orsib78
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Dell Vostro 5481 + WD15 130W dock + P2217

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Hello,

I am planning to buy a Dell Vostro 5481 laptop along with the 130W version of WD15 dock. I already have two P2217 monitors. My question is whether this setup will work perfectly (so the WD15 can drive these monitors properly) or not and whether the WD15 can charge the Vostro 5481 via the USB-C connection (power delivery) so I won't need to use a separate power adapter for the laptop while it is connected to the dock?

Thank you in advance,

Blake

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jphughan
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Re: Dell Vostro 5481 + WD15 130W dock + P2217

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Glad to hear it's mostly good news.  Windows always remembers the last used configuration for a given display setup as long as the same displays are connected the same way; that's not specific to the WD15.  MAC address passthrough requires support from both the system firmware and the dock, and it's possible that Dell only implements that on the Latitude and Precision systems rather than the Vostro and Inspiron systems.  If it's not working automatically and you don't see an option to manage MAC address passthrough in your BIOS, then chances are your system simply doesn't support it -- but if you're the only one who will ever use that dock, then your workaround should be fine.  Most people don't even need to worry about presenting a common MAC address to the network because there are relatively few use cases where that matters, e.g. enterprise network access control and sometimes PXE booting.

Not sure what to tell you about the LED, because it should definitely work consistently or not at all.  My Latitude 7480 lights up that LED flawlessly, and my wife's ThinkPad T480 never lights it up, although everything including charging still works.  The only exception is that the Power button doesn't control the system because that seems to be a Dell-proprietary measure.  There's no industry standard external Power button spec.  That might have to be fixed with a firmware update that hasn't been developed yet.  For additional visibility, you might consider creating a new thread specifically for that topic.

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jphughan
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Re: Dell Vostro 5481 + WD15 130W dock + P2217

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The WD15 130W dock can definitely run those two displays.  Those display have DisplayPort, HDMI, and VGA inputs, and the WD15 has Mini-DisplayPort, HDMI, and VGA outputs.  For best results, avoid using VGA, in which case connect one display using a Mini-DisplayPort to DisplayPort cable and the other with a regular HDMI cable.

In terms of charging, the product page for the Vostro 5481 says that the USB-C port supports DP (DisplayPort, aka video output) and Power Delivery.  The latter is a bit ambiguous.  USB Power Delivery allows more than the standard USB power levels to be exchanged between devices, but that can be negotiated in either direction, and there are some laptops that support providing USB PD power levels to attached devices, but do not support receiving USB PD power levels from attached devices to charge themselves.  The Owner's Manual for the Vostro 5481 doesn't really clarify this either.  But basically, if the system supports being charged over USB-C, then the WD15 130W will charge it.  If it doesn't support charging over USB-C, then no device will be able to charge it that way.

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orsib78
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Re: Dell Vostro 5481 + WD15 130W dock + P2217

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Hello. Thank you for the quick reply. Can I reach someone at Dell to clarify the PD capability before I will spend my money? Since I am not yet a customer I could not find the way to reach technical support yet. Maybe I am dumb, but I tried in many ways already...
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jphughan
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Re: Dell Vostro 5481 + WD15 130W dock + P2217

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@orsib78 wrote:
Hello. Thank you for the quick reply. Can I reach someone at Dell to clarify the PD capability before I will spend my money? Since I am not yet a customer I could not find the way to reach technical support yet. Maybe I am dumb, but I tried in many ways already...

You probably can, but I'm not sure I'd count on their answers.  Even answers from Dell's tech support reps aren't always reliable when it comes to technical details of specific models -- especially when Dell's own documentation that they might refer to doesn't speak to this -- and the sales reps have even less technical concept training.  I've personally gotten incorrect answers from Dell reps on technical questions on multiple occasions, and there are several other cases here where others have reported the same experience, and even posts directly from Dell employees in this forum that have proven to be incorrect.  Your best bet is probably to search for reviews or user reports about the Vostro 5481 where this was specifically tested.  I found this link after about 10 seconds of Googling that says that one of the new features of the Vostro 5481 and 5581 is "USB Type-C for charging", and Notebookcheck is known as a very reliable source (and especially known for extremely detailed reviews), so that's something.  You might find something even more concrete with a bit more search time.

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orsib78
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Re: Dell Vostro 5481 + WD15 130W dock + P2217

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Thank you. I think I will give it a try and if it doesn’t work... anyway I will close this thread with the results.

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orsib78
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Re: Dell Vostro 5481 + WD15 130W dock + P2217

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I am back and I have some good news. Finally I bought WD15 with the 180W adapter. There was no big difference between them considering the price so I went for the bigger one as it might be more futureproof. The good news is that WD15 (at least the 180W version) is charging Vostro 5481 through USB-C. I really like that when you plug it in, it remembers to the previous monitor configuration. For eg. when my laptop is on dock I'd like to use my two P2217 and I'd like to disable the screen of the laptop (the lid is cloded anyway). So it is working, even the lid is open, it disables the laptop display and enables the two P2217 as I left the last time (extended display, which one is the primary). There were two problems although. I can't make the NIC MAC passtrhough work. So I end up cloning the onboard NIC Mac address to the dock USB NIC using windows Device Properties. Not so elegant but it is working. Maybe I missed something in the BIOS this is why it isn't working. But this is a small problem which can be easily fixed. The bigger problem is that when the Vostro's power is off, sometimes it does not recognise that the dock itself properly. The USB-C connector has a white led which indicates that the connection is perfectly made with the laptop. So if you plug the dock to the Vostro in and the led on the dock USB-C connector is off, then you can be sure it is not charging properly and you can't turn on the laptop with the closed lid using the power button on the dock. So you need to disconnect and reconnect again (sometimes three times) until the LED on the USB-C connector of the dock is indicating that the connection is perfectly made. I don't know if it is a hardware issue or can be resolved with a BIOS/Firmware update later, but it is not working as seamlessly as it is expected. BTW. both my Vostro and the dock has the latest available BIOS/Firmware.

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jphughan
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Re: Dell Vostro 5481 + WD15 130W dock + P2217

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Glad to hear it's mostly good news.  Windows always remembers the last used configuration for a given display setup as long as the same displays are connected the same way; that's not specific to the WD15.  MAC address passthrough requires support from both the system firmware and the dock, and it's possible that Dell only implements that on the Latitude and Precision systems rather than the Vostro and Inspiron systems.  If it's not working automatically and you don't see an option to manage MAC address passthrough in your BIOS, then chances are your system simply doesn't support it -- but if you're the only one who will ever use that dock, then your workaround should be fine.  Most people don't even need to worry about presenting a common MAC address to the network because there are relatively few use cases where that matters, e.g. enterprise network access control and sometimes PXE booting.

Not sure what to tell you about the LED, because it should definitely work consistently or not at all.  My Latitude 7480 lights up that LED flawlessly, and my wife's ThinkPad T480 never lights it up, although everything including charging still works.  The only exception is that the Power button doesn't control the system because that seems to be a Dell-proprietary measure.  There's no industry standard external Power button spec.  That might have to be fixed with a firmware update that hasn't been developed yet.  For additional visibility, you might consider creating a new thread specifically for that topic.

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