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I looked thoroughly, but could not find a configuration for the 2020 MBP. Here is the setup:

  • 13" MacBook Pro 2020 (2 x USB-C ports)

  • 2 x Dell U2518D monitors (not Thunderbolt-equipped)

I tried connecting everything together with a Belkin Thunderbolt 2 Express Dock, but it does not seem to work, unfortunately. I connected one monitor via HDMI-HDMI cable to the dock, and the other monitor via Thunderbolt-DP cable (that came with the monitor), and then connected the dock via USB 2.0 to USB-C to the laptop.

I think the problem might be the link between the dock and the laptop, but I have no idea how I could connect it otherwise. Any ideas?

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Your issue is very much like the one in this question about a MacBook with only two USB-C ports as well: MacBook 4K/60Hz adapter is working directly, but not via USB-C hub

While you have two Thunderbolt ports, the MacBook only had USB ports that supported DisplayPort. So, in your case, you have a couple of options:

  • Plug one display into one of the USB-C ports and use the USB-C Hub w/ Power Delivery as described in the answer in the above linked question to connect your devices and your charger.

  • Use a proper Thunderbolt 3 Dock. The problem that you're having with the Belkin Thunderbolt 2 dock is that while Thunderbolt is technically backward compatible, Thunderbolt 3 uses passive cables where as Thunderbolt 2 cables were active. A number of "high bandwidth" devices like storage and display require an active cable which the standard USB-C cables are not.

    I recently wrote an answer about this for the question LG UltraFine & replacement Belkin USB-C cable gives blurry text. Basically all (quality) USB-C cables are Thunderbolt 3 cables. However, not all are active. Active Thunderbolt 3 cables carry power and cost about $50USD more than regular ones. I believe this is why your Belkin dock isn't working properly.

I would go with the first option: using the USB-C hub with PD. This gives you a lot of options out of the gate without spending too much money. If/when your needs outgrow the hub, go for the Thunderbolt 3 dock as you'll have much more room for growth.

You can try getting the active TB3 cable, but to me, it's more of a bodge and I'm not convinced the Apple TB3 to TB2 adapter carries power. There are lots of folks looking for Thunderbolt 2 docks because they have 2017 and older MacBook Pro laptops they'd like to expand but can't because of product availability; it could fetch a nice price online and help pay for that Thunderbolt 3 dock.

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  • Thank you very much for your reply. Basically, it cannot be done with the TB2 only, as far as I understand, which is a good sanity check to make sure that I wasn't going mad. My employer covers my office tech & gadgets, so I can just return the TB2 and get a TB3, but first I wanted to try to do this with what I had already.
    – John
    Jul 27 '20 at 22:44
  • Awesome that you've got tech covered and equally awesome you're not going mad! :-} I'll leave the cost saving options in there for future readers, but if your employer will cover the TB3 dock - go for that one!
    – Allan
    Jul 27 '20 at 22:46
  • For what it's worth, I managed to do it with a USB-C dongle (with HDMI port for 1 of the monitors and the power charger) and with a second dongle USB-C to DP. But it is clunky and doesn't have the ease of a single cable for both monitors and power. Thank you again for the useful answer.
    – John
    Jul 27 '20 at 22:50
  • Hi Allan, I've spent 15 hours trying to figure out what monitors, KVM switch, or whatever to buy in order to make this setup work and I wonder if you happen to know: apple.stackexchange.com/q/405017/53510 Thanks!
    – Ryan
    Oct 24 '20 at 21:57
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The problem is with the USB-C -> USB-A connection you are losing your DP/HDMI video in the transition between adapters.

Ideally, you need a dock that provides a USB-C connector and runs USB 3.1 and/or Thunderbolt3 over it. USB-C is the connector it could be USB 3.1 or it could be Thunderbolt3. The Mac can send video over just USB 3.1 via USB-C without Thunderbolt. Buying a newer USB-C dock which can be expensive. You need to ensure the USB-C dock can provide enough power (wattage) to charge your MacBook Pro battery. Look at the side of your charger for the wattage your Mac uses. 63W/90W, etc. Thunderbolt3 is not required unless you need to plug fast Thunderbolt3 drives into the dock.

However, if you don't mind attaching two USB-C cables one for each monitor and a third for MacBook Pro power, then they are cheap and easily obtained online. Since both monitors are the same they should both have DisplayPort and HDMI ports. I would prefer DisplayPort over HDMI every time when driving computer monitors.

Search your online retailers for the following:

  • USB-C to DisplayPort Cable
  • USB-C to HDMI Cable
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  • The problem is that MBP 2020 13 in only has 2 x USB-C ports. So I can plug 1 monitor + the power charger.
    – John
    Jul 27 '20 at 21:26

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