Ethernet performance in Thunderbolt Docks

Discussion in 'Mac Accessories' started by bernuli, Jan 11, 2017.

  1. bernuli macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Oct 10, 2011
    #1
    I just tried out 2 different brand Thunderbolt docks and noticed the Ethernet performance is slightly slower than when using the official Apple Thunderbolt to Gigabit Ethernet Adapter. While transferring a 25 GB file over AFP Ethernet I get:

    104.1 MB/s with the Apple adapter
    88.5 MB/s with Thunderbolt 2 Dock
    87.0 MB/s with a different brand Thunderbolt 2 Dock

    I imagine this is due to being part of a hub and the overhead or wait time associated.

    Before I go buying a bunch of Thunderbolt docks, can anyone tell me if there is a Thunderbolt dock that gets the full Ethernet bandwidth (minus overhead, etc)

    Actually, I probably won't buy another dock, just curious.
     
  2. dyn macrumors 68030

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    Aug 8, 2009
    Location:
    .nl
    #2
    Which docks have you tried? There are quite a few that use the excellent Intel i210 NIC that is perfectly capable of running at 1Gbps (it is one of the higher end workstation models from Intel). It's a better NIC than the Broadcom one used in the Apple TB-Ethernet adapter (although that one is good too).
    One of those would be the Caldigit Thunderbolt Station. The new OWC TB3 dock also uses this NIC.

    Btw, you do not want to use AFP to test throughput, especially with it being deprecated (Apple picked SMB over AFP a couple years ago). The best way would be to do a test with iperf and a test with SMB and/or FTP. Iperf is THE tool to use for measuring throughput, the other ones give a more real life result.
     
  3. m4rk0 macrumors member

    Joined:
    Dec 28, 2008
    #3
    Just a couple of clarifications.
    - by "Apple TB-Ethernet adapter" do you mean the Belkin one?
    - do OWC and Caldigit docks use the Intel NIC?

    Do you have any idea if the USB ports on the Caldigit dock are USB gen 2 or 1? I asked it directly to the Caldigit support and they answered saying The upcoming TS3 and TS3 Lite will have USB 3.1 ports which is the later generation of USB 3 but that doesn't quite reassume me. Technically, a USB gen 1 can be called 3.1 as well. And there's no other dock with gen 2 ports. So their answer sounds odd.
     
  4. sidewinder macrumors 68020

    sidewinder

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    Dec 10, 2008
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    Northern California
    #4
    That's what dyn said.

    You are using incorrect nomenclature. There is "USB 3.1 Gen 1" and "USB 3.1 Gen 2". There is no "USB gen 1" or "USB gen 2".

    Typically, when people say "USB 3.1", they are referring to USB 3.1 Gen 1. If CalDigit isn't calling out that the ports are USB 3.1 Gen 2, they probably are just plain old USB 3.1 Gen 1.
     
  5. bernuli, Jan 16, 2017
    Last edited: Jan 16, 2017

    bernuli thread starter macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Oct 10, 2011
    #5
    Wow, thanks for the detailed insight!

    I tried both the "Belkin Thunderbolt 2 Express Dock HD" and the "OWC Thunderbolt 2 Dock"

    http://www.apple.com/shop/product/HGW32VC/B/belkin-thunderbolt-2-express-hd-dock
    https://eshop.macsales.com/shop/Thunderbolt/Dock/OWC/Thunderbolt2-Dock/

    I had a feeling Caldigit might have better Ethernet performance, I will probably grab one of those.

    SMB gave me some issues a while back. I had switched to SMB for better performance, but ended up with some permissions problems that may not be related. I just tried SMB again using file sharing on a 10.8.5 machine. AFP still gives way better throughput. 93 MB/s with AFP, 54 MB/s with SMB. I will try with El Cap Server and see if SMB any better. Also will give Iperf a go in the next few days and post what I find. Looks like iPerf 1.1.1 available on App Store.
     
  6. bernuli thread starter macrumors 6502

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    Oct 10, 2011
    #6
  7. dyn macrumors 68030

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    .nl
    #7
    No, I mean the Thunderbolt 1 adapter from Apple. The Belkin could be Thunderbolt but it could also be USB, the product page on the Apple website is quite contradictory.

    The new OWC Thunderbolt 3 dock does as does the first dock from Caldigit (the Thunderbolt Station which is TB2).

    Difficult to say but expect it to be USB3.1 Gen 1 (aka USB3.0) as most applications out now seem to be using that. Besides, if it is gen 2, it'll at least be a pleasant surprise ;)
     
  8. sidewinder macrumors 68020

    sidewinder

    Joined:
    Dec 10, 2008
    Location:
    Northern California
    #8
    The CalDigit web site says all the USB ports on the "Thunderbolt Station 3 Lite" are USB 3.1 Gen 1:

    http://www.caldigit.com/thunderbolt-3-dock/thunderbolt-station-3-lite/

    CalDigit does not publish the same information for the "Thunderbolt Station 3" but it is a good bet that the USB ports are all USB 3.1 Gen 1.

    Please note that USB 3.1 Gen 1 is not USB 3.0.
     
  9. dyn macrumors 68030

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    .nl
    #9
    USB3.1 Gen 1 is just a different name for USB3.0. USB-IF rebranded it when they introduced USB3.1 and made things a bit more complex by doing so.
     
  10. sidewinder macrumors 68020

    sidewinder

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    #10
    Actually, some "under the hood" changes were made to USB 3.0 when the USB 3.1 was adopted. These changes are invisible to the user.
     
  11. m4rk0 macrumors member

    Joined:
    Dec 28, 2008
    #11
    Nice one. I didn't see that one.

    My bad. I replied in a rush. You know what I meant tho :)

    Also, I realize the guys were initially talking about TB2 docks, while I was referring to TB3 docks only. That's why I asked whether @dyn was referring to the Belkin Ethernet adapter or not (AFAIK, the Type-C to Ethernet adapter Apple sells is produced by Belkin).

    BTW, guys, I have a slightly off topic question. Maybe it's useful to someone else.
    If needing a Type-C to USB-A adapter, how can I make sure that the Gen 2 link is held through the adapter? I got a couple of these https://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/aw/d/B0...=AC_SX236_SY340_QL65&keywords=type+c+to+usb+a but it looks like the Gen 2 link becomes a USB 3.0 connection using the adapter.
    Any idea?
     

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