Tag Archives: USB-C

Review ~ Sonnet Thunderbolt 3 to Dual DisplayPort adapter


Image from Sonnet site. Either Sonnet has a site smart enough to know I’m connecting from New Zealand and change the desktop picture accordingly, or this was a nice coincidence. The adapter is at centre on the foot of the monitor stand.

This handy little (59x99x16mm) unit from the Apple-friendly US-based Sonnet supports an additional two 4K (up to 4096×2160 pixels) 60Hz displays via separate DisplayPort cables or one 5K (5120×2880 pixels) 60Hz display using both, adapting them into one of those USB-C (Thunderbolt 3) ports on a Mac.
The Sonnet Thunderbolt 3 to DisplayPort adapter runs at 40Gbps and supports audio over DisplayPort and gets its power from the built-in USB-C connector, plus it’s backwards compatible with lower-resolution displays down to 1080p, and other types of monitors and projectors can be plugged in also, including projectors, via adapters for HDMI, DVI and VGA (there’s a list of compatible devices, apparently, at the Sonnet site).

I love how these things ‘just work’ on Macs, don’t you? The instructions for Mac are basically plug it in since macOS already has integral drivers (then launch System Preferences, choose Displays and configure). For Windows, it’s update your BIOS to the latest version, update to the latest Thunderbolt version, confirm it’s running the latest Windows and if not update that too, connect the adapter with your computer turned on and then tell it to approve’ the device. Yikes. I don’t even know what a BIOS is (don’t worry, I don’t really want to, either). Besides, not all Thunderbolt 3 Windows PCs support dual displays or 60Hz refresh rates – who knew? Also, this Sonnet display adapter is not compatible with USB-C-only ports. (I didn’t realise these existed either.)

Conclusion — There’s not much to say about this really, it’s plug-and-play, works perfectly and doesn’t even need a power supply. Sonnet always makes good stuff.

Sonnet Thunderbolt 3 to Dual DisplayPort adapter, NZ$195 (US$79)

More information — MacSense NZ

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Review ~ Belkin Thunderbolt 3 Express Dock HD


Listening to the bay of the docks has brought me to a third example, by Belkin, this time in a more traditional silver. This is like previous Belkin iterations, and has a curvy aspect almost all over – it’s in the same case as Belkin’s Thunderbolt and Thunderbolt 2 docks. Four rubberised low-profile feet stop it sliding across your desk.
This also has two practical ports on the front, including a USB 3, but unlike the Kensington, the partner to this is audio stereo minipin rather than another USB-C – dual in-out stereo minipin.
Across the back, this has left to right: Gigabit Ethernet, Audio out, 2x USB 3, 2x Thunderbolt 3 (but not USB-C, note, although they have the same form factor), DisplayPort and the DC power inlet.
Like the Kensington SD5000T, the single USB-C cable that carries all this data and parcels it out through the dock can also carry enough charge (85w) to charge up a MacBook Pro. The cable to connect it to your Mac is supplied (this one a handy 1 metre in length). Of course, this takes up one of the two Thunderbolt 3 ports, leaving only one spare (and three on the 15-inch MacBook Pro, in my case).

I have looked at three USB-C docks recently (click picture to see a bigger file)

Unlike the Kensington and Moshi (left), this can’t as-quickly charge up an iPhone or iPad via USB, but its three USB 3 ports do, of course, support most keyboards, mice, Flash drives and hard drives.
Video-wise, like the Kensington, this support a single 5K display via the DisplayPort or dual displays at up to 4K resolution – on plugged into the other Thunderbolt 3 port with the right adapter, and the other into the DisplayPort.

Speeds — Copying the same 6.05GB movie file I used for the test with the Kensington dock from the very fast internal 1TB SSD in a 2017 MacBook Pro to a USB 3 (traditional, not Solid State) hard drive, took one minute 36 seconds (the Kensington was 1:28). Once again, the real test would be to a USB-C hard drive, unfortunately I don’t have one.

Conclusion — This is another useful configuration for users of MacBooks with USB-C-only ports. It’s a nice shape and the silver goes with some of the MacBook Pros, although I’m guessing the new Space Gray model is the more popular, in which case the Kensington is a better visual match. I’m a little surprised the Belkin is more expensive than the Kensington dock I reviewed last week, since it has one less USB-C port, since this is the way all these devices are headed, but having three (versus the Kensington’s 2) might support people better if they have more legacy USB 3 devices. Being able to charge up to a 15-inch MacBook is a definite plus. But to my eyes, the Kensington, with its possibility of VESA mounting and a lock-slot, is better value. The difference in price is virtually enough to get a decent USB 3 hub if you really need more USB 3 ports. However, Belkin is a very reliable brand too, with a long relationship with Apple.

What’s great — The familiar Belkin look, useful ports

What’s not — Another USB-C port might be handier. Price – it’s possible you may be able to find this cheaper than list after a month or two.

Needs — Anyone with a USB-C Mac right up to the power-sucking 15-inch, especially should you want to use superior Ethernet which is often 3x faster than WiFi.

Belkin Thunderbolt 3 Express Dock HD, NZ RRP $579.95 (US$349)

System — 2016, 2017 MacBook Pro, other USB-C Macs

More information — Belkin (note this is an Australian site so prices will differ). Here’s the link for it at the NZ Apple Store online.

MagBytes 91 is here with tips, tricks, news and views


Crikey, MagBytes 91 already!

MagBytes 91 is here, with all the news about Apple’s new iPhone 8s, the iPhone X, iOS 11, macOS High Sierra, new Apple TV, new Watch Series 3 and Apple TV, new operating systems for Watch and TV and more.
With a host of handy tips and three new products, this handy PDF reference should make your day.

Download it from this link ——>> Issue91September17