once
Able to charge a laptop and power all of a users peripherals
The secondary Thunderbolt 3 port provides 15W for downstream devices
Very durable
Stylish construction
The Cons
No HDMI ports
No extra Thunderbolt 3 ports
A higher refresh rate would have been preferred

9. Cable Matters Active 40Gbps Thunderbolt 3 Cable

Cable Matters Active 40Gbps Thunderbolt 3 CableView on Amazon

Editor’s Rating: 4.5/5.0

The second cable on this list comes from a company called Cable Matters. Like the CalDigit cable on this list, it has a USB-C connector at both ends. This means it too is capable of producing the 40Gbps speeds of a true Thunderbolt 3 connection. Many other cables on the market claim to be capable of providing this speed, but the reality is that a lot of them actually don’t, so it’s especially important to check before you buy. Luckily, both cables on this list do provide a genuine 40Gbps connection, so if speed is of concern to you, these cables are a trustworthy option.

The cable comes in two different sizes, a one-meter version, and a two-meter version, meaning there should be a version of the cable to suit almost all user needs. One of the main issues with the CalDigit cable was that it only came in a length of two meters, making it an awkward option for those who only need a short cable. Cable Matters have addressed this issue and although the shorter cable might have a slightly more niche audience, those that do need it will likely be very grateful for it.

The cable is made from a combination of plastic and rubber, meaning it is relatively durable, although metal covers would have been preferred as the plastic ones can become damaged more easily. This isn’t much of an issue though, as most cables use this combination of materials and it rarely worth paying extra for, what is a lot of the time, just unnecessary materials.

This cable is almost identical to the CalDigit cable and, therefore, it shares the same perks such as a genuine 4K connection and a simple, no-nonsense design.

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Tech Specs
Connectivity: USB-C to USB-C, Thunderbolt 3
Speed: Up to 40Gbps data transfer
Length: 3.3ft, 6.6ft
Construction: Plastic/Rubber
The Pros
Thunderbolt connectors at both ends
Super-fast data transfer speeds
Long cable
Versatile length
Available in multiple sizes
Cable is durable
The Cons
The plastic covers could become damaged

10. Akitio Node Pro

Akitio Node ProView on Amazon

Editor’s Rating: 4.2/5.0

The Akitio Node Pro might not be as functional as the other eGPU on this list but sometimes that isn’t all that matters. Like the ASUS XG Station, the Node Pro is an enclosure-style eGPU, meaning that graphics cards need to be purchased separately. This makes enclosures more expensive than embedded systems, however, the added versatility of being able to choose your own card and upgrade it, if often preferred.

The Node Pro has a slightly different target audience to the XG-Station and this is evident in a number of ways. For example, the port selection is far more limited on this device, with users only getting two Thunderbolt 3 ports and a single DisplayPort. This may seem like a big issue, however, this device is aimed at those who will be gaming on-the-go with a simple setup, like a single laptop and mouse

Another big difference between this eGPU and the XG-Station is the design of the device. It has an aluminum casing with a built-in collapsible handle. This is another clear indication that the Node Pro is intended for use on-the-go, as a real emphasis has been put on portability and durability.

The Node Pro supports most Nvidia and AMD graphics cards, provided they are double-width cards. Mac users, however, will be limited to AMD cards and will have to be running MacOS High Sierra or newer.

It certainly isn’t as feature-rich as the XG-Station but it is better looking and serves a purpose for the right user. It also has a few features in the design department that aren’t seen on many other eGPUs.

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Tech Specs
Type: Enclosure
Ports: 2 x Thunderbolt 3, 1 x DisplayPort
Support: Full-length, full-height, double-width graphics cards
The Pros
Versatile
Customizable
Allows for a tailored setup
Has a couple of options for outputting video
Will work with a large number of different graphics cards
The Cons
Requires purchasing a graphics card separately
More work involved to set-up
Should have at least one HDMI port
Can’t house 3-slot wide GPUs
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