4K at 120Hz show capabilities open up gaming prospects
100W to laptop computer, 20W by way of USB-C
Surprisingly heat underneath load
Storage exams throughout the dock have been decrease than common
Not for Macs
Some minor efficiency considerations don’t mar what’s in any other case a really attractively priced USB4 docking station that’s designed for the longer term.
Plugable’s UD-4VPD, formally referred to as the USB4 Twin HDMI Docking Station, guarantees two probably welcome tendencies: a push into 120Hz 4K show capabilities, and a startling discount in worth.
Why contemplate the Plugable UD-4VPD?
Most Thunderbolt docks supply the choice of connecting to 2 4K shows at 60Hz. That’s completely high quality for workplace use. Greater-rate 120Hz shows, although, are the minimal threshold that players favor, opening a possible new world of prospects for these docks. And this dock drives a pair of 4K shows at 120Hz, based on Plugable! Alternatively, the identical dock ought to drive a single 8K show.
USB4 and Thunderbolt 4 are functionally equal. Due to what we suspect are licensing points, Thunderbolt docks appear to be widespread on Intel laptops, whereas AMD Ryzen laptops use USB4. A Thunderbolt laptop computer ought to work simply as effectively with a USB4 dock. Bear in mind, although, that based on Plugable founder and CTO Bernie Thompson, a laptop computer with a Thunderbolt 3 connection in all probability gained’t work with this dock and it’s not really helpful to work with Macs.
The Plugable UD-4VPD remains to be dramatically cheaper than most Thunderbolt or USB4 docks, with out attempting to chop corners, and shakes up what a “finances” dock actually is. One cause is its Vialabs chipset slightly than the costlier Goshen Ridge chipset that may have enabled full Thunderbolt 4 specification.
if you need full Thunderbolt 4, take a look at our roundup of the very best Thunderbolt docks however this USB4 dock nonetheless gives Thunderbolt-matching 40Gbps knowledge transfers, plus another top-end ports.
You possibly can choose it up for $195.95 within the US from Walmart or Newegg and £206 from Amazon UK on the time of writing.
Spec & Options
One upstream USB4 port (40Gbps, 100W)
Two HDMI 2.1 video ports
Two USB-A ports (10Gbps)
One USB-A port (5Gbps)
One USB-C port (10Gbps, 20W)
2.5Gb Gigabit Ethernet
UHS-II SD card reader (312MBps)
UHS-II MicroSD card reader (312MBps)
3.5mm combo audio jack (entrance)
170W energy provide
Sadly, we lack the sources to check the dock with a pair of 120Hz 4K screens for the time being. (Most 4K screens at 120Hz or above value about $600 or so.) We do have a 1440p widescreen monitor to check, which might run at as much as 144Hz, plus two 4K shows, which is as shut as we are able to get.
Plugable’s UD-4VPD is an 11-in 1 dock, with the 2 HDMI ports, two 10Gbps USB-A (10Gbps) ports, a legacy 5Gbps USB-A port, and a single 10Gbps USB-C port which might provide as much as a rated 20W of charging energy for a cellphone. There’s additionally a microSD and SD slot rated at UHS-II (312MB/s) speeds, plus an audio/mic jack.
Mark Hachman / IDG
The 2 HDMI 2.1 show ports mirror HDMI’s reputation, however their efficiency will fluctuate. Right here’s the issue: Not solely do that dock’s ports require your laptop computer to help an HDMI 2.1 output, however the chipset inside it’s required to help each HBR3 (Excessive Bitrate 3) and DSC (Show Stream Compression). The latter expertise is sort of a DisplayLink dock: It makes use of some compression to allow the upper show capabilities. In case your laptop computer lacks each of those latter options, you’ll get a extra normal 4K60 expertise as a substitute. You don’t have the choice of plugging in an HDMI-to-DisplayPort cable into this dock, both.
How have you learnt your laptop computer consists of HBR3 and DSC? Likelihood is you don’t, and your laptop computer maker might not even inform you. In response to Thompson, one clue could also be whether or not it’s Intel Evo licensed, as Thompson claims that these all meet the HBR3/DSC necessities.
In any other case, the shortage of accessible data makes buying this dock a little bit of a crapshoot, sadly. Alternatively, you can also make the argument that investing on this dock is an funding sooner or later, when 4K120 shows change into cheaper and extra commonplace.
Mark Hachman / IDG
We weren’t capable of take a look at all the dock’s show options, however a number of the features that we have been capable of take a look at have been a bit disappointing. The primary is a nitpick: Whereas Thunderbolt cables are clearly labeled with the lightning-bolt brand and both a “3” or “4” to tell apart them, Plugable’s 3.3-foot USB4 cable was jet black with no markings. It could be useful if the cable neighborhood or Plugable might higher label these cables.
Second, the dock warmed surprisingly underneath load, to the purpose that it grew a little bit alarming. But it surely didn’t persistently attain these temperatures, both. (In case you’re involved, Plugable’s dock ships with a two-year restricted elements and labor guarantee.)
Lastly, the dock’s efficiency was a bit blended. When writing to an exterior take a look at SSD, the drive’s bandwidth clocked in at about 122MBps, about 11 p.c lower than the 137.51MBps that rival-dock Anker 568 generated. Alternatively, working the identical take a look at whereas streaming a 4K video — a job we carry out to see if there’s any knowledge congestion — handed with flying colours. Anker’s dock additionally confirmed occasional instability; the Plugable UD-4VPD was rock-solid in our exams.
Plugable principally lived as much as its charging claims, too. Whereas the dock’s brand claims that the entrance 10Gbps charging port can ship 20W of energy to cost a smartphone, our exams confirmed that it delivered about 18.7W underneath load. That’s sufficient to fast-charge a smartphone.
Do you have to purchase the Plugable UD-4VPD?
Plugable, although, gives an enormous benefit: It’s primarily $100 lower than the competitors, and that’s earlier than any reductions. Plugable’s Thompson says that the prices of obligatory Thunderbolt testing elevate the costs of Thunderbolt docks, and right here the lowered prices are handed alongside to the patron. The Plugable UD-4VPD remains to be dramatically cheaper than most Thunderbolt or USB4 docks, with out attempting to chop corners, and shakes up what a “finances” dock actually is. That’s a key promoting level, even earlier than you begin speaking about its superior show capabilities.
Editor’s Word: On Plugable’s web site, this dock is known as the PLUGABLE USB4 DUAL MONITOR DOCKING STATION WITH 4K 120HZ HDMI.