USB-C MBP Desktop Setup?

Discussion in 'MacBook Pro' started by blairh, Jun 9, 2018.

  1. blairh macrumors 68040


    Dec 11, 2007
    Hello all.

    I have a base model 13" rMBP 2017 arriving today.

    I'm contemplating selling my Mac Mini and monitor and replacing it with a 4K monitor connected to my new MBP via USB-C. I find it very appealing that I can power the rMBP via the monitor itself this way.

    I have questions though.

    1. I know I can connect the rMBP to the monitor using simply the USB-C port on the monitor. However can I keep the rMBP initially closed and in sleep mode, connect it to the monitor, and that will wake the rMBP? Or I will need to wake the rMBP with a connected peripheral like a wired or BT keyboard?

    2. I'm not clear with this setup how peripherals work. I know some monitors have USB A ports that I can use, but some do not. Will I need to purchase a USB hub of some kind, connected to the back of the monitor, to get ethernet?

    3. This Acer monitor is what I'm leaning towards right now. I want something with a compact base and not entirely black bezel if possible. If someone could enlighten me as to how I get ethernet and a few USB peripherals attached I'd appreciate it.

    4. And what if I want to use a BT keyboard and trackpad? Assuming the rMBP is in sleep mode and attached to the monitor, can I simply wake the monitor by taping on the keyboard, as I do now with my wired keyboard?

    Sorry for all the questions. Thanks for any answers.
  2. bcbickers macrumors member


    Jan 13, 2011
    Katy, TX
    If you plan to use the monitor as an extra screen, then opening the lid will wake the machine and closing it will put the machine to sleep. If you plan on using it in clamshell mode, you will need a keyboard or mouse attached to wake the machine.

    This is going to depend on the specific monitor you select and your budget. There are monitors that deliver power and USB hub functionality over a single USB-C cable, like the LG Ultrafine 4k. Then there are monitors that connect via USB-C but don't power/charge the laptop or carry any kind of data stream, like the Acer you referenced.

    From what I can tell, the H277K does not have a USB hub built into it, but the H277U does. If you purchase the ‘K’ model, the USB-C cable will only carry the video signal, so you would need some sort of external hub or a sidecar dongle like this Hypertech to connect additional peripherals.

    Yes, a connected Bluetooth keyboard, mouse, trackpad, etc. will wake the laptop when it is in clamshell mode and connected to an external monitor. I have this very setup with a Logitech BT keyboard and mouse. All I do to wake the laptop is hit a key or two on the keyboard or move the mouse. My external displays come alive, and I log in.

    No need to apologize. We all had to learn about these new USB-C only MBPs. Better to ask if you aren't sure, especially considering the price that Apple integrated products command. :)

    One thing I wanted to point out. From your "base model" comment above, I assume you purchased the non-Touch Bar version, correct? If so, be aware that you only have two USB-C ports on the machine. If you were to purchase the ‘K’ model of the Acer monitor you mentioned above, you would use one port for power and the other for the monitor, which leaves you no open ports for other peripherals. Be aware of that as you are shopping for accessories and add-ons. I would recommend that you look for a monitor with built-in power and data, such as the LG 27UD88 or the Acer ‘U’ model I mentioned. You could also consider an external Thunderbolt 3 dock like the CalDigit TS3 Plus+ or perhaps something cheaper like the Cable Matters TB3 Dock. FWIW, I purchased the CalDigit TS3 Plus+ and am very, very happy with it. Clamshell mode works perfectly with two external monitors (34” Dell Ultrawide and 27” Dell 1440p), a Logitech keyboard and mouse and Magic Trackpad 2 via Bluetooth, two external USB drives, and a Plantronics wireless headset for conference calls. All of this is connected via a single cable to my 2017 13” tbMBP. See the pic below for my setup.

    It is all going to come down to how you will use your MBP, which peripherals/connectivity you need, and your budget. Plan out your workflow/workspace to determine your needs and do plenty of research about the products that fit those needs and you should be fine. Good luck!

    Attached Files:

  3. knapkin macrumors member

    Oct 21, 2005
    TLDR: I prefer the OWC thunderbolt 3 dock. It's expensive and annoying to have to purchase it to replace my dock-free setup with the older laptop design *but* it seems to be the least unreliable option.

    I've been using the 13" without touch bar in clamshell mode for a while now (dual monitor, BT keyboard and trackpad, a bunch USB-A peripherals). I've been through most permutations of dongles. Everything is flakier about this laptop than the previous generation. Some dongles work, some don't, some seem to have a way of causing the thunderbolt ports to stop working (including for charging) until SMC reset. Rebooting with the desired dongles attached at boot time seems to mostly resolve issues. The forums and internet are alive with advice to "use this magic cable" to fix your <fill in the blank flaky display/thunderbolt/usb-c> issue. I've tried all the cables. Nothing will work in the long term, the ports are just flaky (I'm hoping fixing that is why we did not see new laptops at WWDC).

