Plugable Charging Thunderbolt Docking Station

Last updated: November 5, 2021

We looked at the top Thunderbolt Docking Stations and dug through the reviews from some of the most popular review sites. Through this analysis, we've determined the best Thunderbolt Docking Station you should buy.

Product Details

In our analysis of 41 expert reviews, the Plugable Charging Thunderbolt Docking Station placed 12th when we looked at the top 15 products in the category. For the full ranking, see below.

From The Manufacturer

Plugable’s TBT3-UDV Thunderbolt 3 Single Display Docking Station offers high-performance expansion of your Thunderbolt 3-enabled Mac or compatible Windows Thunderbolt 3 system while also providing up to 60W of power to charge the host. Connect a single display up to 4K 60Hz (4096×2160@60Hz) via the integrated DisplayPort output, or an HDMI display using the included Active DisplayPort to HDMI adapter. Thunderbolt 3’s massive 40Gbps bandwidth enables you to run your high resolution display connected through the dock at the full native performance of your system’s graphics processor while also enabling access to your wired network and existing USB peripherals. Supports connection to wired gigabit Ethernet networks using the integrated 1.0 Gbps i210 Intel network adapter and 10Gbps peer-to-peer networking when directly connected to a second Thunderbolt 3-enabled system. Provides a combined analog audio input and output jack for connecting stereo headphones and microphone. Provides five extra USB 3.0 Type-A ports for device connectivity (one in front, four in back). Is positioned vertically to save space, and has a removable stand that also allows the unit to placed horizontally. Thunderbolt 3 compatibility is complex, and some features like PCI-E bandwidth, support for 2 displays over Thunderbolt 3, and the necessary firmware updates for docking compatibility (BIOS and NVM) are system-specific. Apple and Dell Thunderbolt 3 systems are currently the best-performing, best-supported systems with this docking station.Please see the ‘Specification Sheet.pdf’ document under the ‘Technical Specification’ section below for a more detailed compatibility list. For details on supported monitor configurations and what components are needed to add a second display, and non-Apple and Dell compatibility, please see additional details below. The dock can provide up to 60W of power to charge the host system, assuming the system supports being charged via its Thunderbolt 3 port. Windows systems require updated NVM firmware, system BIOS, and Thunderbolt/GPU drivers from the system manufacturer (Apple systems provide this automatically). The ability to add a second display depends on design decisions made by your system manufacturer and requires additional hardware, sold separately. Some Thunderbolt 3 systems support a maximum of 20Gbps Thunderbolt 3 bandwidth. The docking station will not function if attached to a non-Thunderbolt 3 capable USB-C port. System Requirements Compatible with Apple and Dell systems which have Thunderbolt 3 support. Other brand Thunderbolt 3 systems may work but not support all of the functionality of the dock. Please see important details regarding system compatibility, frequently asked questions and more below. Compatibility Information Thunderbolt 3 is powerful technology, and system manufacturers have discretion how they implement various elements and features. As a result, compatibility information is complex and some available Thunderbolt 3 systems do not support all the features offered by this docking station. Some systems support a second display using a USB-C video adapter or cable, sold separately. To support a second display via the dock, the system manufacturer must have routed two DisplayPort lines to the Thunderbolt 3 port. Currently all Thunderbolt 3 systems from Apple and Dell meet this requirement, and implementation from other manufacturers varies. Requires updated system BIOS, Thunderbolt 3 driver, Thunderbolt 3 NVM firmware and graphics (GPU) driver from system manufacturer. If you have a Thunderbolt 3 host system which supports two video outputs, a separate purchase of one of the following Plugable adapter models is required: USBC-DP, USBC-HDMI, USBC-DVI, USBC-VGA Please see the FAQ section below for more information. Compatible Systems: Apple Late 2016/Mid 2017/Mid 2018 MacBook Pro and iMac Mid 2017 models with Thunderbolt 3 (13″ & 15″, with and without Touch Bar) Apple 21.5″ and 27″ iMac Mid 2017 with Thunderbolt 3 Dell XPS 12 9250, Dell XPS 13 9350, 9360, 9365, 9370, Dell XPS 15 9550, 9560 Dell Latitude 7275, 7370 Dell Precision 15 3510, 3520, 5510, 5520, 7510, 7520, Dell Precision 17 7710, 7720 (Precision systems with certain CPU and GPU configurations have power requirements above 130W and do not support charging via Thunderbolt 3) Important Note Regarding Dell Thunderbolt 3 systems – Some Dell XPS and Precision models include Thunderbolt 3 support by default, while with other models Thunderbolt 3 is optional. Please ensure your Dell system has Thunderbolt 3 support prior to purchasing the dock. Unsupported Systems: Asus G703VI, Lenovo Thinkpad P50 & P70, Dell Alienware 15 R2, Razer Blade Stealth, Porsche Design BOOK ONE Other Thunderbolt 3 systems may be compatible, but have not been confirmed by Plugable. Please reach out to us directly for more information prior to purchase if your system is not listed above. In the Box Thunderbolt 3 TBT3-UDV docking station, 0.5 meter (20 inches) Thunderbolt 3 40Gbps cable, DisplayPort to HDMI active adapter, quick installation guide and a 20V/6.75A (135W) power adapter (US AC Wall Outlet Plug, 100-240V 50/60Hz) FAQ Q: Does the TBT3-UDV charge/power my system? A: Yes, the dock can provide up to 60W of power to charge the host system assuming the host can be charged via its Thunderbolt 3 port. In order to charge, the system must be connected to the Thunderbolt 3 port on the back of the dock labeled with the ‘Computer’ icon. Q: How much power is provided via the two Thunderbolt 3 ports on the back of the dock? A: The Thunderbolt 3 port labeled with the ‘Computer’ icon can provide up to 60W of power. The other Thunderbolt 3 port can provide up to 15W. Q: I don’t like the vertical orientation of the dock, can I use it in a horizontal orientation? A: Yes, the dock stand is removable without tools to allow the dock to be placed horizontally. Q: My Mac system included a 87W power adapter, will the dock’s 60W output charge my system? A: Yes, but at a slightly slower rate compared to the 87W power adapter Q: Is the TBT3-UDV supported in Operating Systems running in a Boot Camp environment? A: Not at this time. Q: Is the Apple Super Drive supported? A: The Apple Super Drive is not supported. Q: Is Wake-on-LAN supported via the Ethernet adapter within the dock? A: No, Wake-on-LAN is not supported. Q: Do I need to install any drivers to use the dock? A: With macOS and Windows 10 and 8.1, the operating system will download and install the necessary drivers. When using Windows 7 64-bit, you will need to install a separate USB and network drivers. Q: Can I add a second display through the second Thunderbolt 3 port on the docking station? A: As noted above, some Thunderbolt 3 systems support two displays, while others only support one. This behavior is entirely based on engineering decisions from your system manufacturer. Q: I’ve confirmed my system supports two displays via Thunderbolt 3. What type of monitors are supported? A: The docking station includes a pure DisplayPort output, which means you can connect a DisplayPort monitor via a DisplayPort cable. If you wish to connect an HDMI monitor, please use the included Active DisplayPort to HDMI converter which supports monitors up to 4K@60Hz refresh. If using a DVI or VGA monitor, separate Active DisplayPort to DVI or Active DisplayPort to VGA adapters can be used. ** Active adapters are required, passive adapters will not work ** Q: Does the docking station work on Linux? A: The docking station does not currently support Linux. Q: Which Plugable USB-C Alt Mode Adapters or DisplayPort adapters are compatible with the dock? A: Please use the included Active DisplayPort to HDMI adapter (maximum resolution of 4K@60Hz refresh) to convert from DP to HDMI. To convert the DisplayPort output to DVI or VGA, please purchase separately an Active DisplayPort to DVI or VGA adapter. Adapter MUST be of the Active type, Passive adapters do not work. For systems which support a second display output through the docking station via USB-C/Thunderbolt 3 Alt Mode, please search for Plugable’s USB-C to video adapters and/or cables on Amazon. Q: Does the docking station support Dual-Link DVI output? A: No. Q: Is there a recommended DisplayPort cable for use with this dock? A: We suggest using DisplayPort cables which are certified for DP 1.2 operation, and shorter cables will generally produce the best results.

