Plugable Thunderbolt 4 and USB4 Quad Display Dock Review
- 16 ports
- Supports four 4K displays
- 2.5 GB Ethernet
- No downstream TB4 port
- Mac limited to dual display
This powerful docking station is designed for demanding displays with each of two DisplayPort and HDMI ports capable of supporting an external 4K display at 60Hz on Windows Thunderbolt 4 laptops.
Price when reviewing
Best Prices Today: Plugable Thunderbolt 4 Dock and USB4 Quad Display
Most Thunderbolt docking stations have at least one downstream Thunderbolt port as well as the upstream Thunderbolt port that connects to the host (laptop).
Plugable’s Thunderbolt 4 & USB4 Quad Display Dock (TBT4-UDZ) has 16 ports but only one TB4 port upstream, and it’s bucking the trend, but with a very good reason: it’s designed for multi-monitor setups using both HDMI and DisplayPort rather than Thunderbolt/USB-C monitor connections.
The other 11 ports include super-fast 2.5GB Ethernet, fast SD, audio, and seven USB connectors.
It’s available for pre-order now, with sales starting January 17.
Specifications and features
The TBT4-UDZ has 16 ports, making it one of the busiest docks we’ve tested, although Caldigit’s Thunderbolt Station 4 (TS4) does two better.
- One upstream Thunderbolt 4 port (40 Gbps, 98 W)
- Two DisplayPort 1.2 video ports
- Two HDMI 2.0 video ports
- Three USB-A ports (10Gbps, 4.5W)
- Two USB-A ports (5Gb/s, 4.5W)
- One USB-A port (480MB/s, 7.5W)
- One USB-C port (10Gb/s, 7.5W)
- 2.5 Gigabit Ethernet
- SD and microSD UHS-II (320 Mbps) card readers
- 3.5mm combo audio jack (front)
- 135W power supply
In addition to DisplayPort and HDMI connections, the TBT4-UDZ has seven USB ports: six USB-A and one USB-C.
While there are still plenty of USB-A devices out there, we would have preferred a more even split between USB Type-C and Type-A ports, especially since there are no Thunderbolt 4 ports downstream. on the back and that USB-C is definitely the future.
Two of the seven USB ports (one Type-A and one Type-C) can charge devices at 7.5W, while the others are weaker at 4.5W. With the power supply at 135W and a laptop decent requiring much of the 98W of the upstream connection is reasonable.
However, the Caldigit TS4 has a huge 230W power supply and can therefore offer seven USB ports at 7.5W and one at 20W.
But the TBT4-UDZ and the TS4 are for different users, the TS4 only supports the two 4K 60Hz external displays.
If you want more, the TBT4-UDZ is designed for your needs.
Like the TS4, Plugable’s TBT4-UDZ features 2.5 GB Ethernet, 2.5 times faster than standard Gigabit Ethernet. Note that to take advantage of this speed, your connected device must support 2.5 GbE or higher. This can be a network router/switch with a 2.5GbE or higher port, or you can connect a NAS storage device with a 2.5GbE or higher port.
Quad Screen Docking Station
Mac users look away, Windows users with Thunderbolt 4 and many USB4 laptops can connect up to four 4K (3840×2160) 60Hz displays using this docking station, mixing the display connectors as they see fit.
MacBook Pro users (M1 Pro and M1 Max) and less advanced Windows laptop owners, on the other hand, are limited to no more than two 4K 60Hz displays.
And regular M1 or M2 MacBooks are limited to a single external display, although M1/M2 Macs can support multiple monitors.
The TBT4-UDZ’s DisplayPorts are 1.2 rather than 1.4, so you can’t connect a single display to 5K, 6K, or 8K (unlike the TS4 which does). This docking station is intended for multiple high-resolution displays rather than less super-resolution displays.
Advanced with DisplayPort video technologies, such as DisplayPort 1.4 HBR3 (High Bit Rate 3) with DSC (Display Stream Compression), there is enough bandwidth when using the TBT4-UDZ to get all four 4K 60Hz extended displays via 40Gbps Thunderbolt 4 and USB4 on Windows systems.
Most Thunderbolt 4/USB4 laptops with Intel UHD or Intel Iris based graphics chipsets will have this support, including Intel Evo platform based laptops such as MSI Prestige 14 Evo, Dell XPS 9520 and the Acer Predator Triton 500 SE.
What is certain is that your laptop must have Thunderbolt 4 or USB4, rather than USB-C or Thunderbolt 3 if you want to connect four displays. USB4 system support may vary depending on system manufacturer specifications.
Note that many Windows TB4 laptops will require the internal display to be disconnected in Windows display settings to enable four external extended displays.
The beautiful TBT4-UDZ docking station can be horizontal or upright. Plugable includes a heavy-duty stand for added stability when the docking station is upright.
The upstream Thunderbolt 4 port is on the front, which isn’t to our liking but seems to be how most manufacturers design their docks. We’d prefer the only cable still connected to be on the back, with all the messy display cables.
This makes it easy to connect and disconnect, so it’s perfect for hot-desking environments, but why does the single user who maybe logs in once a day or is 247 connected have that cable that stings him all day?
This, of course, is a minor issue and does not detract from functionality.
Thunderbolt 4 compatibility
Amazingly, this is Plugable’s first Thunderbolt 4 docking station. The company has a full list of quality USB-C and Thunderbolt 3 docking stations and one of our favorite Thunderbolt 4 hubs, but so far a full-featured TB4 dock.
Even now, however, some might argue that it didn’t include enough TB4 ports – in fact, it doesn’t, except for connecting to the host computer.
This is due to the four display connections requiring all that bandwidth for themselves.
The Caldigit TS4 has two downstream Thunderbolt 4 ports, and few have three, with the Kensington SD5700T and Alogic Thunderbolt 4 Blaze being exceptions.
If you want multiple TB4 ports, one of the many Thunderbolt 4 hubs provides that flexibility of choice. Read our roundup of the best Thunderbolt 4 docks and hubs to compare them.
The TBT4-UDZ is priced at $299; at the moment it is only available in the United States.
This makes it one of the most affordable Thunderbolt 4 docks around – $100 cheaper than the Caldigit TS4 which is limited to just two external displays but offers a similar set of ports to this impressive Plugable dock.
The Plugable Thunderbolt 4 & USB4 Quad Display Docking Station is a powerful docking station designed for users who need maximum screen real estate, whether they are creatives, business owners or of analysts.
The four built-in display connections mean there’s no need for adapters and the mix of DisplayPort and HDMI combinations gives the user choice.
Along with the unparalleled display prowess, there’s a wide range of other ports, including 2.5GB Ethernet, that make the TBT4-UDZ a solid option for hungry screens.
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