Home ConsumerClient Accessories Plugable 14-in-1 Thunderbolt 3 and USB-C Dock Review

Plugable 14-in-1 Thunderbolt 3 and USB-C Dock Review

by Conner Crull

The Plugable Thunderbolt 3 and USB-C dock is a 14-in-1 dock solution allowing for high versatility and offers users a way to increase the number of displays. This dock is ideal for home and professional users that simply need more connectivity options in a workspace since most laptops are limited to only a few ports. The Plugable Thunderbolt 3 and USB-C dock also supports both Windows and macOS as well as has the ability to charge most laptops with a 96W PD port.

The Plugable Thunderbolt 3 and USB-C dock is a 14-in-1 dock solution allowing for high versatility and offers users a way to increase the number of displays. This dock is ideal for home and professional users that simply need more connectivity options in a workspace since most laptops are limited to only a few ports. The Plugable Thunderbolt 3 and USB-C dock also supports both Windows and macOS as well as has the ability to charge most laptops with a 96W PD port.

Plugable Thunderbolt 3 and USB-C Dock

Regarding connectivity, the Plugable Thunderbolt 3 and USB-C dock comes with many ports and display connectivity options. On the front of the dock is a Micro SD/SD card reader, a USB-C 10Gbps, a USB-A 10Gbps, and then audio in/out. On the rear is where nearly all the connectivity is. Starting at the top, there are five USB 3.0 ports, and underneath that is a Gigabit Ethernet RJ-45 port.

Moving on to the display options, for both displays that are supported by the dock, users are able to pick if there is a DisplayPort connection or an HDMI port. Following the display options, there is a 96W Thunderbolt 3 charging port, and lastly the power adapter port.

As mentioned before, there is a 96W power delivery port on the rear, delivered through the USB-C port. This power delivery port is able to charge any type of smaller device such as Apple or Android phones and tablets. However, the main reason for this port is to charge large devices such as laptops as it gives users the ability to everything connected via one device.

As for the display options on the Thunderbolt 3 and USB-C dock, Plugable has designed this dock to allow users to have two 4K displays using either the HDMI or DisplayPort without having to worry about more adapters. The convenience of two different options to either use HDMI or DisplayPort is the first Thunderbolt 3 docking station to have this making this dock unparalleled in terms of flexibility.

Plugable has also brought the power of the latest Intel Titan Ridge Chipset to allow for the widest compatibility with Thunderbolt 3 and USB-C laptops on the market. Also to note, that just because the dock is labeled as a Thunderbolt 3 dock, Thunderbolt 4 laptops are also supported.

The Plugable 14-in-1 Thunderbolt 3 and USB-C dock comes with the standard Plugable 2-year limited parts and labor warranty as well as Seattle-based email support. The dock is currently running for $369.00 on Amazon.

Plugable Thunderbolt 3 and USB-C Dock Specifications

Model TBT3-UDZ
Color Gray and Black
Connectivity Front Components:

1 x Thunderbolt™ port with 60W power delivery

Back Components:

1 AC adapter port

3 x Thunderbolt™ ports with 15W power delivery

Max Display Resolution Up to two 4K displays at 60Hz, one 8K display at 30Hz, or one 6K on M1 Macs
Compatible operating system Windows (10+) Thunderbolt 4 and USB4 systems, macOS (11+)
In the Box Dock, power supply, power cord, warranty
Warranty 2-year limited parts and labor warranty as well as Seattle-based email support

Design and Build

All docking stations are different, each dock comes in a different shape and size depending on the home/office needs. The Plugable Thunderbolt 3 and USB-C dock measures 4.13 inches x 1.42 inches x 7.68 inches and weighs 4.1lbs, making it a solid, well-built docking station. This is great for workspaces that have a little less room as the dock can stand vertical. However, this dock can also be flat that occupies more square inches on the work surface.

The front connectivity of Thunderbolt 3 and USB-C dock offers what users will be using the most. There is an SD card slot and a Micro SD card slot for memory card users. Underneath the SD card slots, there is both a USB-C and a USB-A port, both offering 10Gbps transfer. Lastly, there is an audio in/out port, which is a port that some manufacturers are slowly phasing out but Plugable has decided to keep it.

