Affordable Thunderbolt dock from Belkin

Certainly not the most full featured out there, but it is reasonably priced, and one of the few TB docks that has passed our certifications.

This seems to be an especially good alternative to the Surface dock for home Surface device users.

We still suggest the OWC, if you want the best TB dock overall, however.

Belkin Thunderbolt 3 Dock Core review: A great budget option | PCWorld

EDIT: the ethernet issues the author references were fixed by a firmware update, very shortly after the device’s release.

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Clickbait! Or at least, gotta click to find out what “affordable” means.

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Actually in this case, it’s more about pointing out TB docks that actually meet spec. Sadly still generally rather rare overall. :frowning:

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Spoiler: $199.99

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Generally speaking, what is keeping these docks from meeting spec? Is it maintaining the signal integrity to feed the speeds or is there something more to it? And what do you think could be done to improve the situation so more manufacturers get it right?

Dang, cost as much as my new tablet. I guess those who truly needed it are people who use eGPU, where extra peripherals cost are just a small problem.

Gonna just stick with my dGPU gaming laptop and the 10$ USB-C hub to USB and HDMI out :rofl:

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You keep on using this word. I do not think it means what you think it means.

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Yeah but this is TPCR, do that standards mean the same thing here ?..:slight_smile:

@Hifihedgehog it’s a combination of maintaining signal integrity (too many dropped bits), power management and delivery, and bus management (what device provides what functions and who “wins” if two devices both identify that they can)

It also doesn’t help that most of the docks use “white label” controller chips that are dubious in quality but are cheap.

Not to mention things like a quality power supply (though this belkin doesn’t use one as it’s passive) where if you don’t really thoroughly shield it, will cause significant RFI

TLDR, you get what you pay for. And the cynic in me thinks that if one or more devices doesn’t work properly, that device will get the blame by most users instead of the dock and/or cables. And I think the OEMS count on that, after all, “it can’t be my dell dock with my dell laptop to blame can it?”

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Agreed. I have to wonder though. If everyone just broke down and paid for higher quality, that would bring prices down across the board. Granted, at the beginning, good old-fashioned supply and demand would kick in and cause a blip of an increase in price from all the manufacturers demanding these higher quality chips. However, over time, economies of scale kick in and bring down these higher quality chips in price. Further, it would force the makers of these “white label” chips to go back to the drawing board and fully conform to spec and then once they come back with a decent chip worth implementing, a price battle would ensue between them and the non-white label chipmakers. Will this happen? I wish! But 9 times out of ten, no. Most people just want dirt cheap and good enough, and most manufacturers love racing to the bottom to satisfy that desire.

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I just have a hard time paying for docks when laptops should come with enough ports to make them useful at bare minimum. And yet, here we are.

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Agreed. Most normal people will only need to plug their usb devices: stogare, mouse, keyboard, printer possible, may be an extra HDMI port for screen. Laptops usually already come with 2-3 usb ports and the rest can be taken cared of by a cheap USB-C hub that can be powered by the laptop.

You don’t need crazy fast speed and best power management unless you run big data storage or eGPU. And if you unfortunately bought a laptop with a single port for anything, USB dock isn’t compact enough to be an option to make the laptop usable, it will always be dongle that they will get for convenience.

To sum it up, unless absolutely necessary, most people won’t buy an expensive dock that far surpass their need, so the chance of everyone buying docks to bring price down is close to nill.

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By a large margin, according to the OEMs’ we work with, the biggest buyers of docks generally are corporate who are looking for one plug and done (or as close as they can get) functionality.

In other words, a worker that is mobile frequently but uses multiple peripherals when they are at work base.

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This is my problem, of course. I have a stupid MBP with 2 usb c and that’s it and I work remote. Unfortunately, according to my company, I work in the office officially, even though I only go in once a quarter or so. What that means is I don’t get the budget for a dock for home, and honestly all I need it for is my monitor, keyboard and mouse anyway so I can either buy a dongle, which I’ve done, and hope it doesn’t have issues, or buy a dock that I know is going to work all the time. I’m cheap. It is what it is.

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Curious, reason for failure? Is there a list of those that passed?

The USB docks generally are a lot better overall.The biggest issues with them is usually performance where USB 3 ports operate closer to USB 2.0 speeds and occasionally insufficient power which will cause device disconnects.

The big difference is that the majority of USB docks, if they are from a reputable company will pass though they may not hit 100% whereas with TB docks its the exception that they pass (75% or greater on all spec requirements )

We are not a consumer test company per se and we try to work with companies rectify it if possible.

I will post those that we test that do exceptionally well or like in the case of the Belkin do so at a significantly lower price than their peers. For instance the OWC is $300 and the HP and Lenovo docks we tested were closer to $500 albeit both of those are more fully featured and also have their own power supply which the Belkin lacks

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Speaking of new Thunderbolt docks, this looks promising, especially if the rumors that it will have Intel Thunderbolt controllers prove to be true.

OTOH, putting the power supply inside the box, while aesthetically a positive, seems to be asking for trouble especially considering what the size looks to be.

I also wonder about Hyper generally. I don’t have any first hand experience, but I’ve heard mixed results from customers about them.

However if they can deliver, this looks quite impressive,

Hyper’s new Thunderbolt 4 hub has laptop charging power but no brick - The Verge

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