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I need to get a desktop dock for a 2018 MacBook Pro (w/ Mojave) with two Dell U2415 displays. Does anyone have any experience with the OWC 12-Port Thunderbolt 3 Dock?
I just received the 10-port USB-C version of this dock for home use but haven't set it up yet. I was mainly interested in laptop charging and a variety of ports. I don't need to drive two monitors (or any in my typical configuration) but the OWC products looked pretty good and reasonably priced compared to the (limited) competition. It is also from a vendor I at least recognize.
 


I am generally happy with the OWC docks - owned the Thunderbolt 2 one and own the mini one.

I'm currently really pleased with the CalDigit Thunderbolt 3 dock and its laptop charging abilities - since you mentioned that.

I will never buy a Sonnet dock again, after my last experience trying to get tech support for the Echo 15+, which would not wake my computer from sleep after the Mojave update. In fact, I don't plan to buy anything from Sonnet again.
 


I, too, like the CalDigit T3 dock I'm using with my i9 MacBook Pro - it has a much smaller footprint than the OWC USB dock I used with my former MacBook 12". (My OCD wishes the ports on the CalDigit were lined up more neatly, but that's more of an aesthetic thing than functional.)
 


Based on previous good experience with OWC products, I purchased the OWC 13-Port Thunderbolt 3 Dock (Space Gray) about a year ago. I had nothing but trouble with this device. I don't remember all the details but I did find a copy of a message I sent to their tech support describing failure to wake the connected display from sleep when I plugged my laptop into the dock. There were also problems with Ethernet. Numerous calls to tech support, tweaks, etc. to no avail.

I sent it back and bought a Plugable Thunderbolt 3 Docking Station with 60W Charging. This dock has worked flawlessly with attached USB devices, DisplayPort display, Ethernet. Recommended., but I think I am supposed to claim, "your milage may vary"
 


Based on previous good experience with OWC products, I purchased the OWC 13-Port Thunderbolt 3 Dock (Space Gray) about a year ago. I had nothing but trouble with this device. I don't remember all the details but I did find a copy of a message I sent to their tech support describing failure to wake the connected display from sleep when I plugged my laptop into the dock. There were also problems with Ethernet. Numerous calls to tech support, tweaks, etc. to no avail.

I sent it back and bought a Plugable Thunderbolt 3 Docking Station with 60W Charging. This dock has worked flawlessly with attached USB devices, DisplayPort display, Ethernet. Recommended., but I think I am supposed to claim, "your milage may vary"
I have exactly the same dock with a 2017 MacBook Pro 13", and it works frawlessly. The MacBook Pro is charged through the dock, and from the dock hangs a Cinema Display 23" (DVI connected to Apple Mini DisplayPort-to-DVI adapter), an Ethernet cable providing 1000Mbs speed and external speakers. Connected to the Cinema Display I have an old USB2 hub with a Canon scanner, a Time Machine disk, and two spare cables: one for another disk to clone the MacBook Pro SSD and one for charging devices. The keyboard is connected to the second USB port on the Cinema Display and the mouse is connected to the keyboard. I rarely use the FireWire port, but i know that it works.

No problems in waking up the monitor when the MacBook Pro wakes up.

By the way. I've tried two other ways to connect this screen to the MacBook Pro: a Choetech USB-C to Mini DisplayPort adapter, and the built-in Mini DisplayPort in a Hyperdrive Pro dock. None of them works. It seems that the interposed Mini DisplayPort to DVI adapter wreaks havoc with some signaling. Those adapters works great with an Apple LED Cinema Display 27", so I know it's the adapter. The only product that I've found able to work with the Mini DisplayPort-to-DVI adapter is the OWC Thunderbolt 3 dock.
 


I purchased the OWC 13-Port Thunderbolt 3 Dock (Space Gray) about a year ago. I had nothing but trouble with this device.
I have exactly the same dock with a 2017 MacBook Pro 13", and it works frawlessly.
Therein lies the problem: if you're having issues, you have no idea if the fault lies in the dock or perhaps the machine it's plugged into. I can just imagine the buck-passing when looking for an answer.
 


I have the Caldigit TS3 Plus dock. Has worked great with a 2016 MacBook Pro with touch bar. Cadigit includes two utilities:
I took off the Docking Station Utility since it caused issues when I was switching back and forth between no dock, Thunderbolt Display, and a TS3+.

