Plugable Thunderbolt 3 and USB-C (TBT3-UDC1) – a new breed of Gen 2 dock

Plugable Thunderbolt 3/USB-C (TBT3-UDC1)

As Thunderbolt 3 and USB-C 3.2 Gen 2 computers become more common the earlier Gen 1 docks simply cannot keep up with new power requirements or speed specs. In other words, the dock you have may not suit a new computer or new 4K monitors. Enter the Plugable Thunderbolt 3 and USB-C (TBT3-UDC1) Gen 2 dock.

The Plugable Thunderbolt 3 and USB-C (TBT3-UDC1) uses the latest Intel Titan Ridge Chipset (JHL7440 – it’s a PDF link so check downloads) that offers cross-compatibility between USB-C 3.1/2 and Gen 1/2 and Thunderbolt 3 20/40Gbps.

Intel 7000 series Thunderbolt

The main difference from Gen 1 docks is that this chipset supports two dedicated Display Ports. That means up to 1 x 5K@60Hz, 2 x 4K@60Hk or 1920×1080@60Hz (Gen 1 docks can only support 1 Display Port).

We tested the Plugable Thunderbolt 3/SUB-C (TBT3-UDC1) Gen 2 dock and the TBT3-UDZ (100W) is coming. There will be docks from HP, Lenovo, Kensington, Targus and other makers.

Review: Plugable Thunderbolt 3 and USB-C (TBT3-UDC1)

  • Website here
  • Price: US$189 – about A$320 inc freight
  • From: Amazon AU site  
  • Warranty: 1-year US warranty. We have asked Plugable about how it supports Australian warranty claims and will update this when we have a response.
  • Returns: 30-day no-hassle return policy if sold by Plugable and fulfilled by Amazon.
  • Support: Plugable has a diagnostic tool for Windows, Mac and Linux that creates log files for prompt analysis.
  • County 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. Would you buy a dock from such a diverse group – I would!
Plugable staff
Plugable is an equal opportunity employer!

If you have not used a dock

The whole idea is that this is a powered dock via a 20V/6.75A/135W brick. The brick is almost as big as the dock! If you order, don’t forget to specify an AU power cable.

You plug the power into the dock and your PC/Laptop in via the .8m Thunderbolt 3 cable provided. The latter is important – Thunderbolt 3 must use this short passive cable to achieve 40Gbps.

The dock has two full-sized Display Ports, 3xUSB-A and 2xUSB-C ports. Plus an Ethernet port and a 3.5mm combo port.

All tucked nicely into 170x80x25mmx323g matte aluminum box.

Plugable Thunderbolt 3/USB-C (TBT3-UDC1)

Monitor support

Plugable Thunderbolt 3/USB-C (TBT3-UDC1)

DP 1.2 will support 2 x 4K@60Hz (or lower) or even 1x5K@60Hz, but there is a small catch – the monitors must have Display Port 1.2 interfaces to achieve 60Hz. You can use a DP to HMDI passive adapter, but the support drops to 30Hz. Active adaptors usually support 60Hz.

Windows devices are easy. If they have Thunderbolt 3 or USB-C 3.1/2 Gen 1/2 they natively support multiple monitors. We tested the dock with a variety of monitors and mixed resolutions. Obviously, 2@4K@60Hz is Thunderbolt 3 only – PASS

Mac compatibility can vary. If it has 40Gpbs Thunderbolt 3, then it should support 2x4K@60Hz or 1x5K@60Hz. Sorry, we don’t have access to Macs during COVID-lockdown. If your Mac does not support it, then it will revert to USB-C 5Gbps, and then you should get 2x1080p@60Hz. Note that this is a limitation of the Intel Titan Ridge Chipset, and no other brand of dock will be any different.

CAVEAT: Monitors and computers need to support at least DP 1.2 HBR2 standard for 60Hz, and it may not support future monitors with 120Hz.

