Investigating USB-C Problems on Some Dell XPS and Precision Laptops

Summary: Based on information gathered while helping Plugable customers along with feedback from Dell owners on public forums, it appears some percentage of Dell USB-C systems are exhibiting unstable USB data I/O over their USB-C port.

Update 7/14/2016 – We have had several confirmed cases where lowering the Power Output of the internal Wi-Fi adapter to 75% in Dell XPS models has helped with USB-C disconnect behavior. This has also been discussed in the Dell support forum -> http://en.community.dell.com/support-forums/laptop/f/3518/t/19983555

Please see our detailed instructions for lowering the Power Output and the bottom of this post here

Update 7/11/2016 – Our initial reports from customers indicate that even with the release of the latest updates from Dell applied there are still some cases where USB-C devices may not work as expected. Several customers have confirmed that enabling ‘Airplane Mode’ is an effective workaround

Update 7/7/2016 – Over the past few days Dell has released several updates for many of their Thunderbolt 3/USB-C systems, including the XPS 13 9350, XPS 15 9550, and Precision 5510. These include updates to the system BIOS, the Thunderbolt 3 driver as well as the Thunderbolt 3 NVM firmware. Please be sure to visit http://www.dell.com/support and use your Dell Service Tag (http://www.dell.com/support/contents/us/en/19/article/Product-Support/Self-support-Knowledgebase/locate-service-tag/Notebook) to locate, download and install the latest updates for your system as a first troubleshooting step should you encounter any issues with our USB-C docking stations with a Dell system.

The BIOS updates will be under the ‘BIOS’ category, while the Thunderbolt 3 driver and NVM firmware updates will be located under the ‘Chipset’ category. Best practice is to update the BIOS first, the Thunderbolt driver second, and NVM firmware third.

Plugable recently launched two USB-C docking stations (http://plugable.com/products/ud-ca1 and http://plugable.com/products/ud-ultcdl) and they have proven to be very popular; so much so that we’re having trouble staying in stock. Any time we launch a new product, especially one (or in this case two) that makes use of a new technology such as USB 3.1, support engineers like myself always learn a lot in the first few weeks. (For a quick synopsis of our data points, jump to the end of post.)

Plugable UD-ULTCDL Ports

Plugable UD-ULTCDL USB-C Triple Display Docking Station

The vast majority of customers reported both units worked well with many popular models of USB-C systems (we have compatibility tables on the respective product pages), which aligned with the results we observed while developing the devices. But there were of course cases where things did not. At Plugable those who help develop a product also provide the support, and in the normal course of troubleshooting certain patterns often emerge which we view as an opportunity for further investigation into various issues that might occur.

What’s been most interesting with our USB-C docks was that when things didn’t work as expected, they would do so in an extremely inconsistent manner, often manifesting with instability of attached USB devices. For example, a customer with a Dell Precision 5510 laptop was experiencing random disconnects when using one of our docks. After investigating the behavior via our handy diagnostic tool PlugDebug (http://plugable.com/support/plugdebug) we elected to send a pretested replacement dock to rule out a hardware problem. Plugable is different from a lot of other companies in that when we send replacements they are tested at length by a human being in our lab. Despite this effort, when the customer received the replacement (which had been tested over 12 hours) the behavior was still present.

Our support engineers set out to better understand the issue. Why did the docks work great for the vast majority of customers’ XPS 9350 and 9550 systems (and Plugable’s identical in-house test systems) while a handful of other customers with the same systems were having problems, even with a known good tested replacement docking station?

We collectively scratched our heads and dug deeper. Our first focal point was nearly all of these problem reports were coming from owners of Dell Thunderbolt 3-enabled systems like the XPS 13, XPS 15 and Precision 5510. (The same chip which enables Thunderbolt 3 functionality on these systems also enables USB 3.1, which is the protocol used to communicate with our USB-C docks.)

Since Dell’s XPS lineup are among the most popular Thunderbolt 3/USB-C systems it was no surprise to see them well represented with our customers, but what was so surprising was this small percentage of systems which we knew to be compatible yet were not working as expected.

Having just launched our first Thunderbolt 3 products (http://plugable.com/2016/05/25/thunderbolt-3-dual-4k-display-adapters-shipping), we knew very well that all Thunderbolt 3 systems were receiving frequent BIOS and Thunderbolt 3 firmware updates which dramatically help Thunderbolt 3 and USB-C stability. Yet even with these updates applied on certain systems we still saw issues in specific instances.

TBT3-DP2X Adapter

Plugable Thunderbolt 3 Dual DisplayPort Adapter

Digging deeper, we found references to similar behavior online within Dell’s support forums (http://en.community.dell.com/support-forums/laptop/f/3518/t/19677047?pi41097=1) for some users of Dell’s Thunderbolt 3 and USB-C docking stations. While the thread is quite long, it does reflect similar unstable dock behavior while also indicating the common theme of the whole USB bus resetting or disconnecting and causing problems.

As official Dell comments on the thread have dropped off, customers have tried their own pragmatic approach in finding work-arounds and some (but not all) have found the behavior diminished if the laptop was run with the lid open. Others found that putting the system in ‘Airplane Mode’ to disable the internal Wi-Fi and Bluetooth adapter helped. And there’s even multiple users who report working with Dell engineering on the issue, stating that Dell is aware of the problem on some systems and working on a fix in the form of a BIOS update.

