Plugable TBT3-UDZ review: The Cadillac of Thunderbolt docks

At a glance

Expert’s Rating

Pros

Tons of portsSpace-saving vertical stand

Cons

Heavy (4.1 lb)Expensive

Our Verdict

While we consider the Plugable TBT3-UDZ to be the best, most flexible Thunderbolt 3 dock you can buy, there’s no question that it’s priced accordingly.

Best Prices Today: Plugable TBT3-UDZ

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$369.00
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Plugable’s TBT3-UDZ is simply one of the best Thunderbolt 3 docks we’ve tested, though it’s also one of the most expensive. (Fortunately, you can find quality budget options among our recommendations of best Thunderbolt docks, of which the TBT3-UDZ currently tops the list.)

With a boatload of ports, including options for using DisplayPort or HDMI for both displays, the TBT3-UDZ offers flexibility and then some. There’s even a sturdy stand to mount it vertically on your desk. We certainly appreciate that since the dock otherwise measures 7.6 x 4.1 x 1.4 inches.

On the front, the TBT3-UDZ includes a 10Gbps USB-C and a 10Gbps USB-A (USB 3.1) port, microSD and SD card slots (SD, SDHC, SDXC, or MMC) plus a headphone jack. On the rear, five USB-A (USB 3.0 ports) and gigabit ethernet complement a pair of DisplayPort 1.4 ports and HDMI 2.0 ports. It’s all based on Intel’s Titan Ridge chipset.

Display flexibility is a selling point among Thunderbolt docks, and the TBT3-UDZ from Plugable has it in spades.

Mark Hachman / IDG

This display flexibility is exceptionally rare, and one of the dock’s selling points: You can simply buy whatever display you’d like and know that there’s an available display port on the dock. On the other hand, you’re paying for such flexibility.

A 30-inch 40Gbps Thunderbolt 3 cable connects the dock to your laptop, and is capable of delivering 96W of power. The USB-A port on the front supports battery charging, and delivers 7.5W of power. Naturally, this is a powered dock, with a hefty 170W (!) charger. For that reason, you’ll want to leave it on your desk as a traditional docking station.

Performance was excellent, driving both 4K displays at 60Hz, and transferring our test file at close to peak speeds while simultaneously playing back two 4K/60Hz videos on both displays over ethernet. The attractive gun-metal chassis never warmed uncomfortably, though it’s a whopping 4.1 pounds—probably heavier than the laptops it’s driving. The extra weight, plus the chassis stand, keeps the TBT3-UDZ rock-solid while in its vertical, space-saving orientation. One of our test displays occasionally had issues waking up from sleep while using this dock, though it’s not quite clear whether the dock, the cable, or something inside our test laptop was at fault.

Mark Hachman / IDG

A two-year warranty covering limited parts and labor is included, and Plugable seems to have an excellent reputation for customer service.

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