Maximizing USB 3.0: Plugable’s New PC Dock

USB 3.0 is growing fast, especially with the latest support from Intel (USB 3.0 built into all new chipsets), Microsoft (USB 3.0 stack built in to Windows 8), etc.

So we’re excited to be launching our new Plugable UD-3000 dock to upgrade your Windows PC with an extra USB 3.0 attached display (multiple monitors!), gigabit network, speakers, microphone, 2 free USB 3.0 ports, and 4 free USB 2.0 ports. All in one device. And all with one cable for super quick dock & undock of your laptop.

UD-3000 frontal viewPorts on the back of the Plugable UD-3000

The UD-3000 fully leverages the power of and higher throughput of USB 3.0 (up to 5 Gbps). With its premium 4A power adapter, a single integrated driver, and all components tested together, it’s the best way to make the most of your Windows PC’s USB 3.0 port. And it’s backwards compatible with all Windows USB 2.0 PCs, too.

USB has been amazingly successful, with over 10 Billion devices sold. USB 3.0’s 10x jump in performance, full backward and forward compatibility with USB 2.0/1.1 devices and hosts, lots of hardware choices, small price premium, and open standards — it’s not a surprise that USB 3.0 is winning the battle for ubiquity as a next-generation bus.

But USB 3.0 is still not yet as hassle-free and stable as USB 2.0. We still see conflicts between some devices, some hubs, etc. So there’s a huge advantage to getting all this functionality in one package, all tested together. And because we provide public, web-based support, it’s easy to see and google for problems and solutions, if anything goes wrong. Or just email support@plugable.com for quick, private support and answers to your questions.

Some notes on what to expect for USB 3.0 dock performance and compatibility:

  • Drivers. All the major functions of the dock (graphics, network, audio) are provided by a single integrated chip and driver from DisplayLink (DL-3700). Especially for the upcoming Windows 8 release, you’ll want to download and install the latest driver from DisplayLink to get all the latest fixes and features. We link to our latest recommended driver at http://plugable.com/drivers/displaylink/ And you can install the drivers even before ordering or having your unit arrive, to make sure all’s well and easy once you plug in the dock. Note these drivers are for Windows only — there is no Mac or Linux driver for DisplayLink’s DL-3×00 chips at this time.
  • USB 2.0. The dock can be used with any USB 2.0 Windows PC with no loss in functionality. But note that there’s no magic: performance will be at USB 2.0 speeds. So graphics at high resolutions could lag a little, along with slower network performance and any USB 3.0 devices connected to the front 2 ports will operate at USB 2.0 speeds. But it’s a great way to future-proof your purchase — you can use this dock now, and upgrade your PC to USB 3.0 later
  • Graphics Performance. USB 3.0 lifts the lid on graphics performance vs. USB 2.0, but you’ll only notice that at the highest resolutions when playing video, etc. Lower res or normal application use works just as well with USB 2.0. Also, many performance problems we see have to do with PC configuration (Aero disabled, or anti-virus software slowing things down) — and those types of problems will be no different between USB 2.0 and USB 3.0.
  • Network Performance. With the latest DisplayLink drivers (version 6.2 M1 or higher), you can achieve performance of 350-450 Mbps on a 1000 Mbps network. This is with a low-level benchmark – file copies will not be as efficient. While this is less than the 700-900 Mbps you’ll see with a built-in network card, it’s faster than most broadband connections. And we expect this speed to improve with future driver updates.
  • USB Performance. The dock has 2 USB 3.0 ports on the front and 4 USB 2.0 ports on the back. These provide full power, performance, and compatibility for all USB 2.0 devices. And the front 2 ports provide full USB 3.0 power (900mA) with the market-leading USB hub chipset (VIA VL811). We find that most USB 3.0 devices work well through a USB 3.0 hub, but that compatibility is more fragile than with USB 2.0 — some devices (like our own U3 SATA dock) must be connected directly to a USB 3.0 host port. And while USB 2.0 device performance won’t change through a good hub, with a USB 3.0 hub, you may see some performance differences. As devices and hubs improve over time, we expect this will improve.

We hope that background helps. We’re excited about this one-stop-shop for some big gains with USB 3.0. And as a final bonus, we’ve launched at the introductory price of $99 (limited time). Combined with our online support and no-hassle returns through Amazon, it’s an no-stress decision.

Please feel free to post with any questions or comments – we’re happy to provide any details not covered here. Thanks to all our customers for going out of their way for Plugable products!

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8 comments on “Maximizing USB 3.0: Plugable’s New PC Dock”

  1. Thomas Reply

    I recently bought one of your U3 docks, and one of the statements above really concerns me.

    You wrote that, “some devices (like our own U3 SATA dock) must be connected directly to a USB 3.0 host port” rather than via a USB 3 hub like this one.

    Can you tell me why this is? Is it something inherent in the USB3 spec that will make hubs less useful than with prior versions of USB? Something to do with the chipset inside the U3 dock? Something else?

    Thanks!
    Thomas

  2. Chris Reply

    Make drivers for Mac!!!!! This is a great product that is sorely needed for my 2012 Macbook Air!

    • Bernie Thompson Bernie Thompson Reply

      Hi Jorge – Thanks for asking! This is not for use as a multiseat thin client – it’s for single-cable docking of a Windows laptop or desktop to a bunch of PC peripherals only.

  3. Ashish Reply

    Do any of your USB 3.0 products support (or anything due out shortly that supports) higher display resolutions?

    I’m planning to get a 27″ 2560×1440 LCD, but neither my Asus Zenbook (i7) nor my HP Envy 15 (i7 quad-core) can output more than 1080p — Zenbook has a Micro-HDMI port (which are all capped at 1080p), and the Envy’s full-sized HDMI is v1.3, so same issue.

    I see StarTech has a USB 3.0 to DisplayPort adapter (DL-3500 chipset) that goes up to 2560×1600, and Lenovo’s USB 3.0 Dock has two dual-link DVIs that they say can each go up to 2560×1600 (also on some DL-3×00), but I’d love to get a solution from you, since the last Plugable product I got is doing great.

    • Bernie Thompson Bernie Thompson Reply

      Hi Ashish, Thanks so much for trying to go out of your way for us! But you’re right – none of our products do what you’re looking for — to hit those resolutions with USB graphics today, you need the output to be DisplayPort. So far, we’ve chosen to focus on VGA, DVI (single-link), and HDMI because of their larger installed market share. As long as you go with other options that use DisplayLink chipsets, you’ll not hit any compatibility problems. We have to recommend that path for now. Thanks! Bernie

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