CalDigit vs Startech Thunderbolt Dock

Discussion in 'Mac Accessories' started by ColdCase, Aug 2, 2014.

  1. ColdCase macrumors 68030

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    #1
  2. cube macrumors G5

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    #2
    I was always suspicious of interfaces implemented in Thunderbolt docks, and looking at the comments I see in Amazon for the various devices, I see I was not wrong.

    Let's see what Sonnet brings to the market, I consider them the most reputable Mac add-on brand.

    This shows again how killing the cMBP and a proper Mac Pro were big mistakes.
     
  3. ColdCase thread starter macrumors 68030

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    I've had a pre-order on the Sonnet for a couple years now... :( It won't have enough USB ports for me anyway. When they do eventually release something next year, perhaps I'll be able to use both docks in some combination instead of tacking on a USB hub to get the 7 ports I want. :)
     
  4. dyn macrumors 68030

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    The only problems I see are due to not understanding what on earth people've bought (aka, most of them are pebkac). The performance of the docks (especially the ones from CalDigit, StarTech and a few others since they use the same elektronics) are fine and so is the stability. The only dock that has issues with stability and performance is the one from Belkin (I believe this has now been fixed).

    Let's see if they can actually bring something to market. Belkin set a record for not delivering and Sonnet seems to be going after it...

    No, it shows that you fail to understand the technology and the products. A TB dock makes life easier but it is definitely not a necessity. Previously we had no docks for Apple notebooks, since Thunderbolt we do. This shows that Apple made a very good decision especially since it is not a proprietary solution (unlike what HP, Lenovo, Dell, etc. are doing).
     
  5. cube macrumors G5

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    #5
    All of the docks have reviews with problems (some port not working, one that whines, etc.)

    The problem is not providing a Thunderbolt port, but removing built-in ports, and putting a Thunderbolt 1 port instead of DisplayPort 1.2 when the discrete graphics chip supported it.
     
  6. dyn macrumors 68030

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    All products have problems, Macs are no exception. Same applies to food, drinks, plants, animals and humans. You just have to make due ;) Nothing unusual about that.

    On a serious note: I'm not impressed with reviews on sites like Amazon. Some of them give you some nice pointers but usually those comments show how brainless a lot of people are. Luckily all of the docks with reviews also have positive reviews from people who have no problems and are very happy. The only problem is that the people with problems (no matter what problem, even pebkac) are the most vocal. It is also not uncommon that reviews are bought (both positive and negative). Therefore one should take comments on the internet with a very large pinch of salt.

    I do agree with the mDP but only partially. They didn't replace it for a Thunderbolt one, no they replaced it for a HDMI or DVI (Matrox uses it) one. Now if that were an mDP port that could take the current adapters (VGA, HDMI/DVI, DP) it would have been far more useful/versatile. Having 2 Thunderbolt ports on these docks is a must have. Thunderbolt is meant to be daisy chained!

    Not all GPUs in the Macs that have Thunderbolt support DP1.2 and the TB1 chip also lacks it (it has DP1.1a). If you want DP1.2 the dock needs to have TB2. When those other docks came to market TB2 didn't exist yet or wasn't (widely) available. The non-existing docks from Sonnet and Hengedocks are the only exception to that. If anyone is putting a new TB dock on the market it better have TB2!

    My Mac still runs fine without the dock and it has to because I'm not going to use my external display, keyboard, mouse, etc. on the road. That would defeat the entire purpose of having a notebook. That's what I meant: the notebook doesn't need the dock to function.
     
  7. cube macrumors G5

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    #7
    Yes, if people want to buy a crippled notebook or desktop, let them.

    But there should still exist fully equipped models for the people that need them.

    My plan is to use the SSD with an eSATAp ExpressCard on the move, and just plug it to a dock at the desk (for this I will use an eSATAp Y cable).

    But the Sonnet is too expensive and big for all that enclosure stuff that I don't need, and the Akitio lacks audio ports.
     
  8. ColdCase thread starter macrumors 68030

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    You have to read reviews carefully.

    90% of the negative reviews for these two docks are because there was a misunderstanding of monitor support. Buyers thought they could hook up two monitors, but they can't unless one is a Thunderbolt. You can reach your own conclusions about the tech savvy of those reviewers, some claim to be more than competent :)

    Seems like 90% of the remaining 10% complain about power supply noise in the caldigit early models.

    There were a few hardware failures, but not many.

    In any rate, whats in the box looks the same. Caldigit's enclosure is all aluminum which should help move the heat off the chips. Startech's enclosure is mostly plastic but they include a bunch of cables, including a few different power cables.
     
