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Docking station for USB C Monitors and Dell XPS 15 7590 laptop

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@jphughan I am looking for a docking station to connect Dell XPS 15 7590 touch laptop with two Dell 27 USB-C S2719DC Ultrathin Monitors. How can I use Dell WD19TB docking station to connect the USB C monitors to laptop? The monitor has USB C and HDMI ports. Laptop has USB C TB port.  Dell WD19TB docking station has only one HDMI port and two DisplayPorts.  Is there a way to connect USB C Monitors to DisplayPort on WD19TB Docking station. 

 

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Re: Docking station for USB C Monitors and Dell XPS 15 7570 laptop

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@Rick Rai  there's no such thing as an XPS 15 7570, so I'll assume you meant 9570.  But yes you can connect two of those displays to the WD19TB dock -- although if you just want to connect those displays and don't care about other functionality offered by a dock, there's a less expensive way to do this.  I'll cover both below.

Option #1: Get a Thunderbolt 3 to Dual HDMI 2.0 adapter like this one.  Obviously this only handles display outputs, so you don't get the other benefits of a docking station, but it costs a lot less, and you might find it for even less at various online retailers instead of buying from the vendor page that I linked.

Option #2: If you want to use a WD19TB dock, it's not true that there's only an HDMI output and two DisplayPort outputs.  There's also a USB-C video output near the HDMI output, and an "upstream" Thunderbolt 3 port way on the far edge of the dock that can support video as well.  You could also technically use the DisplayPort outputs by using a DisplayPort to HDMI cable for one or both of your displays if you wanted/needed to use the dock's DisplayPort outputs.  So you actually have tons of options for getting your displays connected. 🙂

For dual QHD displays when using the XPS 15 9570, you can use any combination of those outputs I just mentioned except HDMI + USB-C, since those two ports cannot be used simultaneously on the WD19TB -- although you could use HDMI + upstream TB3 (which uses a USB-C connector), or USB-C + upstream TB3.

It's too bad your displays don't have a DisplayPort input and a DisplayPort output that would allow you to set up a daisy chain, because if you did, you could get your two displays running using just a simple USB-C to DisplayPort cable, which is obviously a lot less expensive than either of the above options.  You'd connect that from your system to the first display, then use a DP cable to connect the first display to the second, and you'd be done.  I use this exact setup with my own dual QHD displays since I'm using Dell U2717D displays that support daisy chaining.

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Re: Docking station for USB C Monitors and Dell XPS 15 7570 laptop

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@Rick Rai  glad I could help! 🙂

Regarding DisplayPort to HDMI, it is indeed unidirectional, but in the direction that I suggested, not the one that you figured.  DisplayPort to HDMI cables can only be used to connect a DisplayPort source to an HDMI input, not the other way around. That's because most (but not all) DisplayPort source ports can fall back to HDMI signaling for compatibility by using an optional capability called "Dual Mode DisplayPort", which is sometimes abbreviated DP++.  But HDMI ports cannot switch to DisplayPort signaling, and displays do not support receiving a native HDMI signal on their DisplayPort inputs.  The WD19TB's DisplayPort outputs support Dual Mode DisplayPort.

Regarding the USB-C and HDMI outputs not being usable simultaneously, you are CORRECT about that.  My apologies about the confusion, and I will edit my earlier post.  However, you would still be able to use either one of those ports and the "upstream" TB3 port near the edge of the dock simultaneously.  That upstream TB3 port does NOT require a Thunderbolt display to be used, nor does it require a Thunderbolt cable if you're not using a Thunderbolt display.  It can be used as a standard USB-C output to feed a standard USB-C display using a standard USB-C cable (as long as the cable supports DisplayPort Alt Mode, and not all USB-C cables do) -- and the upstream TB3 output is NOT shared with the HDMI output.  So you could still connect one of your displays using HDMI and the other display to that upstream TB3 port using a regular USB-C cable that supported DisplayPort Alt Mode.

