[SOLVED] USB C Dock question

Hello all!

I know there’s a wiki on compatible USB C docks, and that’s been an awesome resource, but…well…it’s almost too much information :smiley:

If you don’t mind, I’d love a straight-up recommendation for a good USB C dock. I’m coming from 7 years of using a Dell XPS 13 with the WD15 docking station, and I’ll be honest, those things are buggy as heck. I’ve set up a bunch of them for clients of mine over the years, and there always seems to be SOME sort of problem related to the dock, and it always seems to be a different problem. So I’m a little skittish and trying to find a dock that works really solidly.

Here’s my wishlist, and I’d really appreciate the recommendations:

  • charging, of course (don’t care how fast)
  • ideally, a button to power it on so I don’t have to set the power mode to keep the device on when closing the lid on power
  • dual monitor support with at least one 4k output
  • ethernet
  • various USB ports, don’t really care what assortment
  • don’t need card readers but don’t mind if it has them
  • this one might be tricky: something that’s reasonably easy to mount

That last one is tripping me up in my searches. Everything seems to be either that weird, awkward stick shape where ports basically come out of four sides, making it impossible to manage the cables or the dock its self, or it’s a big brick that sits on a desk. I could possibly do the big brick and create a shelf for it in my desk area, but I’d like to avoid the extra work :smiley:

Thanks for your time and sorry for the long post. I’m loving my Framework DIY so far, even though I’ve only had it for a day!

Maybe you’d like something like this from Baseus (https://www.amazon.nl/Baseus-Docking-Ethernet-TF-kaartlezer-Smartphones/dp/B09J7ZQXY9)

Some cons:

  • It has two HDMI 4K ports, but they support only 30Hz
  • PD passthrough is questionable. They claim it does up to 60W, but I feel that sometimes it’s way below. It seems the devices fail to negotiate power level.
  • I’ve noticed that it can emit high frequency noise when in PD mode. I’ve tested two copies and both do that.

EDIT: Looks like this model is a bit different from mine. Maybe they reworked the PD since now they say it’s up to 100W. Also ports are arranged a bit differently.

Never heard of Baseus here in Canada… but I HAVE heard and trust Belkin

Belkin USB C Hub, 11-in-1 Multi-Port Laptop Dock with 4K HDMI, DP, VGA, USB C Docking Station with 100W Power Delivery, USB A, Gigabit Ethernet, SD, MicroSD, 3.5mm Port for MacBook Pro, Air and More : Amazon.ca: Electronics

… but same issue as the Baseus… if you need 4k it’s only going to be 30Hz

hmm…interesting form factors. I haven’t seen those. I’m not sure how well they’d do if I wanted to get them off the desk. It might be possible.

Has anyone heard of this ?

It appears to be the least expensive thunderbolt 4 dock on Amazon, but that might just be a sale price. It seems to get mostly favorable reviews but it’s hard to tell.

USB-C dock for you.

Dell docks operate over Thunderbolt (Intel proprietary super-fast PCIe interconnect), so they can basically do whatever resolution you want.
This also contribute to their bugginess, because Thunderbolt and Modern Standby cannot live on the same street.
You also have “Thunderbolt Security” on a good amount of machines where BIOS will block Thunderbolt until un-plug and re-plug it.

So far as Thunderbolt dock goes I would actually recommend Dell ones. The 130W work just as fine. But for USB-C ones

Clarification: USB-C alone neither do DisplayPort Alt-Mode nor Power Delivery. You need a “USB-C 3.2 with Power Delivery and DisplayPort Alt-Mode”

you have plenty of choice. Anker have a few (?) as well.

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Up until recently, my “work machine” was a MacBook Pro, with which I used a CalDigit TS3 dock. When I changed jobs and found out I could just use my own hardware, I immediately set down to testing the same setup with the Framework, and found that it worked pretty much perfectly, including as an undocumented Thunderbolt device (The 12th Gen models have since been actually officially rated as Thunderbolt-capable; the 11th Gen remain merely Thunderbolt-ish, but so far it’s worked for anything I needed!)

ETA: Linux 6.1 kernel recognize the CalDigit TS3 explicitly as a Thunderbolt device, to be clear.

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I got my laptop yesterday. I am using the Hp 120W Thunderbolt dock: HP® Thunderbolt Dock 120W G2 (2UK37UT#ABA)

I am using it with 3 monitors all 2K resolutions though. Plus ethernet and USB 2.4GHz receivers for a mouse and keyboard. Good thing is that all connections come out of the back of the dock so it is easy to put it away in a cable tray under the desk and have the single cable from the dock connected to the laptop on the table through the desk grommet. Super clean look.

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I’m amused by their dedication to VGA :smiley: Hard to find anything that still has a DB15 on it…

Wow… that Hp 120W seems a little on the pricy side, my egpu was barley more than that… but I guess it is on the functional and compact spectrum :+1:

Oh I didn’t know there was a meaningful distinction between these two things. What does thunderbolt get me over regular USB C, in theory?

Bandwitch is the main benefit from usb 3.0/1/2 - C docks vs Thunderbolt docks. Especially useful for eGPU usage and for multi-monitor support.

My recommendation from my own experience is spend the extra on Lenovo or Dell Thunderbolt docks, they seem to be the best supported in Windows & Linux (I haven’t tried HP Docks) (Theres also a Seagate Mini dock with a firecuda NVME inbuilt which looks cool but I’ve never tried it) Over time in my experience it would seem that Thunderbolt docks handle multi-monitor support better than their Usb 3.0/1/2 - C counterparts

I haven’t had any experience with USB 4 docks either so I can’t comment… Hope this is somewhat helpful to someone.

Ok thanks. I’ve had bad experiences with the Dell docks, but that’s mainly from the WD15 specifically, so maybe that’s improved…

I just got a Cable Matters hub:

That promises “Linux” support and checked all the boxes for me (4x USB-A, audio, network, 2xHDMI).

It … kind of works? I tested the USB-A ports, charging, networking, and the HDMI ports, all worked the first time. But! When I disconnect and reconnect the hub, the HDMI ports stop working. It’s quite infuriating especially since there’s very little diagnostics available. It’s unclear how the devices show up on my computer, I can’t even tell what device provides the HDMI connectors in lsbusb.

I’ve also seen the USB keyboard drop keypresses, which is also not … fun.

I suspect foul play inside Sway, anyone has seen anything like this?

And yeah, those things are costly! This one goes for 300$ a pop, not great.

Those docks all look pretty neat, but how do they behave in Linux? My experience so far with the Cable Matters dock is quite disappointing…

I am using the Hp dock I mentioned earlier with Linux exclusively; Ubuntu 22.04. No issues.

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Thanks for the input everyone. I’m going to suffer with my current Dell WD15 for a while, as I recover the funds from purchasing the laptop :smiley: Some of these docks are pretty expensive, and the Dell dock technically works. TBH, I would consider keeping it if the power button would work. I keep my laptop screen closed when docked, so it’s annoying to have to open it, connect, then close the lid every time I come back to my desk. Hopefully I can find a dock that has a working power button…