I have a USB-C to Thunderbolt 2 adapter driving an Apple 27" Thunderbolt Display and a DisplayPort connector to a Dell 27" monitor. The speaker output is connected to an external speaker. Then a USB3 hub is connected to the dock with several emulators and EVMs for my embedded programming work. I also have Apple's bluetooth trackpad. So far, no issues. A couple of times I had a problem waking up from sleep, but after removing the Docking Station Utility, have not seen any issues.

Caldigit also has some refurbished docks for sale in their outlet store. The availability of devices changes often, so keep looking for a good deal.
 



I have been looking at the specs for these and other hubs, and it appears that the reasonably-priced options output only 30Hz, or the USB ports drop to USB-2 speeds under some conditions
I have a LG 32UD99 display (connected to my 2018 MacBook Pro 13-inch via USB-C) which has a built-in USB3 hub with two type-A ports. I recently noticed that even though these ports are supposed to be USB3, they only operate at USB2 speed. I wonder if a similar speed drop could be happening here as I'm driving the 4K display at 60Hz.
 


I have a LG 32UD99 display (connected to my 2018 MacBook Pro 13-inch via USB-C) which has a builtin USB3 hub with two type-A ports. I recently noticed that even though these ports are supposed to be USB3, they only operate at USB2 speed. I wonder if a similar speed drop could be happening here as I'm driving the 4K display at 60Hz.
It's definitely a possibility. As I understand it, there is a maximum aggregate bandwidth. If you're using most of it for the DisplayPort video signal, that wouldn't leave much for the USB ports to use.

But you should also check your cables. USB 3 type-A/B connectors are different from USB 2 connectors. They have an additional 5 pins to carry the "super speed" data. If you have USB 2 cables, then those pins will not be present and the port will only be able to deliver USB 2.0 speeds.
 


I have a LG 32UD99 display (connected to my 2018 MacBook Pro 13-inch via USB-C) which has a builtin USB3 hub with two type-A ports. I recently noticed that even though these ports are supposed to be USB3, they only operate at USB2 speed. I wonder if a similar speed drop could be happening here as I'm driving the 4K display at 60Hz.
Modern (USB 3 +) USB cables have two bus groupings for transferring data - SuperSpeed and classic USB 2.0. With USB Type-C alternative mode passing through DisplayPort (DP) at 4K video specs, the DP traffic is assigned the whole SuperSpeed bus (4 pairs of wires). Only the separate USB 2.0 bus is left, so you end up with USB 2.0 on the ports of the monitor. Apple's LG 4K Ultrafine display has the same issue.

If you used a separate Type-C to DisplayPort cable to hook to the monitor's DP input, then that would free up space on the SuperSpeed bus. (Likewise, if hooked to one of the monitor's HDMI ports for video). However, you'd have a multiple-cable hook-up to 'dock' the laptop. If you require USB 3.0 on the downstream ports, that's the only option.

I looked up the manual online. It is kind of odd they don't mention this but do mention that the USB ports don't have any USB traffic if you put the ports into High Power mode for charging. That's a slightly different issue. However, it's indicative that the ports aren't USB 3.0 all the time.
 


It's definitely a possibility. As I understand it, there is a maximum aggregate bandwidth. If you're using most of it for the DisplayPort video signal, that wouldn't leave much for the USB ports to use. But you should also check your cables. USB 3 type-A/B connectors are different from USB 2 connectors. They have an additional 5 pins to carry the "super speed" data. If you have USB 2 cables, then those pins will not be present and the port will only be able to deliver USB 2.0 speeds.
Definitely check the cables. I got a CalDigit TS3 Plus Thunderbolt 3 Dock (85W Charging, 7X USB 3.1 Ports, USB-C Gen 2, DisplayPort, UHS-II SD Card Slot, LAN, Optical Out) back in July, plugged it into the new 2018 MacBook Pro with the cable that came with it, and it didn't work.

I thought, well maybe the dock was just DOA, but thought I'd try with an Apple cable. Instantly it all worked. Maybe it was a cheap cable or bad cable, I don't know, I just tossed it.
 


Ric Ford

MacInTouch
Definitely check the cables. I got a CalDigit TS3 Plus Thunderbolt 3 Dock (85W Charging, 7X USB 3.1 Ports, USB-C Gen 2, DisplayPort, UHS-II SD Card Slot, LAN, Optical Out) back in July, plugged it into the new 2018 MacBook Pro with the cable that came with it, and it didn't work.
Was that the short cable? I got one with the longer cable, and it's been OK so far (knock on wood).
 



