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Exodist
01-15-2015, 11:26 AM
Hey Everyone,
I know I talked about recently the past few days about the Mac Pro and how I have been considering getting it. But we never know when they will update it.

So.... I considered another option, the Macbook Pro 15" Ret.. Upgrade it to the faster core and I would be very happy with it or what ever it gets upgraded to over the next few months to a year. I need a travel option as I iPad Mini isn't doing what I need and lets face it, not going to run FCPX.

SO here is the thing. I have a 32" monitor being shipped to me. Its a 2.5k display with %100 RGB accuracy for photo, cad and video work. Honestly its a 27" Mac display on steroids and just about the same price. Plus I have a few USB 3.0 MyBook drives for storage, crap load of stuff connected via USB2.0 and few bluetooth items.

So I was wondering if there were any docking stations for the MBP to help make connecting my devices. My display has two USB 3.0 and two additional USB 2.0 jacks built in. So if I can just find a stand, I should be able to plug in the USB jack and display port cables to the MBP and be ready to go. Then just unplug those when on the road..

What everyone else's thoughts? Also any Docking stations for the MBP?

Thanks,
Joe :|

cwa107
01-15-2015, 11:34 AM
I work from home, entirely on my Mac these days (which connects to a virtual Win7 machine, hosted by my company's Citrix XenDesktop farm). Right now, I have my 15" MacBook Pro on a Rain Design mStand, sitting next to my company-supplied Lenovo 23" monitor. The Lenovo has a DisplayPort. I run dual-displays and this works fairly well, though I have often been tempted to find some kind of dock solution so that I can run two displays out of the Thunderbolt port.

I have already tried the CalTech Thunderbolt dock and while it worked OK, the sound quality was terrible and I had some glitchiness if I booted the MBP with the secondary display attached and powered on, so I returned it.

Today, I ordered the Elgato Thunderbolt Dock that just came out. I'm going to see how well that does. Ultimately, I'd like to get rid of the mStand, run the MBP in clamshell mode in something like a HengeDock and have it drive two 23" external monitors. Not sure if that's feasible, but that's what I'm aiming for. I'll let you know how it goes since it seems like you're looking for a similar solution.

Exodist
01-15-2015, 11:40 AM
.

Today, I ordered the Elgato Thunderbolt Dock that just came out. I'm going to see how well that does. Ultimately, I'd like to get rid of the mStand, run the MBP in clamshell mode in something like a HengeDock and have it drive two 23" external monitors. Not sure if that's feasible, but that's what I'm aiming for. I'll let you know how it goes since it seems like you're looking for a similar solution.

I will have to check out the Elgato..

I was just looking at the Henge dock and for 119 MSRP for the metal version, 89 for the plastic. Seems temping and reasonable. Just don't see on their site how to turn ON the laptop when its closed?

cwa107
01-15-2015, 11:41 AM
I will have to check out the Elgato..

I was just looking at the Henge dock and for 119 MSRP for the metal version, 89 for the plastic. Seems temping and reasonable. Just don't see on their site how to turn ON the laptop when its closed?

Yep, that is a problem for sure. To my knowledge, there is no way to do so. But if you figure it out, do let me know! :)

Exodist
01-16-2015, 01:47 PM
Yep, that is a problem for sure. To my knowledge, there is no way to do so. But if you figure it out, do let me know! :)

Got ya..

I will likely just add a sliding tray under my desk to keep it and just plug up 3 cables, power, video, usb3.. Then slide it under the top of the desk like a keyboard tray..

Dysfunction
01-18-2015, 05:44 PM
This is the one I will likely buy for my MBA. I need more ports @ work.


http://www.caldigit.com/thunderboltstation2/

chas_m
01-18-2015, 07:19 PM
Who turns an MBP off anymore?

Dysfunction
01-18-2015, 07:23 PM
Who turns an MBP off anymore?

I do, at takeoff O:)

cwa107
01-18-2015, 11:26 PM
This is the one I will likely buy for my MBA. I need more ports @ work.


CalDigit Thunderbolt? station (http://www.caldigit.com/thunderboltstation2/)

Hopefully it's not as flakey as their first one was!

Dysfunction
01-18-2015, 11:44 PM
Hopefully it's not as flakey as their first one was!

Yea, the problem is NONE of them are 100% solid. For some reason the whole concept of a docking station for Macs is lost (Apple should make one IMO)

pigoo3
01-18-2015, 11:49 PM
Yea, the problem is NONE of them are 100% solid. For some reason the whole concept of a docking station for Macs is lost (Apple should make one IMO)

Problem is (if Apple made one)...it would probably cost $500 bucks and be obsolete by the next model MBP release (new ports). But it would probably be relatively solid & stylish!;)

- Nick

Exodist
01-19-2015, 07:29 AM
This is the one I will likely buy for my MBA. I need more ports @ work.


