Thunderbolt 3 Support and Troubleshooting on Windows PCs

Last Update: January 26th, 2021
Article ID: 720407

Overview and Drivers

In general, Plugable Thunderbolt 3 Docking Stations and Thunderbolt 3 Dual Display Adapters do not require the installation of any drivers when used with macOS or Windows. When connecting a Thunderbolt 3 device, the host operating system should install all the necessary drivers automatically.

However, there are certain instances with Windows systems where additional driver installation may be necessary when using our Thunderbolt 3 docking stations (these are NOT required on macOS systems):

TBT3-UDV Docking Station:

  • Windows 10 – In general, no driver installations are required when using Windows 10. After initial connection if all functions of the dock are working as expected, then no additional action is required. However, when the TBT3-UDV is used with certain eighth generation Intel processor-based Windows 10 systems an updated USB 3.0 driver may need to be installed to ensure the best performance of USB peripherals attached to the TBT3-UDV. We recommend installing the updated Asmedia USB 3.0 drivers here. For additional details, please see our TBT3-UDV product page.
  • Windows 7 – When using Windows 7 64-bit (32-bit systems are not supported), you will need to install a separate Intel Network Adapter driver and a driver for the Asmedia USB 3.0 Host Controller.

TBT3-UD1-83 / TBT3-UD1-85 Docking Stations:

General Thunderbolt 3 Information

Before purchasing or using a new Thunderbolt™ 3 docking station or video adapter for use with your personal computer running Windows, you will want to make sure that your computer can support it and be aware of differences from basic USB devices:

Note: The following does not apply to Apple Thunderbolt 3 systems.

  • Many early Thunderbolt 3 PCs require firmware and software updates before all adapters and docks will work.
  • Dual display support is optional for Thunderbolt 3 PCs. How many displays are supported over Thunderbolt 3 depends on how the USB-C port has been wired on the system motherboard (up to a max of two), and is not changeable in software or by the Thunderbolt 3 graphics device.
  • Support for PC charging (USB Power Delivery) on Thunderbolt 3 systems is optional. Many Thunderbolt 3-enabled PCs do not accept a charge over USB-C, and some PCs only will charge with their own branded power adapters.
  • Unlike USB devices, Thunderbolt 3 devices must be manually authenticated (approved) for use by the user before the system will recognize them.

Additional detail

  • Host computers equipped with Thunderbolt 3 have the ability to install various updates including NVM (Thunderbolt 3 related Non-volatile memory) and PD (Power Delivery) firmware, UEFI BIOS, supplemental Thunderbolt 3 software utilities (for authentication) and various drivers to resolve potential issues and increase compatibility with new Thunderbolt 3 products as they are released.
  • System manufacturers have substantial discretion in how they implement various technical elements and features. As a result, compatibility information is complex. As a result many currently available Thunderbolt 3 systems are not fully compatible with our Thunderbolt 3 dual graphics adapters (with do our best to maintain compatibility tables of the individual product pages). Some systems may only be equipped with a single DisplayPort (DP) Alternate Mode (Alt Mode) line to the Thunderbolt 3 port which limits the port to a single display output. Due to this limitation some systems won’t be able to take advantage of our dual port Thunderbolt 3 graphics adapters regardless of firmware/software updates. This is a physical hardware limitation.
  • Many system manufacturers ship systems with older firmware and may or may not have updated versions available for download at this time. The latest Thunderbolt 3 firmware for a specific system cannot be downloaded from Intel directly, as it first it has to be customized by the original system manufacturer. Intel has a Thunderbolt updates page with some update information, but as of this writing the list if fairly small. Currently our TBT3-HDMI2X-83 and TBT3-DP2X-83 adapters require the host system to have a Thunderbolt 3 firmware update with NVM version 14 or higher in order to work properly. The latest UEFI BIOS update from your system manufacturer must be installed before updating the NVM firmware.

Operating System Compatibility

Thunderbolt 3 technology is supported by any operating system which has driver support for Thunderbolt 3. Currently, Plugable supports Windows 10, 8.1, and 7 (64-bit only) and macOS 10.13 or later. Although support for Thunderbolt 3 devices under Linux is steadily evolving, Plugable does not support Thunderbolt 3 devices within a Linux environment at this time.

Authenticating a Newly Attached Device

Click here for this process.

General Thunderbolt 3 FAQ

Q: Can a Thunderbolt 3 dock or adapter work in any system with any USB-C (USB Type C) port?
A: It depends.

  • Early Thunderbolt 3 docks and adapters will only work with Thunderbolt 3 USB-C computers and ports and connecting to a USB-C port without Thunderbolt 3 capability will not work. Note that computers and docks may have a mix of Thunderbolt 3 and other USB-C ports that look very similar. Look for the Thunderbolt icon on both sides of the connection to ensure compatibility:

Device Manager > Ports (COM & LPT) section

  • Current Titan Ridge based docking stations like our TBT3-UDC1 and TBT3-UDZ are backwards compatible with USB-C systems in most cases (with limitations).

Q: How can I identify the NVM version on my system?
A: See “Identifying the NVM” section below.

Q: What if a newer compatible NVM is not available from my system manufacturer?
A: Unfortunately the only option is to contact your system manufacturer and ask when a newer version will be available, and to let them know that until it is, certain accessories you are looking to use will not work.

Q: How can I identify if my system has the necessary two DisplayPort lines to provide dual display output through the Thunderbolt 3 port?
A: Unfortunately in many cases this information is very hard to discern based on the manufacturers published specifications. If your system is not among those listed in our compatibility table above, please contact your system manufacturer for confirmation of how many DisplayPort lines are routed to your Thunderbolt 3 port.

Q: I connected my Thunderbolt 3 dual display adapter and my monitor configuration changed by itself.
A: This may occur and is considered normal. You can change the main display back to your desired screen through the “Display settings” control panel.

Q: I connected my Thunderbolt 3 dual display adapter and am only getting a single output.
A:  Depending on what Thunderbolt 3 equipped system you have, it may only support a single output because of the DP Alt Mode line configuration. See above “Known Host NVM Versions & DP Lines” to find out if your system has one or two lines.

Q: I connected my Thunderbolt 3 dual display adapter for the first time and my system crashed (hard lock).
A: Check to see if your system is running the latest Thunderbolt 3 software, NVM, UEFI BIOS, and all other updates from your system manufacturer. If everything is updated, unplug the adapter, reboot the system, and then reconnect.

Q: I connected my Thunderbolt 3 dual display adapter and am not getting any output to either display.
A: If your system has hybrid graphics (combination of built-in Intel GPU and AMD or NVIDIA discreet graphics) make sure the Intel GPU is set to be the primary GPU in the UEFI BIOS.

Support

If you have any questions feel free to contact our support team, we’re more than happy to help!

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