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Re: Docking station for USB C Monitors and Dell XPS 15 7570 laptop

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@Rick Rai  ok, one more option I forgot to suggest.  You could get a USB-C MST hub with dual HDMI outputs, like this one.  It looks quite similar to a TB3 to Dual HDMI 2.0 adapter, but the difference is that an MST hub only uses regular USB-C DisplayPort Alt Mode instead of TB3.  This means that it only has access to half as much video bandwidth.  That's still enough to run dual QHD displays (or dual 4K displays but only at 30 Hz rather than 60 Hz), whereas the TB3 to Dual HDMI 2.0 adapter I linked earlier can do dual 4K 60 Hz displays.  But of course it's more expensive.

And in case you're interested about DisplayPort to HDMI minutiae, I figured I'd mention that there are actually some specialized "HDMI to DisplayPort" cables/adapters that are specifically designed to allow connecting an HDMI source to a DisplayPort input, i.e. to work in the opposite direction of the norm, but those are rare, and they achieve their outcome by having an HDMI to DisplayPort converter chip built into the cable/adapter. The part where it gets confusing is that those are called "active" cables/adapters due to the converter chip, but there are also "active" DisplayPort to HDMI cables meant to be used in the "normal" direction to connect a DisplayPort source to an HDMI input.  Those are needed when the DisplayPort source does NOT support Dual Mode DisplayPort and/or for specialized cases where using HDMI signaling over a DisplayPort output isn't allowed, such as AMD EyeFinity display setups. So if you ever look into getting active DP to HDMI cables/adapters, you have to be very careful about the direction of the active conversion.

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Re: Docking station for USB C Monitors and Dell XPS 15 7570 laptop

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@Rick Rai  there's no such thing as an XPS 15 7570, so I'll assume you meant 9570.  But yes you can connect two of those displays to the WD19TB dock -- although if you just want to connect those displays and don't care about other functionality offered by a dock, there's a less expensive way to do this.  I'll cover both below.

Option #1: Get a Thunderbolt 3 to Dual HDMI 2.0 adapter like this one.  Obviously this only handles display outputs, so you don't get the other benefits of a docking station, but it costs a lot less, and you might find it for even less at various online retailers instead of buying from the vendor page that I linked.

Option #2: If you want to use a WD19TB dock, it's not true that there's only an HDMI output and two DisplayPort outputs.  There's also a USB-C video output near the HDMI output, and an "upstream" Thunderbolt 3 port way on the far edge of the dock that can support video as well.  You could also technically use the DisplayPort outputs by using a DisplayPort to HDMI cable for one or both of your displays if you wanted/needed to use the dock's DisplayPort outputs.  So you actually have tons of options for getting your displays connected. 🙂

For dual QHD displays when using the XPS 15 9570, you can use any combination of those outputs I just mentioned except HDMI + USB-C, since those two ports cannot be used simultaneously on the WD19TB -- although you could use HDMI + upstream TB3 (which uses a USB-C connector), or USB-C + upstream TB3.

It's too bad your displays don't have a DisplayPort input and a DisplayPort output that would allow you to set up a daisy chain, because if you did, you could get your two displays running using just a simple USB-C to DisplayPort cable, which is obviously a lot less expensive than either of the above options.  You'd connect that from your system to the first display, then use a DP cable to connect the first display to the second, and you'd be done.  I use this exact setup with my own dual QHD displays since I'm using Dell U2717D displays that support daisy chaining.

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Re: Docking station for USB C Monitors and Dell XPS 15 7570 laptop

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Thank you @jphughan  for your help.  Sorry my xps 15 model is 7590.  Option #1 works for me. I was not aware of this. Very helpful.

I have one more question related to  WD19TB  dock. You mentioned I can use DisplayPort to HDMI cable to connect DisplayPort on the dock to HDMI on the monitor. I was under the impression DisplayPort to HDMI is unidirectional and DisplayPort has to be on my monitor. But looks like that is not the case. Please confirm.

Could you also let me know if it is true that I can either use HDMI on the WD19TB  or the USB-C video output near the HDMI output because they both share same hardware and cannot be used for two monitors at same time. If I use the USB-C, HDMI will be disabled. I read this on another post but wasn't sure.

