StarTech TB3CDK2DP Thunderbolt 3 Dock Review: Dual 4K60 Power

Manufacturer: StarTech StarTech TB3CDK2DP Thunderbolt 3 Dock Review: Dual 4K60 Power

If you have been working with computers for a long time you have probably have come across the name StarTech, a Canadian company founded in 1985 that has been a source of hard to find computer parts online for many years. And though the days of finding a replacement internal PC speaker may have come to an end (though you can still find parts like a new Socket A CPU heatsink/fan), StarTech now offers a mix of modern and legacy parts and accessories.

Of these modern offerings from StarTech a number represent an emerging category: docking stations. As the reader is likely painfully aware, many laptops have become thinner at the expense of upgradability, and their frequent corresponding lack of practical I/O has driven the need for additional (sometimes even basic) connectivity. We will take a look at a high-end solution from StarTech in this category today, offering dual 4K60 display support and both Thunderbolt and USB-C compatibility.

Product Specifications

Warranty Information

  • Warranty: 3 Years

Hardware

  • 4K Support: Yes
  • Audio: Yes
  • Bus Type: Thunderbolt 3, USB-C
  • Chipset ID
    • Titan Ridge – JHL7440
    • Cypress – CCG5C
    • RealTek – RTL8153
    • Genesys Logic – GL3590
    • Genesys Logic – GL3523
    • C-Media – CM6533
  • Displays Supported: 2
  • Fast-Charge Port(s): Yes
  • Industry Standards:
    • DP 1.2a Version
    • HDCP 1.4 and HDCP 2.2 Compliant
  • K-Lock Slot: Kensington Standard Slot (K-Slot)
  • Port Style: External Hub
  • Ports: 6
  • USB-C Device Port(s): Yes
  • USB-C Host Connection: Yes

Performance

  • Maximum Digital Resolutions
  • Thunderbolt 3 Laptops Dual Monitors: 4096 x 2160
  • USB 3.1 Type C Laptops Dual Monitors: 1920 x 1080 | 1920 x 1200
  • USB 3.1 Type C Laptops Single Monitor: 3840 x 2160
  • Supported Charging Outputs: BC 1.2 (1.5A)
  • Type and Rate: Thunderbolt 3 – 40 Gbit/s
  • USB 3.1 Gen 2 – 10 Gbit/s
  • USB 3.1 Gen 1 – 5 Gbit/s
  • USB 3.0 – 5 Gbit/s

Connector(s)

  • Host Connectors: 1 – Thunderbolt 3 USB-C (24-pin) (40Gbps) Receptacle

Software

  • OS Compatibility
    • Windows 10
    • Windows 8
    • macOS Catalina (10.15)
    • macOS Mojave (10.14)
    • macOS High Sierra (10.13)
    • macOS Sierra (10.12)

Power

  • Input Current: 2.5A
  • Input Voltage: 100 – 240 AC
  • Output Current: 6.75A
  • Output Voltage: 20V DC
  • Power Source: AC Adapter Included

Environmental

  • Humidity: 0% to 95% (non-condensing) at 25°C
  • Operating Temperature: -40 to 65°C
  • Storage Temperature: 0 to 35°C

Physical Characteristics

  • Cable Length: 27.6 in [70 cm]
  • Color: Black & Space Gray
  • Enclosure Type: Plastic
  • Product Height: 1.2 in [3 cm]
  • Product Length: 3.1 in [80 mm]
  • Product Width: 8.7 in [22 cm]
  • Weight of Product: 8.8 oz [250 g]

Packaging Information

  • Package Height: 4.3 in [11 cm]
  • Package Length: 6.3 in [16 cm]
  • Package Width: 10.7 in [27.2 cm]
  • Shipping (Package) Weight: 0.3 lb [0.1 kg]

What’s in the Box

  • Included in Package:
  • 1 – Docking Station
  • 1 – Universal Power Adapter (NA/JP, ANZ)
  • 1 – Thunderbolt 3 Cable (0.7 m)
  • 1 – Quick-Start Guide
Pricing

$337.99 USD List (Currently $243, Amazon.com)

Manufacturer Description

“For the first time, there is a plug-and-play Thunderbolt 3 docking station that intelligently adapts to your Thunderbolt 3 or USB-C (USB 3.1 Gen 1 and Gen 2) laptop offering optimal performance and compatibility. This revolutionary technology offers IT professionals the solution they need — one dock for Mac and Windows laptops that are equipped with a USB Type-C port.”

The StarTech TB3CDK2DP Thunderbolt 3 Dock

StarTech TB3CDK2DP Thunderbolt 3 Dock Review: Dual 4K60 Power - General Tech  1

While myriad docking solutions exist on the market already, the Thunderbolt 3 Dock with USB-C Laptop Compatibility (model TB3CDK2DP) we received from StarTech is unique, as the company describes:

“For the first time, there is a plug-and-play Thunderbolt 3 docking station that intelligently adapts to your Thunderbolt 3 or USB-C (USB 3.1 Gen 1 and Gen 2) laptop offering optimal performance and compatibility. This revolutionary technology offers IT professionals the solution they need — one dock for Mac and Windows laptops that are equipped with a USB Type-C port.”

Design and Connectivity

StarTech TB3CDK2DP Thunderbolt 3 Dock Review: Dual 4K60 Power - General Tech  2

Looking at the dock from the front we see a simple panel offering a Thunderbolt port, 10Gbps USB port with fast charging, and a 3.5 mm audio jack.

