StarTech's Dual-Monitor Thunderbolt 2 Docking Station Features Two DisplayPorts

Discussion in 'Mac Blog Discussion' started by MacRumors, Feb 24, 2016.

  1. MacRumors macrumors bot

    MacRumors

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    StarTech's latest Dual-Monitor Docking Station debuted in December, with a feature that sets it apart from other docking stations: dual DisplayPort 1.2 connections.

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    The Docking Station has a Falcon Ridge quad-channel Thunderbolt 2 controller for 20GB/s data transfer speeds. It can power two 2560 x 1600 displays through its DisplayPort connections, allowing for a dual-monitor setup that doesn't require a Thunderbolt-equipped display. It can also power a single 4K display (DisplayPort or Thunderbolt) or a DisplayPort display alongside a Thunderbolt display with a 4K resolution on the DisplayPort monitor.

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    Along with two DisplayPorts, there are two Thunderbolt 2 connections, a Gigabit Ethernet port, and four USB 3.0 ports (one of which is Battery Charging Specification 1.2 compliant for charging devices when not connected to a laptop). It supports 5.1 digital optical audio output, line input, and includes a 3.5mm headphone jack, plus an eSATA port for connecting external storage devices. Up to 12 peripherals can be connected at one time and Thunderbolt daisy chaining is supported.

    The Dual-Monitor Docking Station can be purchased from StarTech for $347.99, but it's also available from Newegg at the much lower price of $290.

    Article Link: StarTech's Dual-Monitor Thunderbolt 2 Docking Station Features Two DisplayPorts
     
  2. markfc macrumors 6502a

    markfc

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    #2
    Nice, I take it I could power two DVI monitors off this using DP to DVI cables @ 1080p each?
     
  3. spaceballl macrumors 68030

    spaceballl

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    #3
    Man we have so many Thunderbolt 2 docking options... and now there are a whole batch of USB-C docking options for the 12" MacBook.

    Best bet: Hold off for Thunderbolt 3 / USB-C, when the ports are the same, and get a new Mac then.
     
  4. mbezzo macrumors member

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    #4
    Anybody know if this would allow the Dell 27" 5k monitor to work? It requires two display port connections to work.
     
  5. brownpaw macrumors regular

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    #5
    I don't consider myself a super cheapie or anything but the prices of these Thunderbolt docks is outrageous. Where's the ~$100 model with HDMI, gigabit ethernet, and a few extra USB 3.0? Not a huge power user with eighteen displays; don't care about Thunderbolt passthrough (MBP has 2xThunderbolt), but would still like an all-in-one solution with the other stuff for a reasonable price. Anything? Cheapest "dock" I can find is the StarTech dongle with 1xUSB and 1xEthernet (no HDMI). Yes I know I can just use a separate cable for HDMI but that defeats the purpose of a single cable for the dock.
     
  6. Quu macrumors 68020

    Quu

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    I've wanted to pick one of these up but the docks just cost too much money. It's not that I'm adverse to spending the money for a quality product but these prices for such little functionality is silly.

    I'd rather plug in two cables to power two external displays than spend $300 to plug one cable in. Thunderbolt IC's need to come way down in price.
     
  7. HiVolt macrumors 6502

    HiVolt

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    #7
    These thunderbolt docks are way too much for what you get.

    Why is it still so damn expensive? TB was released on 2011 Macs, wasn't it? 5 years isn't enough for the prices to come down?
     
  8. FoxMcCloud macrumors 6502

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    #8
    Do they have a model with less ports? 2 monitor, Ethernet and 4 USB 3 would do me fine!
     
  9. dyn, Feb 24, 2016
    Last edited: Feb 24, 2016

    dyn macrumors 68020

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    To the uninitiated it is expensive/overpriced/outrageous/etc. but when you compare it to all other kinds of docks you'll see that the pricing isn't that much different and it has been so ever since we had these docks (I'm guesstimating we've seen the first somewhere in the 90s so over 20 years ago! it is most definitely waaaaaaay beyond 5 years). The USB ones are the cheapest option you could use but the performance of the external display is not going to be as good as with the Thunderbolt docks. Even these docks are not cheap. Beware that you probably can't use a USB-C dock on a USB-A port without losing some functionality (the external display support comes to mind, it uses a separate channel for this which is a typical USB-C thing).

