At a glanceExpert’s Rating
Pros11 fast ports, inc 4x 10Gbps USB-A ports135W built-in power supply2.5Gb EthernetConsHDMI 2.0 not 2.1No USB-C ports
There are many Thunderbolt 4 docking stations to choose from, and often this choice comes down to the exact port options on each, which varies widely.
The Plugable Thunderbolt 4 & USB4 HDMI Docking Station (TBT4-UDX1) boasts 11 top-end ports, and is differentiated from its rivals by its two downstream Thunderbolt 4 (TB4) ports and one HDMI port among four USB, 2.5Gb Ethernet, SD card reader, and audio ports.
It’s an affordable solution if you require one or two external 4K/60Hz displays plus super-fast TB4 ports.
Specs and features
The Plugable Thunderbolt 4 & USB4 HDMI Docking Station has 11 ports, including the upstream TB4 port that connects to your laptop.
One upstream Thunderbolt 4 port (40Gbps, 100W)
Two downstream Thunderbolt 4 ports (40Gbps, 15W)
One HDMI 2.0 video port
Four USB-A ports (10Gbps, one at 7.5W)
2.5 Gigabit Ethernet
UHS-II SD card reader (312MBps)
3.5mm combo audio jack (front)
135W power supply
Other docks have more ports, but this particular combination offers display flexibility via two different types of port. Read our fuller roundup of our other recommendations for the best Thunderbolt 4 docks.
Using the HDMI port plus one of the TB4 ports (with the handily included USB-C to HDMI adapter) you can connect two 4K displays at 60Hz, which is great for anyone but the gamers who prefer even faster refresh rates.
If you require an 8K display (at 30Hz), you use just one of the TB4 ports. Some recent docks boast HDMI 2.1, which is more capable and supports one 8K display at 60Hz. As Plugable’s own USB4 Dual HDMI docking station (UD-4VPD) is fitted with HDMI 2.1 it’s a shame that the TBT4-UDX1 sticks with version 2.0. The other Plugable dock can also handle two 4K displays at 120Hz but lacks the two downstream TB4 ports (and isn’t recommended for Macs).
All the TBT4-UDX1’s USB ports are 10Gbps (twice the bandwidth of the many docks’ USB ports) but all are old-school USB-A rather than USB-C. While many devices still rely on USB-A as a connector, USB-C is more capable–for example, fast phone charging often requires USB-C at the power end.
This dock’s front-mounted USB-A port can charge a connected device at 7.5W, which is fine for slow charging but insufficient for hungrier devices. If you have one TB4 port spare, you can use that to charge a device at a more useful 15W but 20W is the minimum for phone fast-charging.
The Plugable USB4 UD-4VPD has a front-mounted 20W USB-C port, as does the Caldigit TS4.
Sonnet’s Echo 20 SuperDock is the closest rival in terms of ports, boasting a similar number of downstream TB4 ports and one HDMI as the TBT4-UDX1, although that is at the more capable HDMI 2.1. In terms of port power, the Echo 20 beats the TBT4-UDX1 on several points.
With its HDMI pegged back at version 2.0, the TBT4-UDX1 is more of a middle-ground dock that will suit users who want two to connect 4K displays at 60Hz and still have one downstream TB4 port free.
While we prefer Plugable’s cheaper UD-4VPD to the TBT4-UDX1 on a few fronts, it should be noted that as well as lacking a downstrwam 40Gbps port, it is not recommended for Mac users.
You can buy a quality 512GB card for around $75 / £75, and they offer an inexpensive way of upping the storage in your laptop and are super portable, too.
The TBT4-UDX1 features just one SD card reader for portable storage, while the UD-4VPD offers more flexibility with both SD and MicroSD readers. However, one SD card slot should be fine for most users as most of the smaller, cheaper cards ship with an SD adapter.
It is rated UHS-II (312MBps), so faster than the UHS-I (104MBps) card readers on some docks.
Like the UD-4VPD and other recent Thunderbolt 4 docking stations, the TBT4-UDX1 boasts super-fast 2.5Gb Gigabit Ethernet, which has the potential to be 2.5 times faster than standard Gigabit Ethernet.
The 2.5Gb Ethernet port is backwards and forwards compatible with other speeds of Ethernet, so will work with a standard Gigabit Ethernet network, but to take advantage of the 2.5GbE speed, you need a connected device—such as a router/network switch—that is 2.5GbE or above. These aren’t common right now but should become the norm in the next few years.
With 100W Power Delivery (PD), the UD-4VPD can keep even the largest connected laptop powered up in full use.
The UD-4VPD is a horizontal dock that’s compact and lightweight. Remember that it comes with a power brick, so isn’t as portable as a dock powered by USB-C. However, having its own power supply means it is more powerful, with a total output of 135W.
Like many docks, the upstream Thunderbolt 4 port (to the host laptop) is at the front, which means a trailing cable messing up your desk.
It does however boast something missing from many docks: an on/off power button, which makes it easier to remember to stop charging your laptop when leaving it at the end of the day.
The Plugable Thunderbolt 4 & USB4 HDMI Docking Station (TBT4-UDX1) costs $289.95, which is cheaper than other top-end docks such as Caldigit TS4 ($399.99) and other Thunderbolt 4 docks such as Kensington’s SD5700T ($369.99).
Plugable’s own UD-4VPD is significantly cheaper at $199.95 and more capable in some ways: 2x HDMI 2.1 vs 1x HDMI 2.0, SD and MicroSD card readers, and 20W USB-C charging. The TBT4-UDX1 wins out with its two downstream TB4 ports, faster Ethernet and Mac compatibility. If connecting to Thunderbolt devices, the TBT4-UDX1 certainly wins in the Plugable dock stakes, but we think the Sonnet Echo 20 offers more for the same money.
The Plugable Thunderbolt 4 & USB4 HDMI Docking Station (TBT4-UDX1) lacks fast-charging USB-C but does offer both two 40Gbps Thunderbolt 4 ports and one HDMI 2.0 port, giving flexibility when choosing your external display options. If you need a 8K display at 60Hz, look for a dock with HDMI 2.1 or DisplayPort 1.4, but the TBT4-UDX1 is a fine choice for two 4K displays at 60Hz.
We’d have preferred at least one USB-C port, preferably with 20W charging, but the 2,5Gb Ethernet offers fast wired access now if you are part of such a network or a level of networking future-proofing.