• Guest, The rules for the P & N subforum have been updated to prohibit "ad hominem" or personal attacks against other posters. See the full details in the post "Politics and News Rules & Guidelines."

USB-C Dock for Laptop with Power?

ishtarbgl

Junior Member
Feb 1, 2021
11
4
36
Work has provided me with a Surface Laptop 3 and I would like to purchase a docking station for it for one reason, that is, so I can connect and disconnect to my hub / dock with one cable. The obvious choice is Microsoft's Surface Dock 2, but it is a little pricey over other docks and I don't like the fact that it leverages Microsoft's proprietary magnetic connection. I would prefer the dock to be universal USB-C so that I can use it with other laptops as well.

Is there an inexpensive USC-C dock that someone could recommend for the Surface Laptop 3 that will also charge the Surface Laptop while connected? Thanks for any help.
 
  • Like
Reactions: killster1

ishtarbgl

Junior Member
Feb 1, 2021
11
4
36
Your employer won't pay for the dock?
Oh, I know they would, but they've been more than fair with me throughout the years so I would rather not even burden them with it. Additionally, it is something I wouldn't exclusively be using for work. If it is USB-C then I would also be able to plug in my other laptops to it.
 

Aikouka

Lifer
Nov 27, 2001
29,879
560
126
I use the CalDigit TS3+, but the problem is that it doesn't really meet the "cheap" requirement. Although, it is well-regarded as a rather good Thunderbolt 3 dock. If you do want a nice dock, but want to avoid paying too much, I wonder if the used market might have some options?
 

ishtarbgl

Junior Member
Feb 1, 2021
11
4
36
Not a dock, but I use this hub with my work laptop.


I also purchased it myself since I plan to use it on my personal machine and want to keep it.
Thanks for this. This is pretty much exactly what I'm looking for. I guess I would need to add the cost of a USB-C power supply, but that isn't too much additional cost. From what I can tell as long as I add the USC-C power supply, I should be able to connect and disconnect with just the one USB-C cable and it will power my laptop at the same time. Thanks again.
 
  • Like
Reactions: KentState

KentState

Diamond Member
Oct 19, 2001
8,077
285
126
Thanks for this. This is pretty much exactly what I'm looking for. I guess I would need to add the cost of a USB-C power supply, but that isn't too much additional cost. From what I can tell as long as I add the USC-C power supply, I should be able to connect and disconnect with just the one USB-C cable and it will power my laptop at the same time. Thanks again.
They make a couple variants with different video output options.
 
  • Like
Reactions: ishtarbgl

ishtarbgl

Junior Member
Feb 1, 2021
11
4
36
I'm new to these kinds of docks, but I don't think they are supposed to work like this. I bought a Cable Matters and Vava version. The Vava required me to unplug the power from the dock for it to recognize everything. I could then plug it back in and everything would work fine until I undocked again. Then the I would have to go through the same process again.

The Cable Matters does it a little different. When I boot up with the USB-C cable attached, it doesn't recognize anything until I unplug the USB-C cable and attach it again. Then I can reboot or do anything and it works as it should, that is, until I undock. Then I have to go through the process again.

Should I just be able to plug the dock in first, power up the laptop, and then everything should work? Plugging the dock in after it has booted up seems like it might not be such a good idea.
 

ch33zw1z

Lifer
Nov 4, 2004
32,494
11,232
146
I use a Lenovo thunderbolt dock with a Lenovo T480 that works in the way the OP wants. I dunno if the Lenovo TB docks are workable with a surface like this. The dock does have a usb-c port, And iirc it's for using just as a dock but not to power a device
 

In2Photos

Senior member
Mar 21, 2007
207
20
81
I'm new to these kinds of docks, but I don't think they are supposed to work like this. I bought a Cable Matters and Vava version. The Vava required me to unplug the power from the dock for it to recognize everything. I could then plug it back in and everything would work fine until I undocked again. Then the I would have to go through the same process again.

The Cable Matters does it a little different. When I boot up with the USB-C cable attached, it doesn't recognize anything until I unplug the USB-C cable and attach it again. Then I can reboot or do anything and it works as it should, that is, until I undock. Then I have to go through the process again.

Should I just be able to plug the dock in first, power up the laptop, and then everything should work? Plugging the dock in after it has booted up seems like it might not be such a good idea.
Perhaps the Surface works differently for some reason? Here is my experience over the past few months since I set up my systems. My Dell XPS has a true thunderbolt port, not just a USB-C port.

Home
I use the Dell dock to connect to 3 monitors (all 1920x1080), wired Ethernet, mouse, keyboard and speakers. I had to install a driver for this dock. It has a power button on it that acts as the power button for the laptop. So I keep my laptop in a vertical cradle and never have to open it for anything. If I use the laptop without the dock I can plug it back into the dock when it is off, on, or in sleep mode and it works fine with one tiny exception, the taskbar. I show the taskbar on all 3 monitors. If the laptop has been on or in sleep mode and I plug it back in and start using it the icons do not appear on the taskbar on the 2nd and 3rd monitors. I have to toggle the option off and back on in the settings tab to get them to show. Otherwise, the laptop remembers which screen is the main and where all 3 screens are located as if it was never unplugged. All USB devices work fine as well as the audio.