Around back we find the majority of the dock’s connectivity options, with (from left to right) an Ethernet port, two USB Type-A ports, two USB Type-C ports (one with fast charging), two standard DisplayPort outputs, and DC power input.

StarTech TB3CDK2DP Thunderbolt 3 Dock Review: Dual 4K60 Power - General Tech  3
The dual 4K@60Hz display support is one of the dock’s strong points, with this feature a Thunderbolt 3 only option. The display output support breaks down as follows:
  • Thunderbolt 3 Laptops:
  • Two 4K 60Hz monitors (4096 x 2160)
  • USB-C Laptops (USB 3.1 Gen 1 & 2):
  • One 4K 30Hz monitor (3840 x 2160) or two 1080p monitors: (1920 x 1080 | 1920 x 1200)

StarTech also cautions “that host laptops which do not support MST or Thunderbolt 3 support only a single display”.

The unit itself is well-constructed though lightweight at just under 9 oz, and just 8.7 x 3.1 x 1.2 inches in size – though the included power supply will require additional space in your laptop bag.

StarTech provides, in addition to the 20V (6.75A) power supply, a Thunderbolt cable of some ~28 inches (0.7 meters) in the box, making this a complete solution befitting its list price of $337.99 (though street pricing is significantly lower, with the current Amazon.com price of $243.03 at time of publication).

Usage Impressions

The biggest impact of any dock like this is the sudden useful connectivity it provides, as a thin-and-light machine like the HP Spectre x360 we tested it with instantly gains desktop-class I/O. And while I appreciate being able to connect to everything I use on a daily basis, I was interested in additional performance of a design like this one, and I began with the 4K60 display support.

While I have tried out docks that offered anything from mere 4K30 display output to dual-4K60 support like this one from StarTech, I still appreciate it when the dock supports the resolutions and refresh rates advertised, and when that connectivity is reliable. Here the TB3CDK2DP dock performs admirably. No connection or resolution/refresh issues to report.

Interface speed is an area that I have tested a couple of times in recent months, with an ever-increasing number of NVMe enclosures pushing the limits of the 10 Gb/s USB interface (aka USB 3.1 Gen 2). Pro-grade external drives with NVMe speeds are another emerging storage category, and we recently tested the Lexar SL100 Pro, which is rated at speeds of up to 950 MB/s. Using the StarTech dock we again tested the SL100 Pro and observed transfers just below the drive’s rated speed (~930 MB/s).

StarTech TB3CDK2DP Thunderbolt 3 Dock Review: Dual 4K60 Power - General Tech  4

All other functions of the dock performed as expected, including charging our test laptop via the included Thunderbolt cable. The power adapter is robust and was free of any undue electrical noise or excess heat during use, and overall our experience with this StarTech dock was outstanding. I was sorry to have to send it back!

StarTech USB-C to DisplayPort Adapter Cable

Along with the dock StarTech sent along their 8K-capable USB-C to DisplayPort adapter cable, model CDP2DP146B, which currently sells for $39.99 on Amazon. This is an HBR3 cable, offering up to 32.4 Gbps of bandwidth. While 8K30 is supported we don’t have any displays above 4K on hand, but the CDP2DP146B did provide a trouble-free 4K@60Hz connection in our testing, and the cable is both USB-C and Thunderbolt 3 and compatible and worked just fine from the TB3 output on our test laptop.

While a simple cable like this may seem out of place in a Thunderbolt dock review, it’s worth noting that not everyone will need the full dock experience, particularly if the biggest I/O hurdle with your chosen thin-and-light is lack of any external display output you can actually use. Someday I’ll bore my grandchildren with stories of full-size HDMI and DisplayPort outputs on laptops, but until then a single-cable solution like this takes care of the DP output problem.

Conclusion

StarTech’s TB3CDK2DP Thunderbolt 3 Dock with USB-C Laptop Compatibility is a solid dock for both TB3 and USB-C capable laptops, but particularly shines with Thunderbolt 3 machines in offering dual 4K60 DisplayPort outputs in addition to the usual I/O expansion such solution provide.

StarTech TB3CDK2DP Thunderbolt 3 Dock Review: Dual 4K60 Power - General Tech  5

We experienced zero setup or performance issues with the dock, and it is a nicely constructed piece of hardware. StarTech offers a 3-year warranty and lifetime technical support, and while the list price of $337.99 is high the actual street pricing of $243 feels more than fair for what you are getting, placing this high-end solution in the middle of the $200-$300 pack of Thunderbolt 3 docks on the market.

Whether you need a full sized dock like this one, or simply require a solution such as the CDP2DP146B USB-C to DisplayPort adapter cable we looked at, these StarTech products enhance the modern thin-and-light laptop experience, and do so reliably and with good quality.

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About The Author

Sebastian Peak

Editor-in-Chief at PC Perspective. Writer of computer stuff, vintage PC nerd, and full-time dad. Still in search of the perfect smartphone. In his nonexistent spare time Sebastian's hobbies include hi-fi audio, guitars, and road bikes. Currently investigating time travel.

2 Comments

  1. Shambles

    This is the primary dock we use at work. We have recently started deploying Lenovo docks for other reasons but I have nothing but good things to say about the StarTech docks.

  2. n0ne

    At this point in time if considering an expensive dock like this I would be holding out for something with 2.5GbE or even 5GbE. A year from now Gigabit Ethernet may look like Fast Ethernet does now.

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