USB Docking stations and network speed

Jan 31

Unfortunately, nearly all notebook manufacturers have discontinued notebooks with dedicated docking connectors (Dell, HP, Lenovo) and Fujitsu has retires his clients from the European market.

As replacement, the notebook manufacturers are proposing universal docking stations using USB-C or Thunderbolt connectors. All these docking stations (until now I do not know any exception) have really slow network interfaces.

Most of our software packages store their data in DBF tables and therefore the network performance is an important thing. In the last years we have had many complaints from our customers regarding bad performance on I/O intensive operations done on notebooks.

Until now, we had only two solutions: connect the network cable to the internal port of the notebook (if there is one), or use a fast USB network adapter (better to use one with 2.5 Gbps like the StarTech US2GC30) directly on the notebook or even on the docking station. The latter shows clearly that the bottleneck is not the USB port on the notebook but something internal in the docking station.

When we talk about bad performance, we do not talk about 10% or 20% longer execution times, but about more than double the time, sometimes three times of the integrated NIC.

We have contacted some producers of docking stations and buyed some of their products, but they all had the same problem as the notebook manufacturers models: slow network performance.

The only exception we found until now was the Conceptronic model DONN22G – it was even a bit faster than the integrated NIC of your test notebook.

Our test notebook was a Fujitsu Liefbook U728, running on a 1 Gbps network against a Linux (Debian) server with Samba and a SSDs disks on a hardware RAID 1.

Addition April 2024: To our surprize, we now found also another docking station that works well and has also a reasonable cost: the Manhattan “USB-C PD 10-in-1 Dual Monitor 8K Docking Station”, model PD-714, part no. 130714. At the cost of about 100 Euro + VAT, this docking station not only has a fast nework port, but also 2 HDMI Ports (one supporting up to 8K, the other 4K), 85 W USB Power Delivery and a total of 6 USB ports, one of them USB-C 3.2 Gen 2.