    To give you an idea, visit the dock and port replicator part of Lenovo's webshop. None of these docks use Thunderbolt, it's either their proprietary connector (very common with docks) or USB3.0.
     
  10. commander.data macrumors 6502a

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    #10
    Thunderbolt 2 wasn't available until the end of 2013. It's not just the TB controller that's expensive, but that all the other functionality requires discrete PCIe and USB controllers. So the there is a PCIe to ethernet chip, a PCIe to SATA controller, PCIe to USB3.0 controller (possibly 2), Displayport splitter, and USB to audio controller (possibly 2). It's basically a mini motherboard. Plus I believe Intel requires all Thunderbolt devices undergo their certification which takes time and money.
     
  11. macs4nw, Feb 24, 2016
    Last edited: Feb 24, 2016

    macs4nw macrumors 68040

    macs4nw

    #11
    Dell's website says you can, using two DP 1.2 ports. For single-cable connectivity 5K needs DisplayPort 1.3

    And that's my biggest disappointment with this docking station. At this point, and at that price point most people would be better off to wait until docks with DisplayPort 1.3 become widely available, and preferably also with the inclusion of ThunderBolt3 via USB-C, even though the latter by itself at this time will not support DP 1.3.
     
  12. sevimli macrumors 6502a

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    #12
    why apple or others don't release usb-c to thunderbolt adapter?

    More and more PC laptops have USB3.1 (usb-c) & thunderbolt ports, but nobody can use them with a regular Thunderbolt cable...
     
  13. RMo macrumors 65816

    RMo

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    #13
    How do the dual DisplayPort connections work? Other dock manufacturers told us it was a limit of Thunderbolt that only one non-Thunderbolt display could be driven by one (each) Thunderbolt dock. I know the newer version(s) of DisplayPort allow "daisy chaining" monitors, but I've only heard of that from one actual monitor to another. I hope they're not using DisplayLink--it's not bad but the monitor that is using it will suffer in certain situations.
     
  14. Digital Skunk macrumors 604

    Digital Skunk

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    Very interested, even at that price.

    Since Apple isn't updating the Thunderbolt display anytime soon and nearly all of the far better alternatives are display port, this dock may be the one to get.
     
  15. nicho macrumors 65816

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    #15
    if they were using displaylink i'd have thought that a thunderbolt monitor wouldn't affect it's operation, whereas it does - you can have 2 dp monitors or one and a thunderbolt monitor daisy chained. so i presume that's not the case.
     
  16. Freeks macrumors regular

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    Dam,. i'd like to have 2 extra screens with my 2012 MBP, but these TB prices are just silly.
     
  17. brownpaw macrumors regular

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    I'm well aware of the retail cost of PC laptop docks that use proprietary connections and they are also ridiculous. The difference is that it's not entirely uncommon to be able to get the dock at a steep discount (or even free) when you purchase the computer if you watch for the right promos. Furthermore, the fact that Thunderbolt isn't so proprietary -- yes, it must still be certified by Intel so it's proprietary in that sense, but it's not a non-standard connection a la many docks -- as it is implemented on Macs as well as some PCs, makes me think there's potentially enough of a market to bring prices down to something more reasonable.

    Besides all that, if you can have a TB -> USB 3.0/Ethernet priced at ~$85, it doesn't seem like it would be that much more complicated/costly to add an HDMI port as well.

    Ah well. Maybe one day.
     
  18. enfanteribl macrumors member

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    #18
    I agree. However, if you just get last year's model, the price isn't so bad. I got the Belkin one after the second gen version was released for about half its original price. Can't see a massive difference between the models
     
  19. s0nicpr0s macrumors regular

    s0nicpr0s

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    I don't think Apple would release such an adapter, at least at this point in time since USB-C is not the same as thunderbolt. Thunderbolt 3 isn't on any of Apple's current products, and a USB-C to Thunderbolt adapter would do nothing at all on the MacBook. So releasing a product would be pointless. Once they release something with Thunderbolt 3, I could see an adapter being useful to allow you to use the Thunderbolt 1/2 cables and accessories. But these are still different technologies.

