USB-C/Thunderbolt Dock Megathread

Added Kensington SD5700T to unsupported, although in the future it may work.

I tried with Ubuntu 21.04, worked very, very briefly. Maybe 20 seconds. Enough to give me hope, then nothing. Rebooted, unplugged and plugged back in, power cycled dock, etc., just wouldn’t come back. Went into Windows, same thing, eventually one of the power cycles got it to work in Windows for ~20 seconds again. Spoke to Kensington support, they asked me to try another laptop… plugged in my Dell XPS 15, worked flawlessly. The support agent suggested since the Framework isn’t TB4 certified yet they can’t really do much to assist with getting it working. Meaning, hopefully, in the future it will work. I say hopefully because… it’s a pretty dang nice dock, works with my XPS 15 better than my WD19TB does.

They did suggest the Kensington SD5600T, because it’s TB3 & USB 3.1 backwards compatible. So, although it might not “work as well as it could” it should still work. Might give it a shot, but having trouble finding one that ships fast. I’ve got the week off work, would prefer finding something that I can know works so I can spend some time rewiring my desk, but don’t want to commit to doing that until I have the new dock sorted…

Getting spammy today, apologies!

Amazon luckily had a Anker PowerExpand Elite 13-in-1 Thunderbolt 3 Dock available for same day, just tried it out. All seems to be working as expected. Added notes above. The only concern I have is the Windows 10 power indicator on both my XPS 15 and the Framework were both showing a yellow triangle, that the charger isn’t powerful enough, but Anker says it’s capable of 85W USB-C PD. The XPS makes sense, it’s a power hog, but the Framework surprised me. Both were still charging, but they must have interpreted it as trickle charging.

Tomorrow I’ll hopefully be able to utilize it to start switching over to my Framework more fully and I’ll do some further testing on the headphone/mic combo jack and whatnot.

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My old CalDigit TS3 Plus had hardware failures. I replaced it with a new Anker Apex 12-in-1 Thunderbolt 4 Dock with my Framework laptop.

The Anker Apex 12-in-1 comes with a TB4 cable & a 120W power brick. The dock delivers a max of 90W for charging the laptop and a max of 15W through the front USB-C port plus 5W through the rear USB ports.

This dock is much smaller than the CalDigit TS3 Plus & runs much cooler.

I’m only using the GBE, TB4 for display (2Kx60), HDMI1 (2Kx60), and one of the USB3.1/g2 ports so far, but all work well and restore as expected when the laptop resumes from sleep.

If you’re looking for a good TB4 docking station with a variety of ports, this may be a good option.

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B0928W3XHD/ref=ppx_yo_dt_b_asin_title_o00_s00?ie=UTF8&psc=1

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Are there any docks with 2.5GbE ports?

I doubt it, 2.5GbE is rare and the adapters have only been on the market a year or two.

But I figured I’d ask! All the ones I see have gigabit ports, if they have networking ports at all.

There are some interesting ones with DVI and VGA ports.

10G, I can hear the dollar signs from here…

Also a lot of 10G is not multi-gig, i.e. not compatible with 2.5G.

The beauty of the existing 2.5G USB adapters is they’re affordable. I see one under $30 CAD and a few at around $35 CAD. I could picture a dock like those here with 2.5GbE for $100 CAD or so, if they can have ones with gigabit at $60.

Just noting, that Echo 11 @RandomUser linked looks virtually identical to the Kensington I tried. Could be the same unit, rebranded. That said, the dock itself doesn’t have 10GbE, just a downstream TB port that can be used with their TB 10GbE adapter, which probably would work more successfully.

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If I was to get a dock it would be to wire it to the network while charging. A simple dock like this would work I imagine:

https://www.amazon.ca/Adapter-Vilcome-Ethernet-Delivery-Pixelbook/dp/B07YHJV74T/ref=sr_1_9?dchild=1&keywords=usb-c+hub&qid=1632937310&sr=8-9

If I was to want to connect it to my monitors, one with 2 X HDMI would be best I believe. No need for DVI or VGA now that I think of it, I’ll be getting a new monitor for Christmas:

https://www.amazon.ca/Docking-Station-Monitor-Laptop-Ethernet/dp/B08XJWMNZ8/ref=sr_1_170?dchild=1&keywords=usb-c+hub&qid=1632936726&sr=8-170

Don’t need too many additional ports, a card reader or VGA but the ones with 2 X HDMI all seem to come with these.

Should work?

Spent a bit of time with one of Anker’s hub, I’ve updated the wiki.

In general it works well, except that HDMI output doesn’t work during boot. It might be a problem with the laptop and not with Dock though. On my old setup (Dell XPS + Dell TB16) you have output on the external monitor right from the start so you can enter BIOS (or grub) with the laptop with the lid closed.

I guess this is not a deal breaker but it’s a bit annoying at least.

Tested my Dell TB16. Key points:

  • Power on/off button does nothing. On a XPS it does power on (and wakes up!) the laptop.
  • Keyboard and mouse are hit and miss. I had to plug two or three times to get it to work.
  • No image on the external monitor until the OS finishes booting, same as with the Anker. So probably it’s just the laptop itself being unable of mirroring the primary screen as it should do. @Framework should fix this pronto, otherwise we can’t use external screens to tinker with BIOS, grub (i.e. no kernel selection at boot time, no dual boot!).
  • Audio in/out works.
  • Forgot to verify if the laptop was actually charging.
  • Did not test SD card reader or the rest of the ports since the important stuff to me works worse with the TB16 than with the Anker.

Deeply tempted by a “type” of hub I’m seeing on Amazon.

It’s shaped like a wide wedge with a nonslip strip on top. The laptop sits on top of it and all the ports are on the back. It would be ideal, not taking up any additional space and with all the cables routed around back.

BUT - all the lower-priced variants are direct from China with long deliveries (long enough that by the time it arrives, the return window is over) and NONE have any reviews. The higher-priced “fulfilled by Amazon” or direct from Amazon ones of this type have less than stellar reviews. Most note overheating. Some note loose cables and ports. One noted missing ports (i.e. the ports promised were not what was delivered).

Seeing that, I’ll go for a higher priced less convenient “oval” type with reviews like I posted above.

Still, $60 CAD for a wedge-type with dual HDMI? Tempting!

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I passed over this type also because it is right where the cooling intake is on the laptop. Went for one with flat sides & connectors on both edges… So I can just 3M command adhesive it to the desk and not worry about it moving around either. Mine does get warm, but not “hot”.

https://smile.amazon.com/dp/B08HVFH3G2/ref=cm_sw_r_apan_glt_fabc_NMMWPXH9A5YDQRBA4NHX?_encoding=UTF8&psc=1

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@RandomUser

4 necessities in life, 3M command strips, Velcro, TyeWraps, and a warm blanket.

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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!

https://www.amazon.ca/Cable-Matters-Multiport-Adapter-Ethernet/dp/B076TRGGM6

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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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.

To save space I’m using this:

https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B078W4XP77/ref=ppx_yo_dt_b_search_asin_title?ie=UTF8&psc=1

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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