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Re: Docking station for USB C Monitors and Dell XPS 15 7570 laptop

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@Rick Rai  glad I could help! 🙂

Regarding DisplayPort to HDMI, it is indeed unidirectional, but in the direction that I suggested, not the one that you figured.  DisplayPort to HDMI cables can only be used to connect a DisplayPort source to an HDMI input, not the other way around. That's because most (but not all) DisplayPort source ports can fall back to HDMI signaling for compatibility by using an optional capability called "Dual Mode DisplayPort", which is sometimes abbreviated DP++.  But HDMI ports cannot switch to DisplayPort signaling, and displays do not support receiving a native HDMI signal on their DisplayPort inputs.  The WD19TB's DisplayPort outputs support Dual Mode DisplayPort.

Regarding the USB-C and HDMI outputs not being usable simultaneously, you are CORRECT about that.  My apologies about the confusion, and I will edit my earlier post.  However, you would still be able to use either one of those ports and the "upstream" TB3 port near the edge of the dock simultaneously.  That upstream TB3 port does NOT require a Thunderbolt display to be used, nor does it require a Thunderbolt cable if you're not using a Thunderbolt display.  It can be used as a standard USB-C output to feed a standard USB-C display using a standard USB-C cable (as long as the cable supports DisplayPort Alt Mode, and not all USB-C cables do) -- and the upstream TB3 output is NOT shared with the HDMI output.  So you could still connect one of your displays using HDMI and the other display to that upstream TB3 port using a regular USB-C cable that supported DisplayPort Alt Mode.

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Re: Docking station for USB C Monitors and Dell XPS 15 7570 laptop

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@Rick Rai  ok, one more option I forgot to suggest.  You could get a USB-C MST hub with dual HDMI outputs, like this one.  It looks quite similar to a TB3 to Dual HDMI 2.0 adapter, but the difference is that an MST hub only uses regular USB-C DisplayPort Alt Mode instead of TB3.  This means that it only has access to half as much video bandwidth.  That's still enough to run dual QHD displays (or dual 4K displays but only at 30 Hz rather than 60 Hz), whereas the TB3 to Dual HDMI 2.0 adapter I linked earlier can do dual 4K 60 Hz displays.  But of course it's more expensive.

And in case you're interested about DisplayPort to HDMI minutiae, I figured I'd mention that there are actually some specialized "HDMI to DisplayPort" cables/adapters that are specifically designed to allow connecting an HDMI source to a DisplayPort input, i.e. to work in the opposite direction of the norm, but those are rare, and they achieve their outcome by having an HDMI to DisplayPort converter chip built into the cable/adapter. The part where it gets confusing is that those are called "active" cables/adapters due to the converter chip, but there are also "active" DisplayPort to HDMI cables meant to be used in the "normal" direction to connect a DisplayPort source to an HDMI input.  Those are needed when the DisplayPort source does NOT support Dual Mode DisplayPort and/or for specialized cases where using HDMI signaling over a DisplayPort output isn't allowed, such as AMD EyeFinity display setups. So if you ever look into getting active DP to HDMI cables/adapters, you have to be very careful about the direction of the active conversion.

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Re: Docking station for USB C Monitors and Dell XPS 15 7570 laptop

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Hi @jphughan ,

Thank you for USB-C MST hub option and explaining displayport to HDMI adapter. USB-C MST hub is way less expensive and works for my setup. You have made this so easy for me. Thanks again! 

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Re: Docking station for USB C Monitors and Dell XPS 15 7570 laptop

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@Rick Rai  Happy to help, and good luck! 🙂

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Re: Docking station for USB C Monitors and Dell XPS 15 7570 laptop

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Hello,

I was reading your replies on this thread and had a question of my own. I have a Dell XPS 15 9575 model. I am looking for a docking station/hub that has (1) HDMI, (1) VGA, (1) Ethernet, (3) USB 3.0, and at least on USB C ports. Any products you would recommend that can be used as to charge the laptop and support the rest of the connections? Any help is appreciated. I see some off-brand stuff on Amazon but not sure if any of them are worth purchasing or not. Also, some say pass-through whereas others do not. What is the difference? Thanks again. 

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Re: Docking station for USB C Monitors and Dell XPS 15 7570 laptop

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@VShak83  Passthrough refers to USB PD power passthrough, meaning you can connect a USB-C power source to the hub and the hub will pass the power from that source through to the system the hub is connected to.  Also, when you say you want a hub that includes a USB-C port, you have to be specific about the functionality you're expecting.  On hubs that have USB-C ports, they are typically either ONLY for power passthrough OR for USB data -- sometimes USB 3.x, other times just USB 2.0.  I haven't seen a travel hub or "mini-dock" that has a USB-C port that supports video output, for example.

