USB-C/Thunderbolt Dock Megathread

I am curious if anyone has had a “broadcast/arp storm” when leaving their USB hub connected to power and Ethernet and not attached to the framework. I have a USB-C Hub that I recently discovered completely takes down my wired network while it’s powered on and connected to the network but no computer is using it.

Has (or can) anyone test this with their hub and report back? I have seen a lot of Amazon reviews mention this but they assume it’s the hub being broken (it’s not.)

Sorry if this was mentioned above in any posts, I couldn’t find anything about it

After days and days of looking at these, you get to see there are only a few designs with slight variations on each design and about the same prices on each type.

There’s the simple 1 HDMI port plus other connectors at one price point. A little cheaper if it omits the networking port but I want that.

There’s the 2 HDMI port type. Almost all these come with a different third video port, mostly VGA although I have seen a DP and even a DVI. Some omit the networking port for cost savings too. This class also seems to come with 3.5mm headphone ports.

Seeing as I’ll probably be getting rid of my last VGA monitor, the DP option looks interesting, although I only have two monitors and both will have spare HDMI ports.

ALL have card readers. Some of the 2 HDMI port type have one USB-C port, some cheaper ones don’t.

Their designs are all so similar it makes me wonder whether they’re using the same chipsets for video and other connections.

I wish they were modular like Framework! All I need is USB-C PD in, USB-C PD/data out to laptop, 2 X HDMI to monitors and a network port (preferably 2.5G but those don’t exist). I don’t need a card reader, extra USB 3.0 ports or a headphone port.

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Interesting, I haven’t seen that in reviews. I’ll be thoroughly testing the one I settle on and report back. I won’t normally have that scenario, the power connected to the dock but the laptop disconnected - I’m cheap and will only have one USB-C power supply, which will be connected to the Framework. :wink: When I use the dock I’ll move it over.

I have seen mention that the networking is mostly Realtek which doesn’t have the best reputation (works for me though).

Yes, most of the hubs will use realtek, most commonly used chip for ethernet :smiley: , I wonder if there is another chipset maker that can provide ethernet chips at the same capacity. Here is an example of one of the reviews. Your scenario with one power plug is pretty common though and I believe that’s why many people don’t notice it, i have been fortunate enough to have mostly USB-C based devices that have high W power adapters so I have luxury to leave some plugged in :slight_smile: .

Will appreciate the report back thanks @Fraoch :pray:

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Can’t think of too many chip makers that would provide low cost networking ICs for such a scenario, where networking is an afterthought.

Do you know there’s even an otherwise-awesome dock with 100M Fast Ethernet?!? Oooh!

As it stands I think I’ll bypass the built-in gigabit port and see if I can use my 2.5G USB adapter to a USB 3.0 port. Maybe it won’t work though?

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Now imagine if someone would make an Expansion card hub…say for 8 expansion cards…That would be really functional.

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Perfection! Reuse Framework expansion cards as you see fit! The only thing to add to it would be the upcoming Ethernet card, once that’s released this would be perfect.

A wish would be a longer USB-C cable to the laptop, the ones out there are woefully short. Or just another port where we could use our own USB-C cable, but you’d have to make sure to use a USB 3.2 Gen 2 PD cable. Lots of PD cables are only USB 2.0 which would cripple the hub.

I really hope that the Framework laptop and the expansion cards’ design will become a form factor standard.

To save space I’m using this:

So the laptop is on clamshell mode and there’s an external monitor (obviously) connected to an Anker dock. That vertical dock stand is behind the monitor so all in all the desk is quite tidy.

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I just ordered this last night :grinning: I’ll get it by Friday. :grinning:

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I ended up ordering this:

Just like all the other dual HDMI docks, except a few dollars less.

I’m not expecting much from it, I’ll only be using it occasionally. Which is why I didn’t want to spend a whole lot on it.

I’ll test it thoroughly, every port. In Linux, I bet lspci or lsusb will show exactly what chips it uses.

It’s supposed to arrive the day after my Framework, but they usually deliver early.

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That’s how I “save” space too… though I’ve used a mix of bamboo dish racks and those designed for phone/tablet/laptop storage.

WARNING OCD TRIGGER BELOW

OCD TRIGGER

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@Alec_Jurisch
The LDC-G2 works great with my Lenovo Thinkpad, but not with the Framework. (Both Win 10)
Under the display advanced settings, the two monitors show up, but there’s no video on them. How did you get it to work? Thanks.

Hey folks! I have a desktop that I really like at home and mostly use for gaming. It’s hooked up two 1440p monitors (one ultrawide) over DisplayPort and puts out 120 Hz G-Sync to both. It has been great!

Now, I’d like to introduce my new Framework into this setup. I’d love to be able to “dock” it with a single USB-C cable and have it charge, put out 1440p 120 Hz (G-Sync, ideally – but the desktop must still be able to do that), and use the desktop’s one keyboard and mouse with these two monitors.

