Laptop Mag Verdict
Plugable revamped its popular USB-C Triple 4K Docking Station for the better, adding a host of connections to transform a simple laptop into a full-blown desktop setup.
Huge variety of ports
Choice of HDMI or DisplayPort
100W Power Delivery
SD card reader and extra USB-C with 20W PD
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When a product goes out of stock, it shows there is huge consumer demand for it. Regardless of the number of docking stations on the market today with similar functionality, Plugable struck gold with its USB-C Triple 4K Docking Station (UD-ULTC4K) back in 2017. It’s hard to pick up that model these days, so Plugable decided to bring it back. Not with the exact same specs, however, as the company decided to give it a fitting “rebirth” of sorts.
Now with a host of upgrades to turn any USB-C supported laptop into a powerhouse, the new Plugable USB-C Triple 4K Docking Station is better than ever before with extra HDMI and DisplayPort inputs, a 100W Power Delivery (PD) boost, an essential SD Card Reader, and an extra USB-C port with 20W PD and up to 10Gbps transfer rates. Oh, and four USB-A 3.0 ports for good measure.
Plugable listened to customer demands and greatly expanded the capabilities of its most popular docking station, and the result is the most well-rounded docking station I’ve reviewed. Check out why this docking station is worthy to sit on your desk.
Plugable USB-C Triple 4K Display Docking Station price
Officially priced at $394.99 on Plugable’s website, the USB-C Triple 4K Display Docking Station would be a very pricey investment. However, you’ll find it’s available for $279 ($264 with a coupon) on Amazon. You can expect it to stay at that price, as the company has a habit of keeping discounts available throughout its availability.
At that cost, you could get a pair of AirPods Pro at their full $249 retail price. By that comparison, the docking station can seem on the expensive side, but its host of connectivity options make its $279 price tag worth it. You’ll find other docking stations, such as the $299 Anker Apex Thunderbolt 4 Docking Station and $289 Kensington SD5700T Thunderbolt 4 Dock, to be around a similar price range. But Plugable beats its competition by being slightly less expensive and offering a huge range of ports.
The $129 Plugable Dual Monitor Docking Station (2022) may be around half the cost, but it isn’t nearly as modern or adaptable as the company’s latest offering.
Plugable USB-C Triple 4K Display Docking Station design
Plugable has gone through a number of different designs with its docking stations, but it’s earned its reputation with the popular “USB-C Triple Display” models. With its revamped UD-ULTC4K, Plugable has kept the exact style of its black monolith slab because it’s a design that works, even if it is slightly chunkier than past models.
If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it, right? Sure, it would be nice to see the dock have the option to lose the vertical-only stand to allow for more placement options on a desk, but that doesn’t mean its port placement and sleek, black plastic frame hasn’t been well thought out. Its sturdy, yet sizable rubberized base plants it firmly on a desk — ready to connect your laptop to plenty of monitors and peripherals. It fits in nicely with any style desk setup, thanks to the curved front and gill-like vents offering a slick look. To let you know everything is connected, it also has a power and a USB LED along the front.
Compared to the 7.5-inch tall UD-3900 Dual Monitor Docking Station, the UD-ULTC4K stands at 8 inches with a slightly wider base. With a vertical design, it saves you desk real estate and offers a cleaner setup that isn’t filled with jumbled cables. That said, some users may prefer to lay their docking stations flat to hide behind monitors or laptops. There’s nothing stopping me from laying the dock horizontally, but it looks awkward as that’s not what it’s designed for.
Obviously, a great docking station needs brilliant port placement, and this USB-C Triple 4K Docking Station has it down to a tee. All the more active ports are at the front, including the headphone and mic jack, SD card reader, and USB-C with 20W Power Delivery to charge and transfer files on your smartphone, tablet, or anything that has a USB-C slot, really. The rear is left for cable management, leaving more permanent connections such as HDMI or DisplayPort outputs to connect external displays, USB-A slots for memory sticks or a wireless mouse or keyboard dongle, and wired internet via the Gigabit Ethernet port.
The design of Plugables USB-C Triple 4K Docking Station isn’t anything new, but it doesn’t need to be if you’re looking for an optimized work setup.
Plugable USB-C Triple 4K Display Docking Station ports
The USB-C Triple 4K Docking Station makes a huge jump in port selection compared to 2017’s model, as it adds even more video outputs with 4K capabilities, an SD card reader, and a handy USB-C slot to connect and charge other devices. What more could you want?
On the front, there’s a 3.5mm headphone jack and 3.5mm microphone jack, an SD card reader and a USB-C 3.2 Gen 2 port with 20W Power Delivery and 10Gbps transfer speeds. This is perfect for professionals who want to quickly transfer files and data from their smartphone or tablet to their laptop, while content creators can easily transfer photos or videos with the easy-access SD card reader.
