review

StarTech Windows Thunderbolt 3 dock Model TB3DK2DPWUE

Wednesday, October 09, 2019

Newer laptops are getting thinner and thinner at the expense of fewer and fewer useful ports, many of which are becoming now legacy ports, in favor of usb-c and Thunderbolt! Out with the old and in with the new is the ongoing trend so, if you want to future-proof yourself, you should skip ahead of usb-c and get a computer that is Thunderbolt complaint to benefit from DisplayPort and be able to drive a 5k monitor or dual 4k monitors in 60Hz, which is something you cannot do with a usb-c hub adapter.
If you plan to or currently own a Thunderbolt 3 laptop or computer with Thunderbolt 3 ports, a Thunderbolt 3 dock is the way to go. There are several neat offerings on the market, one of them being the StarTech Thunderbolt 3 dock, which provides a single cable solution to restore legacy ports, as well as more power, more protocols and faster speed than any usb hub could ever provide.
Not even the fastest usb-c hub can match the awesome power of the current fastest Thunderbolt 3 speed at 40 Gbps (Gigabits per second). Not all Thunderbolt 3 docks are made equal though, as the StarTech Thunderbolt 3 dock does come with full-duplex Gigabit Ethernet, meaning it support speeds up to 2 Gbps. Many Thunderbolt 3 docks can only support half-duplex Ethernet at 1 Gbps. The StarTech Thunderbolt 3 dock lets you easily transform a Thunderbolt 3 laptop into a workstation without sacrificing a Thunderbolt 3 port of a computer, while solving the problem of adapting a newer physical usb standard to your older devices.
The StarTech Thunderbolt 3 dock supports up to two 4k monitor displays, running at 60Hz as long as the displays can support it and that is because some 4k monitor displays (i.e. Dell P2715Q and Philips 288P6LJEB) are limited at 30Hz when connected through DisplayPort. Also, if you plan to use a non- Thunderbolt 3 display connected to the Thunderbolt 3 port of the StarTech dock, you will need to use a USB-C video adapter to convert the signal.
The StarTech Thunderbolt 3 dock is equipped with one usb-c port and two usb-a ports, all three ports running 5 Gbps usb 3.1 Gen 1 with UASP for even better performance per usb port without bottle-necking, unlike usb 3.0 hubs, which are forced to share the 5 Gbps bandwidth between the usb ports available on the hub. With Thunderbolt 3, there is no bandwidth bottleneck, provided that you stick to the native speeds.
The StarTech TB3DK2DPWUE dock ticks most boxes so far but, it doesn't integrate passthrough charging via the usb-c port on the front so, it will not charge a laptop, which will be a problem if you use a usb-c monitor (i.e.  LG's Ultrafine 5K, or 4K 27UD88) to charge your laptop because you will lose that ability when connecting the monitor to the StarTech Thunderbolt 3 dock. There is a passthrough charging available through the usb 3.0 charge-and-sync port on the front of the unit, which delivers 1.5 amp fast-charge for smaller devices.
As well as gigabit Ethernet, the dock features a 3.5mm audio out, a 3.5mm microphone in, and DisplayPort output port, which doesn't support MST; hence you cannot daisy chain devices. The Ethernet port also supports "auto mdix"so, you can use both a standard Ethernet cable or special "crossover" Ethernet cable without issues. Without the "auto mdix" feature, you wouldn't be able to use different cables because the Ethernet port wouldn't be able to detect the difference.
Included with the StarTech Thunderbolt 3 dock is also a 20-inch long Thunderbolt 3 male to male cable to connect to the dual Thunderbolt 3 usb-c (24-pin) female ports, which can also operate at 10 Gbps (USB 3.1 Gen 2) as long as you don't need it for additional Thunderbolt devices or a second DisplayPort monitor.
The female DisplayPort on the StarTech dock has 20 pins. There are a total of five chipsets integrated in the StarTech Thunderbolt 3 dock that control the data flow similarly to the chipsets on a motherboard. The chips integrated in the StarTech Thunderbolt 3 dock include two Intel chips (Alpine Ridge DSL6540 and WGI210AT), two Texas Instruments chips (PCM2912A and TPS65982) and one Fresco chip (FL1100EX).
The StarTech Thunderbolt 3 dock also lets you have up to two display connections via the integrated DisplayPort and/or via the Thunderbolt 3 usb-c ports. Both the Thunderbolt 3 usb-c port and DisplayPort can run two displays at 4k resolution (4096 x 2160p) and/or UHD resolution (3840 x 2160p) simultaneously.
The construction of the StarTech Thunderbolt 3 dock consists of an aluminum enclosure and plastic side fronts. It measures 2.7 cm high, 22 cm long and 80 mm wide. Weight is 445 grams. As far as operating system compatibility, the StarTech Thunderbolt 3 dock only works with Windows 10, 8/8.1 and 7 operating systems (either 32-bit or 64-bit). There is no support for Mac or Linux operating systems. The StarTech Thunderbolt 3 dock has most ports you would need but not all. If you need Thunderbolt 3 as well as hdmi or vga, you can get additional adapters such as the StarTech Dual 4k HDMI monitor adapter.
The StarTech Thunderbolt 3 dock is plug and play but depending on your computer, you may need to update to the latest Thunderbolt 3 firmware, Thunderbolt 3 controller drivers, Thunderbolt 3 bios and Thunderbolt 3 software in order for the StarTech Thunderbolt 3 dock to work. You can visit the Thunderbolt Update page for a list of some computer manufacturers and their download links. This list isn't exhaustive so, if your computer manufacturer isn't listed you will need to contact them directly.
The StarTech Thunderbolt 3 dock comes with an active Thunderbolt 3 cable that is half a meter long (0.5 meters) and supports Thunderbolt at 40Gbps data transfer. Active Thunderbolt 3 cables are usually more desirable because they can deliver the full 40Gbps data transfer speed through a longer cable (up to 2 meters long), unlike passive Thunderbolt 3 cables, which can only deliver 40Gbps data transfer at 0.5 meters. If you use a longer passive Thunderbolt 3 cable (i.e. 1 meter, 2 meters, etc), the Thunderbolt data transfer speed literary slows by half at 20Gbps so, it's worth keeping this in mind.
Also included are two 1-meter long power cords: a UK plug to c5 3 pin power lead and an EU plug to c5 3 pin power lead, as well as a StarTech branded switching power adapter (model ads-110cl-12-3), which can output 12V at 6V, which is the amount of power needed to power the dock. The regular power supply you get with powered usb hubs wouldn't be sufficient for a Thunderbolt 3 dock; hence the need of a switching power adapter. Any devices that require a switching power adapter means that they don't integrate the require circuitry to draw the needed voltage and amperage from mains electricity. Lastly, the StarTech Windows Thunderbolt 3 dock comes with 3 years warranty.

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