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Last reply by 09-24-2022 Unsolved
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WD22TB4 docking station: A story of the gross incompetence of Dell support and engineers

XPS 15 9520

I don't know if this is the right place to post this, but maybe I'll try reddit if this doesn't help. I want a real competent engineer to look into this issue and I want Dell robotic support to stop presenting me with false information about their product as I'll be showing.

There's a story about a bug in WD22TB4 docking station that was already posted in Dell forums over a month ago here.

The problem is that in some cases, the docking station fails to allocate bandwidth correctly. One has to connect screens in a specific orders to get 2x 4k@60 to work. Disconnecting the docking station from the Thunderbolt port and reconnecting it basically causes the issue to happen (rendering the docking station useless), which is a throttling of resolution/refresh rate. To describe the issue, here's how to reproduce it when trying to connect two screens to the docking station with 4K@60 Hz:

1. Connect the two screens to the docking station respecting the rules of the display matrix in the manual, meaning, one through TB4 port at the back of the docking station, and the other one through DisplayPort or HDMI
2. Connect the docking station to the laptop (in my case, Dell XPS 9520, with 3050 Ti and 12900HK processor, which I bought less than a month ago).

The issue/symptoms: Depending on the screen, you'll either see the refresh rate of the Thunderbolt 4-connected screen to be 30 Hz (which is the case for my Samsung screen U32R59x), or a botched resolution that's not only less than 4k (my other screen, Asus XG438) with aspect ratios 32:9 or 16:18 (yes, you're reading this right, it becomes half 4k and half 1080p).

Notes on WHERE THIS WORKS AND THE PROBLEM DOES NOT HAPPEN:
- It works fine on my 4-year old XPS 15 9570 laptop with Thunderbolt 3
- It works on the same new laptop with the issue depending on the order of connections

Meaning: Trying to make the bandwidth argument (which will come up later) is plain incompetence.

The incompetence of Dell in handling the issue:

Dell support did the whole drill... driver updates, firmware updates, blablabla... fine. That's all OK. We updated all drivers and firmware, and the issue still persisted. And I wanna note that the issue also happens in different operating systems (Windows 10 + Windows 11 + Ubuntu 22.04).

But then, they started wasting hours of my time arguing about bandwidth and that the docking station is working as intended. The assumption here is that the docking station and laptop firmware is impeccable, and that's the annoying part. NOT ONLY that the user guide clearly states that two screens with 4k@60 Hz should work, but ALSO it really works if I reorder the connections to my docking station! How does a person have to be to make a bandwidth argument when it clearly works if a certain order was used for connections?

It gets worse!

After hours of argument, they FINALLY agreed to escalate this to the engineering team. I felt happy that FINALLY someone COMPETENT can look at the case. But little did I know that the "engineering team" is as incompetent as the support guys. Nothing has changed. A few days later I got the "response from the engineering team", and I quote:

"Hi, we just received an update from the engineering team. They confirmed the system is working as designed. In your current setup, it is actually a 3-display configuration as the internal display is also a part of the setup. You will need to look at the 3-display configuration table in the ma..."

Yes, that's right. This is letter-for-letter quoted from them. Now explain to me guys, and I'm not trying to be derogatory here, but just explain facts. How does an engineer have to be to tell me that the internal display of the laptop shares thunderbolt bandwidth?

IT GETS WORSE!

The problem is that the laptop screen is always closed when I connect the docking station! So EVEN if we agree with the "engineers" unsubstantiated premise that the laptop screen shares thunderbolt bandwidth, it's actually closed and turned off! Leave alone that IT WORKS if you connect the screens in a specific order!

After that point, communicating with support became pointless. Support became a "sympathetic robot" that just pats me on the back with messages like "We are here to help please let us know if we can be of further assistance.", but refuse to escalate this properly to engineers.

Now someone reading this should tell me if they ever seen this level of incompetence in any company. I think I wasted my money, not only paying for a 3000+ USD laptop and 500 USD docking station, but also next-business-day support which so not next-business-day. It's all useless, because there's a bunch of "engineers" at Dell who don't want to do their job.

Replies (8)
2 Bronze
2 Bronze
1304

I can't help you... but I ordered the WD22TB4, and am saving this page for when I get a chance to set mine up. I'll reply with my findings once I do. 

Good luck, and please post any updates!

1270

Today a Dell technician came to my home and tried another motherboard on my laptop, and the issue still persisted, proving that this is a firmware issue, either in the laptop or the docking station.

Community Manager
1215

Below is what I received from the dock team today concerning the WD22TB4 and the XPS 15 9520 =

The XPS 15 9520 with Thunderbolt should be HBR3. Based on the WD22TB4 User's Guide, the two 4K monitors should be using two of the WD22TB4 video out ports, but not the #7 Thunderbolt 4 ports.

DP 1.4 + DP 1.4 = both monitors 4K 3840x2160 60Hz
DP 1.4 + #2 HDMI 2.0 = both monitors 4K 3840x2160 60Hz
DP 1.4 + #3 USB-C/DP = both monitors 4K 3840x2160 60Hz

Capture.JPG

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1210

Thank you for trying to help, Chris. I really appreciate it. But you're just presenting more incompetence from Dell's "engineers". I'm sorry for being harsh, but you're wrong. 

First, on WD22TB4, DP + DP or DP + HDMI works. But this isn't the issue at hand. We're talking about TB4/USB-C + DP/HDMI dual monitor 4k@60Hz setup. So let's stick to that.