So, the solution is a KVM, right?

That’s what I’ve been thinking… but it doesn’t actually seem like there is a whole lot out there that meets my needs!

After a bit of research, I initially thought I had a partial solution with the Sabrent USB-C KVM that’s about $100 (as a new community user I can’t post a third link, so just imagine with me :smiley:).

But… I got burned! Turns out my monitors can only accept 60 Hz (50 Hz on the ultrawide!!) over HDMI, and I need to go for DisplayPort if I want the high refresh-rates. Plus, it was only ever single monitor, so not a complete solution (but almost an inexpensive and convenient one!) That one needs to be returned.

So, here’s what I’m thinking now:

The pipeline would be:
Framework → Monoprice –

Desktop PC ------> KVM → Keyboard, Monitors, Mouse :slight_smile:

Does this seem like a solution? Am I missing anything too obvious here? The cons of course seem to be price (order of magnitude more than the Sabrent) and clutter.

Appreciate any advice!

@scottretro I have the Level 1 Techs KVM you’re talking about, or more specifically the 2 computer 1 monitor version. TL;DR - I’d recommend it for you.

My setup is fairly similar to yours:

KVM’s I/O is one LG 1440p/144Hz display, with my mechanical keyboard, Razer Viper 8K mouse, a macro pad I use as a game pad, and a Sennheiser GSX1200 DAC. DisplayPort 1.4 and USB 3.0 A to B cable to my gaming PC and another pair of those to my Anker PowerExpand Elite TB3/USB-C dock. The only “strange” thing is I have to plug the Razer mouse into the shared USB3 ports on the KVM, NOT the HID ports, to get full functionality.

With my gaming PC, I get the full 1440p/144Hz with Freesync/G-SYNC compatibility working. On my Anker PowerExpand Elite dock, I plug in a second older Asus 1080p screen as my second screen. I only use it with my laptops for productivity. The docked computers don’t get the full 1440p/144Hz display output, though. My second screen runs at 1080p/60Hz, and my main runs at 1440p/100Hz in Ubuntu. In Windows it’ll go to 1440p/120Hz. This is a limitation of bandwidth/system compatibility more than anything on the dock itself, not the KVM. For your other computer, the desktop, presumably with independent video outputs, it should be fine. Same for myself: If I plugged the dock straight into the monitors, by-passing the KVM, it would have the same lower refresh rate problem. That said, I only really care about the high refresh rate on my gaming PC, so it’s a wash to me.

Really, you’re just looking for a KVM that does DP1.4 well. I’ve tried ~5 different KVM’s advertising DP1.4/USB3 compatibility, and the Level 1 Techs model is the only one that’s worked decently.

I’d personally much prefer if I could get a ConnectPro, though. I’ve used their KVMs for years and they’re fantastic, but their support for DP is still really hit or miss. They have a series now, for you it’d be this one, Dual-Monitor USB/DP/Audio 2-Port KVM Switch UDP2-12AP-KIT - ConnectPRO - DisplayPort 1.4 KVM switch - The Best DisplayPort KVM, that I have ordered and had to cancel. Their Customer Support is great, still, because they reached out, ran through what I’d be plugging in me with, and told me my dock (at the time a Dell WD19TB) wouldn’t work well with it. Docks with MST for the displays just don’t work well at all with their switching technology. They suggested the CalDigit TS3+, but I had tried that dock previously with my old XPS 13 and work laptop, and it was not a good experience (USB dropped ~2 times an hour, had to unplug everything and plug it back in). Anyways, depending on what dock you get, it might be better for you. The main reason I like ConnectPro is they do full EDID emulation, so the computers don’t know that the monitors have been “unplugged” when you switch, and the use USB DDM, so a very similar thing happens for USB HID devices. The Level 1 Techs is what I’d call “more universal” but lacks the advanced feature set.

Thanks for the super-detailed analysis, @JP_Powers!

I can see how the dock specifically can add quite a bit of complexity to the chain when it comes to display refresh, so I mainly want to ensure then that the KVM will treat my desktop right, as you say. I can probably live with 60 Hz out from the Framework (though of course, the higher refresh rate there would be a nice perk too).

Of course, I felt pretty foolish after posting, because both the L1T KVM and Monoprice dock are completely out-of-stock for the foreseeable future :man_facepalming:

So, I’m thinking about something like Lenovo’s TB3 dock:

This seems to have some good compatibility from others in the thread and has two DP outputs advertising 4K60, so that seems like a potential option. That said, I’m still a bit unsure about the KVM. I may ask Wendell from L1T to do a custom order, otherwise I may check out the ConnectPRO you recommended.

Or perhaps this one… which practically looks like a reskin of the Monoprice??