CalDigit Thunderbolt? station (http://www.caldigit.com/thunderboltstation2/)

I looked, but still not certain. Does this also supply power to the Macbook?
If it doesn't, then its not a truly a 1 cable solution as they claim.




Problem is (if Apple made one)...it would probably cost $500 bucks and be obsolete by the next model MBP release (new ports). But it would probably be relatively solid & stylish!;)

- Nick
Very true..


My new monitor has 2x USB 2.0 ports and 2x USB 3.0, plus SDXC card reader. There is also an mUSB port, but thats for the optional OSD controller. So between that and my Belkin USB 2.0 (7port) hub, same as the one in APPLES STORE (http://store.apple.com/us/product/HB183VC/A/belkin-ultra-slim-7-port-usb-20-desktop-hub?fnode=4eae3fccab4ffdce80d144bfbdb1c8af383831c6 e7fbdd6cd0dc5b008dae918f21d4c043e77ad33113eaad559b 68f63a7a63b4b12436e377fb7c928e2b5ee679cb37bbd41891 49691ab99958a0f21849cc87ab1468c40ff219bcc49f8a16cf 66c2b4c3581c5039afdcc7c6c48c067c90) I pretty much almost got a 1 cable solution. Just plug up the mDisplay to the Monitor and that should be all I need. My sound is also USB 2.0 powered, I used the SoundBlaster E1 sound card/ headphone amp. So speakers are plugged into it also.

Now THIS STAND (http://store.apple.com/us/product/H9167ZM/A/just-mobile-mtable-stand-for-mac?fnode=2cfa6a06bb0187d8fa2b6972abfb3dcca987d606 36944f6248b6a1a5735641b6a1f2917fd2915bd7ddc8b2d54d 72e8621bd7cb6883a96018841a78bdd678249cef7edecc8870 4802e194c8af76b407cccbaa6b1503402563697b7883e6212f 2d4a02fb906bcb92e0f9dbcaaaf39dea76) on Apples Store looks nice and could be something to consider.

But if not, then I may just make a sliding tray to tuck the Macbook under my desk. I made my desk anyway from 3/4 plywood and 2x2s. So its easy to mod anyway I want.

Dysfunction
01-19-2015, 12:03 PM
No it does not, but there is NO 1 cable solution that provides power. There is no system power on the thunderbolt bus.

Exodist
01-20-2015, 08:14 AM
No it does not, but there is NO 1 cable solution that provides power. There is no system power on the thunderbolt bus.

I didn't think so either..

Dysfunction
01-20-2015, 11:50 AM
I didn't think so either..

Well, the design kind of precludes power.. but.. it IS a 1 cable solution for all other I/O

cwa107
01-20-2015, 11:52 AM
Well, the design kind of precludes power.. but.. it IS a 1 cable solution for all other I/O

I can see how one could be confused by it though.... The Dell (and now Lenovo) laptops at work (business class machines, mind you) all have docking ports and that one port replicates everything on the dock, including power.

Apple has the tech to do it.... it's a shame they don't offer a similar design, especially since they've made it a mission to eliminate every hole they possibly can on the outside of their machines.

Dysfunction
01-20-2015, 11:54 AM
I can see how one could be confused by it though.... The Dell (and now Lenovo) laptops at work (business class machines, mind you) all have docking ports and that one port replicates everything on the dock, including power.

Apple has the tech to do it.... it's a shame they don't offer a similar design, especially since they've made it a mission to eliminate every hole they possibly can on the outside of their machines.

Sure, but it's a much higher pin count port (all of them would clearly violate Apples aesthetics). I'm also fully in agreement that Apple should, I do not believe they ever will though.

nickyr
01-21-2015, 01:04 PM
These look rather nice:

mStand Laptop Stand - intro (http://www.raindesigninc.com/mstand.html)

mTower vertical stand - intro (http://www.raindesigninc.com/mtower.html)

cwa107
01-21-2015, 02:21 PM
These look rather nice:

mStand Laptop Stand - intro (http://www.raindesigninc.com/mstand.html)

mTower vertical stand - intro (http://www.raindesigninc.com/mtower.html)

I have the mStand and it's served its purpose for the most part. However, it is one of the most expensive pieces of aluminum you'll ever buy at $50. And it serves no other purpose than to prop your machine up - it's not even adjustable.

For those reasons, I have a hard time recommending it unless you can find one cheap on Fleabay.

Dysfunction
01-21-2015, 03:30 PM
I have the mStand and it's served its purpose for the most part. However, it is one of the most expensive pieces of aluminum you'll ever buy at $50. And it serves no other purpose than to prop your machine up - it's not even adjustable.

For those reasons, I have a hard time recommending it unless you can find one cheap on Fleabay.

100% agreed...

cwa107
01-22-2015, 05:26 PM
The Elgato Thunderbolt dock finally made it here today, having been on the slow boat from China.

