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4K Triple Display USB-C Plug-in Dock Review: Three Non-Thunderbolt Displays

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Until recently, I had never used a dock before, but when Plugable contacted me to offer the USB-C Triple 4K Display Dock (UD-ULTC4K for short) for review, I was intrigued. This is a reworked version of the previous dock with the same name, but it’s not a minor update. This new model has several significant improvements both inside and out.

The big advantage of the Plugable UD-ULTC4K is the ability to drive three 4K displays at 60Hz at the same time. Not only that, it can do this without using a Thunderbolt connection. But what might be even more impressive to you is that 4K triple displays are supported even on the MacBook Air with M1 and M2 processors and the 13-inch MacBook Pro. Plus, it has USB Type-A ports, it can charge your laptop and phone, and more. It’s a very versatile dock, and it’s still cheaper than most Thunderbolt-based offerings.

    USB-C 4K triple-display pluggable dock

    The Plugable UD-ULTC4K is a USB-C universal docking station with three outputs for 4K displays, plus Ethernet, USB Type-A and 96W power.

Triple 4K USB-C Pluggable Dock: Pricing and Availability

  • The pluggable UD-ULTC4K is available from Amazon and other retailers.
  • The MSRP is $279.99, which is significant for a non-Thunderbolt dock.

Plugable launched the updated Triple 4K Display Dock in the second half of June 2022, and it’s available on Amazon and various retailers. The MSRP is still $279.99 despite the increase in manufacturing costs.

That price tag still puts it on par with some Thunderbolt docking stations, although it’s still a bit cheaper. It may seem like a lot, but the capabilities offered by this docking station are not far from many Thunderbolt solutions, and its advantage is that it works with laptops based on AMD or Apple Silicon Mac processors, as well as processors Intel. PC based.

4K Triple Display USB-C Pluggable Dock (UD-ULTC4K): Specifications

Size (WxDxH) With vertical stand: 73 x 200 x 136 mm (2.87 x 7.87 x 5.35 inches)
Without stand: 35 x 195 x 95 mm (1.38 x 7.68 x 3.74 inches)
Weight 1.38 pounds (626 grams)
Host connection USB Type-C – 10Gb/s, 100W (96W certified)
Ports Front

  • 1 USB Type-C (10Gb/s) 20W
  • 1 x full size SD card reader
  • 1 x 3.5.. Audio input
  • 1 x 3.5mm audio output

Rear

  • 4 x USB Type-A (5Gb/s)
  • 2 x HDMI 2.0 / DisplayPort++ 1.2 (DisplayLink)
  • 1 x HDMI 2.0 / DisplayPort++ 1.2 (DP Alternate Mode)
  • Ethernet 10/100/1000 Gbps
  • USB-C host connection
  • AC input
Display Resolution 3 x 4K (3840 x 2160) @ 60Hz
Power adapter Power supply 135 W (20 V 6.75 A)
What’s in the box Plug-in Docking Station UD-ULTC4K
Power supply 135 W
USB-C to USB-C host connection cable
Price $279.99

Display Outputs: Three 4K displays on virtually any PC

The updated Plugable Triple 4K Display Dock features a number of significant improvements over the previous generation, with a focus on displays. The previous version also had three display outputs, but these were two DisplayPorts and one HDMI. This meant that you might need adapters depending on your setup. Now Plugable has gone all out and you get three HDMI ports. as well as three DisplayPorts.

Close-up of display output ports on USB-C Triple 4K Display Attachable Dock

The HDMI and DisplayPort outputs are paired, so you get a total of three displays, but you can freely choose which cable to use for each. This gives you fantastic flexibility right out of the box, and no matter what monitor or TV you have, you can plug it into this dock. I’ve always used HDMI (simply because my first monitor had one) and most of the cables I have at home are HDMI, so being able to go that route is great, but I know many others will prefer DisplayPort .

If you have a MacBook Air or 13-inch MacBook Pro with an Apple M1 or M2 processor, you can connect up to three external displays at the same time.

Now one of these pairs of ports is powered by the DisplayPort signal in alternate mode, as is the case with most of these docking stations. However, the other two use DisplayLink, a technology that allows output to be displayed using normal USB connections. You’ll need to install custom DisplayLink drivers for this (Windows PCs should get them automatically from Windows Update, but macOS requires manual installation from the Synaptics website), but once that’s done, you’ll get a total of three display outputs , each of which supports 4K video at 60Hz. in the same time. I don’t actually have many 4K displays so I couldn’t try it, but I could use a 4K display along with two Full HD displays. I had to move my entire setup next to the living room TV to test it, but you can see it below.

