Sal Olivares

One cable to rule them all

My quest for the ultimate work from home setup is over.

My switch to 100% work from home left me scrambling to find a setup that allowed me to work and play from the same desk. My desk is currently sporting a 120hz Dell 34” ultrawide along with a 144hz Dell 27” all powered with a beefy 3090.

I needed something that allowed me to hook up my monitors and all my peripherals to my work issued MacBook Pro during the day and gaming PC during the evening. The answer? A Thunderbolt PCI-E card, a CalDigit TS3+, and Apple’s 130 dollar Thunderbolt 3 Pro cable.

KVM? Nope.

I started my search looking for a KVM and saw several potential pain points. I needed wires going from my laptop to the KVM and my PC to the KVM — that meant doubling the amount of wires. No thanks.

The g-sync support seemed to be hit or miss depending on switch. They also were either too bulky or lacked the amount of USB ports I required.

Thunderbolt? Yep.

I became obsessed with the idea of having one cable I can connect to my laptop during work hours then unplug and connect to my PC for my gaming needs. I would only have to swap around one cable!

The first problem is the lack of Thunderbolt 3 connectivity for my PC. The only solution for my Asus ROG Maximus XII Hero motherboard was purchasing an Thunderbolt 3 PCI-E expansion card. This card supports up to two monitors. If you have more, you need a motherboard with built in TB ports or another solution.

The second problem was finding the right hub to support my high refresh rate DisplayPort monitors. After reading through many reviews, I settled on the CalDigit TS3 Plus for the sheer amount of connectivity and promising DisplayPort support. Because it only has 1 DisplayPort input, I also purchased a CalDigit’s DisplayPort to USB-C to connect my second monitor.

The third and final problem was finding the right cable. I needed a couple things: DisplayPort support, USB 3.1 speeds, and a long cable. The Apple Thunderbolt 3 Pro cable fit that bill (it’s actually the only cable to support 3.1 and DisplayPort on the market as of this writing).

Pure bliss (almost)

I’ve used this setup for over six months and have been switching between my work laptop and gaming rig daily. G-sync works, Ubuntu works, 144hz+ refresh rate on both monitors works — everything just works and I can’t be happier.

But I do run to problems on occasion when my devices go to sleep. Sometimes the display does not come back on and I need to unplug and replug the Thunderbolt cable. Not a big deal.

Another issue is dual booting. When the GRUB menu appears, my keyboard does not work so I cannot choose which OS to boot into. I temporarily plug in another keyboard to my machine to select an OS — not a deal breaker for me since I boot into windows 90% of the time.

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