Making my new monitor work with an old docking station

After my old monitor had failed, I wanted to replace it with the best possible successor that would still work in the environment I have at home: a Lenovo ThinkPad S1 Yoga notebook attached to a OneLink Pro Dock, both of 2014. The highest resolution supported by that docking station is 2560×1600, i.e., a 4k monitor, which I would otherwise have preferred, was out. 16:10 resolutions including 2560×1600 are no longer popular, but I really prefer having some additional pixels in height. I thus found the Dell UP3017 (product page, review). Not producing visual media but rather working a lot with text, I was not in urgent need of that monitor’s professional colour management, but the suitable resolution and the possibility to rotate the display were sufficiently convincing.

The most troublesome part turned out to be to connect the monitor to the docking station. The docking station features a DisplayPort, and is said to actually only support resolutions above Full HD over DisplayPort. The monitor came with a DisplayPort to Mini DisplayPort cable and has, among DisplayPort and HDMI, a Mini DisplayPort input, to everything seemed fine. However, the monitor kept showing the dreaded “no mDP signal from your device” message. Searching the Web told me that besides a broken cable (which I wouldn’t have expected from a 915 € product) the problem might be caused by the computer’s BIOS, the graphics driver, and the docking station firmware. I managed to update the former two but initially didn’t succeed updating the latter (download location, README). The dock firmware update failed leaving the cryptic message “Can’t connect to Synaptics VMMxxxx DP hub IC” in a file named update.log. Meanwhile I had connected the monitor to my old ThinkPad X220t, which comes with a DisplayPort outlet, and thus confirmed that the monitor and the cable worked. The README of the firmware update software as well as a well-written third party guide claimed that the update would only work with a properly working monitor connected to the dock’s DisplayPort. OK, but my monitor+cable combination was not “working properly”, and I didn’t have another DisplayPort-enabled monitor handy.

Finally, this is how I managed: Connecting my old monitor with broken backlight to the dock over DVI convinced the firmware update to work. After that the Dell UP3017 started to work on the Lenovo OneLink Pro Dock, with 2560×1600 @ 60 Hz.

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