Lenovo Graphics Dock (TB3 Nvidia GTX 1050) w/ X1 Yoga 3rd Gen - works, but with issues
Hi all, I just purchased the Lenovo TB3 Graphics Dock to give my X1 Yoga 3rd Gen a bit more oomph for intensive photo editing programs. It took a little fiddling to get it up and running, but I did so and for the most part it seems to be working. Unfortunately, it's not without issues.
First, it doesn't always get recognized the first time I plug it in . . . it gives power, but the GPU doesn't kick in, and the attached second monitor doesn't turn on. So far this can always be solved by unplugging and re-plugging it 2-3 times. Annoying, but livable.
More problematic, I had a somewhat scary instance where my external hard drive (plugged into the dock) mysteriously had most of the files (but not all files, and not the file structure) disappear from it. Lightroom couldn't locate the files, and when I looked in explorer the folders were there, but no files!! Nearly gave me a heart attack . . . but when I plugged the drive back into the laptop directly, everything was there.
I'm wondering if anyone has any insight into why it's behaving this way, and how I can remedy it? The missing files in particular are an issue, as my backup program gets really messed up, deleting and then re-backing up tons of files, using up all of my data quota with my ISP.
Thanks in advance!
@liveawake That doesn't sound pleasant seeing your files disappearing. Are you using the provided software and drivers by Lenovo?
Yes, or at least I think so. Installing this thing took several tries running the firmware and installing/uninstalling the drivers I downloaded from Lenovo . . . I'm not 100% sure what the order of operations was that finally made it work right. I'm also not sure how to confirm which firmware/driver I'm running here . . . in Device Manager I can see the driver for the Nvidia Geforce GTX 1050 which is version 188.8.131.5207 from 9/6/2017 . . . I've read elsewhere that it won't run on the newest versions direct from Nvidia, so this squares with the idea that Lenovo packaged an older version in. How do I check which firmware I'm running on the dock?
There’s not really a way to check Thunderbolt firmware version in Windows. I took a look at Lenovo Support page but it doesn’t seem they released new drivers since early 2018. I recall the indicator light on this Lenovo TB3 Graphics Dock has three mode. Red when it’s powered on. Amber when there’s Thunderbolt connectivity. Green when the eGPU is running. Windows itself has changed a lot since with regards to Thunderbolt peripherals and external graphics. Do you see Intel Thunderbolt Software running?
I would have expected the Thunderbolt Control Center to have that. I recall seeing a screenshot where it had mentioned some firmware version. Perhaps I’m mistaken.
It does have the indicator light as you describe, and whether or not the monitor kicks in is in line with the indicator (green when working).
I have a Thunderbolt Software item in my notification tray, which shows "Lenovo, Thunderbolt3 Graphics Dock" on Port 1. Clicking it shows me some device info like status (connected) and power mode (self power) but no info about firmware, drivers, etc.
I also have an icon in the tray for the GeForce GTX 1050, and when I click it I get a list of applications running on the GPU. At the bottom there is a button to "Disconnect GPU" which I have never used. Perhaps I am supposed to use that button before each time I disconnect the laptop from the dock, like ejecting a memory card? I assumed that as long as I had closed the programs that were using the GPU it would behave otherwise in the same way as my previous dock, but maybe it's different for some reason. . . . kind of a pain if that's the case, but worth a try.
Oh, hang on . . . just right-clicked the Thunderbolt Software icon and selected "About" and it has some more version info, including NVM Firmware Version 43. I'm not clear on if that's the one I downloaded from Lenovo ( https://support.lenovo.com/us/en/downloads/ds500314 ) because it is listed as V003, which seems all wrong. But then, I don't know what else it could be unless Windows somehow installed a different version automatically.
@liveawake Lenovo specifically stated “Note: This dock has been optimized for the IdeaPad 720S 13-inch 8th Gen Intel processor (Model: 720S-IKBR). Other configurations, models, and brands are not supported.” The finicky behavior you’ve noticed is likely due to Lenovo software deciding whether to green-light eGPU functionality. In my review of this TB3 Graphics Dock, I could not get it to work in macOS at all. It was very spotty in Windows as well with a 2018 Razer Blade Stealth.
@mac_editor Intel Thunderbolt Software and Thunderbolt Control Center only show the firmware version of the host system Thunderbolt controller. They show the attached Thunderbolt device vendor, name, power state, and connection status but no firmware version.
@itsage Thanks for the info. Given that I don't need a great deal of GPU power, but do want something reliable, small, quiet, etc. I didn't see many other options than this dock . . . most solutions are much bigger, more expensive, etc. I have a couple of weeks left in the return policy for this unit, but I'm really not sure what I would replace it with. Maybe the Gigabyte Gaming Box, though it's much bigger and seems like overkill for my needs.
Any tips on getting this thing to be more stable/reliable? I can't live with the drive/data loss situation long-term, but otherwise this really is the best solution I can find for my needs.
Prior to getting the graphics dock, I was using the regular Lenovo Thunderbolt 3 (non-graphics) dock. I had intended for the graphics dock to replace the regular dock, but given these issues I thought maybe I could get a working system by daisy-chaining the two together (X1 to regular TB3 dock, then TB3 dock to Graphics dock with all important USB items plugged into the non-graphics dock).
Unfortunately, I'm not able to get the computer to ever recognize the graphics dock when it is attached to the regular dock. When I attach it I get a message that the USB device was not recognized (similar to what I sometimes got connecting the graphics dock directly). It shows up in my Device Manager under Universal Serial Bus Devices as "Billboard Device" with the yellow error sign on it. Device Status reads "This device cannot start. (Code 10) A device which does not exist was specified."
Any ideas about why this won't work, or how to resolve?
For some reason, the system is detecting the graphics dock as a USB device instead of Thunderbolt.
The Lenovo Thunderbolt 3 dock has two Thunderbolt 3 ports. One is for upstream (rear with laptop icon - to the laptop) and one is for downstream (to another Thunderbolt 3 device). Are these connected properly?
Are you using a proper Thunderbolt 3 cable for the graphics dock? Maybe replace the Thunderbolt 3 cables.
Have you tried replacing the graphics dock with a different Thunderbolt 3 device to see if the same problem occurs?
Does the Device Manager show the three buses for the Thunderbolt ports and USB controller of the Thunderbolt 3 dock?
Yes, they were connected correctly and I tried the original cables as well as another that I have. Didn't try attaching another Thunderbolt device as I don't have one . . . unfortunately the return window was about to close to I opted to just send it back. I'll have to find another solution, or wait for a newer version to come out.