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Discussion in 'Mac Blog Discussion' started by MacRumors, Jan 9, 2019.
$349 is not cheap for sure
Since TB(3) can encapsulate any PCIe signal, doesn't it by definition include every possible data I/O [that a PCIe signal can be converted to] plus if the computer feeds a DP signal to its TB port also any possible video output [that DP can be converted to]? Meaning, everything the computer offers when plugging something directly into its TB port should be available on the TB ports of a dock even if the dock itself doesn't offer it explicitly via a dedicated port. For example, a TB to FW adaptor should offer FW when plugged into the TB port of any TB dock.
Whereas for USB-C ports on a dock the same wouldn't apply? Meaning they will only ever be able to supply USB 3.1 Gen 2 speed data transfer and USB-C power supply via the USB-C form factor plug. Or could there be, eg, a pure USB-C dock (hub) that offers, eg, DP via a separate plug and USB-C ports that a display can plug into? In a sense, USB-C can spread multiple protocols (USB 3.1 Gen 2, audio, DP) in a dock but it cannot be daisy-chained like TB where in principle multiple docks could be daisy-chained with each dock providing the full spectrum of possible ports?
If you have to ask that question, you don't.
While at some point at the very beginning of TB somebody mentioned splitters (which a TB dock with more than two TB ports would represent), I don't think it was ever implemented by anybody or even made it to the official specs (ie, I think it was more an idea that was floated that people thought could be implemented as part of the TB standard).
TB male-to-female cables would be nothing else than extension cables. In principle any TB dock with one TB cable plugged in acts as such, that combo has a female port on the dock and a male plug at the cable end. Since it is technically no problem to build a TB dock with nothing but two TB ports (which probably could be noticeably smaller than existing docks), you can technically built a TB male-to-female 'cable', it would just be a very bulky one (at least at one end), a sort of 'very active' cable.
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No, it says "connect a second 4K screen to the second Thunderbolt port", not a USB-C port.
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It's mentioned as two TB ports to distinguish it from docks (or other devices like HDDs) that only have one TB port. Of course, apart from the higher speed between the device and the computer (40 vs 10 Gbit/s) a one-TB-port device (dock or otherwise) is functionally almost the same as a USB-C device.
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Which technically is identical with USB 3.1 Gen 2.
Which technically is identical with USB 3.1 Gen 1.
For which the designation "TB3 ports" is an alternative label.
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Sorry, no, USB-C is just a collection of superficially bright ideas that don't withstand more than 30 seconds of critical thought. Maybe the physical connector is an improvement over micro-USB (esp. the ridiculous USB 3 versions) but then so is twisting together bare ends of wire...
Reversibility sounds cool, but adds a huge amount of technical complexity to solve a problem that could be more easily tackled with a better-designed connector with smoother insertion and better visual cues as to its orientation.
Combining data/power and video in a single port... seriously - why? OK - phones don't have space for more than one or two connectors, but the way forward there is going to be wireless charging, sync and video streaming, and phones without any physical connectors. Same for mini/content-consumption-only tablets. "Pro" tablets are big enough to accommodate separate charge, data and video connectors (unless you want to make them so thin that the battery life suffers and even the camera lens has to protrude from the body, but nobody would be that stupid - and if you do, again, just go wireless).
Instead, we have the stupid situation that, even on a full-sized notebook, connecting to power quite unnecessarily "blocks" a port that could be used for high-speed data or a display. Even on my 2017 iMac, connecting a second display blocks a port that could, otherwise, be simultaneously used to connect a high-speed disc drive. Plus, instead of a simple passive DisplayPort cable, you have to use a more expensive USB-C to DisplayPort adapter (which needs the correct id chip and power supply circuitry to be "recognised" by the USB-C controller - unlike TB 1/2 that could just detect that you had a DisplayPort device plugged in). I've managed to find a reliable adapter, but you only have to look at this site or the Amazon reviews to see the litany of compatibility problems (a lot of adaptors stopped working with the 2017 models).
Then, of course, to get the full "advantages" of the new wonder one-for-all connector, every USB-C port on the machine has to be fed with USB 3.1g2, PCIe (for thunderbolt) DisplayPort and power - and the computer only has so much of each of those to give. Consequently, we either get a mean 2-4 USB-C ports or a some second-class ports that look the same but only have a subset of the functionality.
Oh, wait, single-port docking... because having to plug two or three connectors into your laptop takes literally seconds longer than a single plug. Seriously - I used a LED Cinema Display for years, and plugging in Magsafe, USB and DisplayPort took a few seconds - the advantage in a single connector would be completely negligible. Less desktop clutter? Get some cable sleeving!
Also, we're now moving to 4K/5K displays, 8K (and/or 4/5k with higher refresh rates and HDR) coming soon and those puppies take a lot of bandwidth which you really don't want sharing the same cable as your storage and i/o.
