Despite its ongoing keyboard issues, the MacBook Pro is still one of the best laptops available, and with the right accessories, it can be especially handy for power users. Here’s a look at my top 5 power user-oriented accessories that I often pair with my MacBook Pro.
Synology RT2600ac: The AirPort Extreme replacement.
I reviewed CalDigit’s TS3 Plus earlier this year, and called it the best dock you could buy for the MacBook Pro. Several months later, and that claim still holds true. What makes the TS3 Plus special is the sheer amount and variety of ports available. The unit features DisplayPort, a healthy amount of 5Gbps USB-A ports, a couple of USB-C ports with one of them being a 10Gbps port, Gigabit Ethernet, optical audio, 3.5mm headphone and microphone ports, and a UHS-II enabled SD Card reader.
The TS3 Plus provides all of these ports and gives both 13- and 15-inch MacBook Pro users full speed charging thanks to its 85W of power delivery.
Impressively, the TS3 Plus packs all of this in to a well-designed box that’s roughly the size of an Apple TV. This dock is a staple for my MacBook Pro-infused desktop workflow, as I use it to connect to an external 4K display at 60Hz, and of course use it to connect a variety of accessories to my MacBook Pro. It also works great with the iMac Pro; I especially enjoy that it provides a front-facing UHS-II-enabled SD Card reader.
When I reviewed the Razer Core X, I called it the best external GPU for the Mac, and for good reason. Not only will the Razer Core X, with its 650W PSU accommodate the most powerful Mac-compatible GPU, but it also provides full speed charging to both 13- and 15-inch MacBook Pro models. But what truly sets the Razer Core X apart is its attention to detail in design; installing a GPU inside the unit is simpler than any other external graphics box that I’ve tested thus far. All that for only $299 makes the Core X a compelling option for those looking for extra graphics power.
Once an iMac Pro exclusive, Apple now sells its Space Gray accessories separately, allowing MacBook Pro owners to join in on the fun. There is a slight price premium for the Space Gray Magic Mouse 2 when compared to the white model, but the Space Gray model looks better next to a like-colored MacBook Pro. I know that not everyone is a fan of the Magic Mouse, but its gesture support remains second-to-none in my opinion.
One of the most limiting aspects of the MacBook Pro is storage space. Top of the line models can only be equipped with up to 2TB of flash storage space, and such an option comes at a huge price premium. Instead, it might be best to save some money and opt for an external drive instead.
The bus-powered Samsung T5 is a great storage candidate for MacBook Pro users, as it features USB 3.1 Gen 2 support for up to 10Gbps connectivity. This results in an external drive that’s faster than previous Samsung T-series drives, and faster than most entry-level external SSD’s as well. It’s nowhere near as fast as the MacBook Pro’s internal storage, or even some of the faster Thunderbolt 3-enabled SSDs out there, but the T5, which comes in 250GB, 500GB, 1TB, and 2TB varieties, is a significantly more budget-friendly option that’s likely fast enough for most workflows.
Outside of the keyboard issues, the biggest issue with the MacBook Pro is its conspicuous lack of ports. With this in mind, a portable hub like HyperDrive’s USB-C hub is an absolute must-have for MacBook Pro owners on the go. For starters, it quickly connects directly to your MacBook Pro’s USB-C ports, it’s portable, and doesn’t require any external power source. The HyperDrive, or one of the many clones available on Amazon, allows you to quickly connect USB-A accessories, SD Cards, and more to Apple’s port-challenged laptop.
What are your thoughts on these power user-oriented MacBook Pro accessories? In a future writeup, we’ll consider MacBook Pro accessories that are considerably more budget friendly. Sound off in the comments below with your thoughts and opinions.