Dell D6000 Universal Dock Review

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Editors' rating:
The Pros

Supports both USB 3.0 and USB Type-C; Powers up to three 4K monitors

The Cons

Cable isn't removable; Adapter is clumsy

Verdict

The Dell D6000 Universal dock supports both USB Type-C and Type-A, and, if your computer allows it, outputs to up to three 4K monitors

It's hard enough to choose a docking station, especially if you're on the verge of buying a new computer. Dell's D6000 Universal Dock splits the difference between old and new, supporting both USB Type-A (your current computer) and USB Type-C (your next one), and up to three 4K monitors (with the newer connector). It's an easy way to futureproof your desk setup, as long as you don't mind that the adapter has a clumsy implementation and that you can't remove or replace the main cable.

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Design

Dell's dock screams "I belong in an office." It's a plain black box for doing plain office things. Dell's logo is on the top, also in black. Otherwise, there aren't any adornments or decorations.

At 6 x 3 x 1.2 inches, this plastic rectangle is slightly too tall for you to rest your laptop on top of it, so it will be conspicuous on your desk. (You probably shouldn't cover it anyway, as there are several ports on the front.)

My biggest issue with the D6000 is one that has plagued Dell docks for years: the cable that attaches to the computer isn't removable. If that cord tears or is otherwise damaged, you're down $200.

Dell's new dock has an interesting innovation to make it compatible with both USB Type-C and old-fashioned USB 3.0 ports. The cable is a USB Type-C cable, but there's a long USB 3.0 adapter that fits around the USB end and keeps the USB Type-C portion in a small cage. That adapter looks ridiculous and it's clumsy, but you won't lose the USB 3.0 adapter this way. Once you've upgraded to a USB Type-C computer, you can slide the extension down the cord and out of the way.

Ports

The D6000's set of ports is pretty standard. The front provides easy access to a headphone jack, a pair of USB 3.0 ports and a USB Type-C port, while there are another two USB 3.0 ports on the back, alongside an Ethernet jack, two DisplayPorts and an HDMI output.

There aren't any adapters in the box, so if both of your monitors use HDMI or if you're using an older monitor with DVI or VGA ports (in which case, I'm sorry, I feel your pain), you'll need to go out and get an adapter.

Performance

Despite being dubbed a "universal" dock, the D6000 doesn't work perfectly with every laptop. That's not necessarily Dell's fault -- many laptop vendors implement USB Type-C in slightly different ways. Dell promises that the D6000 can output at three 4K displays over USB-C, with one running at 30 Hz (or a single 5K monitor, though we weren't able to test that), or two monitors over USB 3.0.

The experience was the smoothest sailing with my everyday Dell XPS 15, but even that didn't work perfectly as advertised. Over USB 3.0, it output to an HDMI display and a DisplayPort display, both at 4K. Over Type-C, it connected to two DisplayPort monitors at the full 3840 x 2160, but the third, HDMI monitor ran at only 1080p and 60 Hz, with no obvious way to adjust it.

 

With an Acer Aspire E15, it only seemed to output at 4K on two monitors. Even with USB Type-C, it output to two monitors in 4K when they were both over DisplayPort. But with a combination of DisplayPort and HDMI, the latter went up to only 1080p. Because the E15 doesn't charge over Type-C, I still needed to use its standard power adapter.

Of the laptops I tested, the one with the biggest issues was the Samsung Notebook 9 Pro, which didn't consistently charge over the 65W adapter (possibly due to the demands of its discrete graphics, though the XPS 15 and its GPU worked fine) and didn't output to any of the monitors over USB Type-C. Over USB 3.0, it output to two monitors without issue.

On laptops that worked with the dock, 4K video playback was smooth, and I didn't notice any lag when supporting all of the displays.

Bottom Line

If you need a dock that supports USB 3.0 and USB Type-C in the future, the D6000 isn't just your best option; at the moment, it's your only option. And while the built-in adapter's implementation is clumsy, it's the cleverest solution out there that will move you from legacy ports to the newest standard.

If you're looking to save a bit of cash, don't need USB Type-A support or want to power older monitors, consider the $179.99 Plugable USB-C Triple Display Dock, which also supports three monitors over USB Type-C, though only one will output at 4K.

So for $199.99, the additional functionality is worth it, especially if you plan on upgrading to 4K monitors sooner rather than later. Now, if only Dell would do something to make that cable detachable.

Accessories Type Laptop Docks
Battery Type/Life
Size 3.1 in x 6.6 in x 1.2 in
Weight 0.84 lb
Company Website http://www.dell.com
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