Note that Dell recently posted a BIOS update for the Dell XPS 13 9350 and the Release Notes indicated Thunderbolt 3, USB-C and Docking station fixes. Unfortunately this update was removed by Dell shortly after it was posted (https://www.reddit.com/r/Dell/comments/4opu4b/xps_13_9350_bios_143_has_been_pulled/)

Even with our growing suspicions that some host systems were a key part of the problem, we didn’t feel certain about this until we worked through an especially tricky support case involving an XPS 15 9550 and our Triple Display Dock. In the course of troubleshooting USB disconnection issues mentioned above we again sent a pretested replacement dock to rule out a hardware problem but again the issue remained. The customer even went to the extraordinary length to have Dell replace the system, and yet the issue remained. In this case we actually sent the customer some additional Plugable USB 3.0 products an effort to isolate the behavior further. Using our UD-3900 dock with an adapter via the Dell’s USB Type-C port produced the same disconnect symptoms, but when used via the Dell’s USB Type A port it worked as expected. As our investigation continued the customer replaced his system a third time for a reason unrelated to the dock behavior, and lo and behold both our UD-3900 and our USB-C Triple Display Dock were now working properly via the Dell’s USB-C port.

So where does this leave us? While we have many test systems in our lab, we do not have an example of every model Dell system that has Thunderbolt 3 and USB-C. In our internal testing with the Dell XPS 13 9350 and Dell XPS 9550 (non-hybrid) both of our USB-C docks work well. We are hopeful based on Dell forum comments that updated system BIOS files or Thunderbolt 3 NVM firmware will be released to help with the behavior. Though we don’t know if in some cases the solution will go beyond BIOS/firmware updates and instead is indicative of a hardware problem with the host system itself.

Interestingly as we were putting the finishing touches on this post before publishing, Dell has posted a BIOS update for their Thunderbolt 3/USB-C Precision 7510 and 7710 models http://www.dell.com/support/home/us/en/19/Drivers/DriversDetails?driverId=7HGW6 that indicate various Thunderbolt 3 and USB-C fixes. Our hope is that these changes will filter down through their other models in the near future.

In the meantime, if anyone encounters issues with our USB-C products and a Dell USB-C or Thunderbolt 3 system please contact us directly at support@plugable.com and we will be happy to help. We thank all of our current and future customers for their patience and feedback as we continue to learn about the various USB-C systems and how our products interact with them.

Synopsis
Here are the data points we’ve gathered from customer tickets and the other public resources mentioned in this article:

  • The behavior seems to only affect a small number of systems (relatively speaking, given the popularity of Dell’s systems)
  • We have seen similar reports from owners of: Dell XPS 15 9350, Dell XPS 15 9550, and Dell Precision 5510
  • The instability primarily affects transmission of USB data packets; Alternate Mode video seems much less likely to be impacted
  • Turning on Airplane Mode can help minimize issues
  • Using the system with the lid open can help minimize issues
  • Some users report better behavior when maximizing the distance of the USB-C peripheral from the system (i.e; use all available cable length)
  • Per multiple user confirmation on the Dell thread above, Dell will be implementing a BIOS fix “soon”
  • Dell has already released, then pulled, a BIOS update for the XPS 13 9350 which indicated it contained several fixes related to USB-C and Thunderbolt 3 stability
  • Some users who installed the update before it was pulled by Dell report diminished WiFi signal strength after applying the update
  • On the Dell forums, one user reported calling Dell to troubleshoot his USB-C issues and was sent a replacement laptop that fixed the issues
  • Plugable has worked with a customer who was experiencing USB-C device instability using his XPS 15 connected to our Triple Display Dock. After replacing his docking station with a pre-tested known good unit and still having problems, the customer replaced his XPS twice(!). The second replacement XPS he received solved the issue
  • Given the impact of the factors above (Airplane Mode, distance from the PC, the BIOS update impacting WiFi, etc) it seems very possible the wireless/Bluetooth module in some systems might generating interference with the integrity of USB-C data. (Yet another reminder of the complexities of high frequency signaling!)

Instructions for lowering Power Output of the internal Wi-Fi adapter in Dell XPS

1. Open Device Manager
2. Expand the ‘Network Adapters’ category
3. Right-click on the entry for the Wi-Fi adapter and select ‘Properties’
4. From the ‘Advanced’ tab, scroll down and select ‘Power Output’ from the ‘Property’ column, and then select 75% in the ‘Value’ drop down (example screenshot below).
5. Click OK to commit the change.
6. Reboot the system

XPS 13 9350 WiFi Power Setting2

87 comments on “Investigating USB-C Problems on Some Dell XPS and Precision Laptops”

  1. Aaron Marks Reply

    I have access to many new Dell laptops and came to an identical conclusion. I believe the latest laptops Dell is shipping directly don’t exhibit this behavior, but anything purchased from a 3rd party vendor could come from older inventory. We’ve also found that Dell uses older parts often when repairing computers or replacing computers which is why repairs/replacements don’t fix the issue.

    • Gary Zeller Reply

      Thanks for the reply Aaron! Always appreciate corroborative data when working through this kind of puzzle.

      And good to hear that newer stock doesn’t seem to be affected. Here’s to hoping a solution for affected systems is close at hand, because these hiccups aside, Dell’s USB-C lineup is tough to beat.

    • Vivian Reply

      This is incorrect. I just bought a Dell XPS 13 (9350) directly from Dell 2 weeks ago, and I have this issue.

      • Rasheed Alhimianee Reply

        We ordered 20 XPS 13 (9360) same issues, we have tried the Dell docks WD15, TB15, and the Pluggable 3 display dock (USB-C) I can say that the pluggable is way more reliable (the dell docks are horrible).

        • Bob Boerner Bob Boerner Reply

          Thanks for posting and sharing your experience Rasheed! I am glad our Plugable UD-UTLCDL Triple Display Docking station is working well with your Dell XPS 13 9360.

  2. Mark Reply

    Thanks for this post. As an XPS13 and WD15 owner. It’s very nice to finally get some useful information, even if it’s not coming from Dell. Hopefully they will re-release the BIOS soon and my big expensive Dell brick might finally become useful.

    As an aside, do you really think it’s a small percentage of Dell laptops affected, or could it be that it’s a relatively small percentage of Dell thunderbolt laptop users who own usb-c docks. I’d suspect the latter.

