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Understanding USB-C Technology

Q: Will all USB-C cables and accessories work with my USB-C laptop?

A: To find out if your laptop is compatible with your USB-C accessory, you will need to understand the specification of the USB-C port on your laptop (This information will be available on your laptop manufacturer’s website or in the user manual that came with your laptop.)

  • Not all USB-C ports will be set up to display video. 
  • Some accessories will have USB-C ports set up for Power Delivery, and they can range between 5W (Profile 1) and 100W (Profile 5). 5W is ideal for charging smartphones, but laptops will need closer to 60W (Profile 4) for sufficient charging.

Q: Are all USB-C ports the same?

A: No, not all USB-C ports are the same. Some computers may have USB-C ports that:

  • Only allow data transfer
  • Do not provide power delivery
  • Do not provide video out (as they may continue to use HDMI or VGA ports for video capability)
  • Do allow DisplayPort video via the USB-C port

Q: Will my USB-C cable and accessories do everything my USB-A cable?

A: Yes, your USB-C cable will offer control, power and communication to your accessories

  • The extras that the USB-C cable/accessory can offer will depend upon your device design (laptop, tablet or smartphone); and the limitations that the manufacturers have set within the USB-C port

Q: How does my USB-C cable know what device I have and what functions the USB-C port on my device can perform?

A: The laptop or tablet and the USB-C accessory do a “handshake” when connected to each other.

  1. The software embedded in the USB-C laptop determines what types of functions are allowed via its USB-C port.
  2. Only the functions that are allowed via the USB-C connection will work

Q: Why is the USB-C connector reversible and how does it work?

A: The reversible USB-C connector makes it easy to plug the cable for an accessory in either direction

  • The pins on the USB-C cable help you do more than a traditional USB–A connector that works in only one direction
  • The USB-C connection can be inserted into the port in either one of two orientations
  • The pins on the connector detect the plug orientation
  • When the USB-C cable is plugged into the USB-C port, the pins on the USB-C port “talk to” the pins on the USB-C cable to find out which data signal pairs are connected so that a successful connection is established. The pins on the cable & the port must match each other for a connection to work

Q: Are the Kensington USB-C products all Plug & Play?

A: Yes, all our USB-C devices included in the list below do not need software downloads or drivers when connecting to a host device using Windows and Chrome OS:

K33992WW – CA1000 USB-C to USB-A Adapter
K33995WW – CH1000 USB-C to 4-Port Hub
K33993WW - CV4000H USB-C to HDMI Adapter
K33994WW - CV2000V USB-C to VGA Adapter
K33969WW - SD1500 USB-C Mobile Dock
K38230WW – SD4500 USB-C Docking Station
K38231WW – SD4600P USB-C Docking Station with Power Delivery

Please note:

For Windows and Chrome OS, the docking stations are Plug & Play. The PC may start installing a driver for the peripherals attached through the dock (keyboard, mouse, etc.) during setup, but no driver is required for the dock itself. 

For Mac OS, docking station users will need to install a driver for the Ethernet port. The one-time driver installation can be downloaded at software.kensington.com.

Q: Can I use the USB-C docks and adapters with my Thunderbolt 3 laptop?

A: Yes, all our USB-C docks and adapters are compatible with laptops featuring a Thunderbolt 3 port.

Please note: The USB-C docks and adapters will not deliver Thunderbolt 3 data transfer speeds (40Gbps), only what the docking station or adpater supports (5 Gbps).

Q: Are the USB-C docking stations (SD4500, SD4600P and SD1500) compatible with USB-A ports?

A: No, the dock only works with laptops, tablets and smartphones with a USB-C port that supports USB-C Alt mode.

Q: What is USB-C Alt mode?

A: USB-C Alt Mode allows devices to deliver video signals and USB data over a single USB-C cable. There is more than one variation of Alt mode. The most popular version is DisplayPort (DP), which is the version our docks support.

To ensure that your laptop or tablet will work with our dock, please check with the laptop/tablet manufacturer to ensure that your device supports USB-C Alt mode over DP. You should be able to find this information via your device manufacturer’s website, in the user manual technical specifications, or by contacting the manufacturer directly.

Q: My USB-C Laptop/Tablet has a USB-C port but it doesn’t support Alt mode. Will the SD4500 or SD4600P dock work with my device?

A: You will not be able to use the video ports (DP and/or HDMI). All other features of the dock will be functional.

Please note: In addition to video/graphic support, please remember that USB-C Power Delivery (PD) support will also depend on the specifications of USB-C port on your device.

Q: Do all Kensington USB-C docks support Power Delivery (PD)?

A: No, the SD4500 and the SD1500 only support video, audio, USB, and Ethernet. The laptop/tablet will need to be powered separately while connected to the dock. If you require USB-C Power Delivery, please refer to further information on SD4600P.

Q: What is the Power Delivery (PD) capability of SD4600P?

A: The SD4600P supports Profile 4, or up to 60W.

Please note: In some instances, when the other USB ports on the dock are connected, the PD to your laptop/tablet may be reduced to 36W. This will still be sufficient, in most cases, to keep the PC running without draining the charge on the battery.

Q: How many monitors can the SD4500 and SD4600P docks support, and what is the maximum resolution?

A: Up to two monitors on Windows devices. The Windows laptop/tablet must support DisplayPort v1.2 (DP) or above with compatible graphic cards. To ensure that your video will be optimal, please ensure that your graphics card, typically from Intel or AMD, is up to date. If you are having video issues, it typically can be resolved by downloading the latest graphics driver update from your device manufacturer. Please review the manufacturers’ manual/website or contact the manufacturer if you are unsure of the version of DP. When running dual screens, the resolution supported for each of the monitors is 4096x2160 @ 30Hz (4K resolution). For single display, the docks support 4096x2160 @ 60Hz (4K resolution).

For Mac and Chrome systems, they do not support dual monitors in extend mode. These PCs only support one extended monitor, but a second monitor can be used to mirror your laptop screen.

Q: Can I connect to an additional screen via the additional USB-C port on the back of the SD4500 or the SD4600P dock?

A: No, you cannot connect to an additional screen. This is because that particular USB-C port does not support a video connection. It does support a 15W (5V/3A) power specification for USB-C Power Delivery, so it is capable of data transfer and charging of a device, such as a smartphone or tablet with a USB-C port.

Q: Can I use the USB-A port on the front of the dock (SD4500 or the SD4600P) to charge my smartphone or tablet?

A: Yes, the front USB-A port supports standard battery charging capabilities of up to 2.1A and is capable of charging a smartphone or tablet. To achieve faster charging, you should plug in your mobile device before plugging the dock into the PC.

Q: What is the maximum data speed of the USB ports on your USB-C docking stations?

A: All the USB ports on the Kensington USB-C docks support USB 3.1 Gen 1 specifications at 5Gbps.

Q: Can I use another USB-C cable (not from the original box) on this dock?

A: No, we can only guarantee the performance of the USB-C cable that ships with the dock. USB-C cables vary greatly between different manufacturers. We recommend that users contact Kensington Tech Support for replacement USB-C cables if needed.

Q: What is the difference between USB 3.0 and USB 3.1?

USB 3.0:

  • Max 5Gbps data speed
  • No power delivery
  • USB-A connector

USB 3.1 Gen 1:

  • Max 5Gbps speed
  • No power delivery
  • Can be either USB-A or USB-C connector

USB 3.1 Gen 2:

  • Max 10Gbps speed
  • Power delivery of up to 100W
  • USB-C connector only