Work
I use the VAVA dock to connect to 2 monitors (1600x900 and 1440x900), wired Ethernet, mouse and keyboard. I don't have a cradle here so I just set the laptop on the desk with the lid open and the laptop screen off. I have no issues here either, including the taskbar working fine although I don't use it as much here so maybe just haven't seen it happen yet. The laptop remembers my screen settings just fine even with the differences in resolution and placement compared to at home.
 

ishtarbgl

Junior Member
Feb 1, 2021
11
4
36
Perhaps the Surface works differently for some reason? Here is my experience over the past few months since I set up my systems. My Dell XPS has a true thunderbolt port, not just a USB-C port.

Home
I use the Dell dock to connect to 3 monitors (all 1920x1080), wired Ethernet, mouse, keyboard and speakers. I had to install a driver for this dock. It has a power button on it that acts as the power button for the laptop. So I keep my laptop in a vertical cradle and never have to open it for anything. If I use the laptop without the dock I can plug it back into the dock when it is off, on, or in sleep mode and it works fine with one tiny exception, the taskbar. I show the taskbar on all 3 monitors. If the laptop has been on or in sleep mode and I plug it back in and start using it the icons do not appear on the taskbar on the 2nd and 3rd monitors. I have to toggle the option off and back on in the settings tab to get them to show. Otherwise, the laptop remembers which screen is the main and where all 3 screens are located as if it was never unplugged. All USB devices work fine as well as the audio.

Work
I use the VAVA dock to connect to 2 monitors (1600x900 and 1440x900), wired Ethernet, mouse and keyboard. I don't have a cradle here so I just set the laptop on the desk with the lid open and the laptop screen off. I have no issues here either, including the taskbar working fine although I don't use it as much here so maybe just haven't seen it happen yet. The laptop remembers my screen settings just fine even with the differences in resolution and placement compared to at home.
Thanks for this. This was sort of what I was expecting, but not so from the two docks I've gotten thus far. So if I understand you correctly, you aren't booting up and then attaching the USBC cable...correct? You attach the USBC cable first and then power up and all your previous settings are there for your displays.

I have another dock arriving today so I'll give that one a try too. If that doesn't work then I'll probably step up to some more expensive docks and see if something more robust might be what I need. I could just get the Microsoft Surface Dock, which I know would work, but I do not like their proprietary connection. I couldn't use the dock with any other laptop that wasn't MS. :(
 

In2Photos

Senior member
Mar 21, 2007
207
20
81
Thanks for this. This was sort of what I was expecting, but not so from the two docks I've gotten thus far. So if I understand you correctly, you aren't booting up and then attaching the USBC cable...correct? You attach the USBC cable first and then power up and all your previous settings are there for your displays.

I have another dock arriving today so I'll give that one a try too. If that doesn't work then I'll probably step up to some more expensive docks and see if something more robust might be what I need. I could just get the Microsoft Surface Dock, which I know would work, but I do not like their proprietary connection. I couldn't use the dock with any other laptop that wasn't MS. :(
Most of the time I plug in the dock first and then turn it on, but I have also plugged the dock in after booting with no difference noticed.
 

ishtarbgl

Junior Member
Feb 1, 2021
11
4
36
I just wanted to thank everyone here for their help and sort of passed on what I learned. First, I found two pretty good docks. One by Cable Matters and the other from Aukey. I do think the Cable Matters dock is of higher quality. I can't really prove it, but there are times I feel the Aukey's HDMI display is slightly softer than the Cable Matters. I've taken BMP screenshots of specific text using both docks and blown it up 1000% and I can't see the difference so this may just be in my head. Just so you know, I am using the native resolution on my display (1440P, 32").

The irony with all this is was one of the main reasons I wanted a dock was so I could share my peripherals between my work and personal laptop. My personal laptop is an Acer that is about two years old. It turns out that the USBC port on my personal laptop won't allow for docking! I was shocked, but I found it documented. So now I have a dock for only my work laptop, which is fine.

Here are links to the docks that I found to be pretty good. As I said, I'm still toying with the idea of which one I'll keep. The Aukey has one more USB port, which I need, the Cable Matters seems better quality and I feel a little more confident using it.

Aukey:
https://www.amazon.com/dp/B08SK11XMD/ref=cm_sw_em_r_mt_dp_0KQCYTQVS19MT3MSYHFN?_encoding=UTF8&psc=1

Cable Matters:
https://www.amazon.com/dp/B01M0K0DL2/ref=cm_sw_em_r_mt_dp_Q67XJEQ4MSY2TRT3B5W1?_encoding=UTF8&psc=1

Oh, one more thing about the Cable Matters that was interesting was that my Logitech Unifying Receiver for wireless keyboards and mice work perfectly with it. I do not need an extension cord for it or anything. It just works. However, every other dock I've tried doesn't operate this way. If I connect the USB receiver directly into any other dock, it will skip keys when I'm typing and I'm probably only 3 feet from it. The workaround is to add an extension cord to it and then it works fine, but I found it interesting that the Cable Matters worked without the extension and it worked perfectly for days and who knows how many keystrokes. It didn't miss one. Weird.

