Top 8 USB-C & Thunderbolt Accessories for the Late 2016 MacBook Pro
In October 2016, my rental car was broken into downtown San Francisco and among the six bags stolen, was my late 2015 15" Retina MacBook Pro.
Now, I went back forth about whether to replace it with the new TouchBar and USB-C version of the MacBook Pro. Did I really want to deal with all those dongles, even if the laptop would be a little faster than buying the previous version?
I decided to bite the bullet and get the newest MacBook Pro and thus began the search for all the required adapters to plug this new laptop into all the devices and accessories I use daily.
I needed to be able to plug into regular USB devices like external hard drives or tethering it to a DSLR. I also was missing the built-in SD card reader in the previous model. My two Thunderbolt Displays would need an adapter to go from Thunderbolt 3 to Thunderbolt 2. And I lost my HDMI port for easily previewing my videos on a TV. Thankfully Apple left the headphone jack.
Long story short, being an early adopter requires a lot of adapters.
To start, I got a few of the first party Apple adapters. One for USB-C male to regular USB-A female (for simple tasks like charging my iPhone 7 Plus) and one for Thunderbolt 3 male to Thunderbolt 2 female (to plug in my Thunderbolt Displays). Unfortunately, the latter cable was on backorder for 2 months.
Thankfully, B&H Photo reached out for me to try a few Thunderbolt 3 adapters and docking stations from StarTech.com, and now pretty much all of my connection needs are solved.
First up, the simple Thunderbolt 3 to Thunderbolt 2 adapter is perfect for plugging in my Thunderbolt Displays as a second monitor.
Next, when I want to plug my MacBook Pro into televisions or monitors which use either 4K HDMI at 30Hz or 4K DisplayPort at 60Hz, they sell adapters that can handle dual screens of either while using only one USB-C port on your computer.
Lastly, my favorite thing I've been testing out that they sent over is actually an entire Thunderbolt 3 dock. The StarTech Thunderbolt 3 Dual 4K Docking Station has almost all the ports the late 2016 MacBook Pro should already probably have, if it was truly for "professionals".
The ports on the dock are one USB-C, two USB-A (one of which is fast charging), two Thunderbolt 3, a Display Port, Audio Out, Audio In, and an Ethernet port for those times you're live-streaming and can't afford to have the wifi go down.
This dock does need AC power, but for the amount you can plug into it, I'm not surprised.
The only missing piece I bought to simplify my setup (and so I could leave my older SanDisk Compact Flash & SD card reader at home with my Mac Pro while I traveling) was to order a SanDisk SD card reader that plugs into USB-C. I always have that adapter with me now since almost everyday I'm backing up an SD card with photos or videos on it.
And lastly, for my current working video and photo files I picked up a 500GB Samsung T3.
A fast, solid state external hard drive. The read, write, and transfers speeds are much faster than the Western Digital spinning hard drives that I use for everything else, especially when dealing with 4K footage and beyond, but you do pay for that privilege. I paid $200 dollars for this 500GB drive, when I can get a 4TB drive from Western Digital for almost half that.
I do envision a future where everything I need to plug into my laptop uses USB-C. But how far away is that? And what am I supposed to do in the meantime?
So that is a lot of docks and dongles just to do what I need my laptop to do on the road and in the office to make videos and run my business. Was it worth it Apple? The laptop may be thinner or have a bigger battery, but at what cost to us pro users?
Special thanks to B&H Photo Video for sending these out for testing. This is not an ad, I'm just sharing my experiences of #DongleLife.