Tests (Windows HP 13” Spectre 2019 Thunderbolt 3 65W and Windows Surface Pro 7 2020 with USB-C 3.2 Gen 2)

  • 2 x USB-A 5Gbps (625MBps): PASS with a Samsung T7 SSD (reached speeds expected of this interface)
    • Voltage out: 5V/.9A – PASS
  • 1 x USB-A 10Gbps (1250MBps): PASS with a Samsung T7 SSD
    • USB-A BC 1.2 port 5V/1.5A – PASS
  • 2 x USB-C 10Gbps (1250MBps): PASS with a Samsung T7 SSD
    • Voltage out: 5V/2.4A: PASS
  • 1 x Thunderbolt 3 upstream: PASS on both devices (measured upstream at 62.9W – unit takes about 15W to operate)
  • Ethernet 1Gbps – PASS
  • DP 1.2 using ThunderBolt 3 downstream: 2 x 4K@60Hz – PASS with HP Z38C 3800×1600@60Hz and HP Z34C 3440 x 1440@60Hz
  • DP 1.2 using USB-C 3.1 Gen 2 downstream: 2 x 1080p@60Hz – PASS with 2 x Samsung LC27F591 1920 x 1080@60Hz (USB-C)
  • 3.5mm port – PASS it is a combo four-pole (L+R+Mic+Ground)

All tests PASS. But in the end, it really depends on the hardware you have.

Specs: Plugable Thunderbolt 3 and USB-C (TBT3-UDC1)

  • Windows devices with Thunderbolt 3 or USB-C 3.1/2 with Multi-function Display Port (MFDP). Some earlier Thunderbolt 3 systems only have 20Gbps 2xlane ports so may not achieve the same data transfer rates.
  • Mac (typically 2016 or later) supporting DisplayPort Multi-Stream Transport (MST)
  • iPad Pro and Android tablets/phone should work as they support USB-C 3.1 Gen 1 Alt DP at up to 5Gbps (not tested)
  • Thunderbolt 3 (20/40Gbps) or USB-C 3.1/2 Gen 1/2 (5/10Gbps) upstream/downstream to host computer. 60W upstream charging – note that you can use it with higher wattage devices, but charging will be slower. However, use with i-9 Macs is not recommended as the power load will also draw from the battery.
  • Two Display Port 1.2, 4096 x 2160 uncompressed video streams (or 2 x 1080p@60Hz on USB-C)
  • One USB-A 3.2 Gen 2 (10Gbps) supporting BC 1.2
  • Two USB-A 3.0 (5Gpbs)
  • Two USB-C 3.2 Gen 2 ports (10Gbps data/power only – not video)
  • Gigabit/10Gbps Ethernet
  • 3.5mm combo audio port
Plugable Thunderbolt 3/USB-C (TBT3-UDC1)

GadgetGuy’s take – Plugable Thunderbolt 3 and USB-C (TBT3-UDC1) Gen 2 dock works for me

Damn – I have Gen 1 docks and now Gen 2 computers, so it is going to be a cost to update. But I also like that it can fall back to USB-C 3.1/2 Gen1/2 (great for Surface Pro 7 and Go 2) and still have functionality albeit at a slower pace.

This is a perfect dock for mixed computing environments or pre-COVID hot swap desks!

This is a brilliant dock and has very few downsides

  • 2x rear USB-C are data only not Alt DP (Intel Chipset limitation)
  • All docks are highly dependent on the computer hardware you have. At least this will fall back as far as USB-C 3.1 Gen 1 and Amazon has a decent returns program.
  • Remember you need Display Port 1.2 monitors of you have to buy Active DP to HDMI adaptors
  • No downstream Thunderbolt 3 port (Intel Chipset limitation)

You can read other GadgetGuy docks reviews here.

Reader Rating0 Votes
Dual Display Ports up to 4K@60Hz
Passes all tests speed and voltage tests
Reasonable price in comparison to Gen 1 docks
Fall back to USB-C
None really if you have read our review