Monoprice for comparison:

You’ll find that there are a lot of devices like that which are essentially, if not absolutely, identical. It’s easy to say, “That’s Chinese manufacturing for you!” but it’s more complex than that.

As simply as possible, when you spot virtually identical products, they are probably physically manufactured by one company, lets say company A. Company A is probably based in Shenzhen, China. They sell their product in a stall/kiosk in one of the incredibly, unbelievably massive electronics markets. You can walk in and just buy one or two, or you can walk in and sign a contract with them for thousands. So, for the sake of simplicity, company B went to company A and ordered a bunch of units. Company B can then package it/brand it how they like, provide what level of support, customer service, warranty, etc., that they see fit. Depending on the type of product, Company B may either work with Company A to develop custom firmware for the device, or in some cases cut Company A out of the firmware/software entirely and write and flash their own. Company C could do the same thing, but could work out a different deal with Company A on price, Company C may offer different warranty support, any other differences that just go along with it.

A good example is Wyze Cam. The Wyze Cam v1 and v2 were “just” rebranded Yi Home cameras, Yi being a Chinese manufacturer. However, Wyze completely rewrote from the ground up (according to what I read a while back, at least) the camera’s firmware. They built in a ton of cloud based functionality the Yi camera didn’t originally have, they offer quality American based customer support, etc., etc.

Anyways, the reason I say all that, you could get either of those and both could work identically, both could fail/not work as you want identically, or one will be great, good enough, or something else while the other is just crap. Physically, internally, they may be identical, but that doesn’t inherently mean they are identical. That said, in my experience… they usually are identical enough that I’d get which ever is cheaper and assume the other is basically the same.

ALL THAT SAID (it’s a boring/quiet Saturday, I’m apparently quite happy to ramble today), back to the KVM: I spent ~2 years shopping for a quality DP1.4 KVM. What I found, and this is a matter of personal preference, but any DP1.4 KVM I could order fast on Amazon or likewise was crap. Almost immediately I’d find something wrong with them. The only ones worth looking at are the ones on back order. The solution I landed on for a while was separate USB 3.0 switches and changing the monitor’s input. It sucks, but it works well enough while you wait for a back order to be fulfilled.

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That definitely makes sense! The rebranded/re-shelled hardware is ultimately probably a win for me, the consumer!

So then, I finally ended up with:

@JP_Powers, after you recommended the ConnectPRO, I took a closer look. This sounds like it also meets my specs, and since it’s the one I can actually order, I jumped into the ~7 week backorder queue! I’m not seeing mention of MST on the dock (there is a mention of DP 1.2, so I guess it’s a dice-roll), so we’ll see how they play together. I may also consult with the customer service team at ConnectPRO while I’m in their queue.

I’ll jump back into this thread with results as the pieces arrive. The dock should be first, and I can add my results to the OP wiki post.

Added Anwike AI500-CA 12 in 1 Docking Station to the list, as working! It’s probably the cheapest one here, just a generic Chinese OEM design.

Note: when I tried to add my user name @Fraoch I could not save the edit, the system replied “you can only mention 10 users at a time”. So I omitted the “@”.

Anyway, everything on this dock works! Power delivery, HDMI, VGA, Ethernet, microSD, SD, USB 3.0. I could not get more than one external monitor to work at a time though, but that seems to be a Linux limitation. It tries and sometimes will see both external monitors but it can’t seem to use them both. Just buggy. I was unable to test the dual HDMI outputs, I will once I replace one of my monitors, but I’m keeping this dock and waiting for Linux to catch up.

Tested 86.6 MB/s read/22.4 MB/s write on a microSD (UHS 1), 22.6 MB/s read/9.3 MB/s write on an older SD (“30 MB/s” speed class 10).

For anyone interested in which chips it uses, lsusb lists (aside from the Framework components):

Bus 003 Device 018: ID 2109:8888 VIA Labs, Inc. 
Bus 003 Device 019: ID 0c76:153f JMTek, LLC. 
Bus 003 Device 017: ID 1a40:0801 Terminus Technology Inc. 
Bus 003 Device 016: ID 2109:2817 VIA Labs, Inc. USB2.0 Hub             
Bus 002 Device 015: ID 058f:8468 Alcor Micro Corp. 
Bus 002 Device 014: ID 0bda:8153 Realtek Semiconductor Corp. RTL8153 Gigabit Ethernet Adapter
Bus 002 Device 013: ID 2109:0817 VIA Labs, Inc. USB3.0 Hub      

Oh and I’ve had it plugged in for almost an hour. It’s warm-to-hot but not bad, I measure 37.9°C in the centre towards the front with the main USB cable.

Incidentally my USB 2.5 GbE adapter works perfectly in one of the USB 3.0 ports, so I’m using that too.

I’m pleased!