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TB16 and WD19TB, differences?

Hi,

I want to buy a docking station for my XPS 15-9570. Can anyone tell me what are differences between the good old TB16 and the new WD19TB? Which is one better? Is there anywhere a comparison?

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7 Thorium

I don’t think you’ll find many people referring to the TB16 as “good old”. It’s had more than its fair share of issues. Things have gotten better over years of firmware and driver updates, but they’re still not ideal. You want the WD19TB, which doesn’t seem to be generating anywhere near the number of problem reports that the TB16 had by this point.

In terms of differences:

- The display output connector selection is different.

- The WD19TB can supply up to 130W to attached Dell systems using only a 180W power supply, whereas the TB16 required a 240W power supply to achieve that. If you use a 180W supply with the TB16, you only get 90W to the attached system, which isn’t enough for the XPS 15 models.

- The WD19TB also supports receiving a DisplayPort 1.3+/HBR3 signal from the attached system, whereas the TB16 only supports DisplayPort 1.2/HBR2, but that doesn’t matter with the XPS 15 9570 because it only supports DP 1.2/HBR2 anyway. But that might matter with future systems.

- The WD19TB is backward compatible with non-Thunderbolt systems (at reduced functionality equivalent to the regular WD19), whereas the TB16 won’t work at all with a non-Thunderbolt system except to charge it. Of course the XPS 15 9570 comes with Thunderbolt as standard, but just in case you might want to use it with any other systems that don’t have Thunderbolt. Incidentally, support for HBR3 as mentioned above is more relevant for non-Thunderbolt systems that only get 2 DisplayPort lanes because HBR3’s additional bandwidth there significantly expands the possible display setups for those systems. It’s less relevant for Thunderbolt systems because they carry 8 lanes of HBR2, and stepping up to HBR3 doesn’t add much because you end up hitting the bandwidth limits of Thunderbolt itself. But again, this is more relevant for other systems you might use.

- Depending on the display setup you want to run, the WD19TB might have more restrictions around which combination of display outputs you can use. That’s covered in the WD19TB manual. The TB16 was more flexible. I wrote a detailed thread about why the WD19TB works differently if you’re curious about the technical details, but otherwise just read the manual to make sure you’re using the correct port setup for an HBR2 system. Basically, you MIGHT have to connect one of your displays to the “upstream” Thunderbolt port by using a USB-C to DisplayPort/HDMI cable because the “main” display outputs share a total bandwidth allotment, and some display setups will require more bandwidth than is available in total across those ports.


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@Ideefoxy  I've seen reports of people using an even older XPS 15-9550 with a WD19TB and not having any issues, so I would imagine you'd be fine.  It's not uncommon for the system compatibility list of peripherals to be incomplete.  Often they only go back to systems of a certain age relative to the time the accessory was first introduced (usually because Dell only went back so far with their testing), and sometimes they don't get updated as new compatible systems are introduced either -- so the fact that a system doesn't appear on the list doesn't necessarily mean it's not compatible.  It might just mean that it's either older than Dell tested or newer than the accessory and nobody kept the accessory's compatibility list current.  Worst case you can always return it, I guess, but I suspect it will work just fine.  Good luck!


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Replies (6)
7 Thorium

I don’t think you’ll find many people referring to the TB16 as “good old”. It’s had more than its fair share of issues. Things have gotten better over years of firmware and driver updates, but they’re still not ideal. You want the WD19TB, which doesn’t seem to be generating anywhere near the number of problem reports that the TB16 had by this point.

In terms of differences:

- The display output connector selection is different.

- The WD19TB can supply up to 130W to attached Dell systems using only a 180W power supply, whereas the TB16 required a 240W power supply to achieve that. If you use a 180W supply with the TB16, you only get 90W to the attached system, which isn’t enough for the XPS 15 models.

- The WD19TB also supports receiving a DisplayPort 1.3+/HBR3 signal from the attached system, whereas the TB16 only supports DisplayPort 1.2/HBR2, but that doesn’t matter with the XPS 15 9570 because it only supports DP 1.2/HBR2 anyway. But that might matter with future systems.

