IOGear has expanded its lineup of docks and hubs over the last year, coming out with the compact GTD300 Thunderbolt 3 dock we also reviewed, as well as the full-size GTD735 Quantum Pro 85 docking station we’ve been using for the past week. It doesn’t seem like long ago when Thunderbolt 3 docks were hard to come by, but we now have plenty of worthy options at competitive prices. How does IOGear’s hardware stack up, and is it ultimately worth a buy?
The IOGear Quantum Pro 85 Thunderbolt 3 dock is a sturdy, well-built piece of hardware made from a single chunk of aluminum with plastic ends and a plastic shroud around the rear ports. It has rubber anti-slip feet on the bottom and is meant to be used in a horizontal orientation rather than standing up vertically. The dock is slim and doesn’t weigh much, but it is a bit wider than other popular options.
After plugging the removable Thunderbolt 3 host cable into a compatible laptop, all you need to do is wait for a brief setup before the dock is ready to go. Connected to some accessories and an external display, the docking station runs quietly and doesn’t get too hot, no doubt, due to the metal chassis that can readily dissipate heat.
On the front of the dock is a USB-A 3.1 port and a USB-C 3.1 port, while the rear offers Ethernet, USB-A 3.1, 3.5mm audio in and out, two Thunderbolt 3 (one for the host connection), DisplayPort 1.2, and the barrel DC port. Yes, the docking station must be plugged in for it to work.
IOGear has gone with downstream Thunderbolt 3 here rather than dual DisplayPort, but the result is going to be the same. With the right cables, the dock is capable of handling up to dual 4K displays at a 60Hz refresh rate, or a single 5K display at the same 60Hz refresh rate. If you’re in search of a docking station to primarily handle external displays, this one will do the job.
IOGear’s Quantum Pro 85 docking station keeps your laptop charged while handling dual 4K displays at 60Hz.
Testing with a voltage and amperage meter, the USB-A ports offer about 5W of charging for connected accessories. The real bonus here, though, is the ability to charge the host laptop with up to 85W of power. Testing again while connected to a Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Extreme, I saw power fluctuate somewhere around the 75W to 80W range. That’s enough to keep a lot of laptops topped up, though if you have power-hungry internal hardware (like a dedicated GPU), you might find that it can’t keep up when under load.
All ports are well spaced out to avoid congestion, and with the majority of ports along the back, you don’t have to worry much about unsightly cables. With ports filled, the dock is just heavy enough not to slide around, and the rubber feet go a long way with helping on a slick desktop surface.
What you’ll dislike about the IOGear GTD735
While the GTD735 delivers dual 4K display support and extra ports for any laptop sporting Thunderbolt 3, some docking stations at a similar price are now offering expanded connectivity through standard USB-C. These docks work with USB-C and Thunderbolt 3, especially useful for those constantly switching between devices. The IOGear GTD735 will deliver some charging power back to a laptop when connected with USB-C, but that’s about it.
A lack of microSD or standard SD card reader might be a dealbreaker for some people, and the total of just two USB-A ports is also a letdown. If you have a lot of accessories to connect, especially when dealing with removable storage, you will no doubt be able to find docking stations better suited to your needs.
Should you buy IOGear’s GTD735?
I didn’t mind using the IOGear Quantum Pro 85 docking station as the centerpiece of my Thunderbolt 3 workstation. It’s built well, it expands connectivity, and it handles dual 4K displays at a 60Hz refresh rate. The ability to charge the host laptop with up to 85W of power is a nice bonus, and it allows for most users to just unplug and hit the road without worrying about battery levels.
It’s a shame there aren’t more USB-A ports and an SD card reader, though some will appreciate the downstream Thunderbolt 3 port that replaces a second DisplayPort. Overall this is a reliable docking station, though it no longer quite measures up to more recent releases with dual USB-C compatibility, more ports, similar price, and a longer warranty.
Thunderbolt 3 docking station
Solid dock though lacking some features
IOGear’s Quantum Pro 85 Thunderbolt 3 dock delivers dual 4K display support at 60Hz, up to 85W charging, and extra ports, though it doesn’t quite measure up to similar docks available at a comparable price.