ThinkPad Dock

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ThinkPad Dock

IBM ThinkPad Dock

The IBM ThinkPad Dock (Model 2631) transforms a regular Thinkpad into a full blown workstation with multiple monitors (PCI video card), higher fidelity audio (PC Card audio), and additional storage Ultrabay 2000. These expansion features are not supported by all Thinkpads, therefore the Dock does not support as many Thinkpads as the Port Replicator, Port Replicator II or Mini-Dock.

Features

Pros & Cons

  • Positives: Expansion capability
  • Negatives: internal fan is fairly large.
  • DVI pass-through and ethernet (RJ45) on the Dock is only supported with select ThinkPads.
  • Compatibility: X20/30, T20/30 and A20/30 Series notebooks (does not support the A21e/22e).
  • Warranty: One Year

Lenovo (IBM) link to the dock: here


Photos (click to see full size)
T30 docked in a Dock
T30 docked in a Dock
A31p docked in a dock

IBM part numbers

  • Order P/N: 02K8660
  • FRU P/N: 02K8666
  • FRU P/N: 08N1546
  • Type: 2631

PCI Slot

Many use the 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, and is a feature that few other docks have. The Dock does not support AGP or PCI Express. Potential owners of the Dock are often concerned about compatibility and recommendations of video cards. See the compatible video cards list below for more information.

Video Cards

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. 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.

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 PCI 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.

Compatible Video Cards

This is a list of the most popular low-profile PCI video cards used with the IBM ThinkPad Dock.

Card Chipset RAM Ports Max DVI Res TDMS Cooling Compatibility
3DFuzion GeForce FX 6200 NVidia GeForce FX 6200 128 MB DDR 1x DVI, 1x VGA, 1x TV-Out Unknown Unknown passive working
ATI Radeon 9200 ATI Radeon 9200 128 MB DDR 1x DVI, 1x VGA, 1x TV-Out Unknown Unknown passive working
ATI Technologies Inc 3D Rage II+ 215GTB [Mach64 GTB] (rev 9a) 1x VGA passive working
Gainward Pro 660 TV/DVI GeForce FX 5200 128 MB DDR 1x DVI, 1x VGA, 1x TV-Out Unknown Unknown passive working
GeForce 4 MX 440 GeForce 4 MX 440 64 MB 1x VGA, 1x TV-Out Unknown Unknown passive working

USB and FireWire controlers

PCI USB 2.0 card installed in the PCI slot will provide USB 2.0 support to the older systems. PCI FireWire 800 card installed in the PCI slot will provide FireWire and FireWire 800 support to the older systems.

DVB-S cards

PCI DVB-S cards can be installed in the PCI slot providing satellite reception to a ThinkPad using software like xine. Technisat SkyStar 2 has been installed and works out of the box using a Debian-based distro on a T30.

Ultrabay 2000

The ThinkPad Dock has a UltraBay 2000 slot, which is not hotswap capable.

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.

Under MacOS X x86 10.4.5 having any drives in the UltraBay 2000 slot will result in a kernel crash at boot. Without an UltraBay 2000 device installed it boots correctly.

PC Card Slots

CardBus slots attached to TI PCI1420 controller. Inside the dock is a lever that locks the slots. When locked, cards cannot be inserted or removed.

Noise & Heat

Since the ThinkPad Dock is 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 PCI card (especially a video card) increases the heat inside the dock, and it may have a fan on board as well, meaning it will increase the noise level. You should take into consideration the noise and heat it may add.

DVI pass-through

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.

NOTE!
DVI pass-through is only supported in combination with a ThinkPad A20p, A21p, A22p, A30p and A31p.

Supported ThinkPads

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