How to Fix a Dell Docking Station Not Detecting Your Monitor

Fix Dell Docking Station not Detecting Monitor

How to Fix a Dell Docking Station Not Detecting Your Monitor

Docking stations can help turn a single input into multiple, maximizing your computer’s usage. They can also help with cable management since your cables will run to the docking station instead of down the back of your computer. However, sometimes docking stations don’t work as intended. If your Dell docking station doesn’t recognize your monitor, never fear. Here are some workarounds you can use to see if you have a problem with your computer or your docking station.

Step 1: Confirm BIOS Configuration

The first thing you want to ensure is that your BIOS is updated. Updating your BIOS will ensure that your computer is running the latest input/output drivers, which it needs for display ports. How to update your BIOS is dependent on which BIOS you have. Your motherboard’s manufacturer determines the version and default configuration of your BIOS.

So, to do this step, you’ll need to check with your motherboard manual, which you can typically find online with a cursory search. Find out what BIOS version and motherboard you have by pressing Windows+R, typing “msinfo32” in the Run box, and then clicking OK or hitting Enter. Information about your motherboard will listed under BaseBoard.

Fix a Dell Docking Station Not Detecting Monitor
You can find your BIOS version and motherboard in your computer’s System Information.

You’ll also want to ensure that you have some BIOS settings enabled if you have a USB-C docking station. Those are as follows:

  • Select “Enable USB Boot Support”
  • Select “Enable External USB Port”
  • Under “Dell Type-C Dock Configuration,” set it to “Always Allow Dell Docks”
  • Under “System Configuration,” enable “USB PowerShare”
  • Under “Thunderbolt Adapter Configuration,” select “Enable Thunderbolt Adapter Boot Support,” “Enable Thunderbolt Technology Support,” and “Enable Thunderbolt Adapter Preboot Modules”
  • Select “Security Level–No Security”
  • Under “POST Behavior” and “Fastboot,” select “Thorough”

Step 2: Follow the Driver Installation

Driver installation for Dell Docking Stations is easier using a Dell laptop or desktop computer. These machines can use the Dell Update and Dell Command | Update programs to ensure your devices have the most recent drivers.

If you don’t have a Dell machine, you can find the drivers on Dell’s Drivers and Downloads page and manually install them.

Step 3: Reset the Dock

Before you go further, Dell recommends that you reset your dock. To reset your dock, start by unplugging the dock’s AC cable. Then, drain the residual power by holding the power button for 30 seconds. Plug the AC cable back in, and the LED on the dock should blink 3 times, indicating the dock has been reset. Finally, you can plug the Thunderbolt or USB-C connector into the computer.

Step 4: Run Windows Update

Running Windows Update is the first step to ensuring driver and firmware updates. Windows Update manages most drivers and typically delivers the best possible software for your devices. You can manually check if Microsoft has released a new version of Windows to Windows Update by opening your settings panel and searching “Windows Update” in the search bar.

dell docking station
Windows Settings is the hub for system customization.

Open the Windows Update settings and tap the blue “Check for Updates” button to see if there is a recent update that your computer has yet to receive.

dell docking station
Windows Update typically installs new versions automatically.

Step 5: Manually Update Firmware

You should also manually check to ensure that your docking station’s firmware is updated. Firmware updates aren’t as common as software ones. Sometimes, you must manually initiate them, or they won’t happen at all. So, checking your firmware is good practice, especially if you’re having issues with a device.

Here is a list of the most relevant firmware Dell docking stations use.

Dock Drivers and FirmwareNotes
Dell Dock Series FirmwareYou’ll need the one for your specific model
Realtek USB AudioNot used by WD19S, WD19DCS, WD19TBS
Realtek USB GBE Ethernet Controller Driver
System Drivers and FirmwareNotes
Intel UHD Graphics Driver
Intel Thunderbolt Controller DriverThis driver is only usable with computers that support Thunderbolt 3 technology. Ice Lake and Tiger Lake CPUs have native Thunderbolt support and do not need this driver.
Intel Thunderbolt Controller Firmware Update UtilityThis driver is only usable with computers that support Thunderbolt 3 technology. Ice Lake and Tiger Lake CPUs have native Thunderbolt support and do not need this driver.

