A versatile, powerful, and accessible docking station that suits all your needs.
It’s been nearly a year since I stepped foot into a physical office space. I changed jobs last year at the beginning of September and at that time, my new employer was having our staff work 100% remotely from our homes. This was, of course, due to the pandemic, but as it turns out, our intimate team of 13 works well in this fashion. We’ve found ways to connect with each other digitally and set up our own workspaces in our homes. One of the most essential pieces of technology that I’ve needed during this time is a docking station. My work computer is a 16-inch MacBook Pro. It requires 96W of power to operate and I am much more functional with an external monitor, keyboard, and mouse. So, a docking station is essential equipment for me. There happen to be a lot of docking stations out there that would suit my needs and at this point in time, I’m looking to move to something that can evolve as my needs do. That’s where the Plugable TBT3-UDZ Thunderbolt 3 Docking Station comes in handy.
The TBT3-UDZ was designed to be Plugable’s most versatile, powerful dock yet. It allows users to connect up to two 4K displays using either HDMI or DisplayPort without the need for external adapters. It’s actually the first docking station to offer this flexibility of display types. The docking station uses the Intel Titan Ridge chipset. That along with Plugable’s custom design allows for the TBT3-UDZ to deliver more port options, fast charging, and wide system compatibility. Plugable created this dock specifically to address customer pain points like the difference between Thunderbolt 3 and USB-C, which have identical looking ports, HDMI versus DisplayPort, USB-C or USB-A peripheral ports, and the different levels of charging wattage offered. The dock has clearly labeled ports which eliminates any confusion between these types of technologies.
- DisplayPort and HDMI: Plugable’s unique design allows users to connect up to two additional 4K displays with your port of choice using either HDMI or DisplayPort without the need for external adapters.
- Vertical or Horizontal: The horizontal or vertical design of the TBT3-UDZ goes against the grain of other docking stations. Fit the dock in any space standing up or lying flat so there’s more room for monitors and peripherals while keeping a productive and clean workspace. The dock includes a sturdy, detachable base for vertical orientation, which ensures a stable, sturdy setup no matter how many cables you connect.
- Thunderbolt 3 and USB-C: The TBT3-UDZ is built upon the latest Intel Titan Ridge chipset, enabling the widest compatibility with Thunderbolt 3 and USB-C laptops on the market. Its dual connectivity removes frustrations from having to pick a docking station for either type of laptop while delivering unrivaled performance.
- 100W Charging: The TBT3-UDZ’s 100W* Power Delivery is the highest charging wattage to be implemented in any universal Thunderbolt 3 docking station. With Apple now releasing notebooks with 96W chargers, such as the new 16” MacBook Pro, the TBT3-UDZ is the best docking station to pair with these devices for unrivaled performance. To strictly comply with 100W regulatory limits with margin, Thunderbolt certification limits to charging to 96W.
- Dual 4K Displays: Expand your workspace with 40Gbps Thunderbolt speeds and drive any combination of two DisplayPort or HDMI monitors. When connected to a compatible Thunderbolt 3 Mac (M1 Macs are not compatible) and Windows systems – drive up to two 4096×2160 @ 60Hz displays (lower resolutions also supported). When connected to a compatible USB-C system Windows – drive two 1920×1080 @ 60Hz displays or drive one 4096×2160 @ 30Hz display or 12” MacBook Retina – drive up to two 4096 x 2160 @ 30Hz mirrored displays.
- Flexible Connectivity: The docking station features 14 ports making it one of the most comprehensive docking stations available, ideal for the most demanding of professions that require multiple inputs and peripherals.
- Up to 100W Power Delivery to host (96W Certified)
- 2 x DisplayPort and 2x HDMI ports (for a total of two displays)
- 7 x USB ports: 1x USB-C 10Gbps port, 1x USB 10Gbps port, 5x USB 5Gbps ports
- 1 x SD card slot
- 1 x MicroSD card slot
- 1 x Gigabit Ethernet port
- 1 x Combination audio input/output jack
IN THE BOX
- 1 x Plugable TBT3-UDZ Thunderbolt 3 and USB-C Dual Display Dock with 96W Host Charging
- 1 x Quick Start Guide
- 1 x Power supply
- 1 x Power cable
- 1 x Vertical stand
- 1 x 0.8m 40 Gbps Thunderbolt 3 Cable
The dock comes in a medium-sized box. Plugable does a nice job with its product packaging and it’s clearly labeled and marked as the dock. There is a decent amount of product information on the box itself and if I were to pick it up on a retail shelf, I would be able to find out a lot about the docking station without needing to look it up online. When you open the box you will find the dock, its stand, the power cable, power brick, a 0.8m 40 Gbps Thunderbolt 3 cable, and a user manual. Now, I immediately had an impression of this product without even plugging it in. It has an enormous power supply with it. It’s a Liteon brand 20V power supply and it’s nearly the size of the dock itself. While I appreciate that these large power supplies make it possible for the higher-powered laptops – like the MacBook Pro – to get a charge, I truly hope that in the future a better solution can be found to these huge power bricks. They are a nightmare to deal with when it comes to cable management. Is this a dealbreaker for me? No, but it is unfortunate.
The dock I was using before the TBT3-UDZ was the Kensington SD5300T. That dock served its purpose, but because it doesn’t quite have the same amount of ports or power behind it as the Plugable dock, the TBT3-UDZ is definitely a step up. To install the new dock into my workstation, I simply plugged it into power and then connected all the peripherals that were attached to the previous dock. I had several different devices connected through the dock including an external monitor, wireless mouse, speakers (connected through the headphone jack), a web camera, an external microphone, and a USB dock on a monitor stand. Within seconds of plugging the devices into the docking station, my laptop recognized them all and I was able to keep working as usual.
Even though the docking station has more ports than my previous one, it doesn’t require that much more space on my desk. I was happy to see that Plugable designed this dock for vertical or horizontal use. At first, I was a little concerned that it wasn’t intended for horizontal use though since it doesn’t have ‘feet’ on it. I think users need to be cautious about moving it around on desktops that might scratch easily since there is no protection between the aluminum body and a bare desktop. I haven’t noticed the dock getting overheated at all – even with all those devices plugged into it.
The TBT3-UDZ is a remarkable docking station that can be used for many different types of workstations. Even though I chose to use it for a single monitor set-up right now, I have the option of moving to a 2-monitor set-up down the road. The dock has plenty of features and ports to use as well as be able to expand your workstation in the future.