    • Bob Boerner Bob Boerner Reply

      Thanks for the kind words, they are much appreciated.

      To your question, I think it would be quite difficult to pin down a number (and I wouldn’t want to hazard a guess) without more data. Our current data is based on helping customers when things don’t work as expected with our USB-C products, and that is a very specific window into the overall number of users.

  3. Lance Hughes Reply

    ust my two cents here. This is not only happening on Dell systems. I am using the new larger USB-C with my razer blade stealth. Both my keyboard and mous conneed are experiencing issues. The inconssistenc in this comment is actually a point to this issue. Tea lag is uuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuearable and ouse only started experienciiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiing these issues on i moved the usb adapter from the laptop issssssssssssssssssslef to the dock.

    • Patric Neumann Reply

      Please contact us directly at support@plugable.com if you are having problems with your Razer and one of our USB-C docking stations.

      EDIT: Just found your email.

  4. Maciej Reply

    My little contribution is, try fixing Wi-Fi to a 5ghz network. That seems to have solved a lot of problems with my xps 13 9350. There is also good article on Intel website about interference if 2.4ghz and usb connections.

    • Bob Boerner Bob Boerner Reply

      Thank you for the contribution. We have also found switching to the 5 GHz band can also help in some instances. In some cases if your wireless router doesn’t support the 5 GHz band that won’t be an option, so lowering the transmit power would be the workaround.

      Thanks again!

  5. Tom N. Reply

    I have been using a Plugable USB 2.0 display adapter connected to a Dell WD15 dock, which is connected via USB-C to a Precision 5510 running Windows 10. The display works fine, unless I move ANY Windows Store application (or Edge) to that monitor, then it typically disconnects/reconnects immediately and will randomly disconnect/reconnect afterward. I noticed that I don’t have the problem with non-store apps (Chrome, RDP), they will run all day on that screen with no problem… so I don’t know if that’s somehow a factor…

    • Bob Boerner Bob Boerner Reply

      Interesting symptoms you describe. As a quick test to isolate the behavior, if you disconnect the Dell WD15 dock temporarily (we want to remove it from the equation) and connect the Plugable adapter directly to one of the Precision 5510’s integrated USB Type-A ports does the behavior change?

      • Tom N. Reply

        So, I tried as you suggested and I didn’t experience any problems when the Plugable adapter is connected directly. BUT, this might be a false negative, since I not can’t recreate the issue via the WD15 :/ Go figure.

        I checked to see if anything has changed WRT my system configuration. Was (and still is) in airplane mode. No MS updates have been applied, no new application installs, and I haven’t run any Dell driver updates (Dell Command Update is set to manual). Just a shutdown and startup…

        I will keep an eye on it and let you know if anything develops!

        Thanks for keeping tabs on this issue and staying in touch with the community (I know Dell isn’t)!

        • Bob Boerner Bob Boerner Reply

          Glad to hear things are working better, I can certainly appreciate the frustration with regard to the inconsistent behavior 🙂

          While I wouldn’t suggest altering a working configuration, as you mentioned you had Airplane mode enabled as time progresses and logistics allow for it you may want to disable Airplane mode to see if the errant behavior returns (in cases such as this I only recommend changing one variable at a time).

          If it does, try lowering the transmit power of the Wi-Fi adapter as we describe in the latest update at the top of the post to see if that helps. As I am guessing you are using a wired Ethernet connection in the Dell dock using Airplane mode as a workaround obviously doesn’t have much of an impact, but the additional data point may be useful.

  6. supe Reply

    Even though I don’t have a Plugable dock, I wanted to post my experience with my xps 9350 and wd15 dock. Interaction with dell support was superfluous at best, in reading forum posts I decided to focus on the wifi card interaction as that seemed to have an effect on my connectivity issue. I ended up replacing the dell 1820 card with a dell killer 1535, and eureka, my issues with connective are gone. Everything works at full wifi strength on both bands as well as with Bluetooth.

    • Bob Boerner Bob Boerner Reply

      Thanks for providing that new data point. We have read in Dell’s forums where customers have tried a similar tactic by replacing the Dell 1820 card (which I believe is based on a Broadcom chipset) with an Intel chipset adapter. There seem to be conflicting reports in the forums as to the effectiveness of the swap using the Intel adapter, but your experience with the Killer variant is most interesting and hopefully will help others.

      Thanks again for sharing!

    • Joe Reply

      I just purchased a new dell xps 15 and it came with a Killer Wireless 1535 installed. I also purchased the Plugable Triple Docking Station to connect my 2 external displays and, unfortunately, I am having the random temporary connectivity issues described above. I have not opened a support ticket yet because I am trying all of the suggestions on this page first to see if I can fix it myself but thought this info my be useful. Also, another note, when going to the properties of the Killer Wireless adapter, there is not a Power Output property therefore I can not reduce the output to 75%. I am in the process of researching if there is another way to manage this setting.

      • Bob Boerner Bob Boerner Reply

        Hi Joe,

        Thanks for posting! One quick thing to test is if enabling Airplane Mode to temporarily to disable the Wi-Fi adapter helps with the behavior, as this will let us know where to focus.

        If it does help, we have had one customer report of an option specific to the Killer card that may change the behavior. If you would, please disable Airplane Mode to re-enable the Wi-Fi adapter.

        Next, from within Device Manager open the Properties of the Killer Wireless card and then select the ‘Advanced’ tab. From the choices presented, select the ‘Roaming Aggressiveness’ property and then change the value to ‘2. Medium-low’. Apply the change and then reboot the system and test again.

        Please let us know if that helps!

        Bob

  7. Kip Shields Reply

    A data point for your engineers to consider: the 1.2.3 BIOS does not appear to have the USB-C connectivity issues that are present in all newer versions. I’m managing a fleet of over 100 9350s and a few have exhibited some very strange behaviors related to the Broadcom 1820A (cyclical bluescreens only under some user profiles, for example). We’ll be trying out some of the Intel 7265 adapters to see if there’s any improvement, but ultimately the fix needs to come from firmware. Good luck and thanks for posting this!