If you visit the Dell guide to Dual Monitor setup (for WD19TB/S and WD22TB4): https://www.dell.com/support/kbdoc/en-us/000124312/dell-thunderbolt-dock-wd19tb-and-apple-usb-c-host...

You'll find this literally written there, quoting: "For an extended dual monitor setup (up to 4K@60Hz), one monitor must be first connected via the DisplayPort port (DP/HDMI/USB-C port) and the other monitor must be connected via the Thunderbolt port on the dock."

and the following image shown with the following caption:

ka06P000000bxsAQAQ_en_US_1.jpeg

Figure 2. Dual Monitor Setup-2 with WD19TB/WD19TBS/WD22TB4 dock connected to an Apple USB-C Host

where the thunderbolt port on the left is the #7 port on your depiction. So, your own manual says you're wrong.

Now, to further prove that what you said wrong (in case you say that this is strictly for WD19TB/S), I wanna mention (AGAIN) that TB4 + DP connection works on the docking station currently. It works. IT WORKS... BUT, there's a problem with it. When the docking station is disconnected, then reconnected, the resolutions/refresh rates get messed up like I explained in the original post. To fix that, I have to manually disconnect both screens from the docking station, connect the TB4 connection, and then connect the DP/HDMI connection... and ONLY THEN, it works fine until something happens, like another restart or disconnect. This is impractical, and it points towards a firmware issue, either in the laptop or in the docking station. I don't know. 

I'm really tired of explaining to Dell staff how their own products work. This is exhausting and I'm becoming more and more impatient. This has to stop! I have no idea what's going on there, but this is becoming ridiculous! At least get me someone competent (a real engineer, one the guys who designed this docking station) to talk to me about this issue so that we can get somewhere, please. Please!

I really appreciate your attempt to help, but unfortunately, it's making things worse.

1142

A few days ago I got a reply from Dell support:

"Hi, we have received an update from the engineering team and they found the issue to be with the Intel graphics driver. They are working towards a solution, but there is no ETA on the solution available yet. We will let you know once there is further progress."

I'm happy that they acknowledged that there's an issue, but I have to say, that I give a chance of 50% that they're wrong about the assessment. This is because the issue happens on both Windows and Linux. It's unlikely that the same bug is on both Windows and Linux at the software level, especially that Linux doesn't use the Intel graphics driver as far as I know. Besides, how could the Intel driver be responsible for allocating correct bandwidth for display for the Thunderbolt 4 docking station? This doesn't make sense.

It's what it's. I'm still waiting for a solution from their end.

Community Manager
1021

That article you reference is ONLY applicable to Apple USB-C Hosts. It has no bearing on your XPS 15 9520 =

Dell Thunderbolt Dock (WD19TB/WD19TBS,WD22TB4) and Apple USB-C Hosts

Summary: A guide for providing guidance on using an Apple USB-C host (example: MacBook Pro) with the Dell Thunderbolt Dock WD19TB and WD22TB4

The picture you posted states = Apple USB-C Host System

The team has reiterated =

The XPS 15 9520 with Thunderbolt should be HBR3. Based on the WD22TB4 User's Guide, the two 4K monitors should be using two of the WD22TB4 video out ports, but not the #7 Thunderbolt 4 ports.

DP 1.4 + DP 1.4 = both monitors 4K 3840x2160 60Hz
DP 1.4 + #2 HDMI 2.0 = both monitors 4K 3840x2160 60Hz
DP 1.4 + #3 USB-C/DP = both monitors 4K 3840x2160 60Hz

Dell had to make a design decision within these constraints using Intel NVM. Our OEM version of the NVM forces Thunderbolt device to prioritize the MST hub connection during connection training. So when a user re-docks, by design we favor providing max bandwidth to the MST hub with its three possible video outputs over the Thunderbolt connection.

If MST hub has something attached =
* Allocate maximum DP bandwidth allowed to MST hub. In this case, 4 lanes HBR3
* Allocate remaining bandwidth to other ports. In this case, 1 lane HBR3 which can only support 4K 30Hz

If MST hub has nothing attached =
* Devices attached to Thunderbolt downstream ports get the DP bandwidth

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971

Dear Chris. Thank you for providing this information. Let me just add that the behavior of the dock is chaotic. Some times it works on redock with 4k@60Hz, and some times not. So... I don't know what any of this means anymore. But thanks for the clarification. I'm more satisfied with the last answer than ever before. 

On the other hand, support promised a "fix" on September for the Intel driver. If what you're claiming is correct, then I don't know what that will fix. Maybe the chaotic behavior? I don't know. Thanks again.

733

Not sure if this will help (or even apply) to your situation, but theres a new driver released this week that addresses a similar-sounding problem with multi-external displays and the iCPU intel UHD.  Might be worth a look.

 

If nothing else, you might mention this TB19 driver update to the technician who was helping you with the 22TB.

 

(since the TB19 and the wd22 are essentially the same hardware, sans the TB4 connector)

 

"" - Fixed the issue where the refresh rate on one of the two 4K external monitor reduces from 60Hz to 30Hz. This issue occurs when the monitor is connected to the Dell WD19 docking station with DP or HDMI port. ""

https://www.dell.com/support/home/en-us/drivers/driversdetails?driverid=6y30k&oscode=w2021

 

hope this helps!

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