If you need to connect more than two external monitors to your laptop, Plugable’s Triple 4K dock covers you (and so does your desk).
Docking stations are great if you want to connect an external monitor to your laptop to make it work like a desktop, either by mirroring the laptop screen or making a separate screen to give you more room to work.
Most of the USB-C docks we recommend can connect two external displays, but this one can connect three. You can still use the laptop’s screen if you need a fourth.
The Plugable USB-C Triple Display 4K Docking Station (UD-ULTC4K) can connect your laptop to up to three monitors, as its name suggests. It’s the best USB-C dock that the company makes.
In June 2022, it got new chips, more charging power, and a better way to set up its ports.
Its two DisplayPorts and one HDMI port use a combination of USB-C DisplayPort Alternate Mode (“Alt Mode”) and DisplayLink USB graphics. You can learn more about these later if you want to get technical.
The dock is on a stand, so it doesn’t take up as much desk space as many horizontal docking stations. This could be important if there are three big screens on the desk. But if you want a dock with a low profile, this is not the one for you.
Plugable UD-ULTC4K Features
- USB-C 3.1 Gen.2 (10Gbps) connection to host laptop, charging at 100W (PD)
- Two DisplayPort 1.2 and two HDMI 2.0 (DisplayLink)
- One DisplayPort 1.2 and one HDMI 2.0 (Alt Mode)
- Four rear USB-A 3.0 ports (5Gbps, 4.5W)
- Gigabit Ethernet
- One front-facing USB-C 3.0 port (10Gbps, 20W)
- One front-facing SD Card Reader (UHS-II)
- Front-facing Audio In/Out – 3.5mm jacks for attaching headphones, speaker or microphone
- 135W power supply
The six display ports are the best thing about it. You can’t use all six at once, but you can mix and match the types of display.
HDMI has the biggest market share, so it will be on more displays, but DisplayPort is better and more advanced. HDMI is based on a technology called DisplayPort.
Even bigger laptops can be charged with the 100W port for PCs, and the 20W port on the front can charge any smartphone or large tablet.
With only 4.5W of power, the USB-A ports should only be used for data, like connecting a wired keyboard or mouse, memory stick, or printer. They shouldn’t be used to charge devices like smartphones.
The first UD-ULTC4K didn’t have many places for a card reader. The latest version has fixed this by adding a fast UHS-II SD Card reader. This can help, for example, if you want to add cheap, portable flash storage for backups.
Three Displays from One Dock
The UD-ULTC4K has three DisplayPort ports and three HDMI ports that you can use to connect your laptop to the external monitors.
How the UD-ULTC4K can run three displays is a very complicated technical matter. You might want to look away now if you don’t like technology. We’ll wake you up if you need to worry about something.
The three outputs of the UD-ULTC4K are made possible by two different technologies:
DisplayPort over USB-C Alternate mode controls the DP or HDMI outputs for “Display 1.”
The DisplayLink chip inside the dock controls the “Display 2” and “Display 3” outputs. To work, they both need a DisplayLink driver. DisplayLink turns graphics data on the system into USB data packets by using an installed driver and the system’s CPU and GPU. The USB data is then sent over the USB cable as data packets. The DisplayLink chip in the docking station turns the data packets back into video information, which is then sent to the monitors. Read More; Meta VR Headset Prototypes — Here’s Your First Look
But because it’s not a native video solution, Plugable doesn’t recommend it for gaming, video editing, digital audio workstations (DAWs), and playing back HDCP-protected content. For these tasks, users will want the full throughput of a “bare metal” native GPU connection, like the DisplayPort or HDMI port you can choose from on this dock’s Alt Mode.
With USB4, Thunderbolt, and USB-C host laptops that support DP 1.4 Alternate Mode, you can connect three 4K displays at 60Hz via DisplayPort or HDMI.
On hosts that support DP 1.2 Alternate Mode, you can connect one 4K at 30Hz via Display 1 (Alt Mode – DisplayPort or HDMI) and two 4K at 60Hz via Displays 2 and 3 (DisplayLink – DisplayPort or HDMI).
The resolution 1,366768 is not supported on DisplayLink-based HDMI or DisplayPort outputs.
Mac users should know that certain macOS versions could have problems with DisplayLink (High Sierra 10.13.4 to 10.13.6). Plugable suggests the dock for Macs running macOS 10.15.5-10.15.6 (Catalina), macOS 11 (Big Sur), and macOS 12 (Monterey).
Apple’s newest MacBooks have super-fast Silicon processors made by Apple itself. The M1 and M2 chips can only support one external display, which is one of their drawbacks. The M1 Pro, M1 Max, and M1 Ultra, which are more advanced, can connect to more than one external monitor.
But don’t worry, DisplayLink has fixed the M1’s limitation on external displays, so you can use this dock to add up to three more.
But remember that newer MacBooks have Thunderbolt 3 or 4 ports instead of USB-C ports. If you connect to a USB-C dock like the UD-ULTC4K, you’ll lose a lot of Thunderbolt’s 40Gbps bandwidth. You might be better off with a Thunderbolt-specific docking station—see our list of the best ones—but we haven’t tested one that lets you connect to three displays, which is what the UD-ULTC4K is all about.
The Plugable USB-C Triple Display 4K Docking Station will save you if you need a lot of screen space. It lets you connect up to three external displays, including three 4K monitors at full 60Hz, to your laptop or other USB-C devices.
On the other hand, Thunderbolt users don’t have many options for triple-display docks, and they might miss their 40Gbps bandwidth.
But if you want three big screens on your desk, this dock is a great improvement over the first one.