Then, of course, even if you have free USB-C sockets on both your computer and peripheral, there are a dozen permutations of USB2/USB3/TB3/Passive/Active/5W/15W/100W cable that you might need.
Think of it the other way: Previously, we had a port which could only be used for charging, and nothing else. Now that charging port can also be used for data. You're thinking about this completely wrong, however. Nobody is suggesting installing a single port on every computer. The point of USB Type-C is that, on professional laptops at least, you can include a pile of these ports and do what you want with them. You don't have that HDMI port sitting there doing nothing when you don't need it, but could use another port to plug in another hard drive. Or a network port sitting there, when you could really use another port for a monitor. USB Type-C can do all of those things, so you don't have to think about it as much.
Seriously, try actually using the thing first before dissing it. I can almost guarantee you haven't. You sound like you haven't. Personally, I routinely have all of the USB Type-C ports filled with one thing or another, generally monitors, an SSD and my charger, which is something I could not have done as easily in times past. I could plug in four SSDs now quite easily, without having to match connectors. Perviously, I'd have to buy two Thunderbolt SSDs, and two USB SSDs. If I have a third USB SSD I want to use, I wouldn't be able to, even if I unplugged a Thunderbolt SSD. Things were just less flexible back then. USB Type-C alleviates most of those flexibility issues.
Some do. I have a little Tripplite brand multiport that does. I also have first hand experience with Lenovo USBC docks which supply pass-through power.
That said - not every USBC/USB3 dock supports this, so you need to read the fine print.
Again, it's difficult to make blanket statements about USB3/USBC docks since there are so many various implementations out there.
The above-mentioned Lenovo unit does in fact support dual monitors albeit at 1080p max -- haven't tried one with a Mac, but they for-sure support them with Lenovo laptops.
Exactly. TB3 docks are as far into the "do-anything" dock territory as we can go today. single cable docking and access everything you need.
When you drop from TB3 docks to USB3 docks, you start accepting compromises in what you're able to do with the dock.
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Agreed, sounds like someone who's made their mind up without ever actually using it a while.
*shrug* Different folks handle change differently.
See what I mean?
Like a crotchety old man talking about them newfangled e-lec-tronic calculators and how in his day he did just fine with a slide-rule.
Edit: I'd misunderstood the quoted portion below, thanks to @manu chao for clarifying.
Then we get into misleading claims:
Port blocking is simply not an issue when using USBC to Displayport cables or USBC to HDMI cables. Such cables cost all of $15-$16 and they don't block any ports. Example: I have this cable and it works just fine plugged in next to the power-supply cable on my MBP15 https://www.amazon.com/dp/B01J6DT070
Sure, you can find adapters and such which block adjacent ports if you want such things -- but if that becomes a problem for you that's your own fault for making a poor choice rather than the fault of the the technology.
I think what was meant with 'port blocking' is that the charging cable in a sense is using up/blocking I/O ports whose number is limited by the number of the PCIe lanes of the chipset. Of course, currently there is one TB3/PCIe controller for every pair of TB3 ports on MBPs. If such a controller could be made to serve three TB3 ports, that limitation wouldn't be nearly as relevant anymore. But this would come at the cost that the chance - that three devices plugged into that trio of TB3 ports would want the full bandwidth at the same time, but would then be throttled by the single TB3/PCIe controller - goes up as compared to the current situation where there are only two ports per controller.
Thanks for the explanation. That makes more sense. The word "blocking" suggested interfering with physical access to adjacent ports, which *can* be a problem with certain port-adapters such as USBC(m)-USBA(F) chunky adapters.
The "issue" still seems a bit "manufactured". i.e. while technically true, it's not actually impactful to any but a select few, and is relatively easily addressed if necessary. Not at no cost, of course, but then that is perhaps the tradeoff of the flexibility of being able to attach the power adapter and other devices such as monitor (*) to whichever side is more convenient. Not to mention the benefits while travelling of being able to use a USBC powerbank to extend the system's battery.
(*) gotta love having HDMI and mDP ports on the RIGHT side of the laptop such as a Lenovo T-series -- just where the monitor cable gets in the way of using a mouse.
Why is there no dock with two displayport plugs or two hdmi plugs? connecting two displays to a mac is just a nightmare.
I think probably because the manufacturers prefer to provide flexibility to the end user.
Why lock the hardware into two DP or two HDMI when you can give the enduser the option of 2xDP, 2xHDMI, or HDMI+DP as this dock provides?