Our Expert Consultant

Molly Thornberg   
Technology and parenting blogger

Molly Thornberg is a professional writer, creative and mom to four kids, living her best life outside of Dallas, Texas. With a love for all things tech, she is passionate about helping parents raise kids in the digital age. She writes about technology, parenting and humor on her blog Digital Mom Blog.

Expert Reviews

What reviewers liked

One of the key features of the TBT3-UDV is its five USB Type-A ports, four on the rear and one on the front. This array of USB ports is only matched by OWC's Thunderbolt 3 Dock, with nearly every other dock on the market offering only three ports.
The dock also adds a whole bunch more connectivity, four USB-3.0 ports on the back, one on the front that supports BC 1.2 so you can charge above the usual 900mV, a speedy 1Gbps i210 Intel network adapter, and 10Gbps peer-to-peer networking when directly connected to a second Thunderbolt 3-enabled system.
It provides additional ports that allow for extended connectivity as well as 60W of charging power to keep your laptop and other USB devices powered up.
Large body offers several different types of connections, making it useful for hosting different accessories and storage devices. Thunderbolt 3 port is 4K compatible.
This docking station has a lot of expandability potential. You can connect up to 5 USB devices via the SuperSpeed USB 3.0 ports. One of these ports can be used for charging devices and is placed on the front panel of the device along with the audio jack for quicker access.
Pluggable’s dedicated Mac dock is an exception, thanks to explicit support for Thunderbolt 3’s display profiles powered by a MacBook or MacBook Pro’s onboard graphics.
The unit looks amazing and will complement the MacBook Pro as well as the surrounding. Other people will certainly notice it.

What reviewers didn't like

Unfortunately, the four USB ports on the rear of the dock are clustered very closely together.
60W power delivery might struggle with larger MacBooks
However, the DisplayPort output requires Active adapters to enable conversion to compatible connection types.
Connections to external devices and accessories are often dropped temporarily.
Not compatible with some operating systems
View our Thunderbolt Docking Station buying guide for in-depth advice and recommendations.

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