Laptop connected to Plugable USB-C Triple 4K Display Dock

And the best part about it is that you don’t need Thunderbolt for this, nor do you need special hardware features like Thunderbolt on your PC. This means that if you have a MacBook Air or a 13-inch MacBook Pro with an Apple M1 or M2 processor, you can connect up to three external displays at the same time, rather than being limited to just one. The same goes for AMD-based laptops, most of which still don’t have Thunderbolt or USB4. You need a USB-C port with DisplayPort Alternate Mode support for a third display, but most modern laptops already support this.

One thing I want to mention, although it may be basic knowledge for some, is that docks like these are not designed for high refresh rate displays. Because there is a lot of signal conversion from your GPU to the display outputs on the docking station, latency starts to increase and the signal can become too choppy for high refresh rates. I feel like I should mention this because my main monitor has a 144Hz refresh rate and it will always be black despite my laptop detecting it. I was able to get it to run at 100Hz, but only 60Hz monitors are officially supported. Also, your mileage will vary.

Design and Ports: Faster Charging and Other Improvements

Display outputs aren’t the only thing Plugable has upgraded with this new model of Triple 4K Display Dock. There are also some big changes in the rest of the ports, starting with connecting to the host. The previous model provided 60W of power for your laptop, but this has now been increased to 100W (certified for 96W). Docks can’t actually negotiate 100W of power due to potential power spikes above that, which is why the dock is certified for 96W.


Laptop connected to external monitor and various peripherals via docking station

Speaking of charging, the USB Type-C port on the front has also been upgraded to deliver 20W of power and a faster 10Gbps speed instead of 5Gbps. It also gives you the ability to charge your phone, and it’s a pretty fast charger too. To take advantage of these new charging options, the dock now comes with a 135W power adapter.

The connection to the host has a total throughput of 10 Gbps.

The dock has also gotten thinner and taller, so the four USB 3.1 Gen 1 Type-A ports are now all on the back, which might not always be the most convenient, but you’ll probably be plugging in peripherals all the time. no matter the time. In its place is now a front-mounted SD card reader, another brand new addition to this model. You also still get Gigabit Ethernet and separate 3.5mm audio jacks for audio in and out. All in all, there are a lot of upgrades here that make this dock a lot more versatile.

Angled view of the back of the 4K Plugable USB-C Triple Display Dock showing all the ports on the back

However, this is not a Thunderbolt dock, so you don’t have 40 Gb/s bandwidth and you won’t be able to use all those ports at full speed at the same time. The host connection has a total bandwidth of 10 Gbps, and if you connect a lot of high-speed peripherals, you will quickly overcome this barrier.

The pluggable USB-C Triple 4K Display Dock is mostly made of plastic, so that’s one potential downside. It doesn’t really feel that premium, but that doesn’t bother me much for a device that I don’t come across that often. He sits there and does his job, which is all I really need. A more serious disadvantage is that it is not designed for horizontal use. You can technically remove the vertical stand, but the vents are on the sides, so if you’re using it horizontally, there’s a higher risk of overheating. Also, it doesn’t look good when it’s on its side.

Should You Buy a Plugable USB-C Triple 4K Dock?

I’m pretty sure I recommend the Plugable USB-C Triple 4K Dock for people who want to connect multiple displays to their laptops, as long as they’re not gaming monitors. This is especially useful for AMD laptops and Apple M1 or M2 Macs as it is the only way to connect three 4K displays at the same time. And it’s cheaper than most Thunderbolt docks, so even if you have a Thunderbolt-enabled laptop, this can be a good alternative.

You should buy a 4K Triple Display Plug-in Dock if:

  • You have multiple 4K monitors that you want to connect to your laptop.
  • You have a Mac with an Apple M1 or M2 processor and multiple external displays.
  • You want to connect multiple peripherals and charge your laptop and phone with one device
  • Thunderbolt docks are too expensive or your laptop doesn’t support them

You should not buy a 4K Triple Display Plug-in Dock if:

  • You need the full bandwidth of Thunderbolt 4 for fast storage and other peripherals.
  • Are you looking for a premium design or want to use it horizontally

The only major downside here is that you don’t get Thunderbolt 4 bandwidth, so you can’t connect as many high-speed peripherals, and the dock isn’t really designed for horizontal use. But if you need a lot of ports, especially display outputs, and don’t need those high speeds, this is a great dock.

    USB-C 4K triple-display pluggable docking station

    The Plugable UD-ULTC4K is a USB-C universal docking station with three outputs for 4K displays, plus Ethernet, USB Type-A and 96W power.

#Triple #Display #USBC #Plugin #Dock #Review #NonThunderbolt #Displays

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