    There are some Windows machine that use Thunderbolt 3 currently, but I can't think of too many Thunderbolt accessories that are aimed more towards the PC crowd. Most advertisements I've seen were aimed at Mac owners. Not a whole lot of reason for them to create an adapter. There may be people who want it, but not enough to justify the costs of R&D.

    After a quick search StarTech already has a Thunderbolt3 to Thunderbolt 1/2 adapter available.
     
  20. AcesHigh87 macrumors 6502a

    AcesHigh87

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    Agreed. If the price was around $100 I'd buy one of these docks for my iMac just to get USB 3.0. Seems a little outrageous to pay $300 just to use USB 3.0 for me.

    I know obviously the features are much better for some people but you'd think there could be SOME kind of budget alternative by now. I expected high prices when thunderbolt first came out but the price should be down a bit by now.
     
  21. RMo macrumors 65816

    RMo

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    You're right. They also state, "Your laptop hardware must support dual-external displays through its Thunderbolt 2 port," which should be any Thunderbolt 2 Mac since even Apple's Thunderbolt 1 computers have supported this since 2012 (and even some mid-2011 models do). I'm still wondering how this does work, though, since no other TB dock seems to have made this work and all claim it's a TB limitation. (I do assume it would work if you plugged another TB dock into the second TB port of a TB dock, so perhaps they are just using extra TB circuitry inside to provide similar functionality without actually needing a physically distinct TB device to plug it into.)
     
  22. s0nicpr0s macrumors regular

    s0nicpr0s

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    My guess is (and this would contribute to the cost), is that the dock is essentially two TB docks in series, which allows the dual video output. I remember researching ways to get a mac to power multiple monitors off of a single TB output, and you needed to have two separate TB devices.

    If I recall correctly, the reason apples TB display can do series is because it has the TB dock built into it. Using it's dock, it splits video and then can pass the TB signal into the external port.. But it has been quite a while since I had looked into it. We gave up on looking for dual display docks and settled for single monitor or dual ATD. So the only way I can imagine this thing working is to have two TB chips inside.
     
  23. longofest Editor emeritus

    longofest

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    #23
    Just in time for Thunderbolt to finally take off with Thunderbolt 3 and USB-C.
     
  24. dyn macrumors 68020

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    #24
    To be fair, Thunderbolt is much more than a dock connection. It also competes with high-speed networking (fibre channel, 10Gbit ethernet), high-speed storage (fibre channel/iSCSI NAS/SAN devices), firewire (multimedia stuff), proprietary connections for high-speed applications (again, multimedia, storage, networking) and so on. That requires a more complex protocol that has to be able to drive everything at high-speeds. Everything in that area comes with a very hefty price tag. Compared to that Thunderbolt is actually cheap.

    The main point stays: when looking at a dockingstation the connector used doesn't make much of a difference. Docks have always been this expensive and it would be naive to think that is going to change. After all, this is how things have been for the past 20+ years. So no, it is not Thunderbolt that makes it expensive, the fact that it is a dockingstation is what makes it expensive.

    Such devices generally use the simplified Thunderbolt controller for devices. This controller doesn't support daisy chaining. However, this also means that they are cheaper (hence the 29EUR price tag on the TB-ETH adapter). Eventually it doesn't matter if the hardware is technically feasible, it has to sell. If hardly anyone requests such an adapter (people investing into TB equipment are mostly not the audience to buy such an adapter and the ones who do don't like the price tag) companies won't manufacture it because it will be too expensive (you don't sell enough so the price tag has to go up...aka the snowball effect).

    Times are going to change when everything goes USB-C on both USB and Thunderbolt. The consumer gets to pick if it'll be USB (cheaper) or Thunderbolt (more performance, more reliable).
     
  25. snoozy355 macrumors newbie

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    Feb 5, 2008
    #25
    I'm trying to determine if my MBP late-2011 supports this.
    Where did you learn of this? I cannot find any definite documentation one way or another.

    For reference, this is my machine:
    https://support.apple.com/kb/SP644?locale=en_US
     

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