Plugable Thunderbolt 3 Dock review: Good features and price

At a glance

Expert’s Rating

Pros

A less expensive version of the Plugable TBT3-UDZSupplies 96W of power

Cons

Just two display ports, but an adapter dongle is includedFront-mounted ports use USB-A

Our Verdict

Plugable’s TBT-UDC3 Thunderbolt 3 Docking Station is a more moderately priced Thunderbolt 3 dock, with an excellent 96W of charging power. You’ll have to give up some flexibility for the lower price, however.

Best Prices Today: Plugable TBT3-UDC3 Thunderbolt Dock

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$269.99
$269.99

We’ve been impressed by Plugable’s Thunderbolt dock lineup, and Plugable’s TBT3-UDC3 Thunderbolt 3 Dock continues the trend. It’s a good mainstream dock that’s a bit cheaper than the older TBT3-UDZ, which we’ve been quite impressed with.

At press time, we currently include Plugable’s TBT-UDC3 dock among our best Thunderbolt docks.

Plugable’s TBT3-UDC3 is a smaller, less-expensive version of the TBT3-UDZ, with less I/O flexibility but more focus. The key difference is that it’s a bit cheaper (well, hopefully, supply chains being what they are right now) but also lacks the stand that accompanies the -UDZ model. All this means is that the -UDC will lay flat across your desk, taking up a bit more room than the vertically-oriented -UDZ model

Measuring about 6.5 x 3.3 x 1.8 inches, with a 2.6-foot Thunderbolt 3 cord, the TBT-UDC3 dock is a bit smaller and lighter than most; it’s probably a bit bigger than your smartphone.

The dock includes a pair of USB-A 5Gbps ports on the front for a mouse and keyboard, and then a second USB-A (10Gbps) port on the back. A pair of two 10Gbps USB-C ports sit alongside it for further expansion. There’s gigabit ethernet, too. Smartly, Plugable includes one HDMI 2.0 port and a DisplayPort 1.4 port for display connections, plus an HDMI-to-DisplayPort dongle in the box in case you own two HDMI displays. Inside is Intel’s “Titan Ridge” chipset.

Mark Hachman / IDG

While the dock supplies 96W (rated) to a laptop, there’s not really a dedicated front-mounted USB-C port for charging a smartphone on the front of the dock, like some competitors offer. It’s worth emphasizing that the 96W output is excellent though, and should power most mainstream laptops.

Otherwise, Plugable rates the two USB-A ports on the front of the dock at 7.5W apiece for charging phones and devices. If you’d prefer a USB-C port instead, you’ll have to snake your charging cable around back to the rear-mounted USB-C port, which also provides 7.5W of charging power.

Performance was on par with the TBT-UDC3, with very little heat emitted from the dock. On one occasion the dock stopped working, but resumed its operation a second time when we plugged it in a week or so later. This seems like an otherwise excellent dock, but we’ve slightly lowered the rating because of this. Plugable includes a two-year warranty in case you receive a bad unit, however, and customers on major shopping sites specifically call out Plugable for its excellent customer service.

Computer Accessories

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