  9. cube macrumors G5

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    #9
    I ignored the multiple monitor limitation comments. I found a problem report about something else in all docks.
     
  10. dyn macrumors 68030

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    I'd rather have them not offer a model that only 1% of the users might use if that means they are not going out of business and/or create better products, have better support, etc. Some things, such as eSATAp, are simply too much of a niche/specialist technology. You can't expect manufacturers to make those technologies part of the default feature set.

    Like what? Things like the monitor support and squeaky power supplies are normal (power supplies squeak because of how they work, nothing you can do about that; same goes for the monitors, it's how the technology works).
     
  11. ColdCase thread starter macrumors 68030

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    One that pops up is the sleep issues, and we all know Mavericks has had sleep issues and it may not be the dock.

    I think you will find a negative or issue in any product review on amazon and the like, even the most solid. You may also see a great review, but the reviewer has not used anything else and is commenting more on the technology rather than the product. Even my rMBP has reports of problems, imagine that :)

    But one often finds the best information in the negative reviews.
     
  12. rboy505 macrumors member

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    #12
    I agree in principle, but Apple has created a situation where their laptops are most OS X users' main computer. It left a huge gap in their product line so there is essentially no up-to-date mid range desktop, since the Mini has been left to exist with old technology and the Mac Pro is overkill for many, and beyond their means besides. Add in that they make them thinner and remove ports seemingly every year and you end up with a main computer that needs a widget to integrate it to peripherals.

    I have a 2011 and a 2008 at home so I'm not hurting for connectivity the laptops don't provide (though I recently picked up a Kanex Tbolt to USB3 adapter since I lack that). But on other MBPs, from 2014, that I have to spend time in front of, they've just cut so much out of the connectivity that they simply don't have some things that are needed without rebuying a whole new set of peripherals. I've got external monitors, ethernet, and whatever else going right into them.

    It's an odd scenario, though. There's very little good will towards the docks, as they're years late, behind the coming Tbolt curve, overpriced, many have not insignificant quirks, and most are incomplete solutions (though for sure one would buy the one that fills their needs).

    Whenever I get a new MBP down the line I know I'll have to add some Thunderbolt hardware to keep my desk as it is, even if I don't want one when I take them on the road. They're just lacking the gazintas and gazoutas.
     
  13. Ray2 macrumors 6502a

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    #13
    Agree. Kill hibernation and probably more than half these issues would not exist. Don't know about displays but killing it certainly solved my I/O issues with USB and TB.
     
  14. cube macrumors G5

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    #14
    I know that every product gets some negative reviews, but I'm not comfortable with the ones I see for this class of products.

    In any case, having always had a good experience with inXtron/Macpower enclosures, I ordered an Akitio (their retail brand), as it is a "storage"-only product, their area of expertise.
     
  15. dyn macrumors 68030

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    Exactly. I haven't seen them here in the threads about the CalDigit dock nor does my MBA exhibit sleep issues. It sleeps and wakes without any problems. There are some sleep issues with Mavericks (no wifi network connection after wake, slow connecting of wifi after wake) and a lot with external drives (yes you Toshiba!). There also are issues with the Thunderbolt Display from Apple which is randomly dropping ports (mostly the USB ones). None of those issues are with the CalDigit/Elgato/StarTech dock.

    Apple didn't create that situation, we users did. Apple is only responding to it just like any other computer manufacturer. Desktop sales are declining in favour of notebooks and tablets. A trend that has been going on for about 4 years now.

    Not sure what you mean by that exactly but Thunderbolt and USB are a very good solution if you want something that you can still use in the future. USB is something that you use for anything that doesn't isn't very demanding such as keyboards, mice and the like. Thunderbolt is for everything that is demanding like DSP, storage solutions, networking and so on.

    I honestly haven't seen it any different in the past. Well, I have for the ordinary user: there were too much ports most of them have never ever used. The current port layout is much more sensible for nearly all users than it was back in the day.

    The only thing that really changed for us Mac users is that we now have an official docking solution via Thunderbolt. One of the most requested features because most people like to connect only a few cables, not a dozen. And with Thunderbolt this is usable on 2011 Macs up to the current line up without any loss in features of the dock (meaning: all features the dock offers will be available, such as USB3; currently that is the way to add USB3 to your old 2011 iMac, Mac mini, etc.). This also means that I have to spend quite some money on those things now but I won't have to for the next couple of years. Heck, I can even switch between various types of computers: desktop, laptop, high end, low end. You don't have to match your computer to the hardware you've got.