Along the back, there are four USB-A 3.0 slots with 5Gbps transfer speeds, three HDMI 2.0 and three DisplayPort++ 1.4 that support 4K (3840 x 2160) at 60Hz, a Gigabit Ethernet port, and a USB-C host port offering 100W Power Delivery (96W certified).
Not all of us have three 4K monitors to fully utilize the docking station's potential, but having the variety to choose between an HDMI or DisplayPort connection is hugely welcome. The jump from 60W Power Deilvery to 100W won’t make a huge difference, seeing as many will want to keep their laptop plugged in at full charge anyway, but those who are constantly on the move will appreciate the faster charging times.
Plugable USB-C Triple 4K Display Docking Station performance
While Thunderbolt 4 ports are making their way into modern systems, with the Anker Apex Thunderbolt 4 Docking Station and Kensington SD5700T Thunderbolt 4 Dock leading the charge to support these systems, it’s hard to beat the flexibility of a variety of outputs for multiple scenarios. That’s where the Plugable USB-C Triple 4K Docking Station shines, as it delivers a 13 port selection that can match just about any setup.
To see how each port works, I plugged in an Asus ROG Strix Scar 17 and hooked it up to dual Asus VG278 monitors via HDMI, along with other connections including a Corsair K65 RGB Mini gaming keyboard, HyperX wireless headphones via a USB-A stick and a Razer Naga Pro mouse. Oh, and my iPad Air (2020) for good measure. Low and behold, everything worked in a cinch, with my laptop and iPad charging while I was making full use out of the external monitors. I was even able to connect my Meta Quest 2 to charge and transfer video files.
With its 4K resolution support, I tried using it on a 50-inch Sharp 4K TV. While a display this size isn’t ideal for my general working day, it’s good to know that the Plugable docking station can push out 4K resolution with a stable 60Hz refresh rate. Many of the best monitors on the market may use either DisplayPort or HDMI connections, so being able to choose between the two types of video output is a major win. Plus, unlike the previous model, you get the same amount of ports for each type of output.
Plugable's dock is compatible with USB-C systems but is also compatible with USB4, Thunderbolt 3, and Thunderbolt 4. It works on Windows 10 and later, along with macOS 11 and later. M1 MacBooks will natively support one display, and similar results are expected with M2 MacBooks. During my chat with Plugable's founder and CTO Bernie Thompson, he stated that thanks to the dock’s DisplayLink support, it’s easy to download the software and add additional displays beyond what a user’s system natively supports. However, that shouldn’t be an issue with the best laptops on the market today.
Plugable doesn’t state the USB-A ports can charge devices. However, I plugged in my iPhone SE (2020) and it could charge (if only at a slow pace).
The inclusion of an SD card reader and a USB-C port on the front is hugely beneficial, as I often take photos of products I’m reviewing and need to transfer them to my laptop. Simply connecting my device or slotting in an SD card made transferring files easy, and content creators will surely find these ports handy. Plus, adding an audio jack at the front to quickly listen to YouTube videos or video calls with wired earphones is welcome.
Plugable USB-C Triple 4K Display Docking Station: Bottom line
Plugable’s last USB-C Triple 4K Docking Station was a hit, so much so that stock has completely run out. With it’s latest UD-ULTC4K docking station, I can imagine it being a hot commodity thanks to its fair price and nifty upgrades.
From the variety of the 13 ports it offers to its 4K display support across multiple video outputs, Plugable’s latest docking station is the best around. It’s four USB-A ports let you expand the amount of peripherals you want to use with your laptop, while the SD card reader and handy USB-C port with 20W power delivery allows for seamless charging and file transfers.
If you’re looking to make the most of your laptop, or want to turn your work setup into a full-blown workstation, the Plugable USB-C Triple 4K Docking Station will do the trick. If you’re looking to go all-in on Thunderbolt 4 connectivity, check out our list of the best docking stations on the market today.
Darragh Murphy is fascinated by all things bizarre, which usually leads to assorted coverage varying from washing machines designed for AirPods to the mischievous world of cyberattacks. Whether it's connecting Scar from The Lion King to two-factor authentication or turning his love for gadgets into a fabricated rap battle from 8 Mile, he believes there’s always a quirky spin to be made. With a Master’s degree in Magazine Journalism from The University of Sheffield, along with short stints at Kerrang! and Exposed Magazine, Darragh started his career writing about the tech industry at Time Out Dubai and ShortList Dubai, covering everything from the latest iPhone models and Huawei laptops to massive Esports events in the Middle East. Now, he can be found proudly diving into gaming, gadgets, and letting readers know the joys of docking stations for Laptop Mag.