    If that sounds overly bleak, don't worry too much, just reboot when you attach to your monitor/ethernet set up and live happily until you move the laptop.

    It is inconsistent, usually it works, but I've found that's true when sleeping after a log in. It seems if I take the laptop (disconnected), log out, close it, and then connect it to my monitor, nothing will wake it short of opening it.

    You will need the following connections, but you only have two ports:
    1) Power
    2) Ethernet
    3) Video out (usb-c for this monitor?)
    4) Some number of usb-a ports

    It looks like you can combine video and USB into a single port by using the monitor although it looks like it only has 3 other ports which may or may not be enough depending on what you intend to connect.

    What this means is one of your two thunderbolt ports will go to the monitor and one will go to power. If you must have ethernet you have a few options:

    * Hang a usb->ethernet dongle off the back of the monitor (leaves you with 2 USB ports for peripherals)
    * Get a multi-dongle usb-c thing that has both power-in + ethernet
    * Buy a dock

    You'll also want to have a small usb-c -> usb-a adapter for your travel bag.

    This mostly works. When it does not, I find switching monitor "inputs" back and forth will wake it up. The best solution I have for this is to change the power settings so it only turns off the monitor when connected to power (no real sleep).
  4. doitdada macrumors 6502a


    Oct 14, 2013
    I would not buy a MacBook Pro to use in a desktop setup. Have had SIX different MacBook Pros, both nTB 13" and TB 15", and I have had issues with sleep/wake since October 2016. I really like the computer, but the flakiness is just devastating to work with over time. I have had it to service and got an uptime of around 20 days, but then I started to have issues again, so back to Apple Care. Now waiting for a refund and typing on a MB 12 from 2015 which I never connect to my Dell UP3216Q. At least it is stable, even though I have replaced the keyboard twice in the last nine months.

    This thread will open your eyes to the struggle.
  5. robvas macrumors 68030

    Mar 29, 2009
    My 2013 15" works perfectly as a desktop at home. Barely take it out of the house.
  6. doitdada macrumors 6502a


    Oct 14, 2013
    All my MacBooks from before 2016 worked perfectly, had some problems with the first generation MacBook from 2006, but after some DOAs, I had a decade of pure joy.
  7. blairh thread starter macrumors 68040


    Dec 11, 2007
    First off, thank you, thank you, thank you. No one replied for days at my original post and I was starting to wonder if I should post this question elsewhere. I also really appreciate the detail in your answers.

    I have some follow up questions if you don't mind.

    Some members have said that waking in clamshell from your keyboard or mouse/trackpad is not 100% reliable. In your experience, how true do you find that?

    If I make the leap to rMBP + monitor, then I would be using my rMBP in clamshell mode while in my home office. I currently have a magic trackpad and wired Apple keyboard however I could sell my keyboard and get an Apple BT keyboard if that makes my setup a little easier/cleaner.

    I absolutely want a monitor that power/charges my laptop at the same time. Not having to charge my rMBP in my home office is ideal for me. I can then keep the charger in my bedroom when I want to use it before bed.

    Let's assume I get a BT keyboard. How would I then get ethernet involved in my setup? By a hub or adapter connected to the rMBP in clamshell mode? Or perhaps the appropriate port would be available on my monitor so I can get say a USB to ethernet adapter? Perhaps I'll need a usb hub that does both ethernet and a few USB ports for my printer and whatnot and connect it to the back of my monitor?

    Yes I have the non-TB rMBP. 2017 edition.

    I don't want to get a Thunderbolt 3 dock. Ideally I would just get a new 4k monitor and usb hub if necessary. A dock is pretty expensive. If I can't get my setup to work sans dock then I would just wait to see if Apple will release a Mac Mini that supports a 4K monitor this fall.

    With some more clarity on my side, do you recommend the HP Envy 27? I really hate how large the stand is on the LG one you linked, even though I imagine it does a better job of not letting the monitor wobble, as some Envy 27 reviews say the monitor wobbles while typing (no idea how true that is though). Also I absolutely need a matte screen. Tons of natural light in my home office at times. Even just using the rMBP now in front of my Apple Cinema Display I see how reflective the screen is compared to my ACD.

    Thanks in advance. :)
    --- Post Merged, Jun 11, 2018 ---
    Oh man, that sucks. I really don't want to deal with that.
    --- Post Merged, Jun 11, 2018 ---
    Oh Christ. :eek: This scares me off a lot TBH.
  8. ilikewhey macrumors 6502a

    May 14, 2014
    nyc upper east
    i suggest you take a look at lg27ud88. i been eye balling that and its bigger brother 32ud99. i'm also looking at a egpu setup that has build in usb+ethernet port like the mantiz venus.

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