MacBook Pro M1 USB-C dock frustrations

I’ve been using an M1 MacBook Pro since Mid-December, and generally I am very happy with it.

Since I need to hook up an external monitor (nothing fancy, 1920x1080 with HDMI), Ethernet and the occasional USB-2 or USB-3 periphery (hard drive, YubiKey, …), I bought an i-tec USB-C Metal Nano Docking Station to use as something like a docking station.

It works fine – most of the time. But strange things do happen:

  • When I restart, the battery isn’t charged anymore, although the power cable is in the dock.
  • When I wake my MacBook from sleep, the external monitor isn’t recognized anymore. I have to unplug and re-plug it into the docking station.
  • The Ethernet connection doesn’t work after restarting.

So I end up having to unplug und re-plug all kinds of cables.

My question is: have you experienced things like this, too, with the adapters you are using? Did I just get a bad adapter? Do things work better with the original Apple adapters?

I would really like to find out more about this since I’m just planning to buy about 10 M1 MacBook Airs for my company (all to be used with external monitors while people are in the office), and I dread having to tell people to “unplug and re-plug this or that cable” five times a day. I also dread people not realizing that their battery isn’t being charged after a restart and then complaining about bad battery life.


Andy Lietz, Munich, Germany

That does not sound like anything I have experienced with a dock, but full disclosure I also haven’t used my docks with an M1 Mac yet. There have been reports related to wonky external display behavior on M1 Macs.

I did note though that your hub appears a bit expensive, even factoring in German VAT. In case you’re interested in testing alternatives, I wanted to mention this hub. It’s not Wirecutter’s #1 pick, but it comes with Gigabit which you mentioned you need and Wirecutter’s #1 pick doesn’t offer.

I don’t have an M1 Macbook but have found Satechi docks work well with my Retina Macbook with a usb-c port:

They tend to be more expensive than online docks but, in my view, the design is worth it.

M1 was not certified to be Thunderbolt compliant with the final USB 4/Intel mashup. You are using an M1.0 version of a brand new technology some features may be incomplete in M1 and/or the dock.
And M1 is not completely T4 complient.

See this link to MacRumors 07/08/20 - Intel Shares Details on Thunderbolt 4, Launching Later This Year. “Intel Shares Details on Thunderbolt 4, Launching Later This Year - MacRumors

This reports the additional requires for T4 compliance.

This link points to the M1 Specifications
MacBook Air (M1, 2020) - Technical Specifications

Ethernet is not listed but that could be an oversite by Apple. In my Catalina System Information output (Option key + Apple menu icon), select Network/Locations/Automatic Thunderbolt Ethenet and Bridge specs are listed. See if yours is match.

There is an Ethernet adapter for the T4 cable. Your dock is supposed to be that adapter. One way to check is to use attach at T4 cable to the dock and use that adapter. If that works, the dock is at fault. (I’m not sure the T3 spec covers Ethernet as most Mac notebooks at that time had a seperate Ethenet port.)

The above MacRumors Intel link so requires a wake from sleep on touch from keybord or mouse. Thynderbolt is a spec for only display and data transfers ,i.e., memory and disk. This may be a clue that T3 does not support wake on touch.

You mentioned the batttery is not charged. Does that mean the battery was drained over night? If so where was that drain? I’m unclear about power over T3 support. The MacRumors Intel article also requires charging over at least one computer port.

MacRumors also ran these articles about announcement ffrom CES for first T4 compliant Docks - OWC Introduces Thunderbolt 4 Dock, New Storage Drives and more. “CES 2021: OWC Introduces Thunderbolt 4 Dock, New Storage Drives, and More - MacRumors
OWC and CalDigit are featured and availble this March. This is the start of T4 compliant Docks

In short, M1 is a T4 machine embracing the Inter/USB merging of T3 display and data (memory, HDs) i.e., data tranfers only, USB4 (Type-C), and the items listed in the MacRumors article. Your dock appears to support T3.

I recommend a T4 to T4 setup to eliminate conflicts.

I hope this helps.

Some docks damage batteries pre 11.2.2

Wow, this whole T3/T4 business sure is complex, thanks for clarifying!

When I use my dock with power delivery and restart my machine, it says that the power cable isn’t connected after the restart. I need to unplug and re-plug the power cable to get the power back.

What does happen is that when I leave the machine sleeping over night with the dock attached, the battery gets drained by about half. It might be because the dock I use gets rather warm, too.


I’d call the Metal Nano Docking people and ask, why is the dock warm? And ask, why is my fully charged battery now half-charged when the laptop off? But read-on before doing this.

You said restart in the first message. Restart is a soft word. I’ll assume the laptop was fully powered-off, and then booted up as a cold start.

You could help the Nano people with this test.

  • What happens when the M1 is unplugged from the dock which remains plugged-in, i.e., the dock is on its own. Is the dock temperature the same, higher, or lower? There should be no heat, i.e., cool to the touch ala room temp. After all, what is something doing when it supposed to be doing nothing?
  • unplug the M1 keeping the dock connected. What happens to dock’s temp. The M1 should go into hibernation if the battery level drops and resume execution upon start on touch - open lid, power button, trackpad/mouse, keyboard. What is the battery state on this restart?

If the restart is a wake-from-sleep action, something was going on during sleep. At a minimum, the macOS is monitoring the battery level. If the battery charge is above the minimum level, memory is powered.
Any programs running during this time will further pull down the battery. When the minimum level is reached, the OS will gracefully stop system execution and hibernate (copy the stopped system state to a hard drive). Enough power must be reserved to perform the hibernation.

The System Preferences/Energy/Battery tab shows three settings for battery conservation. These are self-evident except the last one. The question is, what happens when the battery levels return to sufficient? Does the system wake up from hibernation or stay asleep? I don’t know. Maybe the System console log has the answer.

So, where am I?

  • Uncheck the box System/Preferences/Energy/Battery/PowerNap if checked to observe the battery drain. Hopefully, that’s a fix.

  • If not checked, return to make the tests for changes in the dock’s temperatures. Rewrite your problem statement clarifying what you mean by the restart. Add the results of your temperature experiments. And your business needs. Submit this document to Metal Nano and Apple Support for some direction. Get Support

I hope this helps. Mike