Plugable TBT3-UDZ

Plugable TBT3-UDZ Thunderbolt 3/USB-C 100W docking station (review)

10
Perfect
Buy now

The Plugable TBT3-UDZ Thunderbolt 3/USB-C 100W docking station offers 14-in-1 expansion – more than most, It drives 2 x [email protected] displays and comes with a heavy metal/rubber base for horizontal or vertical mounting.

Regular readers will know that GadgetGuy loves Plugable devices (reviews here and 10/10). They have become our reference testing docks in 2021 for two reasons. First, they work as advertised (no hype). Second, they work flawlessly. If a connected PC has issues, we know it’s the PC, not the dock. The Plugable TBT3-UDZ is the Rolls Royce of Thunderbolt 3 (TB3) docks. It has more expansion and more compatibility than any other dock we have tested. And it is Thunderbolt 4/USB-4 ready, offering longer usable life than many other docks.

Details: Plugable TBT3-UDZ Thunderbolt 3/USB-C 100W docking station

  • Website here
  • Price:  $350 with free Australian delivery
  • From: Amazon AU and on eBay Plugable store
  • Warranty: 2-years
  • Elevator pitch: TB3 dock done the right way with TB4 support
  • Country of manufacture: Thailand
  • Plugable (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.

First impression – heavy

It is 850g with the base/stand. On top of that is the power brick, but you are unlikely to put this in your backpack for travels. It is solid and well made – a keeper. The key USPs are a massive 14-in-1 ports and dual (total 4) Display Ports 1.2 and HDMI 2.0 – alleviating the need to convert DP to HDMI – nice. It comes with a 170W 20V/8.5A power brick, AU power cable and a .8m TB3 upstream cable.

Ports

  • 2 x either/or/both HDMI 2.0 or DP 1.2 supporting 2 x [email protected] including 4096×2160
  • 3.5mm combo headphone jack capable of 16-bit/48KHz
  • 5 x USB-A 3.0 (5Gbps) 5V/.9A/4.5W each
  • Front USB-A 3.2 Gen 2 (10Gpbs) with sleep battery charge 1.2 5V/1.5A/7.5W
  • Front USB-C 3.2 Gen 2 (10Gbps) 5V/1.5A data only – no Alt DP
  • Thunderbolt 3 40Gbps upstream 100W charge (TB3)
  • Gigabit Ethernet
  • MicroSD slot for SDXC or SDHC
  • SD slot for SDHC, SDXC or MMC

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

Tests

We tested with a 2020 HP x360 Spectre with two TB3 ports. We use a Power-Z inline power measurement tool and various data transfer speed apps. As yet, we don’t have a TB4 testbed device.

In any case, this is a TB3/USB-C 3.2 Gen 2 dock with TB4 and USB-4 aspirations. That is due to the Intel Titan Ridge chipset that offers manufacturers the choice of two discrete display ports (DP 1.2 and/or HDMI 2.0) or one port and one downstream 20Gbps TB3 port. We think dual displays is more important.

  • Dual Monitors Windows [email protected] – Pass
  • Dual monitors Windows [email protected] – Pass (note Apple M1 Macs cannot natively support dual monitors. See more here)
  • Using either HDMI or DP or a combination – Pass
  • Gigabit Ethernet – Pass (speed appears unaffected by dock activity)
  • 5 x USB-A 3.1 5Gbps. Each outputs 5V/.9A, but we could not test what happens if each is connected and drawing power. Given the 170W size of the input power brick, we are confident that they will maintain power but we suspect they share the 5Gbp data transfer
  • When we connected two external SSDs to the front USB-A and USB-C 3.2, Gen 2, we did notice speeds fell back to 5Gbps each – sharing 10Gbps 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

It passed or exceeded al tests.

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

GadgetGuy’s take

The Plugable TBT3-UDZ Thunderbolt 3/USB-C 100W docking station is perfect for the power Windows or Mac user. It meets exceeds all test parameters and has a massive 14-in-1 ports. It can be mounted vertically in the stand or horizontally. Some ill-educated reviewers have complained about the lack of a TB3 out port. You can’t have dual monitors and a TB3 port- it is a TB3 limitation.

This is the most fully featured doc that supports [email protected] monitors and has 14-in-one ports. Its another 10/10 from Plugable.
Features
10
Value for money
10
Performance
10
Ease of use
10
Design
10
Positives
14-in-1 TB3/USB-C dock with it all
dual monitor support - DP or HDMI oir both
Will support USB-C 4 and TB4 as well - futureproof
Negatives
None - its perfect
10
Perfect
Buy now