    • Bob Boerner Bob Boerner Reply

      Thanks for sharing Kip, that is great info especially since you have a large sample size to pull from. Please let us know if switching to the Intel Wi-FI adapter helps as that will be another good data point.

      Thanks again for sharing!

      • Kip Shields Reply

        Bob, so far so good on replacing the 1820A with the 7265 adapter under the 1.4.4 BIOS. We’d never been able to successfully complete system imaging using a USB-C ethernet adapter. I’m planning on replacing all of our 1820A wireless cards with the 7265s based on the low price point and relative ease of installation.

        • Bob Boerner Bob Boerner Reply

          Hi Kip, thanks for getting back. Glad to hear that replacing the Dell card with the Intel unit while using the latest BIOS has helped. Also very interesting the data point in regard to the USB-C Ethernet adapter. Please let us know if the results continue with the same trend once you deploy at scale.

          Thanks once again for sharing!

  8. Darren Carey Reply

    Good article. I’ve been using the Dell tb15 dock for 5 months and have had enough of it exhibiting so many issues so gonna look at your products.
    Thx
    Darren

  9. Dave Reply

    Amazing work on helping track this down. I’m using the USB-C to Thunderbolt 3 Dual DisplayPort Adapter with my Dell XPS 15 (9550) and had some pretty annoying scree flicker issues, even with all the latest drivers and BIOS installed. I noticed a definite correlation between this issue and Wifi bandwidth usage, which seemed really odd. Setting the Wifi adapter power to 75% seems to have fixed it! Great product, and excellent support!

    • Bob Boerner Bob Boerner Reply

      Hi Michele,

      Thanks for posting. I took a quick look on the page you link to and the system BIOS, Thunderbolt Driver, Thunderbolt NVM listed have been released for some time now. Dell unfortunately has a habit of changing the ‘Last Updated’ field of a driver entry even if the driver itself has not changed. For example as of today, the Thunderbolt driver listed has been released for some time but the ‘Last Updated’ field is showing September 13. The Intel graphics driver seems to be the sole item actually updated recently, on September 7th.

      That said, our recommendations in the post still apply. Ensure that the BIOS, Thunderbolt driver, Thunderbolt NVM and GPU driver are the latest. If things still aren’t working properly, try lowering the transmit power of the internal Wi-FI adapter as shown in the update to the post.

  10. Jay Luke Reply

    Bob, thanks for your continued support in this thread.

    Question for you or any of your readers: can anyone out there running any variant of Linux on their Dell XPS 15 9550 report that they were able to resolve the screen-flicker issues reported here? I purchased a pluggable Thunderbolt3-to-dual-HDMI adaptor, and it works out of the box, except for the occasional display glitch that leaves one monitor garbled with vertical lines. When that happens I have to unplug the adaptor (or the monitor from the adaptor) and plug it back in. The problem with that is I have to take a minute or two to move my taskbars and open windows back to their prior locations, which just destroys my workflow. At its worst it might happen a couple of times per hour. I provide more details on this reddit thread: https://www.reddit.com/r/Dell/comments/53qtyj/thunderbolt_to_hdmi_on_xps_13_9350_with_ubuntu/d7za026

    • Bob Boerner Bob Boerner Reply

      Hi Jay,

      Thanks for posting, and glad the post has helped. To your specific question, very interesting behavior shown in the screenshot of your reddit thread and I believe it differs somewhat from what others have reported (especially since disabling Wi-FI had no effect).

      A quick question for you, are you also able to boot into Windows to allow for updating the BIOS and Thunderbolt NVM firmware? I ask because to my knowledge while it is possible to update the BIOS while running Linux it isn’t possible to update the Thunderbolt NVM firmware. Dell has two threads about this if you are curious -> http://en.community.dell.com/techcenter/os-applications/f/4613/t/19678284?pi22229=1#20915109 and http://en.community.dell.com/techcenter/os-applications/f/4613/t/19974705

      Assuming that the BIOS and NVM firmware are up to date, as the behavior seems to only affect one display, there are a few quick things to try an isolate the behavior further. The first would be to swap the HDMI cable going to the affected display with a new one to help rule out the cable as the cause. You may have already tried that, but it is a good thing to double-check.

      If swapping the cable doesn’t help, the next step would be to swap the HDMI cable connections first at the monitor end to see if the behavior follows the output port of the adapter or stays with the original monitor. This will let us know if the specific port or the monitor is part of the issue.

      If swapping the HDMI cable doesn’t help, please send an email to support@plugable.com and reference this comment and we will determine the next steps from there.

      Thank you,

      Bob
      Plugable Technologies
      http://www.plugable.com/support

  11. Tom Browne Reply

    My new Dell XPS 13 9350 and WD15 dock, purchased directly from Dell, arrived this week and immediately exhibited the problems described above (using the micro-display connector on the dock to a second monitor). Maybe this is an older machine from some old stock lying around somewhere, but the problem is definitely not fixed. A full round of BIOS and driver updates failed to fix it. Dell currently tells me the they think the Dock is the problem and are proposing to send me a new one, but I am not so sure.

    Turning off WiFi fixed, not a problem as I use the Ethernet connector on the dock. A bigger problem is using a separate monitor with a third party USB C to VGA dongle, which does not work at all (WiFi or no WiFi). Maybe I should have gotten a USB to micro-display dongle…

    • Bob Boerner Bob Boerner Reply

      Hi Tom,

      Thanks for posting and sharing your experience, appreciate you taking the time. I am glad turning off the Wi-Fi helped in this case given you are using a wired Ethernet connection.

