Even the most basic docks support dual monitors, but the Targus Universal DV1K-4K Docking Station can push some extra pixels. Targus' $160 offering can support one 4K display or two screens with 2048 x 1152 resolutions. Paying the premium over cheaper docks provides more port options and, thus, value for power users.
The Targus Universal DV1K-4K Docking Station is designed to be discreet. This isn't a knock against its appearance -- the 6.75 x 3.4 x 1.5-inch dock is shaped a bit like a ramp, angling up toward the back.
The top of the dock is ribbed with black, soft-touch plastic so that users can place their laptops on top of the dock without them slipping off. The bottom of the dock is coated in silver plastic and has nonslip feet to keep the dock from sliding off of your desk. Targus' logo adorns the top, while the DisplayLink technology certification is stamped on the front.
The Targus dock fits comfortably under a laptop, so you never really have to look at it. It held up my laptop without a problem and is also small enough to fit underneath a monitor.
There are several ways for Targus' dock to connect to two external displays. (In fact, it has more options than it can support at once, as well as a sticker that reads "Select only two.") For dual-monitor support, users have a choice of two DVI ports and a full-size DisplayPort.
There are also a number of other ports for accessories and Internet connectivity. There are three USB 3.0 ports on the back, one on the left side and one on the right side. In comparison, a cheaper dock like the $95 Plugable UD-3900 offers a mix of USB 3.0 and USB 2.0 ports. The back also includes a power adapter, a Kensington lock slot, an Ethernet jack and a micro-USB 3.0 port to connect to your laptop (it comes with a cord for this purpose).
No adapters come in the box, though, so if your monitor uses HDMI or VGA, you'll have to buy adapters.
The DV1K-4K delivers on all of the promises it makes. I hooked up a Dell Inspiron 17 5000 to the dock and a 4K monitor via DisplayPort to test its performance; the $499 laptop features a Core i3-5010U processor, 4GB of RAM and a 500GB hard drive, making it representative of a budget laptop consumers may purchase. Sure enough, the monitor output a test video featuring vehicle and nature shots in 4K without experiencing any lag or stuttering.
The dock can provide 4K resolution to only one monitor, though. When I connected to two monitors (one via DisplayPort, and the other via DVI), the monitors maxed out at 2048 x 1152. However, the performance was still smooth as I streamed a 1080p video from YouTube in one monitor and used Google Docs in the other.
The laptop's performance didn't take much of a hit, even when the notebook was plugged into the dock and two screens. With no programs open, the laptop's CPU was only 1 percent taxed, with 1.8GB of the RAM being used.
Targus' DV1K-4K does everything a basic dock does, plus a little extra. While Plugable's $95 dock, in comparison, can support two screens at 2048 x 1152 and has the same number of USB ports, paying a little extra for Targus' dock gets you USB 3.0 across the board, 4K output on one screen and more options for plugging in your monitors. It also has a handy design that keeps it under your laptop and prevents the dock from cluttering your desk.
If you don't have a 4K display or will be using only dual monitors, you should probably go for Plugable's Universal Dock. But if you want 4K output or a future-proof dock, the DV1K-4K is worth the premium.