This thing seems pretty good thus far. Audio quality is notably better than the CalDigit and everything seems to work as it should. The next test is to see how well it drives two 23" monitors!

pigoo3
01-22-2015, 05:37 PM
The next test is to see how well it drives two 23" monitors!

Chris...I'm curious about this part. Isn't this docking station (like many notebook docks)...really just a giant hub (lots of different ports) to make using peripherals with a specific model notebook much easier (less connecting & disconnecting)?

What I mean is (in regards to driving 2 x 23" displays). This dock doesn't actually contain any video processing hardware inside does it?

- If it does...that is VERY interesting.
- If it doesn't...what inside the dock would hamper performance vs. plugging 2 x 23" displays directly into the notebook (assuming 2 x 23" displays can be plugged into your notebook simultaneously).

I did take a quick look on the web in terms of it's specs. Maybe I missed something.;) Just curious.:)

- Nick

cwa107
01-22-2015, 05:41 PM
Chris...I'm curious about this part. Isn't this docking station (like many notebook docks)...really just a giant hub (lots of different ports) to make using peripherals with a specific model notebook much easier (less connecting & disconnecting)?

What I mean is (in regards to driving 2 x 23" displays). This dock doesn't actually contain any video hardware inside does it?

- If it does...that is VERY interesting.
- If it doesn't...what inside the dock would hamper performance vs. plugging 2 x 23" displays directly into the notebook (assuming 2 x 23" displays can be plugged into the notebook simultaneously.

I did take a quick look on the web in terms of it's specs. Maybe I missed something.;) Just curious.:)

- Nick

I'm sorry, I didn't mean to imply that the dock itself is doing the GPU's work. However, there is a thunderbolt bridge there, as well as a USB 3.0 hub and USB audio codec. So, it's more than just a dumb hub.

Also, to my knowledge, short of buying a display with DisplayPort or Thunderbolt daisy chaining (rare as hen's teeth), there is no other way to attach two external monitors to a MacBook Pro with a single Thunderbolt port. And yes, I'm aware they make USB video cards, but those are a joke.

So, that's what I meant by "driving"....

pigoo3
01-22-2015, 05:50 PM
So, it's more than just a dumb hub.

Ok...I got it. You said it VERY succinctly. It's not a "dumb hub"!;)


Also, to my knowledge, short of buying a display with DisplayPort or Thunderbolt daisy chaining (rare as hen's teeth), there is no other way to attach two external monitors to a MacBook Pro with a single Thunderbolt port.

Good deal. Understand what you're saying here too!:) I knew Thunderbolt peripherals could be daisy chained...but that the hardware to do this wasn't cheap (and what you mentioned not commonly available).

I also couldn't remember what model MBP you had. I know some slightly older MBP's have 1 Thunderbolt port...and newer ones (last couple years) have two Thunderbolt ports.

Thanks for explaining,:)

- Nick

Dysfunction
01-23-2015, 11:13 AM
The Elgato Thunderbolt dock finally made it here today, having been on the slow boat from China.

This thing seems pretty good thus far. Audio quality is notably better than the CalDigit and everything seems to work as it should. The next test is to see how well it drives two 23" monitors!

Report back in a few weeks please! I really need a docking station, but I'm not exactly anywhere near my desk for a while ;)

Dysfunction
03-05-2015, 12:41 AM
So, how's it working out so far?

cwa107
03-05-2015, 08:38 AM
So, how's it working out so far?

The only problem I have with it - and this is likely more about the way that Thunderbolt works and less about the dock itself - is that devices plugged into it aren't active until the machine boots fully.

Normally this wouldn't be a problem, but since OS X Yosemite has you login before the system is fully booted, my external keyboard/mouse combo are not active and I have to use the laptop's own trackpad and keyboard.

Otherwise, all other functions are working exactly as expected. The USB3 transfer rates are in-line with what I've seen from other USB3 devices (mind you, my MacBook Pro is the 2011 model that does not have USB3 natively). I have all of my network activity channeled through the dock's own gigabit ethernet, and I have external speakers connected to the audio port. In terms of audio quality, I find it indistinguishable from the native audio on the Mac (though I am no audiophile, to be sure).

One other item to note - because my MBP lives on a Rain Design mStand, It's elevated a few inches above my desk and the bundled Thunderbolt cable was not long enough to comfortably position the dock where I wanted it (behind the stand). It might have been OK beneath the stand, but my desk setup works better with the dock a few inches behind. I ordered the 1M Thunderbolt cable (Apple OEM), and though pricey, it does the trick and gives me a lot more latitude.

The next step is to get a second 23" monitor and connect it via HDMI and run the MBP in clamshell mode continuously. I have been putting this off, to be honest, in light of some of the stories I'm reading about older MBPs and GPU failures. For now, I am content with just the one 23" monitor and the 15" screen. Sorry if that's the portion of the review you were looking forward to hearing about.