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Anker USB-C Dock review: The right combo of ports, but a USB power problem for drives

Glenn Fleishman | April 21, 2016
Anker's dock offer 4K HDMI, pass-through power, and two USB 3.0 Type-A ports, but has limits worth noting on its USB power.

The webpage also notes that Western Digital drives may not be supported and, sure enough, I saw some instability with keeping my model mounted, although I was able to run extensive suites of speed tests without a hitch as the only USB drive connected. If you own portable WD drives and prefer them, this would be a reason to not opt for the Anker dock.

The page notes the maximum total current available for USB via the Type-A ports is 1500 milliamperes (mA) while the USB-C power adapter is connected to the hub, and 900 mA without. This should be fine with most powered USB devices besides hard drives. The included manual only cites the 900 mA limit without the connector, but provides a list of amperage draw by device type, which strangely excludes smartphones and tablets.

This was troubling, so I tested in a variety of ways. I plugged in an iPhone 6s, which can draw anywhere from 500 mA to nearly 2000 mA (2 A). With the iPhone attached, I had troubles copying large files with both the WD drive and a USB 3.0 flash drive from SanDisk. The drives spontaneously unmounted and remounted, which supports a power issue. With the iPhone unplugged, this problem went away.

I didn’t read similar warnings nor did I have similar problems with the Satechi USB-C dock I tested recently, but it doesn’t include HDMI support, and there may be tradeoffs in terms of power and circuitry, no matter what’s connected.

Bottom line

I can’t recommend the Anker as wholeheartedly as I’d like, because drive unmounting can result in lost data or drive issues, as well as being frustrating and a hassle. If you plan to attach unpowered drives routinely to a dock, this isn’t the right solution except in limited cases, potentially with just a single, non-Western Digital drive attached at a time.

 

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