      You results are interesting in that a ‘freshly’ manufactured system is exhibiting the behavior. Can you let us know if your system has the Dell-branded Broadcom Wi-Fi adapter or an Intel Wi-Fi adapter? I ask because it appears that the behavior is isolated to the Dell Wi-Fi adapters, with some users even going so far as to replace the Dell adapter with an Intel one (details should be up above in the comments) to help with the issue.

      Thanks again for sharing your experience!

      Bob

  12. Tom Browne Reply

    Bob, it is indeed a Dell 1820a unit made by Broadcom. I will share this with Dell service people.

    • Bob Boerner Bob Boerner Reply

      Thanks for getting back with the confirmation Tom. Appreciate very much you taking the time, as that helps us help others. If Dell is able to provide any additional insight we would much appreciate you sharing it here.

  13. Tom Browne Reply

    Bob, the latest is Dell is offering to send a tech to my home to replace the motherboard. However I am leaving this afternoon for an overseas trip for three weeks (this trip being the whole reason for buying the Dell in the first place) and it won’t get fixed before November, assuming a new motherboard actually fixes the problem.

    I did try the XPS with a third party dongle for Type C to VGA and got the same problem, so it is not the dock but the conflict between WiFi and video. If I had been able to work a projector while connected I would have taken it with me and would have gone for the motherboard on my return. Sadly it is not to be, a shame because otherwise it is a beautiful machine.

    Anyway November brings me past the 30-day return point; as well I have managed to sort out a backup solution for my trip which is not ideal but that works. So I have started the return process and will decide when I get back whether to shop for a new computer or carry on with what I’ve got. For the record this is an older Microsoft Surface 3 tablet running Windows 10 which performs OK but which is hobbled by limited hard drive space.

    Thanks for running this blog, very useful. Sorry I won’t be able to tie up this particular loose end for you.

  14. Bob Boerner Bob Boerner Reply

    Hi Tom,

    Thanks for getting back with the detailed update, very much appreciate you taking the time before your trip. Certainly no apologies necessary, that you documented the experience here will certainly help others and I am glad you found my post useful.

    While I am glad Dell has offered to replace the motherboard, I am sorry the timing of the repair means the system will have to be returned. Best of luck on your journey, and thanks again for sharing your experience!

    Thanks again,

    Bob

  15. Dan Wilson Reply

    Thank you! While I don’t have your product, I had similar problems and your solution to turn down the wireless radio to 75% appears to have worked for me.

    I have a very early Dell XPS 15 9550 that I purchased in order to use my Apple Thunderbolt monitor on a PC. I then waited six months for someone to produce a thunderbolt 3 to older thunderbolt adapter before finally using the monitor and laptop together in early summer. The monitor works with the laptop, but it has always been glitchy, flickering or turning off on occasion. It would work fine for days or weeks at a time (but almost always with a video artifact at the bottom edge), then suddenly would be unstable, turning on and off randomly, for several hours. It’s been glitching almost constantly for two days until I found your post, and after turning down the radio power it has been completely stable and my video artifact is even gone!

    Thanks.
    -Dan

    • Bob Boerner Bob Boerner Reply

      Hi Dan,

      Thank for posting. Very glad we could be of help in your case, thank you for taking the time to share your experience!

      Bob

  16. Sam P Reply

    Thanks for sharing your updates on this. After spending time flashing the lastest drivers, firmware and BIOS (not in that order), I didn’t feel like combing through the long Dell forum posts also just to come to the conclusion that all I need to do to make my dual 4k display stable was to disable WiFi. Did this and presto, my displays are stable (Startech usb c to dual DP, 9550 fully patched, LG 27″ 4k 60Hz).

    I have never liked Broadcom WiFi cards before, though they have feature rich options, so it doesn’t surprise me that it is being a power hog. I’ll be switching to an Intel 3×3 AC card as soon as it is released. Though this is leaning me towards going with a 2×2 until it arrives.

  17. Aaron Marks Reply

    Wanted to share that the XPS 9360 is out now and we’ve had a chance to test a number of these with the WD15, TB15, and LG 27UD88 and all have performed flawlessly. It appears that Kaby Lake may have helped Dell finally correct their USB-C & TB3 issues.

    • Bob Boerner Bob Boerner Reply

      Hi Aaron,

      Thanks for getting back with the update, and I am glad the XPS 9360 model is working as expected in your environment. We also obtained a XPS 9360, and in our limited testing it appears our specific example may be affected by the same problem that requires lowering the Wi-Fi transmit power or enabling airplane mode. Out of curiosity, may I ask which model Wi-Fi adapter is in use with your XPS 9360s?

  18. Mujtaba Murtuza Reply

    Hi, I just did some experiementing and disabled the wifi while connecting usb c to hdmi and it finally worked, for now. I reconnected wifi and eveyrthing is good again also. I also lowered power to 75% (after disconeccting/reconnecting wifi) and I’m going to monitor to see if this will happen again. Hopefully my wifi performance and bluetooth performance doesnt drop!!! Thanks for your research I really appreciate you sharing this. Too many problems with the Dell XPS. If this still persists, my next move is to switch to an intel wifi+bluetooth card although spec vs. spec it would be a downgrade, unless intel comes out with their brand new card quickly (still waiting). I had no other wifi and bluetooth problems.

    • Bob Boerner Bob Boerner Reply

      Hi Mujtaba,

      Thanks for posting and sharing your experience. I am glad our research helped you get things working properly with your system and you are of course very welcome!

      Bob

  19. Martin Ortmayr Reply

    I should post my findings here. I just hooked up a UD-CA1 dock to my new XPS 13 9360 and I was experiencing mouse and keyboard issues (mouse disconnects every 2-3 seconds and keyboard repeats like user Lance Hughes described above. The fix was to put the computer into airplane mode (The Killer wireless adapter on the 9360 does not have a power output setting in device manager) . However, when I took the computer out of airplane mode, the problem did not re-appear. I haven’t rebooted yet, and I’m still experimenting with the issue.

