Which Macbook Dock?

unstoppable

Standard Member
Hi

I have a macbook pro 2018 15 inch with usb c thunderbolt ports.

I am looking for a dock which will allow me to connect two qhd monitors directly into the Dock so that I can have triple display I.e. Different display on each of the two monitors and third on the macbook screen.

So far the ones I have seen only allow same picture on the external monitors but that's no good for me. I like having 3 screens to create 3 different workspaces.

Any recommendations?

P.s. I know I can always connect the 2nd additional monitor directly into a 2nd thunderbolt port in the mac but I want to do this through the dock.

Thanks.
 

EndlessWaves

Distinguished Member
I don't believe Mac OS supports MST which most docking stations use to connect multiple monitors to a single DisplayPort (Thunderbolt/USB-C) input. which is probably why you're seeing reports of duplicated displays.

(The macbook hardware apparently supports it and it works with other operating systems)

MST was introduced ten years ago now, so it's safe to assume Apple won't be supporting it in a future patch unless they have a change of heart.


Your alternative is something with a graphics device in the docking station, driven over either USB or the PCI-Express lanes in Thunderbolt.

The former used to be the norm but seem to be disappearing in favour of MST ones. They can struggle for bandwidth may show a small amount of delay, especially for higher resolution monitors. And the older ones won't supporting USB charging.

The latter are expensive. A similar thing to an external graphics card dock but with the graphics card built in.

Other than the video outputs, what other features do you need?
 

unstoppable

Standard Member
Hi EndlessWaves - thanks for your response. Yes it's quite frustrating that even relatively cheaper products only support Windows.

Other than 2x video outputs, I need the following in the dock:
- 1x charger input (to charge laptop)
- 4x USB ports for various peripherals (I don't care about the specs but faster ones are obviously better)

Following will be nice but not necessary
- Network cable port (for wired internet connection from router)
- SD card slot

Thank you.
 

unstoppable

Standard Member
Thanks for the suggestion.

Also, is my scenario called dual display or triple display? Little confused...

Little bit of googling suggests I can just get a display port to hdmi active adapter and a thunderbolt 3 to hdmi adapter to connect the two monitors via HDMI cables. Is this correct?

Also are there any cheaper alternatives to this that don't have all the additional features? My requirements as mentioned above are (other than 2x video outputs):

- 4x USB ports for various peripherals (I don't care about the specs but faster ones are obviously better)
- Ability to charge laptop through the dock
- Nice to have - Network cable port (for wired internet connection from router)
- Nice to have - SD card slot

Thanks.
 
Last edited:

EndlessWaves

Distinguished Member
Hi EndlessWaves - thanks for your response. Yes it's quite frustrating that even relatively cheaper products only support Windows.

They're using the DisplayPort standard rather than supporting operating systems individually, so any OS supporting that part of the DisplayPort standard will work.

Even google's basic Chrome OS implemented MST support last year. It's pretty much universal outside Mac OS now.

Also, is my scenario called dual display or triple display? Little confused...

Normally triple display but it may depend on context

When docking stations are talking about which resolution combinations they support you can ignore your macbook's display as that's hooked up to a different graphics chip.

Other than 2x video outputs, I need the following in the dock:
- 1x charger input (to charge laptop)

That's going to rule out most of the older USB ones then, the USB-PD standard that functionality uses was generally implemented slightly later than USB-C & DP Alternate mode.

DisplayLink are most well known USB graphics device and searching for DisplayLink USB-PD suggests there are a few non-Thunderbolt docks that will do what you want.


Although it looks like Apple don't make it entirely straightforward to install and you have to go into the settings and manually allow it permission.

They look to start at around £140 so while cheaper than the £230 Thunderbolt dock, they're still not particularly cheap.

Little bit of googling suggests I can just get a display port to hdmi active adapter and a thunderbolt 3 to hdmi adapter to connect the two monitors via HDMI cables. Is this correct?

You haven't given us any details on the monitors but unless it's an unusual combination then the adaptors or converters to connect the monitors to the laptop individually would be much cheaper than a dock - between 50p and £20-30 each.

The normal attraction of a dock is often the ease of plugging and unplugging a single cable instead of, in this case, at least three but if that doesn't bother you and you're primarily looking for a multi-display solution that's definitely an avenue worth investigating.
 
I used an Owl thunderbolt dock. Then one DP cable into one monitor and daisy chain the monitor using MST with the second monitor. Worked absolutely fine with my MacBook Pro.

I’m actually not using it anymore as I’m now using a single ultra wide monitor. Should put it in the classifieds 🤔😂
 

ascender

Active Member
When they first went to usb-c, the only docks which seemed to be 100% reliable and would work with every combination of monitors & cables etc were the Caldigit ones. Which were also expensive unfortunately.

I think they have two models one of which has two displayport ports and a usb-c while the other has one of each.
 

unstoppable

Standard Member
Well after careful deliberation I ended going for the CalDigit TS3 Plus. Just seemed like a no nonsense and no fuss option. A big hole in the pocked but it's a very clean solution. Thanks to everyone for all the responses and help :)
 

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