I did some testing with the OWC USB-C dock, and I am not entirely satisfied. First, I had to install extra drivers to get the ethernet port to work. Using the headphone jack requires the sound output settings to be modified in System Preferences (i.e. the MacBook Pro does not automatically switch).

The biggest disappointment is that I was unable to connect to my external Thunderbolt 2 enclosure with this dock using Apple's Thunderbolt 2-3 adapter. I get the "cannot use Thunderbolt accessory" message in Mojave. What I really don't understand is that the dock does not show up as a Thunderbolt device in System Information but rather is listed as a USB 3.1 bus, which makes me wonder about available data transfer speeds. I have not tested with a monitor. Maybe these issues are common to other docks (I know that a Startech dock I tested also required the same ethernet drivers).

At this point, I think I will send it back.
 


Ric Ford

MacInTouch
I did some testing with the OWC USB-C dock, and I am not entirely satisfied. ... The biggest disappointment is that I was unable to connect to my external Thunderbolt 2 enclosure with this dock using Apple's Thunderbolt 2-3 adapter. I get the "cannot use Thunderbolt accessory" message in Mojave. ...
Despite using the same connector, USB-C and Thunderbolt 3 are very different things. As a prime example, Apple's 12-inch Retina MacBook has a USB-C port that is not a Thunderbolt 3 port and can't begin to do what Thunderbolt 3 can do. And a USB-C dock can't begin to do what a Thunderbolt 3 dock can do.
 


Despite using the same connector, USB-C and Thunderbolt 3 are very different things. As a prime example, Apple's 12-inch Retina MacBook has a USB-C port that is not a Thunderbolt 3 port and can't begin to do what Thunderbolt 3 can do. And a USB-C dock can't begin to do what a Thunderbolt 3 dock can do.
I totally missed that distinction. I was fixated on the number and kind of ports (and the price). Back to the search then.
 


Modern (USB 3 +) USB cables have two bus groupings for transferring data - SuperSpeed and classic USB 2.0. With USB Type-C alternative mode passing through DisplayPort (DP) at 4K video specs, the DP traffic is assigned the whole SuperSpeed bus (4 pairs of wires). Only the separate USB 2.0 bus is left, so you end up with USB 2.0 on the ports of the monitor. Apple's LG 4K Ultrafine display has the same issue.

If you used a separate Type-C to DisplayPort cable to hook to the monitor's DP input, then that would free up space on the SuperSpeed bus. (Likewise, if hooked to one of the monitor's HDMI ports for video). However, you'd have a multiple-cable hook-up to 'dock' the laptop. If you require USB 3.0 on the downstream ports, that's the only option.

I looked up the manual online. It is kind of odd they don't mention this but do mention that the USB ports don't have any USB traffic if you put the ports into High Power mode for charging. That's a slightly different issue. However, it's indicative that the ports aren't USB 3.0 all the time.
OK, this sounds like my issue. I hadn't heard the Apple/LG has the problem also.

I'm anticipating getting a Thunderbolt 3 dock in the near future. So if I connect the monitor to it via DisplayPort and also connect the monitor's USB-C to it, hopefully that will allow those monitor ports to run at USB 3 speed.

I'll have to check that high power mode you mentioned too. Thanks!
 


I'm hoping someone in the community might help me out here. I have a Samsung T5, which, of course, has a USB-C port with the appropriate, and detachable, USB-C cable. What I would like to do, if this is possible, is connect the T5 to one of the DisplayPort/Thunderbolt 2 ports on my late 2013 MacBook Pro. Is there such a USB-C to Thunderbolt 2 cable?
 


Ric Ford

MacInTouch
I'm hoping someone in the community might help me out here. I have a Samsung T5, which, of course, has a USB-C port with the appropriate, and detachable, USB-C cable. What I would like to do, if this is possible, is connect the T5 to one of the DisplayPort/Thunderbolt 2 ports on my late 2013 MacBook Pro. Is there such a USB-C to Thunderbolt 2 cable?
Unfortunately, no. Thunderbolt 2 is based on DisplayPort, not USB, and is equivalent to a PCIe card slot. You can connect a Thunderbolt 2 dock that has an internal USB controller and USB ports, or you could add a USB PCIe card to a Thunderbolt expansion box, but the Thunderbolt 2 port doesn't have a USB controller built-in, so there's no such thing as a simple "adapter" cable to convert between the two connection types.

Similarly, a Thunderbolt 3 device, such as Samsung's X5 SSD, does not work when connected via a USB cable to a non-Thunderbolt port (not even at a slower speed).
 