Are Dell Docking Stations Compatible with Other Computer Brands?

Dell docking stations have limited compatibility with non-Dell motherboards. As a general rule, yes, a Dell docking station can be used with a non-Dell motherboard. However, since the Dell BIOS has additional features to support using their docking stations, you may run into problems without a Dell BIOS. These problems may also not be easily fixable due to the docking station needing the additional capabilities of the Dell BIOS.

What Interface Do Dell Docking Stations Use?

The computer-to-device interface may change if you are using an older, depreciated docking station, such as the TB16. The most recent generation of Dell docking stations — the W19 series — uses a USB-C/Thunderbolt connector to interface with your computer.

What Dell Computers Are Compatible with Docking Stations?

All modern Dell computers are compatible with the current generation of docking stations. The only requirement is that your computer has an available USB-C or, ideally, Thunderbolt connection.

Will Attaching a Docking Station Impact My Computer’s Performance?

Yes. Docking stations and all the stuff you will inevitably plug into them impact computer performance. Not only will plugging more devices into your computer increase your computer’s power draw, but it will also force your computer to simultaneously interface with more devices. More devices to read from, write to, and maintain connections with will impact your computer’s performance. Attaching a docking station to a laptop will increase its power draw and lower its battery life.

Is Any Software Required to Use a Dell Docking Station?

Dell docking stations do not require any software. However, Dell recommends that users with Dell computers install either the Dell Update or Dell Command | Update, depending on the computer model. Windows Update will download and maintain most major software necessities for Dell docking stations.

Do Dell Docking Stations Have Any Security Features?

dell docking station
Kensington locks can be used to prevent theft of electronic devices.

Dell docking stations don’t have any notable security features like Kensington locks. The docking stations aren’t designed to be taken places; they’re rather heavy and large for what they do and would be difficult to carry if you take them around regularly.

Can a Dell Docking Station Support a High Refresh Rate Monitor?

In theory, yes. The W19 series docking stations support DisplayPort 1.4 output, and the HDMI outputs are at least 2.0 ports (depending on the specific model.) However, the most crucial component to look at when deciding if your setup can handle a high refresh rate monitor is the main computer’s graphics processing unit.

Many Dell pre-built computers use an Intel-integrated GPU, meaning the central processing unit will handle the graphics as well as logic processing. Integrated GPUs are generally weaker than discrete GPUs because the processing cores are shared with the logic side of the computer’s processing. Thus, you’ll need to scale your graphics expectations based on the graphics processor your computer has.

People using Dell docking stations with non-Dell machines are more likely to be able to support a high refresh rate monitor. Additionally, users with Alienware computers may be able to use Dell docking stations with high refresh rate monitors as they typically have discrete GPUs.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is a Dell docking station?

Dell docking stations are USB devices that connect a user’s computer to a hub with several input and output ports, including additional USB and display ports.

Do Dell docking stations use proprietary drivers?

Yes, Dell docking stations use the Dell Dock Series Firmware.

Can you use a Dell docking station with a non-Dell computer?

Yes, Dell docking stations work with non-Dell computers. However, the Dell BIOS has unique features that integrate with the docking stations, making them a more stable choice for Dell docking stations.

Can you use a Dell docking station with a high refresh rate monitor?

The most recent generation of Dell docking stations has DisplayPort 1.4 and HDMI 2.0, meaning that with an appropriately powerful GPU, they are perfectly capable of handling a high refresh rate monitor.

Do Dell docking stations impact computer performance?

Yes. Dell docking stations and the subsequent devices you plug into them will increase your power draw and processing power since the computer has to interface with more devices.

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