HP Thunderbolt Dock G2 First Impressions

Posted on October 25, 2018 by Paul Thurrott in Hardware with 20 Comments

The EliteBook 1030 G3 isn’t the only new HP hardware that arrived today: The firm also sent its stunning new Thunderbolt 3 Dock along for testing.

And this one looks impressive.

Priced at $240 to $375, depending on configuration—it can be had with in 120- and 230-watt variants and with or without an optional audio module—HP’s second-generation Thunderbolt Dock cuts an impressive figure. Where the original unit was a bland gray rectangle, this one looks like a miniature black PC, and it’s both attractive and festooned with connectivity.

The new design isn’t just for looks: One of the issues with the first-generation unit was that it was too light, and too easy to move it inadvertently across the desk. So the G2 Dock is a little tank: It’s tall and (appropriately) weighty.

Inside, the new Thunderbolt Dock also benefits from some ongoing improvements from Intel. So where G1 supported only Thunderbolt 3 connectivity and then inconsistently, the new also supports (non-Thunderbolt 3) USB-C PCs as well.

On the front of the unit, you’ll find a hardwired USB-C/Thunderbolt 3 cable for connecting the Dock to your PC, plus a single USB-C port.

On the side, you’ll find a headphone jack, a single full-sized USB 3 port, and a Kensington security slot for easy access.

But the real action is on the back.

Here, you’ll find two full-sized USB 3 ports, a gigabit Ethernet port, VGA-out, one USB-C port, one USB-C/Thunderbolt 3 port, and two full-sized DisplayPorts. Yes, it can drive two 4K displays at once. (The power port is also on the back.)

What’s missing, of course, is HDMI. But HP tells me this is by design. The Thunderbolt Dock is aimed at its corporate customers, and most of the business-class displays it sells to this market utilize DisplayPort. A future version of the Dock will add HDMI, but those who need that now can use an adapter.

My review unit has the optional audio module pre-attached to the top of the unit. This user-installable option provides a speaker and a microphone for audio conferencing.

I’m eager to test the HP Thunderbolt Dock, and I will use it with the EliteBook G3 as a desktop replacement starting this week.

More soon.


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Comments (20)

20 responses to “HP Thunderbolt Dock G2 First Impressions”

  1. pachi

    Possibly you are able to test it with multiple machines?

    I have an hp zook g3 that I’m using as my primary machine for the next year or so and I’ve had nothing but problems with docks I’ve tried. Not sure if it’s the docks or the laptop itself and so many reviews for these mention less than adequate docks and issues abound.

    • waethorn

      In reply to pachi:

      The system has to have Thunderbolt 3. If it does, this should work fine, HOWEVER, you absolutely must install HP's drivers for all of the functionality to work. If you have HP Support Assistant installed (the only worthwhile PC utility for HP systems), run a check for updates after connecting it and it'll grab the drivers and any firmware updates for the unit (as well as for your PC if you haven't used that software).

      HP systems without Thunderbolt 3, but with a standard docking port (like the ProBook 600 series) are better suited to one of HP's standard docks.

      • pachi

        In reply to Waethorn:

        Last time I installed all the updated drivers via whatever HP software I had big enough problems that I had to hard reset the w10 install. Right now it works decently with only some glitches and I’m just leaving it!

        not overly impressed on that side of things!!!

  2. lvthunder

    Wow that's expensive.

    • wright_is

      In reply to lvthunder:

      It is in the normal range for such a dock. The Lenovo Thundebolt dock is also in the same price range.

      It is the Thunderbolt that makes it expensive. My Lenovo TB dock has a half meter cable, which is a bit too short, but a 1M cable is around 50€ on its own.

  3. ansh16

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  4. shmuelie

    I wonder if I could convince work to get us these ?

  5. mrdrwest

    How about a Thunderbolt 2/3 drive review? I have an old HP laptop with a Thunderbolt 2 port, but am concerned about it working. I need an external drive and would like to give Thunderbolt 2 a try.

  6. aussiedan

    I have one of these (230W) with the combo cable and a HP ZBook Studio 15 G5. Can't make it work with two 27 inch 4K Dell screens. HP Support doesn't know how either...

    All drivers etc are up-to-date.

    It does work when only one screen is connected via the dock and using a HDMI cable directly from the computer to the other screen. But why have a dock when I have to use multiple cables anyways.

  7. madthinus

    <Sarcasm Start>

    So this will be great for Surface Pro and Surface Laptop....?

    <Sarcasm End>

  8. matsan

    I'd pick DisplayPort over HDMI any day just to get 60Hz refresh and glad to see it's HP's port of choice.

    I wonder if this will work with a MacBook Pro...?

  9. dspeterson

    I hope this is more reliable than Lenovos version, we have had nothing but problems there!

  10. Anlong08

    I got one of these last week. Works great with a Macbook pro (stupid touch bar one), though I've only tested with one display. Strangely a 13' Inspiron with USB-C (non-thunderbolt) works with this dock. I assume in display port alternative mode?

    Not so great with a Dell XPS 9550.

    On the Dell; it charges, does the USB bits, passes audio from the headphone jack, but no video. After some digging it seems that this generation of XPS (early 2016) supports Thunderbolt 3 with an *. It never shows up in the Thunderbolt device list. More oddly, a Sonnett dual HDMI adapter works just fine. At least I'm down to just 2 cables now. Not a dig on the dock, totally a dig on Dell.

    Anyway, this seems like a nice combination of dual displays, charge capacity, with a $250 price point.