ThinkPad Dock II
Dock II Information
Additional, specific information here.
Note this is a Half Size, or 'low profile' slot. Separate brackets are required for low profile PCI cards. Dock II owners: anybody tried to shoehorn a larger card in? What are the dimensions? Anyone have pictures?
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 LCD based, quality DVI support is essential. Additional concerns include driver support, ability to hot-swap (add or remove the thinkpad without rebooting), and noise/heat.
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, so be sure to go to (insert here) for information on how to enable this resolution.
Unofficially, *good* DVI transmitters can support 1920x1200 at 60Hz, a newer, widescreen (16:10) resolution used in monitors such as the Apple Cinema Display 20" and 23", Dell 24" 2405FPW, HP L2335, and others. However, not all DVI transmitters can push this resolution, due to poor signal quality from cheap manufacturing or weak TDMS transmitters. It is unknown whether IBM docks and port replicators can do 1920x1200 at 60Hz.
If your transmitter cannot put this resolution, you must use a 'reduced blanking' option (through your video card driver) or create a custom timing through Powerstrip, both of which can reduce performance especially in fast refresh-sensitive work. For more information on TDMS transmission, see the DVI Compliance Testing article at Tom's Hardware.
Apple's 30" Cinema Display, with a 2560x1600 resolution, requires what is known as Dual-Link DVI, a technique of piggybacking 2 DVI connections onto one physical DVI plug. This is not to be confused with a card having 'Dual DVI', or two physical DVI ports. Very few video cards support Dual-Link DVI, and they are usually very expensive. No known PCI cards exist that support Dual-Link DVI. There is hope for users of large display though - newer TDMS transmitters can push 192MHz and above, which is enough to drive 2560x1600 at 60Hz. These transmitters have not yet made it to many video cards - only Asus' V9999GE card is known to use them, and it only uses one.
Compatible Video Cards
This is a list of the most popular low-profile PCI video cards used with the IBM Dock II
|Matrox||Millennium P650 Low-Profile||P650||64MB DDR||2x||supports 1920x1200||Unknown||Matrox|
|PNY||Quadro NVS 280 PCI||Nvidia Quadro 280||64MB DDR||2x (reqs cable)||Unknown||Unknown||PNY|
|NTI||Xentera GT 2||ATI Radeon 9000 x2||64MB DDR x2||2x||Unknown||Unknown||GT4|
|NTI||Xentera GT 4||ATI Radeon 9000 x4||64MB DDR x4||4x||Unknown||Unknown||GT4|
PC Card Slots
It is only a matter of time before IBM (or Lenovo) updates the Dock II. With the release of the Intel 915 mobile chipset, it is likely that the Dock III will support PCI Express components. This should be a great boon for Thinkpad owners - greater dock performance and greater expansion possibilities will mean there's even less of a reason to use a desktop PC.