REVIEW Diamond Multimedia DS3900 Ultra Dock Review

Discussion in 'Portable & Small Form Factor' started by Sin0822, Apr 9, 2014.

  1. Sin0822

    Sin0822 Member

    Dec 13, 2010
    Diamond Multimedia DS3900 Ultra Dock Review
    The Diamond Multimedia (DMM) DS3900 Ultra Dock is based off the Display Link D3900 series controller, it is basically a universal dock for your mobile PC. Since the advent of the Ultrabook users have been left with fewer ports to make way for slimmer body designs and lighter weight. This has increased the demand for docking stations and hubs, however many of these are custom made for individual laptop models. Unlike those custom docks, the DMM DS3900 is a universal docking station for any laptop/ultrabook which connects directly through USB 3.0 to the host computer. It provides a plethora of different connectivity features as listed below:
    • Six USB Ports(2x USB 3.0 and 4x USB 2.0)
    • HD 1080P Dual Display Outputs(HDMI/DVI)
    • One Gigabit Ethernet Port
    • 2 Channel Stereo output and Mic Control Jack
    • Supports BC 12 Quick Charge(for mobile devices).

    The package contents are above and consist of:
    • Docking Station
    • Power adapter
    • USB 3.0 cable(~3 feet)
    • CD with Drivers
    The USB 3.0 cable could be longer, however it is the only data path between the computer and the dock, meaning it has to carry the bandwidth from 6 USB ports including 2 USB 3.0, as well as a 1GBit Ethernet port, and audio data. All of this means that a shorter cable means better signal quality needed for such high throughput.

    The front of the hub is pretty bare; two USB 3.0 ports and a single headphone jack provide easy access to removable storage and audio.

    The back is much busier, as it should be since most of the devices one might attach would be connected here. You can connect a monitor through DVI or HDMI, as well as wired internet through the RJ-45 jack. Four USB 2.0 ports are there for connecting devices such as printers and other external devices such as external hard drives.

    Taking apart the outside wasn?t an easy task, however it is possible and revealing. The PCB quality is high and as is the solder quality. Prominently displayed are four major chips which all work together and are all connected to the large IC in the center, the Display Link DL-3900 master controller IC.

    The DisplayLink DL-3900 is the master controller, all the other ICs on the board compliment it. It has a Nanya memory module and a firmware ROM. Built into the DisplayLink controller is the ability to support resolutions of up to 2560x1600, it has its own built in USB hub which gets its USB 3.0 from a VLI812. Basically the input USB 3.0 from the motherboard goes to the hub, which takes the 1 port from the computer and turns it into 4, 2 of those go to the front of the board, and the other 2 go to provide throughput to the DL-3900.

    While some of the functions such as the video outputs and audio jack are directly connected to the DL-3900, the chip needs some other support ICs such as those shown above for the four USB 2.0 ports and the RJ-45 GBit LAN port. The DL-3900 has a built in GBit MAC, however a Realtek RT8211E integrated PHY (Ethernet transceiver) is required to turn that into a physical port, this is also how motherboards implement Intel NICs as the MAC is integrated into the PCH and a PHY is required for the port. An Alcor Micro AU6259 is a USB 2.0 hub which takes in USB signals from the DL-3900 and then turns them into four ports for the four backside USB 2.0 ports.

    Operation and Conclusion:
    The operation of the DMM DS3900 is very simple; you install the drivers and then plug and play. You won?t have to adjust anything in the software; in fact I was very impressed by how the ports on the DS3900 seemed like a natural extension of the ultra-book. The hub becomes a daughter board to the computer?s motherboard, connected through a high-speed and well-designed USB 3.0 interface. The master control chip, the DL-3900 is designed just for this purpose, and fulfills its purpose well. Installing a piece of hardware like a printer is a breeze; you don't even have to account for the hub, in-fact you can pretend it isn?t even there. This is made possible by the use of hardware based hubs instead of ones emulated by software. This does mean that every once in a while the hardware needs to be reset, and if you are like me and don?t always take your laptop around then it is important to disconnect and reconnect the hub once every few weeks. I once left the hub plugged in for a month and it just disappeared, however just unplugging it and plugging it back in fixed all those issues. Overall I was very impressed with the hub, it performed well and I have used it for almost 6 months now. It feels sturdy and the stand that it comes with is designed to keep it upright even if wires pull it around. All in all I would recommend this product to anyone looking for a hub that they can use not only on their current laptop, but also on their future one. As technology progresses laptops will get smaller and thinner, however the need for expansion won?t fade anytime soon, and the Diamond Multimedia DS-3900 fills this need without issue.

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