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Dell Business Thunderbolt Dock Review

Dell Business Thunderbolt Dock Review
The TB16 is certainly one of the best docks on the market, if you need multiple monitors.
By: Tyler Bernath | Enclosures/Externals in Storage | Posted: Oct 28, 2018 3:00 am
TweakTown Rating: 81%Manufacturer: Dell

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Most docks even today are geared using a macOS first Windows later approach but when a vendor such as Dell goes all in to produce their own solution things tend to change. The TB16, offered in two flavors, is a full-on productivity solution aimed at consumers that want to expand on the capabilities of their XPS or Latitude notebook.

 

 

As with most docks, the Dell TB16 is a 40Gbps Thunderbolt 3 solution. With this Dell is able to provide the dock with HDMI, miniDP, and DP allowing for three additional monitors. Connectivity expands further with two USB 2.0 ports, three USB 3.0 ports, and Gigabit ethernet. Further depending on the model you purchase, 180w or 240w the docks power capabilities are altered with 130w being pushed for charging the host device and up to 60w for Thunderbolt 3 peripherals used through daisy chain.

 

Compatibility includes Windows 7 and 10, along with macOS 10.12.4 and later. MSRP of the Dell Thunderbolt Dock TB16 comes in at $369.99 with a one-year warranty.

 

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The TB16 Dock offers a square profile, something we don't typically see out of a Thunderbolt solution. The Thunderbolt cable is attached on the left side, another first while the front offers two USB 3.0 ports and a headphone jack. We have stamped branding on the top of the unit along with a power button bottom right.

 

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The backside offers all of your connectivity for additional monitors with HDMI, miniDP, and DP in a line, VGA is placed up top for legacy screens while Gigabit ethernet and USB 2.0 are to the right. Lastly, we have the third USB 3.0 port paired above the Thunderbolt 3 daisy chain and speaker out.

 

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As mentioned the Thunderbolt 3 cable is attached while at the same time removable as part of the modular design Dell has implemented with the TB16. Above, we have the exhaust port for the dock.

 

GO TO TOP OF THE NEXT COLUMN ^

 

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Removing the top cover of the dock and looking inside, we see several components at the top left are modular in design while the front panel USB 3.0 and rear panel Thunderbolt, DisplayPort, HDMI, and Gbe are soldered direct. The middle of the board houses the modular Thunderbolt cable.

 

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Testing the USB 3.0 ports, we used our SanDIsk Portable SSD. With that, we were able to reach 355 MB/s read, and 215 MB/s write.

 

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Testing the Thunderbolt daisy chain, we used the Dell Thunderbolt SSD and came away with 2798 MB/s read and 462 MB/s write.

 

Touching on a few of the metrics I didn't make a chart for, the display connectivity for this solution is quite amazing. I was able to test all three major ports, the HDMI with a 4K TV with great results and the DP and miniDP with my 34" Ultrawide again no issues. For those that are going to want three monitors simultaneously, this dock can handle 3 @ 2160p 30Hz + VGA at 1200p. If you want to get into the 60hz range you are limited to using the two DisplayPort connections as HDMI is limited to 30Hz.

 

Moving on, build quality is quite nice, they did add a stack of plates to the bottom of the unit to give it some weight while maintaining the small footprint. Connectivity is plentiful, however, limited to USB and Thunderbolt 3, so you will need a dongle or add-on for eSATA.

 

Performance across the tested ports was on par with expectations and similar to previous docking solutions. The USB 3.0 ports reached 355 MB/s in testing while Thunderbolt 3 passthrough was near to 2800 MB/s. Gigabit ethernet, using the Realtek chipset reached 941MBps in testing and once again using two monitors worked without issue in testing.

 

All of this said, I wouldn't recommend this dock to everyone, there are equal options on the market slightly cheaper, but the Dell TB16 does have impressive charging capabilities along with being one of the only, if not the only solution I have seen to support three monitors simultaneously.

 

 

 

Tyler's Test System Specifications

 

Product Summary Breakdown

TweakTown award
Performance87%
Quality81%
Features79%
Value78%
Overall TweakTown Rating81%

The Bottom Line: Dell decided to go a new route with the TB16 and it fits in perfectly for business users that need multiple monitors and those extra few USB ports.

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