Confusion about USB-C/TB3 monitors, docks etc.

Discussion in 'Accessories' started by alexblackburn, Sep 3, 2017.

  1. alexblackburn

    alexblackburn Notebook Enthusiast

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    Hi There,

    I am off to university soon and will be buying a laptop to last me the years that I'm there. I also plan to set up a monitor and keyboard in my dorm so that I can work more comfortably and do some casual gaming on a larger display.

    With most new laptops including Thunderbolt 3 ports, I am very drawn to the idea of having a one-cable setup so that I can plug my laptop into the display/dock for power, video, ethernet etc. From what I've seen online, this could either be possible by connecting the laptop to a usb-c monitor that has a USB 3.0 hub built in to connect a keyboard, mouse, external storage etc. Another option I've seen would be to connect the laptop to a USB-C or TB3 dock/hub that then connects to a monitor via any connection I would like.

    Although this seems like a good idea, I'd be worried about whether there is enough bandwith to support everything through once cable or if it's even possible within a reasonable budget. I also like the idea of having an ePGU act as a dock to connect to a monitor, keyboard and other peripherals but I'm not sure if this exists yet.

    Any advice people have would be much appreciated :)
     
  2. don_svetlio

    don_svetlio Notebook Virtuoso

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    eGPU is not really worth the investment. Anything more than a 1060 gets bottlenecked by the way most laptops handle TB3 and if you're buying a 500$ enclosure just for a 200$ 1060 then it's simply better to just buy a 1060 laptop to begin with. Not to mention that most mobile CPUs save for 45W chips bottleneck the crap out of even the 1060. If you want pure power - the only solution is mITX or a massive DTR laptop. If you want portability and battery life, you're looking at Business class. If you want portable and powerful with decent battery life, you're looking at a Luxury device with some form of compromises.
     
  3. alexblackburn

    alexblackburn Notebook Enthusiast

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    Thanks for your reply! Seems like an eGPU is a waste of time then and i don't plan on gaming much anyway. My main question was to do with having a desk setup using a laptop and either a TB3 monitor or dock to connect it to with one cable. I saw that the Dell U2715H included a USB 3.0 hub with an upstream connection and was hoping I would be able to connect a laptop to a TB3 or USB-C dock and then connect the dock to the dell monitor via Displayport and usb to get use of the hub in the monitor to be able to connect peripherals and external drives to. Would this be possible or would it be limited by the bandwidth of the one connection to the laptop? Thanks.
     
    Last edited: Sep 3, 2017
  4. kent1146

    kent1146 Notebook Prophet

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    Do not worry about bandwidth for your purposes. You are not going to run into bandwidth issues for what you are doing. So go ahead and get the monitor you want, so you have a single-cable docking station setup.

    There isn't really anything out there today that will come even close to stressing the bandwidth of Thunderbolt-3, with the exception of eGPUs and very-high end external storage arrays (4x SSDs in RAID-0)
     
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  5. Starlight5

    Starlight5 I'm a cat. What else is there to say, really?

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    @alexblackburn FWIW there's a third option - to connect your peripherals wirelessly via WiGiG docking station, and only plug single cable for charging. The eGPU with USB hub exists and looks very nice, but as already mentioned it is very expensive.
     
    Last edited: Sep 3, 2017
  6. hien34

    hien34 Newbie

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    Not sure if you're only considering TB3, but if you're open to Alienware and one of their laptops, they use a proprietary connector to connect to their eGPU solution, the Graphics Amplifier, that has its own power supply to handle a powerful graphics card and 4 USB 3.0 ports. So using that one connector, you could have your eGPU, monitor, mouse, keyboard, etc.

    If you'd rather stick with a non-proprietary solution, then a TB3 dock would be your best bet.
     
  7. oscarjgrouch

    oscarjgrouch Newbie

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    Something else to think about is the monitor resolution frequency that you wish to run at. There are not too many options to run 4k monitors at 60hz out there. Most are pretty pricey. Also the number of monitors that you wish to run off a docking station. For example the WD15 dock and this is from Dell's website supports "dual FHD displays or a single 4k display @ 30Hz, and all your essential peripherals." While their TD16 "Supports up to three FHD displays or two 4K displays @ 60Hz."

    So one thing to ask yourself is what you want to output to. Just something to keep in mind!
     
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  8. Jona67

    Jona67 Notebook Enthusiast

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    One other thing to note is the power draw.

    There's a limit to how much power can be delivered through Thunderbolt/USB-C (I "think" it's 100W). Depending on what laptop you're getting, you might be able to charge Ultrabooks like MacBooks, but definitely not power-hungry gaming laptops.

    Then there's whether the manufacturer actually implement the feature to charge through USB-C.
     
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  9. chx1975

    chx1975 Notebook Consultant

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    Care to tell us more?

    https://www.techpowerup.com/reviews/NVIDIA/GeForce_GTX_1080_PCI_Express_Scaling/25.html

    > Performance losses begin to be noticeable as you get down to PCI-Express 2.0 x8, PCI-Express 3.0 x4, and below. Even here, the frame-rate drops are within 5-10% of PCI-Express 3.0 x16.

    > We expected the chipset-linked PCI-Express 3.0 x4 (physical x16) slot to be the weakest option for you since this setup is sub-optimal and feeds on your chipset's bus bandwidth. The performance loss for this option is there with 5-8%, which isn't that significant.
     
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