And even among hubs that offer multiple video outputs, in some cases you can only run one at a time (like the Dell DA300) or you can only mirror output out of the various outputs because all displays attached to the hub will be seen as a single display by the host system.  To get multiple independent outputs requires a hub that supports DisplayPort MST, but that's fairly uncommon.  And then you also have to make sure that the total bandwidth requirements of your multi-display setup doesn't exceed what's available from the source system, which on your system when using a hub that's also trying to run USB 3.x data would be half of a DisplayPort 1.2 interface, which is enough for dual displays at up to 1920x1200 each or a single display at up to 2560x1600 (or 4K but only 30 Hz).

Lastly, since you're using an XPS 15 9575, you really wouldn't want to use something that used power passthrough anyway.  First of all, multi-purpose hubs that incorporate USB PD passthrough will "skim" some power from the external power source when one is attached instead of drawing the necessary power from the system.  This is because the hub can't draw power from the system while simultaneously passing power through to it.  And some hubs will "skim" as much as 20W from the external power source.  This means that if you only use the laptop's own power supply rather than a third-party source that provides more wattage, then your system will charge and possibly perform more slowly since it's getting less power than it's supposed to.  But the issue with the XPS 15 9575 in particular is that it uses a 130W power source, which is actually above the official USB PD spec.  Dell did something proprietary to run 130W over USB-C/TB3 specifically to supports systems like the XPS 15.  Even though these hubs can pass power through, they're not completely passive.  The hub and the power source need to perform a USB PD negotiation, and the hub won't support 130W.  And I'm not even sure what Dell's own 130W power source would offer to a non-Dell system.  It might not even be the full 100W.  The reason I say that is that Dell systems currently limit themselves to drawing no more than 65W over USB-C/TB3 from non-Dell power sources.  I have no idea why, but that's how it is today -- so I wouldn't be completely surprised if Dell power sources limited their output when connected to non-Dell devices.

I don't have any personal experience with hubs that support multiple displays, but the few that I've found have some disconcerting reviews on Amazon in terms of longevity.  The best I can find is this one, which does support multiple independent displays and includes a USB-C port, but the USB-C port is only for power passthrough and says it only passes through up to 79W when connected to an 87W power source.  It might pass through more than that if a higher wattage source is connected, but I doubt it would ever pass through more than 92W, i.e. the 100W official max minus the 8W it seems to reserve for itself.  And I have no experience at all with the vendor of that particular product, just to be clear.

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Re: Docking station for USB C Monitors and Dell XPS 15 7570 laptop

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@VShak83  just to add a quick note to my previous reply, if you're fine with a docking station rather than a travel hub, there's the official WD19 and WD19TB docks.  Those actually WOULD be able to power your system properly over USB-C/TB3 since Dell implemented their 130W standard on this dock.  They have two regular USB-C ports -- a front port that supports up to USB 3.1 Gen 2 (10 Gbps) data, and a rear port that supports that plus video output -- and then the WD19TB includes a third USB-C port that supports USB 2.0, video output, and Thunderbolt 3.

The only thing they don't have is VGA, but you can get a DisplayPort to VGA adapter/cable for that if you really need to keep using VGA.

Yes they're quite a bit more expensive, but they include a power source, which means you would free up your XPS 15 9575's power source, e.g. you could park it somewhere else in your home that you spend a lot of time, or keep it in a carrying bag as a permanent travel adapter rather than having to take it out and pack it up while you're using your system at home.

Note that if you get the WD19, you need to get the version that supports up to 130W passthrough by coming with a 180W power source, NOT the version that only supports 90W passthrough by only coming with a 130W power source.  The WD19TB comes standard with a 180W power source, so you're fine there.  The other difference between the two is that the WD19TB uses Thunderbolt rather than USB-C, which means whereas the WD19 is limited to dual 1920x1200 displays, the WD19TB can run dual 4K 60 Hz displays, or triple QHD displays.  And the WD19TB as I mentioned includes that "downstream" Thunderbolt port, which would allow you to connect a Thunderbolt device to the dock, such as a Thunderbolt SSD or eGPU if you wanted to.

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