- The WD19TB is backward compatible with non-Thunderbolt systems (at reduced functionality equivalent to the regular WD19), whereas the TB16 won’t work at all with a non-Thunderbolt system except to charge it. Of course the XPS 15 9570 comes with Thunderbolt as standard, but just in case you might want to use it with any other systems that don’t have Thunderbolt. Incidentally, support for HBR3 as mentioned above is more relevant for non-Thunderbolt systems that only get 2 DisplayPort lanes because HBR3’s additional bandwidth there significantly expands the possible display setups for those systems. It’s less relevant for Thunderbolt systems because they carry 8 lanes of HBR2, and stepping up to HBR3 doesn’t add much because you end up hitting the bandwidth limits of Thunderbolt itself. But again, this is more relevant for other systems you might use.

- Depending on the display setup you want to run, the WD19TB might have more restrictions around which combination of display outputs you can use. That’s covered in the WD19TB manual. The TB16 was more flexible. I wrote a detailed thread about why the WD19TB works differently if you’re curious about the technical details, but otherwise just read the manual to make sure you’re using the correct port setup for an HBR2 system. Basically, you MIGHT have to connect one of your displays to the “upstream” Thunderbolt port by using a USB-C to DisplayPort/HDMI cable because the “main” display outputs share a total bandwidth allotment, and some display setups will require more bandwidth than is available in total across those ports.


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Hi @jphughan 

thank you for the detailled answer!

My display setup is simple. It is just one display with QHD (2560x1440). I´m not planning to buy a second display but if I would, it would be a second one with QHD.

Happy to help! Ok, dual QHD can be run from any combination of the display outputs, so that’s easy. However, just in case it matters to you for other systems, to run dual QHD from a non-Thunderbolt system, it would need to support HBR3, which is still pretty rare. A non-Thunderbolt HBR2 system can only run single QHD or dual 1920x1200. But of course the XPS 15 9570 supports Thunderbolt. Good luck!


Hello JpHughan,
Thanks for the above information, also I can't speak about the "good old" TB16.
I am one of the most annoyed users of a TB16-240 watts in conjunction with an XPS 15 2 in 1 (XPS15 9575) and an external 4K monitor. Apart from the numerous boot and performance problems, the biggest annoyance is that the pointer of any type of connected mouse constantly and arbitrarily changes position on the screen. There are no accurate updates available.
Can I move to the WD19TB on my laptop? There is unfortunately no entry in the documentation.

Thanks in advanced

@Ideefoxy  I've seen reports of people using an even older XPS 15-9550 with a WD19TB and not having any issues, so I would imagine you'd be fine.  It's not uncommon for the system compatibility list of peripherals to be incomplete.  Often they only go back to systems of a certain age relative to the time the accessory was first introduced (usually because Dell only went back so far with their testing), and sometimes they don't get updated as new compatible systems are introduced either -- so the fact that a system doesn't appear on the list doesn't necessarily mean it's not compatible.  It might just mean that it's either older than Dell tested or newer than the accessory and nobody kept the accessory's compatibility list current.  Worst case you can always return it, I guess, but I suspect it will work just fine.  Good luck!


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Jp, 

Having owned/used the TB15, TB16 and WD19TB I can say the WD19TB is a good improvement. I still experience the mouse issue you describe when any (Dell, Logitech, HP, Razer or Lenovo) mouse is plugged into the USB-A ports on the dock. This is on a system that is checked daily for driver/firmware updates using SupportAssist, Command|Update and the support web page. Reinstalling the OS makes no difference. 

A work around the mouse was to plug it into the USB-C port on the dock (with a Dell adapter). The only remaining issues is when connected to the dock, the mouse and keyboard randomly are not detected. I must reboot the laptop for them to work again. It's typical Dell dock issues but the WD19TB is not the dumpster fire of the TB15 and TB16. 

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