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T480, best inexpensive docking?

T430 and later, plus T530 and later series specific matters only
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MortySE
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Joined: Sun Dec 27, 2015 4:16 am
Location: Aabenraa, Denmark

T480, best inexpensive docking?

#1 Post by MortySE » Sun Mar 17, 2019 4:54 pm

Dear all,

I'm looking to give a T480 to my parents. They'll need a docking station like functionality, to attach the laptop to external monitor (plain old Full HD), keyboard & mouse, a couple of other USB devices, and charging.

They're older and non-technical people. I'm looking for something super-reliable, with a single connector only.

What's the best and most reliable tech to use for docking + charging with the T480's, at a not-too-expensive price point? Is USB 3.1 on the second from the back connector on the left side reliable, and will it both do charging, USB, and video out in one cable? I was hoping to make this work with an USB-C monitor; i.e. a monitor which comes with USB-C for video input, and which delivers power over the USB-C port too.

If not, is a Thunderbolt dock a better, more reliable option?

I could get the original slide-in Lenovo dock if I have to ... but man, they're expensive. :?

Thank you!

dr_st
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Re: T480, best inexpensive docking?

#2 Post by dr_st » Mon Mar 18, 2019 2:55 am

Original Lenovo docks are the best, but expensive. Your best bet is to find a slightly used / refurbished one on eBay or something.

Either a mechanical dock or the USB-C dock will work - they will both pass video, expansion options, and power. From what you described, I think the Thunderbolt dock is overkill, so no reason to pay extra for it.

I believe it should also work with a USB-C monitor, if the monitor compiles with all USB-C video/power delivery specs; in this case you may not even need a dock at all (if the monitor also provides a USB hub for expansion, you could connect a keyboard/mouse straight to it).

The advantage of the mechanical docks is that the laptop can be locked to the dock (theft deterrent), and their footprint is smaller when the laptop is docked + one less cable. However, the USB-C/Thunderbolt docks take less space on the desk when the laptop is not there.
Thinkpad 25 (20K7), X1 Carbon (20HQ), Yoga 14 (20FY), T430s (IPS FHD + Classic Keyboard), X220 4291-4BG
X61 7673-V2V, T60 2007-QPG, T42 2373-F7G, X32 (IPS Screen), A31p w/ Ultrabay Numpad, A21m 2628-GXU

MortySE
Posts: 12
Joined: Sun Dec 27, 2015 4:16 am
Location: Aabenraa, Denmark

Re: T480, best inexpensive docking?

#3 Post by MortySE » Mon Mar 18, 2019 3:39 am

Thank you very much, dr_st! That was helpful, and I very much agree with your points.
dr_st wrote:
Mon Mar 18, 2019 2:55 am
I believe it should also work with a USB-C monitor, if the monitor compiles with all USB-C video/power delivery specs; in this case you may not even need a dock at all (if the monitor also provides a USB hub for expansion, you could connect a keyboard/mouse straight to it).
The setup described above would be ideal. Does anyone have hands on experience with it; does it work reliably and consistently? I would probably get the Dell P2419HC monitor -- a midrange IPS based monitor with USB-C. It's a full monitor with USB-C input, 65W power delivery, and downstream USB ports for almost the same price as an Lenovo docking station costs... :oops:

dr_st
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Re: T480, best inexpensive docking?

#4 Post by dr_st » Mon Mar 18, 2019 3:53 am

Someone had it working with DELL laptops at least:
https://www.reddit.com/r/sysadmin/comme ... g_station/
I just switched to a Dell P2419HC USB-C monitor. Just like the WD15, it connects to my laptop with USB-C, charges it at 65W, supplies data to/from the monitor's USB hub, and provides a 1080p60 video signal not only to the monitor, but using DisplayPort Multi-Stream Transport there is a DP Out port that is supplying 1080p60 to my 2nd monitor, a Dell P2419H. Only gripe vs the WD15 dock is no builtin ethernet port but that's easily solved with the laptop itself or by sticking a USB3-ethernet adapter onto the back of the monitor. However, for (Canadian $) ~$100 more on the monitor, we're saving ~$250 on the dock, so we'll be doing this going forward.
Thinkpad 25 (20K7), X1 Carbon (20HQ), Yoga 14 (20FY), T430s (IPS FHD + Classic Keyboard), X220 4291-4BG
X61 7673-V2V, T60 2007-QPG, T42 2373-F7G, X32 (IPS Screen), A31p w/ Ultrabay Numpad, A21m 2628-GXU

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