Plugable TBT3 Thunderbolt 3/4 docking station range – UDZ-96W, UDC3-96W, UD1-85W or UDC1-60W (review)

The Plugable TBT3, Thunderbolt 3/4 docking station range, uses the Intel Titan Ridge Thunderbolt chipset that offers full TB3, most TB4 compatibility, and backwards compatibility with USB-C 3.1/2 Gen 1/2 devices.

Plugable is our reference testing Thunderbolt dock for two reasons. First, it works as advertised (no hype). Second, it works flawlessly. If a connected PC has issues, we know it is the PC, not the dock. And Plugable has elected to provide two video ports – HDMI 2.0 and DP 1.4 instead of a single port and TB downstream port on many other brands.

They all share similar internals and vary upstream power and the occasional port. We are reviewing them as a range instead of separately.

Wait on – isn’t Thunderbolt 4 (TB4) the latest?

Yes, but TB 3 and 4 are very similar, and these docks are TB4 compatible. TB4 supports USB-C 4.0 devices, three 4K or one 8K screen, and more PCIe channels. Plugable is working on the TB4 ones, but these are more than adequate.

Review: Plugable TBT3 Thunderbolt 3/4 docking station range

WebsiteProduct range
PriceUDZ-96W – US$400
UDC-96W – US$379
UD1-95W – US$349
UDC1-60W – A$567
FromAmazon AU and on eBay Plugable store
Warranty2-years
Elevator pitchTB3 dock done the right way with TB4 support
Country of originThailand
CompanyPlugable (website here). Redmond, Washington, USA. It has a wide range of products sold worldwide and is consistently in the ‘Top 5’ global docking station market.
MoreCybershack Plugable news and reviews

First impression – heavy

All docks are big – on top of that is the power brick, but you are unlikely to put this in your backpack for travels. These are Its solid and well made – keepers.

The key USPs are

  • UDZ has a massive 14-in-1 ports and dual Display Ports 1.2 or HDMI 2.0 (total 4) – alleviating the need to convert DP to HDMI.
  • UDC has 11 ports, HDMI and Display Port, Ethernet and USB-A 3;1 Gen 2 10GBps.
  • UD1 has nine ports, Display Port and USB-C video ports. Ethernet, USBC and USB-A 3l1 Gen 1 ports.
  • UDC1 has nine ports, 2 x Display Ports, 2 x USB-C 10GBps (data) and 1 x USB-A 3.2 Gen2 (10Gbps) and 2 x USB-A 3.1 Gen 1 5Gbps ports.

It comes with an appropriate power brick and AU power cable, and a .8m TB3 upstream cable.

A lot of thought has gone into port placement – the most used ports are on the front. If that does not solve your dock pain points – nothing will.

Tests

We tested with a 2021 Microsoft Surface Pro 8 (TB4) and a 2020 HP x360 Spectre (TB3). In all cases, the same results showed the Intel Titan Ridge compatibility.

We also used a 2021 Microsoft Surface Pro USB-C 3.2 Gen 2 10Gbps) and as to be expected, it was fully compatible but did not have the same monitor support or data throughput.

  • Dual Monitors Windows 4K@60Hz – Pass (2 x 1080p@60Hz on USB-C device)
  • Dual monitors Windows 1080p@60Hz – Pass (note Apple M1 Macs cannot natively support dual monitors. See more here
  • Using either HDMI or DP or a combination with adapters – Pass
  • Gigabit Ethernet – Pass (speed appears unaffected by other dock activity)
  • USB-A 3.2 Gen 1 10Gbps – pass. Speed and voltage were withing spec
  • When we connected two external 3.2 Gen 2 SSD, we noticed speeds fell back to 5Gbps each – this is not unusual.
  • Heat – not noticeable
  • Noise – none
  • Works on any USB-C 3.1/2 Gen 2 albeit at lower speeds and screen refresh rates

Mac M1 users

Plugable does its best to keep updating firmware, but there are limits to the chip.

  • One external 4K@60Hz display (there are workaround for more)
  • You will get proper voltage and amperage on each port, but the speeds will reduce as more devices are in use
  • There have been some TB3 issues with the M1 chip that require Apple’s firmware or OS updates to fix. Mac M1 has two TB3 ports but may only support one with a dock

Cybershack view  – the Plugable TBT3 Thunderbolt 3/4 docking station range is perfect for expanding modern laptops

These meet or exceeds all test. Some ill-educated reviewers have complained about the lack of a TB3 out port. You can’t have dual monitors and a TB3 port.

Would I wait for TB4 docking stations?

These are coming, and they won’t be cheap. As far as a dock goes, the Plugable TBT3 range works perfectly well with TB4. Sure TB4 will support more ports, three monitors but no more real dock functionality.

Plugable is about to release its UD-6950PDZ TB4 dock. It’s a triple 4K@60Hz, 60W upstream charging, 12-port dock (Price and Availability TBA)

From A$500
9.3

Features

9.0/10

Value

9.0/10

Performance

10.0/10

Ease of Use

10.0/10

Design

8.5/10

Pros

  • 60 to 100W upstream charging (certified)
  • Passes all port tests for voltage/amperage/speed
  • Dual monitor support 4K@60Hz

Cons

  • None – Plugable TBT3 are perfect examples of what a TB4/TB3/USB-C 3.2 dock should be


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