Use either a DP to DP cable or a
DP to HDMI cable:
Use either a USBC to DP cable or a USBC to HDMI cable:
USBC to DP cable: https://www.amazon.com/Cable-Matters-DisplayPort-USB-C-Supporting/dp/B01J6DT070
USBC to HDMI cable: https://www.amazon.com/Cable-Matters-USB-C-Supporting-Black/dp/B073H9RG9T
Now as for USB3 hubs -- plenty of dual-monitor hubs are on the market. Amazon search: https://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_...ctronics&field-keywords=usbc+dual+monitor+hub
Just be aware though that the USB3 devices can be limited in how well they support dual monitors. The USB3 Lenovo dock I mentioned earlier does dual monitors at 1080p max -- don't expect dual 4K.
@deeddawg thanks but you see you need even more adaptors. I would like to connect the display natively. every adaptor increases the risks of incompatibilities.
Not sure what you mean by more adapters. A USC to DP or USBC to HDMI cable is a handy thing to have around anyway, and as noted below Displayport over USBC isn't really any sort of adapting. No more than the use of a miniDisplayPort to Displayport cable is an adapter.
[/quote]I would like to connect the display natively. every adaptor increases the risks of incompatibilities.[/QUOTE]
Then you'll want to choose Displayport for both your monitors.
Displayport over USBC isn't really using any adapters. https://www.displayport.org/displayport-over-usb-c/
Or if you really prefer, grab CalDigits travel dock with either dual HDMI or dual DP.
...until you want to charge and use the port for data, then you're forced to use a powered dock.
Name one professional laptop that has a "pile" of USB-C ports. The more expensive MacBook Pros have 4. That's only about half a pile in my book. Now, if computer makes had said "hey, look, these things are half the size of USB-A ports so lets put in twice as many!" I'd happily concede the point - but they don't, partly because a multi-function port is more costly and complex to implement & may use up more PCIe and DisplayPort lanes than the computer can provide.
So, 2015 MacBook pro - Magsafe, 2xTB2, 2xUSB 3-A, HDMI, SD card (already annoying in its lack of ethernet). 7 ports.
2016 MacBook pro - 4xTB3 and only 2xTB3 on the non-touchbar ones.
So yeah, if you want to plug 4 Thunderbolt or USB 3.1g2 fast SSDs then maybe the 2016 Works For You. If, however, you want to plug in a charger, a pair of external displays, a 3rd party mouse dongle, an ethernet adapter and a USB stick then the 2015 benefits from simply having more holes. OK, so some of them are single function holes, but they're the single functions that many people will need. As for the non-TB and Air, with only 2 ports, well, for me carrying around a hub would then be compulsory.
I have a 2017 iMac with 2 USB C ports, which is only tolerable because they kept the 4xUSB-A and ethernet port (and, of course, power isn't an issue). I have a USB-C to DisplayPort cable in one - and have a third display (and USB-C-to-DP cable) that I use occasionally - otherwise I use a USB-A dongle in the second TB3 port. If I get any TB3 devices I'll either have to restrict myself to one with a TB3 "through" connection (which rules out a lot of compact external SSDs) or get a TB dock.
So, yes, some people who don't need any external display or TB devices will benefit from 2 extra USB ports - but there's plenty of space for ports on the back of the iMac so its dumb that I have to use one or two valuable data ports for a job that a regular HDMI or MiniDP port would have done better. (Of course, this is compounded by Apple's stinginess with the regular ports - the connectivity on theiMac is pretty marginal for a powerful desktop).
FYI lots of small portable hubs do power pass-thru. If you don't mind one USBA & one HDMI, you can get a decent one for $30. https://www.amazon.com/Anker-Adapter-Delivery-Charging-Chromebook/dp/B07DD8BLJW
True. But I still think they shouldn't have removed so many ports. I own a maxed out mid 2015 15" MBP and its ports are too convenient. Sd card port, regular usb ports and HDMI. No dongles needed or hubs. And next to those it also has two Thunderbolt 2 ports. And let's not forget MagSafe, once THE reason people wanted a MacBook over any Windows laptop.
Because it's a bit thicker, it also doesn't throttle like these newer ones do. In the end Apple sacrificed ports, battery size and performance for a thinner device which probably less than 10% of users for. They also made them more expensive, included the gimmicky Touch Bar (something also a very few asked for) and to get a few ports back, you now gotta spend more and carry the dongles. Not very convenient.
What Apple should have done is just updated the 2015 MBP body, so kept all the good ports, added usb-c, left out the Touch Bar and of course updated the internals and screen. I'm betting 99% of pro users would be happy with those choices.
This is great! Exactly what I need! Wasn't aware of this one. Thanks!
Fixed that part. Nobody in my family owns a Macbook over a Windows system because of magsafe.
Sure it's been a nice feature over the years.
When I bought my rMB12 three+ years ago I was a little concerned whether I'd miss magsafe.
Turns out the opposite was true. I find I prefer having USBC charging.
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Careful. USB-C is a connector. As you wrote the above someone might think you meant it as a data transfer protocol.
