Multi-functional gaming dock a good idea, but needs refinement

The Seagate FireCuda Gaming Dock offers extra connectivity options and 4TB of built-in hard drive storage when connected to the PC via a Thunderbolt 3 connection.
The Seagate FireCuda Gaming Dock offers extra connectivity options and 4TB of built-in hard drive storage when connected to the PC via a Thunderbolt 3 connection.

Need more space to store your collection of games which has been growing in this circuit breaker period? The Seagate FireCuda Gaming Dock could be what you need.

Actually more a multi-functional Thunderbolt 3 hub than a gaming dock, the FireCuda offers extra connectivity options and 4TB of built-in hard drive storage when connected to your PC via a Thunderbolt 3 connection.

Measuring 27cm long, 13.5cm deep and 5.1cm tall, this slab-like device will take up a fair bit of table-top space. It is also fairly heavy at 2.67kg.

On its front are a power button, two USB 3.1 Gen2 ports (one for charging only), a 3.5mm input port and a 3.5mm output port. Behind are a power port, two Thunderbolt 3 ports, three USB 3.1 Gen2 ports, a DisplayPort and an Ethernet port.

At one short end is a design feature that gamers are sure to love - a mesh grille where glowing RGB light peeks out from. This grille is a magnetic cap that you can remove to access an M.2 NVMe slot to insert an M.2 NVMe solid-state drive (SSD) if you need to add more storage.

The slot is protected by a plate with two screws. I did not test this feature as I do not have an M.2 NVMe SSD.

Note that while there are two Thunderbolt 3 ports, only one (with the laptop logo) is to be used to connect to your computer. The other one is for connecting an accessory such as a Thunderbolt 3 monitor.

The use of the Thunderbolt 3 connection might alienate many gamers as only top-tier gaming machines feature this port - my four-year-old PC gaming rig does not have it, for instance.

While the FireCuda will still work with my gaming rig via its USB-C port, it means there will be no support for the NVMe SSD expansion drive and DisplayPort. It also means slower performance.

Not to mention, the FireCuda lacks an HDMI port, which I assume is what most monitors of PC gamers come with.

In the Windows-only CrystalDiskMark benchmark test, it achieves a sequential read speed of 275MB/s and a sequential write speed of 245MB/s. It takes 27 minutes and 40 seconds to transfer 21.4GB of game files from my gaming rig. It is definitely not fast if you were to compare it with an SSD.

Out of the box, the FireCuda is formatted in the NTFS format for Windows. This means that when connected to a Mac computer, the FireCuda's hard drive is read-only and you cannot copy files into it or create new ones.

To use the FireCuda with my Apple MacBook Pro (with Thunderbolt 3 ports), I need to re-format it to the macOS extended format.

  • FOR

    • Plenty of connectivity options

    • NVMe solid-state drive expansion option

    • Supports both Windows and Mac computers

    • RGB lighting


    AGAINST

    • Thunderbolt 3 connection may alienate PC gamers

    • Bulky and heavy

    • No HDMI port


    SPECS

    PRICE: $529

    CONNECTIVITY: 2 x Thunderbolt 3,5 x USB 3.1, Gen2 port, 1 x DisplayPort, 1 x Ethernet, 1 x 3.5mm audio-in port, 1 x 3.5mm audio-out port

    WEIGHT: 2.67kg


    RATING

    FEATURES: 4/5

    DESIGN: 3.5/5

    PERFORMANCE: 3/5

    VALUE FOR MONEY: 3.5/5

    OVERALL: 3.5/5

But before formatting the hard drive, remember to install the Seagate Toolkit software (available for both Windows and Mac), which is found in the drive itself. This software lets you create backups and mirror data, as well as control the colour and illumination of the RGB lighting.

In the Mac-only BlackMagic Disk Speed Test benchmark test, the FireCuda achieves a maximum writing speed of 245MB/s and a maximum reading speed of 251MB/s.

The same 21.4GB folder of game files takes 39 minutes and 40 seconds to transfer from my MacBook Pro to the FireCuda - 12 minutes longer compared with my PC gaming rig.

I think Seagate's idea for the FireCuda - a gaming dock that lets gamers connect their gaming keyboard, mouse and headset while providing extra storage to save their game files - is a good one. However, some of the design decisions could be better.

Nonetheless, it is a nifty device for anyone looking for more USB ports and extra hard drive storage for his or her computer.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on April 29, 2020, with the headline 'Multi-functional gaming dock a good idea, but needs refinement'. Print Edition | Subscribe