So again, thanks for the guidance. I've learned quite a lot here.
 
  • Like
Reactions: In2Photos

ishtarbgl

Junior Member
Feb 1, 2021
11
4
36
One last question I'll throw out there before basically closing this thread. That is, does anyone know of "one dock to rule them all?" Specifically, I'm speaking about a docking station that allows for at least USB 2.0 connection AND USB-C AND allows for PD (power delivery) through the USB-C cable to the laptop?

I have found a few docks that have both USB-C and USB 2.0 connections, which is helpful because it would allow me to dock both my Surface Laptop 3 (USB-C) and Acer Aspire E15 (USB 2.0) to one dock. BUT I haven't found any that provide PD via USB-C as well. If anyone knows of a model that does all three, please let me know. Thanks!
 

ishtarbgl

Junior Member
Feb 1, 2021
11
4
36
Try the docks of Dell
I did, but couldn't really find one that could accommodate USB-C and USB 3.0 laptops as well as providing PD via USB-C. I did find an older model Kensington that accomplishes this and bought it, but I haven't gotten to test it yet. It should be here in about a week.

What I can't figure out and it really feels like I'm missing something, is why am I seemingly the only person who wants a product like this? Does everyone out there really have nothing but USB-C laptops that provide docking so the need for USB 3.0 docking is totally obsolete? I would have thought I was like most people and they might have a mixture of USB-C and USB 3.0 laptops that provide docking in their household or at work.

My Acer laptop has USB-C, but it doesn't provide docking for it so I'm forced to use USB 3.0 for docking with it whereas my Surface Laptop 3 does provide for USB-C docking AND it will power the laptop via the same port (PD, Power Delivery) so I want to take advantage of that as well.
 

ishtarbgl

Junior Member
Feb 1, 2021
11
4
36
Maybe this one he was talking about:
Ahhh...I'm sure your right. Thanks.

I still don't understand why these kinds of docks aren't popular any more. I guess everyone has bought new laptops except me. :)
 

In2Photos

Senior member
Mar 21, 2007
207
20
81
Perhaps most people don't have a need to dock laptops, especially multiple laptops. I've owned laptops for 15 years and this is the first time I've needed to dock one. We have 2 family laptops, 2 Chromebooks for kids school and my work laptop. I only need a dock for the work laptop. We use desktops for our primary PCs.
 
  • Like
Reactions: ishtarbgl

ishtarbgl

Junior Member
Feb 1, 2021
11
4
36
Perhaps most people don't have a need to dock laptops, especially multiple laptops. I've owned laptops for 15 years and this is the first time I've needed to dock one. We have 2 family laptops, 2 Chromebooks for kids school and my work laptop. I only need a dock for the work laptop. We use desktops for our primary PCs.
Good point. That could very well be it.
 

ishtarbgl

Junior Member
Feb 1, 2021
11
4
36
I thought I would conclude this thread with one helpful product in the event someone is in the same position I am. My Kensington dock came in and it works great, but only for my specific need. This dock is the SD4700P and I think it came out in 2018. It does not support 4K, only 2K on a single monitor, but this is all I have so it was perfect. It does have DisplayPort and HDMI, but if you choose to use 2 monitors then the resolution drops to 2048 x 1152. So not great for dual-display. Also, let me mention that in my testing, HDMI only works for dual-display. If you want a single display, you are forced to use DisplayPort, which is fine for me.

This dock did fit a niche I needed. As I said, I only have one 2K monitor and I wanted a dock that would work with any laptop and be able to charge them at the same time. This dock accomplishes that perfectly. For my Surface Laptop 3 I simply use USB-C (the dock does come with its own robust power supply). Then when I switch to my older model Acer laptop, I connect via USB 3.0 (the USB-C cable has a special adapter for it, pretty slick) and then I also connect power via a $5.00 add-on component you can get for this dock on Amazon.com. The model number for this add-on component is K38310NA and it has plugs to power a ton of different laptops. An incredible deal for $5.00.

Additionally, the overall deal gets better. This SD4700P dock sells on Amazon for $200. I checked eBay just to see and there is someone selling the exact same dock for $30.00 delivered! So the dock I wanted that can handle all my laptops and charge them as well only cost me $35.00. I'm in no way affiliated with this seller so buyer beware, but here is the link to the dock being sold right now in case anyone finds this of interest.


For some reason the box did come with Chinese lettering on the outside, but inside it is the exact same U.S. version of the SD4700P and mine was clearly brand-new. As I said, it is working perfectly for me at the moment and hopefully gives me good use down the road.

Thanks again for all the help. Things are good now. :)
 
  • Like
Reactions: In2Photos

ASK THE COMMUNITY