    • Bob Boerner Bob Boerner Reply

      Hi Martin,

      Thanks for taking the time to share your results. The Killer wireless card in the new 9360 does not appear to have a method via the Windows driver or the Killer utilities to lower the transmit power of the adapter, so your results of the behavior improving after having toggled Airplane Mode on and off are quite interesting. If you have time please let us know your results over time as it will help us to help others in the future!

      Thanks again for sharing!

      Bob

  20. Martin Ortmayr Reply

    So after using it for a couple of days, I can report that whenever the system goes to sleep or hibernates, when it comes back on, I have to toggle the airplane mode off and on. It seems that when the system wakes up, even though the Airplane icon is visible at the bottom right, it is still using wireless, and the jerky mouse problem persists. So toggling the Airplane mode is my fix for now, maybe I can figure out a script to do it automatically.

  21. Chi Wo Reply

    The Thunderbolt 3 port on the XPS 13 9350 IS A JOKE.

    Compatibility is 100 times worse than the same TB3 port found on my HP Spectre 13.

    XPS’s USB-C compatibility is the worst of all the laptops I own.

    (My XPS 13 9350 has the most updated BIOS, firmware and drivers)

    • Bob Boerner Bob Boerner Reply

      Thanks for posting! The link you provide is very interesting for several reasons. The description does not mention the 9360 model, and the name of the executable includes the phrase, ” Dell_Dock_USB_TYPE-C_PATCH…” Trying to browse for this update manually for either the 9350 and 9360 model on Dell’s support site does not show the update listed, but I did find the English version of the file here -> http://www.dell.com/support/home/us/en/04/Drivers/DriversDetails?driverId=2K0JJ

      That it helped with the mouse and keyboard issues you had is good information that may help others in the future. Thank you again for sharing this with us and our customers!

    • Martin Ortmayr Reply

      FlKin thank you for posting that! The fix works for me also! I don’t need to switch to airplane mode after a reboot now.
      The only thing in the fix is .bat file that sets a registry key:
      HKLM\SYSTEM\CurrentControlSet\Services\MEIx64\Parameters
      PG_DISABLED REG_DWORD –> 1
      I tried setting this back to 0 and the problem came back, put it back to 1 and the mouse is smooth!

  22. Peter Houck Reply

    I gave up on the USB-C DA200 from Dell with the XPS 13. After at least twelve hours of messing around with drivers, re-installing the factory image after installing hundreds of dollar of apps, and hours of support interaction with clueless support people working for DELL in India I came up with a simple solution. I bought a USB 3 to HDMI adapter from j5create – jua350. Installed the driver and plugged in the monitor to the adapter and everything up and worked with no weird drop out, no problem with detecting the display – i.e, it works like it should. So if you resign yourself to the fact the USB-C port is worthless for external displays, then you have a solution.

      • Peter Houck Reply

        Dell support just called me. They informed me that the da200 is not compatible with the XPS 13 9350 – which was my setup. It actually is documented on their accessories web page. Doh! Wish they had told me that was the problem A LOT sooner. They said that you have to use the Dell WD15 dock ($130 -$200 or so). They also have a USB-C to HDMI adapter that is supposed to work. The touchiness of this stuff is a bit disconcerting. Guess that is why you guys are in business 🙂

        • Bob Boerner Bob Boerner Reply

          Hi Peter,

          Thanks for sharing your results! Interesting that Dell is saying the unit is not compatible, as I believe that the XPS 13 9350 was initially on their compatibility list for the product (of course I could be mistaken). There is an interesting thread in the Dell community forums that speaks to this exact combination of devices here -> http://en.community.dell.com/support-forums/laptop/f/3518/t/19982585

          In that thread, posters mention that lowering the transmit power of the internal Wi-Fi adapter to 75% (like we describe in our post) can also help when things are not working as expected. If you still have the DA200 adapter, it won’t hurt to try this option to see if it helps.

          Bob

  23. Jammie Reply

    Hi,

    I recently bought Dell DA200 Usb-c to hdmi/vga/usb3.0/ethernet adapter. While checking with xps 13 9350, vga, usb-c seems to work but hdmi port is not working. I am using ubuntu 14.04 and latest bios version. I tried lowering tx power as suggested by many users but still not working. It seems to detect the extended display however external display appears as black screen.

    At this point I am not sure if the fault is in the adapter or the laptop itself. Any help is much appreciated.

    Thanks

    • Bob Boerner Bob Boerner Reply

      Hi Jammie,

      While we can’t help directly with another manufacturers product, given that the VGA output of the unit is working properly I would first recommend double-checking that the source input is set correctly on the HDMI display and swapping in a new HDMI cable to make sure the cable is not the cause. If things are still not working, I would suggest contacting Dell directly for assistance.

      Thank you,

      Bob

  24. Tom Browne Reply

    My last post (October 13) documented my decision to return my 9350 to Dell because I couldn’t get the WiFi and external monitor to co-exist (a documented problem with the Dell/Broadcomm WiFi card). I am just wondering if the 9360 fixes these problems; the thread since October doesn’t seem to definitively state the Killer WiFi card now in use is any better. PS I have the DA 200 adaptor for when I eventually get a new machine (which I will have to do soon). Many thanks!

    • Bob Boerner Bob Boerner Reply

      Hi Tom,

      Thanks for getting back! To your question, while helping others we have found that in some rare cases the same Wi-Fi issue is still a possibility in 9360 systems with the Killer Wireless Wi-Fi adapter.

      In those cases the only potential workaround is to enable Airplane Mode to disable the internal Wi-Fi entirely as the driver for the Killer card does not provide for the option to lower the transmit power that both the Dell Wi-FI or Intel Wi-Fi card do. If that is not an option, Dell would have to be contacted for assistance.

