Kanex Thunderbolt 2 Express Dock review

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I recently bought a new Macbook Pro with Retina display, and have been looking for a dock to use with my widescreen monitor and various peripherals. There are a bunch of thunderbolt docks available by brands such as Belkin, CalDigit and Elgato, but I got the chance to look at the Kanex Thunderbolt 2 Express dock.  Let’s check it out.Note:  Images can be clicked on to view a larger size.

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What’s Included:

Thunderbolt 2 Express Dock
3ft Thunderbolt Cable
Power Supply

Technical Specifications:

Number of Thunderbolt Ports: 2 x Thunderbolt 2.0
Number of USB Ports: 2 x USB 3.0 + 1 x charge ready USB 3.0
Number of Ethernet Ports: 1 x Gigabit Ethernet
Additional Ports: 1 x HDMI Out and 1 x Headphone (Aux) Out
Video: Up to 1080P and 4K resolution
System Requirements: Mac OS X v10.8.4 or higher
Material: Aluminum
Compatible with all Thunderbolt supported Mac and PC

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When I first opened this dock, I immediately liked the aluminum body and lightweight feel of it.  It matches Apple’s hardware style and design.

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On the back of the dock are two USB 3.0 ports, a headphone/microphone jack, gigabit network port, two Thunderbolt 2.0 ports, HDMI port, and power cable.

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On the front, there is a super charge ready USB 3.0 port, which means  you can charge an iPhone or iPad.  This was really convenient when I plugged my iPhone 6 Plus and it worked great.

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On the back I plugged in power, HDMI cable, Thunderbolt cable provided by Kanex, Satechi Monitor stand and a Logitech USB dongle.

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The only two things I needed to have connected to the Macbook Pro were the Thunderbolt cable and power adapter.

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At the time of this review, I connected a 23″ monitor via HDMI.  Everything worked great and I had no issues.  My Mac, display, and attached devices woke up from sleep, and there was no lag.  I didn’t have any drives connected to the dock, but with the Thunderbolt 2 port you can transfer data at a rate of up to 20 gigabits per second, even faster than USB 3.0.  You have all the ports needed for a nice desktop.  I can imagine this dock being very useful for video editors or any user that transfers huge files frequently.

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Just a note, right after I drafted this review, I upgraded to a 4K monitor, and the dock handled it brilliantly.  It supported what this model Macbook Pro and monitor supports, which is a full 4K at 60hz.  Just awesome.   If this dock gives you the all ports you are looking for, give it a try.

Updates 08/13/15

It’s only been a few weeks since I posted this review, but I’m still using the Kanex Thunderbolt dock for my 4K display and USB devices. It handles my 4K display better than my Macbook Pro does natively! I never have problems with it, and it always stays cool on my desk.

Source: The sample for this review was provided by Kanex. Please visit their site for more info.

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Product Information

Price:$249.95
Manufacturer:Kanex
Requirements:
  • Mac or PC with Thunderbolt port
  • HD monitor
Pros:
  • Aluminum finish
  • lightweight
  • high speed thunderbolt 2 and usb 3 ports
Cons:
  • No firewire port
  • expensive
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8 comments… add one
  • Phil July 24, 2015, 9:30 pm

    I’m afraid I found this to be an overpriced accessory that was not reliable (my external drive cut out several times) and with the need to use an adaptor, because the company failed to include them for other countries, it took up valuable desk space. Overpriced and underperforming – look for other brands. Customer feedback is non existent – I wrote to them twice and got nothing back.

  • Bob July 27, 2015, 7:07 pm

    I have been trying to configure my new Asus Rampage 5 Extreme since Jan 2 2015 with no luck. I have an Thunderbolt 2 connection on the board. I got much bad info from Asus and Startech. I’m now stuck with a Startech external drive box that can also hold a displayport. I have been unable to buy the ThunderboltEX 2 by Asus, no one has it.

    NowThunderbolt 3 is out. No one seems to know what I can do. I know would like to use the Thunderbolt 3. Also I want to fine a way to use my Startech external box that works with Thunderbolt 2.

    I saw your email and figured your personal experience with Thunderbolt might be what I need.
    Bob

  • Martijn M September 30, 2015, 8:12 am

    Question: How did you connect your 4k monitor? Via HDMI?

    I’m asking this sinds its known that macbook does not have a HDMI 2.0 port which is needed for 4k @60hz. Wondering if this dock is able to convert a Thunderbolt connection to HDMI 2.0 so i can hook it up to my 4k TV which i use as a monitor.

    • Elizabeth Rodriguez September 30, 2015, 8:35 am

      Martijn, I used the Thunderbolt connection to connect my Macbook Pro to the dock, then from the dock, I connect it to my 4K monitor via a Mini DisplayPort to DisplayPort 1.2 (the 1.2 is important!). I used this cable: http://www.amazon.com/Accell-B143B-007J-UltraAV-DisplayPort-6-6-Feet/dp/B00A7R9I22/ So far it’s been great

      • Martijn M September 30, 2015, 9:41 am

        Thanks for the information man!

        Sadly my TV only has HDMI 2.0 connections where the macbook uses version 1.4 which does not support 4k @60hz but only 30hz.
        I was hoping something could convert the Thunderbolt 2 or Displayport 1.3 for that matter to a HDMI 2.0 signal with support for 4k @60z.

        Thanks again!

  • Arun TK December 8, 2016, 12:24 am

    Hi All,

    I tested mirroring my Mac on 2 external monitors through the new Kanex Dock.
    1. Mac connected to 1 Thunderbolt port of Dock
    2. One external monitor connected to Thunderbolt port of Dock
    3. One external monitor connected to HDMI port of Dock

    In this setting, Mac recognizes only one monitor, which is the HDMI. The Thunderbolt is not recognized at all. When I disconnect the HDMI port, the Thunderbolt works fine.

    This is a known issue with Kanex: https://discussions.apple.com/thread/7545067?start=0&tstart=0

    Please help me find a solution for this. The whole idea of getting a dock was to have support for 2 monitors. How can I connect these 2 monitors? Is it even possible?

    • Prasanna July 17, 2017, 11:09 am

      Hi – were you able to get it working? I am trying the same setup and I am not able to get it to work. Thanks.

    • Prasanna July 17, 2017, 5:48 pm

      Kanex has clever marketing terms. It does say dual display in the product page, but, what they actually mean is built in display + 1 external monitor. Please see below.

      I have heard that – daisy chain setup with two thunderbolt displays does work though.

      On Mon, Jul 17, 2017 at 4:51 PM, Kanex Service wrote:
      Hello,

      Thank you for contacting us. We do apologize, unfortunately the Thunderbolt 2 Express Dock cannot support dual monitors. This is due to the graphic chip it has inside of it. We do apologize for this inconvenience.

      Best Regards,
      Kanex Support

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