Thunderbolt dock problem? Try this.

This post is purely to save someone else (or my future self) the frustration of troubleshooting their Thunderbolt dock if they reinstall Windows and then can’t get the dock working.

Background

The context around my situation was this:

  • I’m using a Lenovo P43s and Lenovo “ThinkPad Thunderbolt 3 Workstation Doc”, part 40ANY230US.
  • I ran a system update for the P43s which ended up bricking my machine – no POST, no boot, no sign of life.
  • It was under warranty so I ended up needing a new system board and a new SSD via Lenovo’s service. The tech replaced those and gave it back to me to load Windows etc.
  • I installed Windows 10 and my apps, but I was not able to get the Thunderbolt dock fully working.

What wasn’t working

I’m using 3 external monitors and they were working. The drivers appeared to recognize them for some reason, so, thankfully, I was able to hook up to the dock and see/use all 3 monitors like I had prior to the dreaded system update a few days ago.

However, nothing else on the dock was working (and it was working fine 2 days ago). Specifically:

  • Ethernet wasn’t recognized
  • Audio wasn’t working
  • None of the USB ports worked, although the one “always on” USB port did offer a trickle charge to my phone which was plugged in charging (but very slowly).

What I tried

I went through “driver hell” trying to figure out what drivers were not loaded or working. Lenovo Vantage/System Update found no issues. Windows didn’t see any updates required. Device Manager showed no issues and I could see a Thunderbolt Controller in the Device Manager listing.

I removed and reinstalled that controller. I downloaded and reinstalled new updates from Lenovo’s site for my machine re: Thunderbolt drivers for Windows 10 links.

NOTHING WORKED.

I googled Thunderbolt with various key words “drivers”, “windows 10” etc. and ended up on an Intel site. Dummy me, I didn’t realize Thunderbolt was an Intel thing so I was limiting my search to Lenovo’s site for the longest time.

What worked

I ended up on this page but I didn’t install anything from it. (In case the link breaks, it’s the Intel download center “Thunderbolt 3 DCH Driver for Windows 10”. There’s one teeny tiny line of text here which was the solution.

You’ll also need the Thunderbolt Control Center software (available on the Microsoft Store) to approve and manage Thunderbolt devices.

I went to the link to the Microsoft Store, the item is called Thunderbolt Control Center (published by Intel Corp)., downloaded it, installed it and sure enough, that was what was missing.

As soon as I launched the app, it saw my Lenovo dock but it said it was not connected. I clicked on that, told it to “Always Connect” and voilà, everything started working.

I thought I’d go insane trying to figure this out. I hope this helps someone else out because I was about the throw the computer out the window by the time I got to this point. 🙂

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