      Thanks!

      Bob

  25. Peter Reply

    I’ve a Dell XPS 13 (9360) and have an issue where when UCB-C is being used to power/charge the laptop, the audio out to speakers suffers massive static/interference.

    I’m in the process of being shipped a tested plugable triple to see if it makes any difference (the current one emits a high pitched whine constantly).

    Interestingly, when I have USB-C connected, and add AC power to the laptop via it’s powerpack, the issue lessens (but doesn’t go away) and if I remove USB-C from the equation it’s OK.

    Either some poor work inside the Dell laptop (RE: shielding) or something dodgy about the docking station/USB-C cable. Hopefully will have more info soon to update people.

  26. Kieran Donnelly Reply

    We have roughly 20x 9350 and 15x 9360 connected to WD15 dock and 2 dell monitors (display port and hdmi).
    We have had issues with approx. 1/5 of our users occasional display port monitor disconnect (roughly once every 2-3 days). Most of the time it just lost and restored. Never HDMI monitor.

    Roughly 1/8 of us having issues with Microsoft Desktop 2000 keyboard and mouse (our standard for these docked users) not being present on boot up. When that occurred, we also noted that any USB speakers (conference calling tool) also played garbage sound quality. This would persist throughout the windows session. Until either the power was cycled on the dock, or laptop restarted. Roughly 4/5 times a reboot solved issues for that session.

    Roughly 1/5 users having issue where audio quality on a USB headset was terrible when using the dock, forcing the user to connect to laptop, which resolved the issue. This would be 100% of the time. 9360 which didn’t have latest bios on laptop or dock, awaiting feedback if this solved the users issue.

    On 1 users laptop, using a Logitech mouse she is keen on, it jerked 100% of the time, no matter reboots or power cycle of dock, resulting in a great testing situation to see what fixed the issue. That laptop was a 9360 so the power adjustment for wifi couldn’t be tested. Applied Realtek Ethernet update for dock (link below) and rebooted. No resolve. Installed audio update and again no resolve. Applying the WD15 dock firmware update however did resolve the issue, with mouse now moving smoothly in the dock for the first time. BIOS on laptop had already been updated at the point of mouse issues first manifesting. Dock fw update sorted it.

    Following the dock upgrade (audio, network and firmware) Seen no improvement updating audio and network, but did them as a matter of course. http://www.dell.com/support/home/product-support/product/dell-dock-wd15/drivers

    Will follow up in a few weeks with findings, as lot of these intermittent faults take a while to manifest again.

    • Bob Boerner Bob Boerner Reply

      Hi Kieran,

      Thanks for taking the time to share you experience!

      While we can’t help directly with regard to the Dell docking stations, your mention of the USB audio problem some users are having reminded me of a Dell USB-C patch referenced earlier in the comments that speaks to helping with audio issues -> http://www.dell.com/support/home/us/en/04/Drivers/DriversDetails?driverId=2K0JJ If the BIOS update on the 9360’s does not help with the problem, you may want to apply this patch to see if it helps.

      Thanks again for sharing your experience!

      Bob

      • Kieran Donnelly Reply

        Just Sharing, found this thread helpful and wanted to contribute my findings.

        In reference to the user who had 100% mouse problems, they sadly re-occurred today and the firmware upgrade didn’t fix the issue. Intermittent fault, sorry for miss reporting success.

  27. Jim Gaynor Reply

    Dell XPS 13 9360 with Killer Wireless, Plugable USB-C to DisplayPort cable, LG 27UD68-P 4K display here. All purchased within the last 2 weeks (writing this on Feb 27). Bought the XPS 13 at a Microsoft store with their “Signature Install” (minimal crapware).

    Running Dell Update on the XPS 13 installed current BIOS, updated TB13 firmware, and a handful of drivers. It didn’t update network/BT drivers. But I had intermittent disconnect issues (within 5 min) when using the LG 4K display while the Killer Wireless was enabled. No problems with Killer Wireless disabled. Of course, the Killer Wireless doesn’t have the option to reduce power output – and I was ready to return the XPS 13.

    As a final Hail Mary, I manually looked at available Dell drivers for my service tag – and it looks like both the Killer Wireless and Bluetooth drivers on the Dell site are newer than the pre-installed ones (despite Dell Update ignoring them). I installed the Wireless and Bluetooth adaptors.

    That was 2pm. Haven’t had a dropout for the rest of the day – 4K display has been rock steady.

    TLDR: Don’t trust Dell Update (frankly, Dell Update has screwed me in the past). Take a good look at the drivers on the Dell site available for your Service Tag.

    • Bob Boerner Bob Boerner Reply
      • Jim Gaynor (@jimgaynor) Reply

        Bob – confirmed on both drivers. I see those revisions when I search by my XPS 13 9360 Service Tag. The Killer Wireless driver still does not have a Power Output Property.

        A couple additional usage notes:

        I have Wi-Fi enabled, but I’m using a StarTech USB 3.0 hub for Ethernet in the office (ASIX A88179 chipset).
        Using Bluetooth for mouse and keyboard.

        Most likely, this is a shielding issues (someone above mentioned it). It would be interesting if some brave soul identified their TB3/USB-C controller and manually added some shielding – but that won’t be me. Failing that, solution from Dell will either be to throttle power output of WiFi (reducing range and/or speed), or possible throttle the TB3/USB-C controller to better handle data continuity and error checking.

        I’m happy to answer any other questions about my setup or version numbers. I’ve experienced this XKCD comic far too many times to leave others hanging: https://xkcd.com/979/

        –Jim

        • Bob Boerner Bob Boerner Reply

          Thanks for getting back with the confirmation Jim, and I think we have all the details we need for now. Thanks for the xkcd comic I had not seen that one before and find it very apropos 🙂

          Thanks again for sharing your findings with us!