Unfortunately, no. Thunderbolt 2 is based on DisplayPort, not USB, and is equivalent to a PCIe card slot. You can connect a Thunderbolt 2 dock that has an internal USB controller and USB ports, or you could add a USB PCIe card to a Thunderbolt expansion box, but the Thunderbolt 2 port doesn't have a USB controller built-in, so there's no such thing as a simple "adapter" cable to convert between the two connection types. Similarly, a Thunderbolt 3 device, such as Samsung's X5 SSD, does not work when connected via a USB cable to a non-Thunderbolt port (not even at a slower speed).
Thanks for the reply, Ric. I guess I'll go the Thunderbolt 2 dock then.
 


Ric Ford

MacInTouch
Thanks for the reply, Ric. I guess I'll go the Thunderbolt 2 dock then.
I would actually recommend something else instead: getting a Thunderbolt 3 dock plus Apple's Thunderbolt 3 to Thunderbolt 2 adapter. That way, you get maximum possible performance now and in the future (when you might have a Thunderbolt 3 system). This would, for example, let you use a Samsung X5 SSD that you couldn't use otherwise with the older computer.

So far, I like the CalDigit TS3 Plus dock I got... at a higher price than I see on Amazon now.
 


I would actually recommend something else instead: getting a Thunderbolt 3 dock plus Apple's Thunderbolt 3 to Thunderbolt 2 adapter. That way, you get maximum possible performance now and in the future (when you might have a Thunderbolt 3 system). So far, I like the CalDigit TS3 Plus dock I got... at a higher price than I see on Amazon now.
I just looked at it on Amazon, via the link you provided of course, and will be purchasing it as soon as I finish this reply. Thanks again. :)))
 


I just looked at it on Amazon, via the link you provided of course, and will be purchasing it as soon as I finish this reply. Thanks again. :)))
I like these hubs but I had to send one back because it caused OS errors when trying to charge USB peripherals. Earlier in this thread someone mentioned they had problems with the supplied Thunderbolt cable. I did not have another cable to test for that issue. The replacement has been solid so far.
 


The replacement has been solid so far.
Wouldn't you know it. Soon after posting this I saw a couple of the "USB Accessories Disabled" warnings from macOS, so apparently the problem with the CalDigit hub persists. I was going to recommend this model to a colleague, but now I am not sure I want to risk being blamed.
 


Ric Ford

MacInTouch
I've talked about Thunderbolt problems before, and here's a clear description of one Apple bug that should now be resolved, though similar ones apparently remain:
SoftRAID said:
FAQ: Disappearing Disks
We now know that a problem in the macOS system software is the cause of disks ejecting while in use. This problem is fixed from macOS 10.12.2 onwards.

We strongly recommend that you upgrade to macOS 10.12.2 or any later macOS version if you have encountered this problem. If you are unable to upgrade, you can use the instructions below which prevent the problem in most, but not all, configurations.
...
Important Note: If you have upgraded to macOS 10.12.2 or later and your disks are still being ejected while in use, we want to hear from you. Please collect a SoftRAID Tech Support Report and send it to our support engineers so we can determine if it is a new problem.
 


I've talked about Thunderbolt problems before, and here's a clear description of one Apple bug that should now be resolved, though similar ones apparently remain...
I am still having this problem. I woke up my computer this morning to see a “disk not ejected properly” error message for an external drive I have connected directly to the laptop’s Thunderbolt port. macOS 10.14.2
 


Ric Ford

MacInTouch
An update on USB-C ("USB-C: Universal Confusion") and issues of quality, security and more:
TidBITS said:
USB Group Moves to Validate USB-C Devices for Safety and Security
The industry group that manages USB 3.0 has launched an authentication program for USB-C in an effort to block inadequate cables and malicious devices from connecting to computers and mobile devices that support the compact, reversible connector. This group’s leadership includes Apple, Intel, and Microsoft, making it likely the standard will receive wide adoption.

Some inexpensive cables that don’t meet the USB-C spec for carrying high-wattage power have started fires or destroyed computers. Less dramatically, some subset of cables and adapters from little-known suppliers don’t perform as promised, can’t carry high data rates or power, or fail to work consistently.

Malicious USB hacks abound as well, and flaws in the USB “stack,” or the low-level software that manages USB on host hardware, has revealed the potential for exploits that can exfiltrate data or compromise a computer, phone, or tablet. Simply plugging in a USB cable or connecting to a USB charger could enable a malicious device embedded in the cable or charger to hijack data or take over a device.
 


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