Nice, steady picture high quality breaks down barely with video
No USB-C ports
No fast-charging ports
Plugable’s UD-6950PDZ USB-C Triple Show dock is a distinct segment DisplayLink dock, admirable for what it may do however with particular limitations.
Three shows? Three? When you’re the kind of one who takes a maximalist method to shows, then the Plugable USB-C Triple 4K HDMI and DisplayPort Show Docking Station (UD-6950PDZ) is for you. This DisplayLink USB-C dock provides you the ability of Thunderbolt, however with out the fee – and a few options.
You may contemplate the Plugable UD-6950PDZ to be the bigger cousin of the Plugable UD-6950PDH, a double-display docking station. Neither the UD-6950PDZ nor the UD-6950PDH are “true” Thunderbolt docks. As a substitute, they each use the DisplayLink protocol, which approximates Thunderbolt capabilities however makes use of the DisplayLink drivers and protocol as a way of information compression. The distinction between the 2 is that the UD-6950PDH routes two shows over this bus, whereas the UD-6950PDZ that we’re reviewing right here connects three shows as an alternative.
A promoting level of many, although not all, Plugable docks is the inclusion of extra show ports than you might ever need. Most docks ask you to decide on between DisplayPort and HDMI, and even use a direct Thunderbolt connection. Plugable presents each: On the again of the UD-6950PDZ dock are three units of DisplayPort 1.2 and HDMI 1.4/2.0 ports, to be able to use no matter shows and cables you might have readily available. That’s far more flexibility than anything available on the market. There are additionally 4 extra 5Gbps USB-A ports.
The Plugable UD-6950PDZ presents simply two 5Gbps USB-A ports on the entrance of the dock, together with a 3.5mm mic/headphone jack. A Kensington lock slot is mounted on the aspect.
The dock is made out of plastic, with venting on the underside. It turned heat beneath load, however to not worrying ranges.
Additional studying: See our roundup of the very best Thunderbolt docks, which incorporates USB-C DisplayLink docks, to study competing merchandise.
Mark Hachman / IDG
Some phrases about DisplayLink
DisplayLink docks will not be a “low-cost” model of Thunderbolt. As a substitute, they’ve confirmed to be a steady, cheap different to a Thunderbolt dock, sufficient that we lump them into the identical class. They do lack the uncooked horsepower of a 40Gbps Thunderbolt dock, working over a 10Gbps bus as an alternative. Alternatively, driving shows tends to devour the majority of that bandwidth – precisely what DisplayLink was designed to offset.
It’s even weirder: Plugable says that the 3-foot cable between its dock and your PC runs at simply 5Gbps, and in some way squeezes three 4K shows price of information over that. Black magic! The included cable was stiffer than I’d like, nonetheless, with not a lot tolerance for my laptop computer’s USB-C port. It virtually felt like I used to be forcing it into the slot.
This dock is powered by the Synaptics DL-6950 chip, which includes what the corporate calls DL Compression 3.0, which does a greater job adapting to the calls for of what you’re seeing on display screen. What the UD-6950PDZ does is use the DL-6950 chip to kind two units of both an HDMI 2.0 or DisplayPort 1.2 connection, in addition to use your laptop computer’s means to straight drive HDMI or DisplayPort over a 3rd channel. It’s complicated! Basically, the dock is doing two-thirds of the work to allow three shows, along with your laptop computer contributing the opposite third. As with most docks of this sort, your expertise will profit from a contemporary laptop computer.
The Plugable UD-6950PDZ can be dependent in your PC. In case your PC’s USB-C port can output DisplayPort 1.4, the dock will help a 4K show at 60Hz. If it solely helps DisplayPort 1.2, 4K30 is the utmost decision it’ll help. Sadly, this may be one of many irritating issues a few DisplayLink or Thunderbolt dock, because it’s depending on options that always your laptop computer maker doesn’t essentially spotlight.
How effectively does the Plugable UD-6950PDZ work?
On our check laptops, the Plugable UD-6950PDZ supported three shows: a 1440p widescreen at 100Hz, and two 4K shows working at 60Hz. (The dock’s show outputs aren’t truly locked to a specific decision; it’s simply that the out there bandwidth is finest suited to a number of shows at sure mounted resolutions.) I attempted a number of configurations and cables, and it doesn’t appear to matter whether or not I used a DisplayPort or an HDMI cable, and the place I plugged it in – the output was the identical.
When you’re working in electronic mail, or Excel, or an internet web page with unmoving, mounted content material, you have to be completely fantastic with this dock.
Don’t push it too exhausting, although. One of many assessments we carry out performs again a 4K YouTube video, simply to see what YouTube’s algorithm will ship. The dock additionally performed again Netflix movies on all three screens, proving that DRM didn’t intrude.
The precise YouTube decision (measured by YouTube’s “viewport” description) was lower than what we anticipated, various between a bit beneath 1080p decision and 1440p relying on the setup. Hardly any frames dropped. Nevertheless, there was some slight, noticeable choppiness in how the frames performed again that would show to be annoying.
We noticed one thing comparable with our storage assessments. Operating PCMark’s storage benchmark, we recorded about 10MB/s much less bandwidth (120.79MB/s) than different docks we’ve examined, which isn’t unhealthy. However once we examined the storage benchmark whereas streaming our check video, the video dropped 234 out of 10,000 frames, which is much more than we’d hope for. That’s positively noticeable.
There’s one other catch: There aren’t any USB-C ports in any respect, which implies that this dock isn’t an ideal answer for charging a smartphone from the most typical USB-C chargers. Don’t fear about shopping for an adapter, both: the USB-A ports solely provide 2.4W by our measurements, sufficient to solely slow-charge a smartphone over a number of hours.
The Plugable UD-6950PDZ additionally provides a bit much less energy than different docks, a rated 60W that works out to 56.7W on our assessments. That’s completely fantastic for a productiveness laptop computer, but when your laptop computer has a discrete GPU that’s energetic, or you probably have it working in a high-performance mode, the port could not provide sufficient energy to cost it whereas on the dock. (In that case, the laptop computer will drain energy, albeit extra slowly than if it have been working solely on battery.)
Value and verdict
The Plugable UD-6950PDZ prices $199.95, and is out there from Amazon, Walmart and Newegg within the US. This actual mannequin isn’t out there within the UK. The closest we may discover is that this mannequin, which presents 100W charging, however for the excessive price ticket of £299.
Our conclusion? This can be a area of interest dock for many who want three shows. In any other case we’d lean in direction of the dual-display model, the Plugable UD-6950H. We additionally miss the dearth of smartphone charging, although it’s not a deal-breaker. What the Plugable UD-6950PDZ accomplishes is spectacular, although it has its limits.
This text has been syndicated and localised. You possibly can learn the unique overview over on PCWorld.