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What Happens When You Plug in the Apple 15" MacBook Pro (Late 2016) Into the Thunderbolt 3 Port on the Plugable Thunderbolt 3 Docking Station Not Marked With the Computer Symbol


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The third party Plugable Thunderbolt 3 Docking Station with Power Delivery can be used to charge most USB Type-C devices supporting USB Power Delivery including the Apple 15" MacBook Pro (Late 2016)In another review, we looked at how the Plugable Thunderbolt 3 Docking Station with Power Delivery charged the Apple 15" MacBook Pro (Late 2016) using the port on the dock that is marked to be connected to the computer.

Here let's see what happens when the Mac gets charged when attached to Plugable's other Thunderbolt 3 port (which doesn't have a computer marking on it). Usually, any Thunderbolt 3 port should be able to provide 15 watts to a connected device. 

Once connected with the 32% charged Apple 15" MacBook Pro (Late 2016) over the Thunderbolt 3 cable, as shown in the Granite River Labs GRL-USB-PD-A1 test software, we can see that the Plugable Thunderbolt 3 Docking Station with Power Delivery starts to offer only 7.5 watts (5 volts @ 1.5 amps) to the Mac over USB Power Delivery after Vendor Defined Messages.

The Apple 15" MacBook Pro (Late 2016) at first doesn't pull any power by requesting 0 amps @ 5 volts, which the Plugable charger still accepts.

After completing Sink and Source Capabilities transactions with the Mac, the Plugable charger further initiates a soft reset and gets accepted by the Mac. Both the charger and Mac then repeats the same initial power negotiation over 7.5W offering and 0W request.   

Later we can also see multiple Vendor Defined Messages such as Discover Identity, SVIDs, and Discover and Enter Modes consistently occur to adjust current and voltage, during which the Mac also initiates a Power Role Swap.

Once completed only then we manage to see the Apple 15" MacBook Pro (Late 2016) finally gets offered by the Plugable Thunderbolt 3 Docking Station with Power Delivery its actual source capability of 15 watts (5 volts @ 3 amps). 

The Apple 15" MacBook Pro (Late 2016) goes ahead to call 15 watts (5 volts @ 3 amps) charging power which the charger accepts. We then observe both the charger and Mac again continues to communicate over Sink and Source Capabilities. 

With the Mac's battery being 32% charged, the Mac is observed to draw around 14.4 watts (4.8 volts @ 3 amps) during power on when plugged in to the Plugable charger which is expected. Even though the Mac can't get as high power as when using its own Apple 87W USB-C Power Adapter as seen here, the Apple 15" MacBook Pro (Late 2016) is still able to charge slowly over the non charging 15W based Thunderbolt 3 port on the Plugable Thunderbolt 3 Docking Station with Power Delivery. The Mac can still access all the other interface ports on the dock but just can't charge as fast as when connected to the other Thunderbolt 3 port.

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