Saturday, December 2, 2023

Plugable’s UD-4VPD is a great dock for Windows users, a good-not-great one for Mac users

Plugable’s new UD-4VPD, an 11-port USB4 dock, will be overkill for some folks. However, if you need a dock with all the bells and whistles, you’ll find it worth the price.

It’s one of the first docks on the market to support dual HDMI displays at up to 4K 120Hz — though there’s a drawback for Mac users. More on that in a moment.

So what are those 11 ports? USB4 dual monitor dock with 2x HDMI 2.1 ports for dual 4K 120Hz, 100W charging, 3x USB, 1x USB Type C 10Gbps with 20W fast charging for phones and other devices, 2.5 Gigabit Ethernet, SD card readers, and a combo audio jack. 

One of my favorite features is that the UD-4VPD is a docking station for laptop with 100W charging such as my 16-inch MacBook Pro. For laptops that need less power, the USBC dock “negotiates” with the host to deliver the optimal charge. For iPhone, iPad, and other USB-C devices, the dock can quick charge with 20W USB-C port. And it does all of this via a single USB4 cable (a 3.3-inch USB4 cable is included).

But back to that dual 4K 120Hz issue. TheUSB4 laptop docking station dual monitor lets you extend to one 4k monitor or two at up to 120Hz, or 1x computer monitor at 8K 60Hz for compatible computers. 

To get the most out of the UD-4VPD, you’ll need a USB 4 or Thunderbolt 4 port that offers the 40Gbps worth of bandwidth needed by the dock. (Thunderbolt 3 is supported, but Plugable’s support site notes that, in some cases, it’ll offer “reduced display mode options.”) 

The dock is also designed for Windows 10 systems and newer. Will it work with the Mac? Yep, but macOS doesn’t support the multi-stream transport (MST) technology used by the UD-4VPD, so it’ll only offer one additional display at “up to 4K 60Hz, or 8K 60 Hz,” according to Plugable. 

Plugging two monitors into a MacBook docking with the UD-4VPD will result in one of them cloning the laptop’s display, giving two screens total. This isn’t a Plugable issue, but a Mac issue; still, it’s annoying.

Why doesn’t macOS support MST? According to the Kensington support site: “DisplayPort 1.2 is limited to 17.28 G bits/sec, the amount needed for ONE “4K” hi-color display “4k” at 75 Hz. Supporting MST would mean only small displays could jam their data on to that shared link, before it was completely saturated. Apple has made the technical decision NOT to support that feature.”

The UD-4VPD is available now at Amazon for US$199.95 with (as I wrote this review) a $15 off launch coupon. Another nice touch: Plugable offers a two-year limited parts and labor warranty, as well as Seattle-based email support.

The UD-4VPD has a lot of noteworthy features. It’s a great dock for Windows users and a good-but-not-great one for Mac users.

Apple World Today rating (out of 5 stars): ★★★★

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Dennis Sellers
the authorDennis Sellers
Dennis Sellers is the editor/publisher of Apple World Today. He’s been an “Apple journalist” since 1995 (starting with the first big Apple news site, MacCentral). He loves to read, run, play sports, and watch movies.