          Bob

          • Jim Gaynor (@jimgaynor)

            Sadly, it wasn’t a long-term fix. Even with those updated drivers, I’m still having recurring dropout/resync issues on my USB-C to DisplayPort monitor when the Killer WiFi adapter is enabled – just not as frequent as they were on the earlier drivers.

            With the WiFi adapter disabled, no problems. It’s pretty obviously an interference issue.

  28. Jesse Robertson Reply

    Bob, thanks for the extensive article and engagement. I’m having a similar problem with an XPS 9360 and one of your competitors’ Thunderbolt 3 to 2X HDMI adapters, and after spending an hour-and-a-half on the phone with Dell, they’re sending someone out to replace the Killer 1535 wireless card, which they say conflicts with the Thunderbolt controller.

    Interestingly, the same day I was dealing with that, I found out that the Killer card was also crashing my TP-Link Archer C7 routers. Since I updated the router firmware, the display adapter has worked perfectly. I’ve read other accounts of the Killer card behaving badly under load, and I wonder whether some arcane interaction between the card and the crashing router was having side effects.

    Either way, I’ll post again once the card is replaced.

    • Bob Boerner Bob Boerner Reply

      Hi Jesse,

      Thanks for posting and sharing your experience. Interesting that Dell states the wireless card is a conflict, and very interesting that updating the router firmware has helped prior to said replacement. If you have the time we would most appreciate any additional updates you have after Dell has replaced the Killer Wireless card and the long-term effects of the router firmware upgrade.

      Thanks again for sharing!

      Bob

    • Jesse Robertson Reply

      The Dell tech just replaced the WiFi card with an Intel 8265. So far, so good, but it’s only been 30 minutes. Before the replacement, but after the aforementioned firmware upgrade for the routers, I was continuing to lose my external displays unpredictably, so I’m not sure whether the problem is really fixed or not. Does anyone know of a quick way to stress-test a wireless card? The displays seemed to drop most reliably when there was a spike in traffic.

      P.S. – The TP-Link forum has more info on the Killer/TP-Link conflict, along with the beta firmware that fixes that issue, here:

      http://forum.tp-link.com/showthread.php?94180-Archer-C7-router-crashed-by-Dell-laptop-with-Killer-adapter

    • Jesse Robertson Reply

      A quick update:

      – The wifi card was upgraded Thursday (March 9) from a Killer 1535 to an Intel 8265
      – I continued to have problems with the adapter on Thursday and Friday, with the monitors dropping intermittently
      – I tried adjusting the wifi transmit power (which wasn’t possible with the Killer card) from 5 (maximum) to 4, then 3, and continued to have intermittent monitor drops
      – After Friday, I haven’t had any drops, and I’ve had the wifi power back up at 5 since Saturday
      – On Sunday I reset Windows to the factory state, just to be sure, partly because the Killer driver and software were impossible to remove
      – Today I tried moving large files across my LAN to stress test the card and cause a problem, but it sustained speeds of ~30 Mbps in both directions at once for several minutes without issue

      I’ve had uninterrupted performance from the adapter, and no problems at all with the monitors, since Saturday. I’m still wondering if something will crop up, since the problems persisted for a short time after the card swap, but so far, so good. I’ll email Dell shortly to update them, I suspect they’ll consider the problem solved.

      Let me know if you have any more specific questions, and I’ll be happy to pass along whatever I can.

      • Bob Boerner Bob Boerner Reply

        Hi Jesse,

        Thanks for getting back with the update, appreciate very much the excellent detail you provided. Interesting that initially the problems persisted after swapping the card, but the Windows reset and the later results help prove out what others have reported in that the Intel card is a viable solution to the problem.

        While the Intel Wi-Fi card was an option in for previous XPS systems, it no longer appears to be an option for their current offerings (hopefully that will change in the future).

        Thanks again for sharing your results!

        Bob

      • Maciej Reply

        Hello Jesse

        I’d suggest checking if the card is operating on 2.4GHz or 5GHz. For me the switch from the former to the latter solves the problem 100%. So I’ve just set my router to have different SSIDs for the 2 networks. If you happen to have one SSID for 2 bands than you might have the effect you mention – depending on which network band would your card choose to connect to.

        Maciej

        • Jesse Robertson Reply

          Thanks Maciej, I have set the card to prefer the 5 GHz band, but my wifi network has both bands under the same SSID. If I have further problems, I’ll give that a shot.

          J

  29. Matt Page Reply

    I have a XPS 9550, 4K, 1TB PCIE SSD, and have been trying to use the Plugable USB-C dock, but keep getting intermittent disconnects. Here’s what I’ve done so far:

    -Made sure system drivers and BIOS are up to date, and tried the dock drivers from Dell
    -Made sure I have the latest Display Link software installed
    -Disconnected all monitors, just TB cable to laptop, with Ethernet–disconnects happen every couple minutes, going from Ethernet to WiFi and back to battery
    -Of course restarted
    -Tried a different cable, 40Gbps StarTech cable, no effect
    -Replaced the Dell 1730? M.2 Wi-Fi card with an Intel 8360 wireless card that was recommended, but get the same behavior

    Disabling Wi-Fi is not an acceptable solution for me, as that would require me to reconnect every single console I have open if I have to go to a meeting, etc, eating up several minutes and losing any work in progress.

    Any other ideas? I know the original Dell docks were plagued with issues, and I’ve quite a few headaches with this laptop, but it sounds like others have it working…

    • Bob Boerner Bob Boerner Reply

      Thanks for posting Matt! I know you mentioned that disabling Wi-Fi would not be a long-term solution, but doing so if only temporarily by enabling Airplane Mode would help rule out the Wi-Fi in your system as a contributor to the current behavior. If disabling the Wi-Fi does not help, please send a PlugDebug file (http://plugable.com/support/plugdebug) to support@plugable.com along with your Amazon Order ID number and we will be happy to help troubleshoot things further.

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