The Plugable UD-6950PDZ Docking Station includes a trio of 4K HDMI Ports and the same number of 4K DisplayPort ports. These allow users to mix and match up to three monitors. That includes M1 MacBooks that natively support only one.
The Thunderbolt dock also includes half a dozen USB-A ports, Ethernet and more.
I put this powerful accessory through a battery of hands-on tests to see how it performed. And it lived up to my expectations.
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Plugable UD-6950PDZ Docking Station review
As the saying goes, you can never be too thin, too rich, or have too many external monitors. An external Thunderbolt dock is a great way to increase the number you can connect to.
The Plugable UD-6950PDZ Docking Station lets you use three 4K monitors at once. And these can be a mix of HDMI and DisplayPort for maximum flexibility.
The dock is also going to town on USB-A, with no less than six of these ports.
Hardware and design
Plugable’s Thunderbolt dock takes up a reasonable amount of space on my desk. It’s 7.8 inches wide, 3.3 inches deep and 1.2 inches thick.
And it takes up almost as much room under the desk. Thunderbolt hubs have hefty power requirements and the external power supply for this one is sizable.
The accessory comes in basic black. It’s not going to make your setup look cooler – just more functional.
Most of the ports are on the back, but the headset jack and two of the USB-A ports are on the front where you can get at them more easily.
HDMI and DisplayPort
Across the back of the Plugable UD-6950PDZ Docking Station are three paired sets of DisplayPort and HDMI ports. If it’s not obvious from what you’ve read up until now, you can use only one port from each pair at a time. Still, that provides flexibility for people who have a collection of displays with a mix of connectors.
And there’s extra good news for those who have a MacBook that can ordinarily connect to only one external monitor. “The specialized chipset with Displaylink technology allows the M1 Mac and other laptops that natively only support one display to add three total screens,” promises Plugable. I’m quoting the company because I don’t have an M1 Mac to test this feature.
M1 Mac users need to install a software driver on their Mac, though. Otherwise, no driver is necessary.
I was able to test the DisplayPort and HDMI ports with an Intel Mac, and I’m satisfied. There were no latency or color problems.
Six USB-A ports: The Plugable UD-6950PDZ Docking Station is also ideal for anyone who wants to connect a lot of USB-A accessories to their computer. There are four USB-A ports on the back and another two on the front.
Just note that these are all USB 3.0 which means they top out at 5 Gbps. That’s half the speed of USB 3.1 ports.
I connected a variety of USB accessories to the Thunderbolt hub – multiple thumb drives and a mouse – and all performed as expected.
USB-C / Thunderbolt: The UD-6950PDZ is weak in USB-C / Thunderbolt ports. It has only one, and that’s needed to connect the dock to your computer. If you have any USB-C monitors you’ll have to connect them directly to your Mac (or PC). The same goes for other USB-C accessories.
But the one USB-C port Plugable’s dock does have can supply up to 60W to charge your MacBook.
Ethernet: There’s a gigabit Ethernet port, so you can connect your computer to a wired network and skip Wi-Fi. It uses the RJ45 standard, of course.
Audio jack: You can plug a 3.5mm headset onto a port on the front of the Thunderbolt dock. This supports stereo headsets as well as a mono microphone, so it can be used for listening to music or making audio calls.
With my regular use, the UD-6950PDZ never becomes more than warm. Plugable doesn’t seem concerned – the heat vents are on the bottom. If that worries you, consider elevating the dock slightly for better air circulation.
Plugable UD-6950PDZ Docking Station Final thoughts
Apple has given up trying to force Mac users to give up USB-A, HDMI and other ports. And Plugable’s Thunderbolt dock strongly embraces these older ports. It provides a way to connect external monitors with HDMI and DisplayPort to your Mac… which is a real boon for MacBooks that only have Thunderbolt / USB-C ports.
And those with an M1-powered MacBook from 2020 can use it to connect to three monitors, which the computer can’t do natively.
The Plugable UD-6950PDZ Docking Station has a list price of $ 249. The company doesn’t do direct sales, but the Thunderbolt dock is available from Amazon for the list price.
More info: Plugable
Buy from: Amazon
If you want to shop around, there’s the OWC Thunderbolt 3 Dock ($ 299). It includes a Mini DisplayPort ++ and a USB-C port that can be used for a monitor. It can not do the three-monitor trick for M1 Macs, but has a wide range of other ports for a total of 14.
Or if these aren’t quite what you’re looking for because you simply want to hook multiple monitors to an M1 MacBook, consider the HyperDrive Dual 4K HDMI 3-in-1 USB-C Adapter ($ 129.99).
Plugable provided Cult of Mac with a review unit for this article. See our reviews policy, and check out more in-depth reviews of Apple-related items.
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