I was thinking of USB-C docks that don't use/support the TB protocol. It is always difficult to describe something whose distinguishing feature is that it misses a feature. Meaning docks that have two USB-C connectors (or also those with only one) and offer other ports besides USB-C or USB-A (ie, audio, video, card slots) but do not use the TB protocol (which could also be described as not having TB chips).
Those are 'USB-C' docks where the 'USB-C' part does describe data transfer protocol aspects (the lack of TB).
Again, USBC is a connector which can support:
Displayport Alternate Mode
HDMI Alternate Mode
Audio Adapter Accessory Mode
All of these are protocols that *can* use the USB-C connector but aren't necessarily supported by any given hub or dock or cable.
Simply referencing the connector doesn't tell anyone which of the alternate modes are there or aren't there.
Thus, it adds to the confusion to reference docks as "USBC" -- better IMHO to reference them as USB3 docks, as the USB-A based USB3 docks aren't nearly so common these days (although they do exist).
It's unfortunate that the industry hasn't developed a better nomenclature to tell people what capabilities are there and/or hasn't better standardized on these.
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Please link to these $99 or $149 Thunderbolt3 docks which support 40Gbps throughput.
Reason for me that my next laptop won’t be an Apple device anymore. Too expensive for too little added value.
I recently started using WIN10. The old Apple vs PC adverisements don’t work anymore. Allthough back then they were soo funny and true. They’re still funny but not true anymore.
But you do realise that there is zero chance that this will happen? And it would have the problem of not differentiating between USB-A based docks and USB-C based docks with the latter having additional capabilities, not least in regard to power delivery.
Look, we had TB1 and TB2 ports on computers and we used those two terms with zero problems despite both ports physically being the same mDP ports. Almost everywhere in language the same word has different meanings dependent on context. And I say it is unavoidable that in some contexts the term 'USB-C' will describe the capabilities of a port (or dock) and not just stand for the physical port itself.
It has quite a good range of ports but misses out on a professional card reader making it not an all in one for me.
...or, stick with a 2015 MBP that lets you plug power, HDMI and USB-A without needing any extra boxes and still leaves two three TB2 ports (which could have been updated to TB3 speeds if Intel hadn't chosen to jump on the USB bandwagon).
...and until/unless they do there's no point in being pedantic about it , because people just aren't going to write "USB-C with USB 3.1 gen 1 and 2, displayport 1.2 and 60W power delivery" every time they want to refer to a type of hub/dock.
Possibly the advantages of TB3 over (deep breath) "USB-C with USB 3,1 gen 1 & 2, DisplayPort and ?? Watt power delivery" haven't been made clear. These include:
A (non-TB) USB-C hub can only share the equivalent bandwidth of one USB 3.1 connection between whatever USB, SD, audio, Ethernet ports it offers - and few (if any) support 10Gbps 3.1g2 or enhanced power distribution. Connecting USB/Ethernet/Audio/SD via a "USB-C" hub is no different from a $20 USB3 hub plus the appropriate USB3 dongles.
A (non-TB) USB-C hub can't support 4k@60Hz or 5k at the same time as USB 3 (at least, not until you have a full chain of GPU, USB-C controller, USB-C hub/DP adapter and display that support DisplayPort 1.4 - the answer to which is almost certainly "no") - connect a 4k@60Hz display to a USB-C hub and everything else will be sharing a USB 2 connection to the computer. This is a fundamental problem because USB-C needs to physically allocate all 4 of its high-speed data lanes to DIsplayPort 1.2 in order to support 4k@60Hz. DP1.4 can support 4k@60Hz with just two lanes, but while the USB-C/DP alt mode standard supports DP1.4 most actual hardware (including anything with an Intel iGPU and TB3 controllers in pre-2018 Macs, and many displays) doesn't.
In contrast, using a TB3 hub potentially adds full-bandwidth USB/Ethernet/SD controllers that share up to 40Gbps of bandwidth and are the next best thing to having extra ports & controllers built into your computer and can share that bandwidth fairly freely with up to 2 virtual 4-lane DisplayPort streams, letting it support two 4k@60Hz displays or a 5k MST display and still support high-speed data.
TLDNR: a "USB-C" hub is probably all you need if you just want to connect a bunch of regular USB stuff and/or a standard-def display, but if you're connecting 4k display(s) and/or multiple high-speed USB devices (e.g. SSDs) you need to fork out the extra for TB3 (although there are cheaper options than Elgato).
Of course, what's even better is to connect those high-bandwidth devices direct to the ports on your computer rather than creating an unnecessary bottleneck - but only the iMac Pro has an adequate supply of ports (of any type) for a powerful desktop or desktop-replacement laptop. (The regular iMac and Mac Mini are marginal but not great - the non-TB MacBook "Pro" is a joke as is the new Air).