The rear connectivity has all the options that users will want for connections that are needed to be constantly connected like accessories or displays. Starting at the top, there are five USB 3.0 ports for things like chargers, a keyboard, a mouse, and other accessories. Then there is an RJ-45 Gigabit Ethernet port (no multi-gig) for network connectivity. Next are both the display port options, each display connection has the ability for an HDMI connection or a DisplayPort connection. Next is the power delivery Thunderbolt 3 port with support for 96W charging for laptops connected to the dock.

The Thunderbolt 3 and USB-C dock also has the ability to stand vertically or lay horizontally. This gives users a little more versatility for the deployment site for the dock as users who need a small footprint can stand it vertically, but for those that want a slim profile, it can be laid down.

Performance

As for the performance of the Plugable 14-in-1 Thunderbolt 3 and USB-C dock, we wanted to show two different devices and how they can pass through this dock. We used the SanDisk Extreme Pro 128GB SD card rated for 170MB/s read, as well as the SanDisk Extreme Pro Portable SSD V2, a device that we have reviewed in the past that showed pretty quick speeds. We tested both these storage devices with the Blackmagic Design Disk Speed Test.

First up was the SanDisk Extreme Pro 128GB SD card. The Extreme Pro 128GB SD card was able to hit 77.2MB/s write and 84.9MB/s read, not the best speeds out of this SD card as it was rated for 170MB/s, however, to keep in mind, it is used through a dock which can cut the speeds in half.

pluggable dock_sd

Next up is the SanDisk Extreme Pro Portable SSD V2. The SanDisk Extreme Pro Portable SSD was able to get 813.2MB/s write as well as 861.7MB/s read. The story is also the same with this device as in our review, it benchmarked at nearly double the speeds that what we saw through the Plugable dock. It is a showing pattern and an important note to remember when using this dock for data read and write.

plugable dock usb

Conclusion

Depending on your needs, the Plugable 14-in-1 Thunderbolt 3 and USB-C might be the solution to connectivity problems within your workspace, especially for those that need a high number of USB ports or a multi-display setup. This Thunderbolt 3 and USB-C dock really useful for laptops thanks to the ability to charge devices through the Thunderbolt 3 port as it supports up to 96W charging.

As with any dock on the market, there are a couple of limitations that come with the Plugable 14-in-1 Thunderbolt 3 and USB-C. The first is the lack of USB-C Thunderbolt ports on the dock. There is USB-C 10Gb the front and then a Thunderbolt 3 on the rear, however, those are the only two USB-C style ports as compared to the six USB-A ports. It might have been nice to see fewer USB-A ports and one or two more USB-C ports. This Plugable dock also doesn’t have a Thunderbolt passthrough compared to some other docks as well as the 1Gb port could be better with the support of a 2.5Gb port.

With the support of two 4K displays, it is also important to remember that when the dock is connected to a compatible Thunderbolt 3 or 4 Windows or Mac System, you can have two 4K displays @60Hz, however, Apple M1 systems (non-Intel CPUs) only support a single external display. With compatible USB-C systems, you can have two 1080p @60Hz or one [email protected] display. We wanted to reiterate, that this spec is a little light compared to the HP Thunderbolt G4 dock which can support four 4K displays. The HP solution is also less expensive. If you don’t have Thunderbolt 4 though, perhaps the argument is less relevant.

Overall, the Plugable 14-in-1 Thunderbolt 3 and USB-C dock is a solid solution for those looking to increase productivity and the number of displays within a workspace. The Thunderbolt 3 and USB-C dock is currently priced at $369.00, so the price is high versus other docks that we have reviewed recently such as the HP Thunderbolt G4. We feel that this dock may be sitting at a higher price than what should be expected from this, perhaps a price point around $280 would be a better fit. In that price range, we’re much more enthusiastic to recommend the dock. As it is, the dock is well built and has most of what people need, but is far too expensive for what amounts to a legacy interface.

Plugable 14-in-1 Thunderbolt 3 and USB-C Dock

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