The versatile USB-C port permits all kinds of knowledge and energy to go throughout it. You’ll be able to connect docks that allow you to increase your accessible ports, with spots for USB Kind-A, HDMI or DisplayPort video, ethernet, and passthrough energy by way of a USB-C energy cable.
However a dock that doesn’t have an exterior energy supply—plugged in by way of an adapter to an AC outlet or via USB-C energy pass-through—has strict limits on the ability it will possibly draw from a Mac and allot to linked drives and different peripherals. (USB-powered followers and tea heaters, maybe.)
You’ll find a wonderful clarification of this on the product web page for Different World Computing’s USB-C Journey Dock ($54.99). This compact dock has two USB Kind-A (3.1 Gen 1) ports, pass-through USB-C energy (as much as 100 watts), HDMI (4K as much as 30Hz), and an SD Card slot (UHS-II).
You’ll be able to piece collectively some limits in case you dig into the dock’s tech specs and footnotes. When there’s no USB-C energy adapter plugged into its pass-through USB-C port, it will possibly draw up 15W from the host Mac, consumes 1.5W for itself, and divvies up the remaining between the 2 Kind-A ports, the SD card slot, and the HDMI port. These latter two functions don’t require a lot, however it will possibly matter with simply 12W to play with.
When plugged right into a USB-C energy adapter, nevertheless, the dock can reserve as much as 25.5W from as much as 100W of energy delivered via the adapter: 1.5W for itself and as much as 12W for every of the Kind-A ports. The rest is handed via to cost the pc.
An exterior USB 3.0 or later SSD or laborious disk drive has to work inside a peak energy finances of about 4W. The utmost they will anticipate to attract from an ordinary port is 4.5W (5 volts at 900 milliamps), the minimal port spec for USB 3. Staying at 4W or under avoids getting too near the utmost and inflicting the port to close down. (CD/DVD drives and bus-powered peripherals skirt the road and should cross it. In consequence, they usually come outfitted with two USB plugs—I had a Fujitsu scanner that took that strategy—or an AC adapter to run the disc’s laser or different power-hungry parts.)
When linked on to a pc, a drive can nearly all the time pull that energy repeatedly, identical to you may plug in a cellular gadget and cost at as much as 5W over a time frame. A cellular gadget doesn’t thoughts if the ability sags, however an exterior drive’s controller will crash or flip off, leading to an involuntarily unmounted quantity. You would possibly lose information or need to run Disk Utility to restore it.
With a dock that manages bus energy amongst a number of units, you may run afoul of the bus-powered maximums. Suppose you’re utilizing the OWC dock above and also you’ve acquired an exterior monitor hooked up, an SD card inserted, and a tough drive linked plugged into one port, and have a USB charging cable to your iPhone plugged into the opposite—nicely, that may very well be proper under 12W. Any hiccup or millisecond power-balancing problem, and the SD card and drive get knocked offline briefly.
Test the numbers
My recommendation ought to make you cautious of any dock that doesn’t presents wattage numbers in its technical specs. One reader despatched us a message about a problem with a drive constantly disconnecting with a specific dock—one I additionally occur to personal and have seen related energy points with. (I don’t need to name out the corporate since this isn’t a evaluate.)
While you seek the advice of the product web page for this dock, the corporate doesn’t listing its most output, nor does it name out any port limitations—save one. It says that you would be able to’t connect an exterior CD/DVD reader (together with Apple’s previous SuperDrive, a blast from the previous) as a result of the dock can’t ship these peripherals’ peak energy wants.
However it makes me surprise in the event that they skimped on the general energy availability, making the dock considerably much less helpful with out clients realizing it.
Thunderbolt 3 and 4 docks don’t appear to have the identical downside as USB 3-only USB-C docks as a result of bus-powered Thunderbolt docks appear fairly uncommon—I’ve solely discovered just a few minimally featured Thunderbolt 3 docks of that sort. The upper energy calls for of Thunderbolt docks usually want wattage above what will be delivered from a USB-C port on a Mac laptop computer or desktop. The docks both require a high-wattage USB-C cable linked to an adapter or embrace an AC energy adapter.
This Mac 911 article is in response to a query submitted by Macworld reader Greg.
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