ThinkPad Dock II
Note this is a full height/half size and not a 'low profile' slot (the PCI card on the pictures below is "low-profile", but "half-size" cards also fit in the Dock II). Separate brackets are required for low profile PCI cards. Normal cards will not fit.
Many use the half-size PCI slot for peripherals like secondary video cards, TV tuners, audio cards, etc. This is considered by many to be the highlight of the Dock II, and is a feature that few other docks have. The Dock II does not support AGP or PCI Express. The Ultrabay 2000 slot can be used to connect other IBM peripherals, such as second hard disks or CD/DVD drives. Potential owners of the Dock II are often concerned about compatibility and recommendations of video cards. See the compatible video cards list below for more information.
Dimensions are up to 18 x 12 cm:
|Photos (click to see full size)|
In order to use a larger than "low-profile" card with the Dock II you can use a PCI riser. This means you might have to build a hollow support base for the dock, but it will allow you to connect any card. These PCI risers can be found at places such as .
The PCI slot is most often used for installing video cards to allow for multiple monitors. This feature is especially useful for anyone that requires visualizing a large amount of information, including stock brokers, artists, etc. Due to the slow PCI bus, gaming is generally not improved much by external cards. In fact it is more than likely that using an external card will harm gaming performance due to the number of PCI devices sharing the bus in a typical Thinkpad, the immutable latency_timer of the Dock II's PCI slot and the proprietary bridge connecting the Thinkpad to the Dock II. Bandwidth on an a22m with no other peripherals seems not to exceed 35 MB/s. One of the chief concerns of low profile video cards is whether they support the monitor setup you desire. As more monitors these days are LCDs, quality DVI support is essential. Additional concerns include driver support, ability to hot-swap (add or remove the thinkpad without rebooting), and noise/heat. A PCI video card CANNOT drive the ThinkPad internal LCD, there is no such signal path.
Quality DVI & Widescreen support
One way to work around the limitations of the docks DVI pass-through port is to use a PCI graphics card which features a DVI port. Note that while this probably will work, the performance of the PCI graphics accellerator will be poor because of the limitations of the interface.
Also the newest ATI video drivers for both Linux and Windows are known to not have limited resolution support on the external DVI port anymore.
It is unknown whether hot swapping is fully supported. Check the thinkpads.com forum for more information.
Since the Dock II has been reported to be a bit noisy, some people have taken to unplugging the fan inside (or possibly replacing it). While this likely voids your warranty, it may be necessary if you really want it quiet. Adding a video card increases the heat inside the dock, and may likely have a fan on board as well, meaning it will increase the noise level. While adding one of the below video cards is likely well within the thermal limitations of the dock, you should take into consideration the noise and heat it may add.
The fan is located inside the power supply and is 40x40x13mm / 5V. To reduce noise the fan for example can be replaced by any 12V-fan, that starts when operating at 5V (many don't). An instruction can be found in Thinkpad-Forum (German).
|ATI TV Wonder Pro||PCI||Yes||No||$59.99|
Compatible Video Cards
This is a list of the most popular low-profile PCI video cards used with the IBM ThinkPad Dock II.