    Also, docks are only used at peoples desk, not on the road. On the road I've seen people use a mouse plus usb stick and in some rare cases an additional peripheral like some measuring device or external disk. Something that has been handled by USB and Bluetooth for years.

    Yes I do find them to be quite late but at least we've got them now and they are here to stay (both the Thunderbolt and the USB3 docks!). Finally.

    If you say overpriced then that means you have no idea what docking solutions cost. All of them are expensive and could be considered overpriced. The ones at the $100 level might be "cheap" (docks are usually around $200) but they are usually also utter crap (lots of stability issues, you need to install drivers which aren't always supported properly). The Thunderbolt docks seem to be more stable.

    Incomplete functionality is a very personal preference. From what I've seen at various desks in various companies and at peoples homes I can't say that I've seen anyone needing more than what the current docks (USB3, Thunderbolt or proprietary) are offering. The only people bringing up this argument are the ones who want to connect some old piece of hardware or any other kind of niche/specialist product (which are almost always a major PITA). Really, having a HDMI/DVI port instead of the mDP port is the only "mistake" those dock manufacturers have made and even that is a minor issue since most displays are able to handle HDMI/DVI just fine.

    The only thing I had to change when going from my 15" MBP 2010 to a 13" MBA 2012 was how I connected to my network. I had to buy the TB-eth nic in order to use a wired connection. My own docking solution (aka a USB hub from about 10 years ago) kept on working. I was lucky I didn't use an external monitor (there were no Thunderbolt docks, properly working USB docks for OS X or USB3-gigabit ethernet nics at that time). Since my CalDigit dock the external monitor isn't an issue any more.

    The reality of most users is a completely different one than yours. Manufacturers like Apple aim at keeping most users happy. That means that some users will have too many ports but it will also mean that some users, such as you, will complain about a lack of ports. It's a mass product. If you want it to have everything you want then don't be surprised that you might need an extra mortgage. With the logic here I can start all sorts of discussions. Let's talk about fountain pens...it is ridiculous that we have cities without at least 1 shop that is somewhat specialised in writing instruments (read: pens). Most people will argue that the days of the pen have long gone (yet many still use them, there are quite a lot of websites about fountain pens and even mechanical pencils). Which is my point exactly: you guys are wanting something whose days are long gone. Be realistic and look beyond your own specific requirements.

    I'd also like to point out that the questions about what kind of issues all those Thunderbolt have are still left unanswered which leads to the conclusion that those who brought up those issues are most likely just trolling. You may want to prove me wrong so let's start again: what issues with Thunderbolt docks are we talking about?
     
  16. cube macrumors G5

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    #16
    I waited for a Cube replacement for years, which only came last year in the form of the nMP.

    So, when Apple removed ExpressCard from the 15", I got one, even if I did not need a laptop.

    Then I replaced it with a 17" when Apple killed it. This time I did need a laptop.

    Given that all notebooks weighing less that 5.5Kg are underpowered, I may have to get a desktop again, so I'm thinking Supermicro.
     
  17. ColdCase, Aug 8, 2014
    Last edited: Aug 9, 2014

    ColdCase thread starter macrumors 68030

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    #17
    Just to follow up in case anyone runs across this thread.

    I did pick up a StarTech (TBDOCKHDPBC) TB hub and its been flawless, well almost. Looks and feels like a high quality product, the stand base nicely weighted and long power cords. Short 1m TB cable.

    I don't use the ethernet, so dunno about that.

    I have the early 2014 rMBP (10.9.4) connected to the StarTech and then to a LaCie Big 5 and then to a LG display port monitor. Hanging off the StarTech USB ports are a USB3 SSD, a USB3 4TB drive and a Pluggable brand USB3 seven port hub. I have a CD drive, a 2TB USB3 drive, and a printer on the hub. I also have an audio amp plugged into the headphone port.

    No sleep or wake issues in this configuration. The drives all perform the same or better than when everything (except the LaCie and Display) was hanging off the rMBP USB3 port. I used to have the audio amp connected to the monitor, but now connected to the dock so I can control the volume from the keyboard (Startech uses one of the four USB chipset ports for the USB audio CODEC). There is a small audio pop when the system wakes or sleeps (used to be silent when connected to the display).

    If I put the LaCie first and the StarTech second in the TB chain, some weird sleep dance goes on.

    There is no noise, I have it standing on its end and the top end will get warm to the touch. No where near as warm as the rMBP, however.
     
  18. jgbr macrumors 6502

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    #18
    Ive had caldigits dock from day 1 and its been perfect, no issues etc so whats more to say then that!
     

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