"Native" vs. "Hub" USB connections, mics, StreamDeck, etc

tl;dr: Wondering about a Thunderbolt dock, and whether it replicates “native” connections.

Longer explanation:

I have a number of peripherals for my M1 MBA:

A USB-C hub/docking station (USB-C) with:

  • Mechanical keyboard (USB-A)
  • Power connector (USB-C)
  • Display (HDMI)
  • Logitech C920 webcam (USB-A)

And an Elgato StreamDeck XL (USB-C).

Every now and then my keyboard is dropping characters, “stuttering”, etc. - and I have to assume that either the keyboard is broken, or that it’s stuttering because it’s plugged into the USB-C hub. It doesn’t happen regularly enough that I feel like sacrificing my StreamDeck to test it separately, but it happens at least a few times per day and it’s very annoying when it happens.

And on top of all of the above, I have an audio input that I’d like to add.

Of these, the StreamDeck XL, the keyboard, and the audio-interface are supposed to be plugged in directly.

I’m wondering if a Thunderbolt dock solves that problem, and basically allows the devices to function as if they were direct-connected. And if it does, wondering about recommendations for a dock for the MacBook. I know I’ve heard about CalDigit - wondering if there are other good options out there.


1 Like

I’d be interested to know this, too.

I have an inexpensive dock (read: not CalDigit quality) and I have my Focusrite Scarlett audio interface, Stream Deck, and an external drive connected to it. My keyboard (Keychron) and C920 camera connect to my monitor (LG) and then to the laptop (M1 MBP).

So far, I’m not experiencing any weirdness with any of them, despite the advice that everything needs to be plugged directly into the laptop.

For me, the StreamDeck goes to sleep with the laptop and never wakes up again. Pretty standard USB peripheral issues.

Which LG monitor do you have? Is this the LG 5K? Or something else?

Can offer no help on the various issues,
but have been using the Hyper Thunderbolt dock.

Thunderbolt 4 Power Hub with Integrated GaN Power Source

Like this a lot, and while (relatively) new have had no issues.

I have a thunderbolt monitor as well as two of 3 Streamdecks connected to a Caldigit TS4. Works fine, though one of the hub-connected Streamdecks sometimes freezes and needs a power cycle. Other than that it works fine.

The Logitech dongle is plugged into the back of my screen and I have no problems with that. The Rodecaster Pro audio interface and loudspeakers are connected via Caldigit as well with no issues.

Never had any issues with the Stream Deck not waking up. I can’t find the brand of hub I have. My husband ordered it from his Amazon, so I can’t look it up, but I’ll update this later if I find it.

My monitor is an LG 32UP83A-W (love it, BTW).

Now I’m wondering if it’s worth the extra $100 for the TS4 to “future-proof” things, or if I’m fine with the TS3. My M1 MBA is TB3, but I can imagine upgrading at some point and winding up with a TB4 device. It would suck to have to re-buy the dock for some reason. :slight_smile:

I use my TS3 on the MBP and the TS4 on the Studio. Both work just fine, though the TS4 is definitely a step up.

I had an issue with a similar experience earlier this week.

tl;dr: Finder issues, mac issues, sluggishness. Culprit - 2 external passport drives (Time Machine External and Carbon Copy External Drives) once disconnected from the Anker USB-A hub everything worked back to normal.

I am on a Mac Mini and not enough ports and trying to avoid this situation again.

Mac Mini Port Usage

  • USB-A - to an Anker 10 Port Hub
  • USB-A - lightning wire for connecting/charging BT keyboard/mouse
  • HDMI - 2nd monitor
  • USB-C - 1st monitor
  • USB-C - available

Anker Port Usage (all USB-A)

  • Time Machine Backup
  • Carbon Copy
  • Stream Deck
  • Scarlett Interface
  • SD Card Reader
  • Elgato Cam Link 4K

I still need to actually buy a webcam (maybe Elgato) another port will be taken…
Not enough native ports and clearly hubs may cause a problem, what to do?

As with @csf111 I can offer no help with the issues.

I can note that I am using a SonnetTech Echo 5 Thunderbolt 4 Hub with good results.

That’s a ton cheaper than the other options. In your experience, is it pretty much rock solid?

TL;DR: yes. I’ve had no issues.

Longer …

I’m running a Mac Studio, M1 Max, 64 G ram on Monterey.

In addition to the SonnetTech hub, of which all but one port is in use, I have three USB hubs, one each by HooToo (7 USB A ports and 2 USB A power only ports). Satechi (the under computer model sans SSD drive capability; 3 USB A and 1 USB C ports), and one by Sabrent (4 USB A). I also have three monitors with 2, 2, and 1 USB A ports. All but five of the USB ports are in use.

Only the front two USB C ports on the Studio are not in use. Everything in the back is plugged in.

I have no issues with any of these hubs or the attached peripherals.

I’ve acquired these hubs over time. The HooToo hub I used with my 2010 Mac Pro (after adding a USB 3 card). The Satchi with my 2018 Mini. Two of the monitors are ancient, Apple 20" Cinema Display and 23" Cinema HD!

I have used other hubs that did have issues. Those have been disposed of properly.

The only issue with anything in my set up is that my Magic Trackpad occasionally drops the connection, something that happened much more often with Bluetooth when using the Mac mini. But it usually reconnects after a few seconds.