|Card||Chipset||RAM||DVI Ports||Max DVI Res||TMDS||Compatibility||Price|
|Matrox Millennium P650 Low-Profile||P650||64MB DDR||2x||1920x1200||Unknown||Unknown||$219.95|
|Matrox G450MMS Quad PCI||G450||128MB DDR||4x||4x1280x1024||Unknown||Unknown||~$500|
|PNY Quadro NVS 280 PCI||Nvidia Quadro 280||64MB DDR||2x (reqs cable)||2x1600x1200@60Hz||Unknown||Works driving two 19" LCDs at 1280x1024. Using DVI cables. Windows XP Pro and Slackware Linux 12.2||$99.99|
|Nvidia GeForce MX 4000||GeForce 4 MX 4000||64MB DDR||1x||Unknown||Unknown||Unknown|
|Nvidia e-GeForce FX 5500||GeForce 5 FX 5500||64MB DDR||1x||Unknown||Unknown||Resolution messed up using DVI->HMDI, works using DVI->VGA on a Hanns-g 28" 1920 x 1200 LCD. Gave up, returned card||~ $50|
|NTI Xentera GT2||ATI Radeon 9000||64MB DDR||2x||Unknown||Unknown||Unknown||$213.91|
|NTI Xentera GT4||ATI Radeon 9000 x2||64MB DDR x2||4x||Unknown||Unknown||Unknown||$448.95|
|VisionTek/ATI Radeon x1300 PCI||ATI Radeon x1300||256MB DDR2||1 VGA, 1 S-Video, 1 DVI||2560x1600 (dual link)||165Mhz (3.7 Gbit/s single link, up to 7.4Gbit/s dual link)
|Would lock up machine occassionaly. Word has it card is "backported" PCI-E. Maybe requires more power than Dock II can provide.||$97.38|
|VisionTek X1550 256 MB PCI||ATI Radeon x1550||256MB DDR2||1 VGA 1 S-Video 1 DVI||2560x1600 (tested on 1400x1050 Westinghouse LCM-20v5 and 1280x720 on Samsung HDTV)||From dmesg: [drm] TMDS-7: set mode 1280x1024 2e||Yes, tested VGA, DVI and DVI to HDMI, plastic must be cut to make VGA out accessible.||$109.99|
|Sapphire Radeon 9250||ATI Radeon 9250||256MB DDR||1 DVI, 1 S-Video, 1 VGA||Unknown||Unknown||Works @ 1920 x 1200 via DVI->HDMI, slight plastic cutting for DVI out, very tight fit (no bigger card will work)||~ $50|
|RME||HDSP 9632 (no room for any expansion boards)||Windows XP / Vista / Windows 7||Unknown||£250~£300|
|EMU||0404 PCI Audio Card||Windows XP / Vista||Yes||$99.95|
|EMU||1010 PCI Audio Card||Windows XP / Vista / Windows 7||Unknown||Dunno, I bought my e-mu 1820 for $140 at ebay.com (You must use external 12v power source to be able to use audiodock)|
|Creative||Soundblaster Audigy 2 ZS||Windows XP||Unknown||~$70|
|Creative||Soundblaster X-FI Extreme Music||Windows XP||Yes||~$100|
Other PCI Cards
ThinkPad Dock II supports the VIA VT6421A PCI RAID Controller card. Controller is equipped with a one internal PATA port (UltraATA133), one internal and one external SATA 1 port. The controller however, does not allow booting, it is probably caused by bios.
|Photos (click to see full size)|
The docks IDE interface is a CMD 648, so you should enable the according kernel option (compile it into the kernel if loading as a module doesn't work), if you want to use anything else than a floppy in the docks UltraBay. Note that the interface will most likely be ide2 and ide3 then, so the docks UltraBay drive will be hde.
PC Card Slots
Nothing special: 2 additional Type II slots. This may be helpful if you need a certain PC Card only while docked (e.g. a second GBit NIC), or if you have 2 PC Cards that physically won't fit into one pair of slots at the same time (e.g. 2 WLAN cards or 2 Villagetronic VTBook Video cards ).
LCD monitors are getting larger and higher-resolution. Currently, DVI based on 165MHz TDMS transmitters can only (officially) support 1600x1200x32 at 60Hz, which is the resolution of your average 20" non-widescreen LCD. IBM's driver support for this resolution through DVI ports on docks has been inconsistent. Also in Linux you might experience problems even with this resolution and IBM officially states that the pass-through DVI port only supports resolutions up to 1280x1024. Read our page of information on how to solve these troubles.
Please be aware that not all Thinkpad models will support DVI output with a Dock. Apparently, X and T2* models do not. Please add other models if you know about them to not support DVI.