Plugable’s Newest ThunderBolt 3 and USB-C Docking Stations Reviewed

2020-08-30

The landscape of home computing has changed.  Where we once believed that a desktop PC was the only solution for an office space, that is not really the case today. Laptop and ultrabook sales have gone through the roof as they have become, not only an excellent value proposition, but also, they save a great deal of space.  True fact… My wife has been cursing me about her full size desktop  PC which has been on her desk for years now… until two days ago.   That was when I stumbled upon just about the best laptop deal that has ever been in existence; a 15″ AMD 3500 laptop with a 512GB SSD and 8GB memory…for an unbelievable $249.  Best price in the history of the world i am pretty sure.

And this is where people get stuck.  After taking the day to make the transition, the first thing Karen (my wife) complained about was having  to disconnect two monitors, a keyboard, mouse, sound Ethernet cable every time she wanted to use her laptop elsewhere in the house.  This is where I thank Plugable as I have had not one but three of their docking stations sitting on my desk for some time now.  Karen now has all of her peripherals connected into the Plugable Dual HDMI Display Docking Station, and only a single USB 3 cable running from the dock to her laptop.  Her laptop just became portable again and when she returns and plugs the cable back into the laptop, her monitors, keyboard, mouse, and Ethernet start right where they left off. So let’s look at this docking station and two other Plugable Docking Stations…

PLUGABLE UD-3900Z 

The Plugable UD-3900Z is a USB 3.0 and USB-C dual HDMI monitor docking station that has room for six USB devices, Gigabit Ethernet,  two 1920×1200 HD resolution monitors and sound.

The cable that connects to the back of the unit is a special cable as one end is the not-so-common USB 3.0 Type B. There are actually two cables of this type that  are interchangeable with a USB 3.0 connector and Type-C connector on the other end of each cable, to accommodate your systems specific connection.

Looking at the back of the 3900Z we see that the four USB ports are USB 2.0, along with the two HDMI ports, Gigabit Ethernet and power.  The USB 3.0 ports can be found on the front with an input/output sound connector. This unit does not have power delivery and is Windows compatible.

, we can see that the Plugable USB 3.0 and USB-C Universal Laptop Docking Station is available for $99 and has excellent ratings.  It certainly did the job in my wife’s home office.

PLUGABLE UD6950z

Understanding the concept of the UD-3900Z, the UD-6950Z takes things just a bit further.  It’s design and contents are exactly the same but this unit contains six (6) USB 3.0 ports (rather than the four USB 2.0/two USB 3.0), and it can accommodate two Display Port or HDMI monitors up to 4K 60Hz resolution.

The is only $139 which is a great deal when you consider just how much more you are getting in comparison to the UD-3900Z.  Once again…exact same design and exact same front with two USB 3.0 ports and sound…and still no power delivery.

PLUGABLE TBT3-UDC1

We have saved the best for last in considering the Plugable Thunderbolt-3 and USB-C Docking Station.  This docking station connects to a Thunderbolt 3 capable PC and ups the specifications significantly to include 60W charging that would charge just about any laptop, making the laptops own power cable needless.

The Plugable TBT3-UDC1 can display up to 2 displays at 4K 60HZ via Display Port, has two USB 3.2 Gen 2 ports on the back, as well as Gigabit Ethernet and two USB 3.0 ports.

On the front, we have the Thunderbolt 3 port along with USB 3.1 and an input/output sound port.

Simply because of its feature set, the Plugable TBT3-UDC1 is .  For my own needs, I find this dock very useful as it does have two USB 3.2 (10Gbps) Type-C data ports on the front.  Ideally, I would like to also see another Thunderbolt 3 port beside these as Thunderbolt 3 can be daisy chained.