Plugable USB-C Triple Display Docking Station for UK and EU with DisplayLink USB Graphics, Alt Mode Video Output, and PD Charging

Plugable UD-ULTCDL Ports

UD-ULTCDL Port Layout – Click to Enlarge

Note: Not currently compatible with Apple MacBooks. This includes all 2016 MacBook Pro systems (13″ and 15″) and Retina 12″ MacBooks with Sierra.

For information regarding DisplayLink and Sierra compatibility issues read our blog post here. Additionally we are investigating reports of unstable video behavior when using the video outputs and Power Delivery/charging from the dock to the 2016 MacBook Pros after a recent OS update. Using the Apple charger in conjunction with the Docking Station has served as a workaround for users encountering this behavior. We will continue to update as we learn more information.

Product Description

USB 3.1 Type-C is set to revolutionize connectivity. We’ve designed our USB-C Triple Display Docking Station to showcase what this new standard is capable of with flexibility and scalability in mind. More features, less compromise.

Utilizing cutting edge USB 3.1 technologies in conjunction with the tried and tested features of our best-selling UD-3900 docking station, the Plugable UD-ULTCDL Triple Display Docking Station provides up to three additional display outputs via a combination of USB-C DisplayPort Alternate Mode (“Alt Mode”) and DisplayLink USB graphics. The dock provides up to 60W of power via USB-C Power Delivery (“PD”) standard to charge your host computer while adding Gigabit Ethernet, audio input/output, and expanded USB device connectivity with 4 USB 3.0 Type-A ports and a single USB 3.0 USB-C port. All through a single USB-C cable.

The UD-ULTCDL (nicknamed our “Ultimate” docking station) is the first device of its kind to combine these three powerful, unique, and complementary technologies to unleash the potential of your computer.

Watch Our Demo Video

Graphics Performance

The dock’s main HDMI port utilizes USB-C DisplayPort Alternate Mode which has a direct pipeline to the host graphics processor (GPU), and the connected monitor will perform as if natively attached to the system. Video and photo editing and other resource-intensive tasks are possible assuming that the system’s GPU capabilities are sufficient for the application being used.

The 2nd and 3rd graphics outputs (HDMI, DVI/VGA) are powered by DisplayLink USB graphics technology which leverages the host GPU & CPU to render the image. These outputs are recommended for web/productivity software; not recommended for gaming or HD video.

Operating System and Driver Details

  • Windows and Mac users can download DisplayLink drivers here. Windows drivers can also be installed by Windows Update (with existing Internet connection).
  • DisplayLink-attached displays do function in Mac OS X, but with reduced performance compared to Windows systems.
  • Updated USB 3.0/3.1 host controller drivers and graphics drivers suggested for best performance and compatibility.

Fully Compatible Systems (Alt Mode, PD, and DisplayLink)

USB-C is a new standard with much versatility. As a result, compatibility information is complex. Some USB-C systems support Alt Mode video output, while others do not. Some can be powered and charged via USB-C PD, while others do not.

Some of the best examples of systems which currently support both Alt Mode and PD are the Dell XPS 13″ 9350/9360, Dell XPS 15″ 9550/9560, Dell Precision 5510. For more systems see the below compatibility chart.

Partially Compatible Systems (Supporting Alt Mode, PD, or DisplayLink, but not all)

Many current USB-C systems which do support Alt Mode video output do not support charging via USB-C. Systems such as this will output video from the dock, but will still need their proprietary OEM chargers.

Conversely, while some USB-C phones and tablets may accept charging via PD, most do not support Alt Mode video output.

Incompatible Systems

  • All Apple MacBook Pro 2016 systems: 13″ and 15″.
  • 2015 and 2016 12″ Apple MacBook Retina systems.
  • Not compatible with the Google Chromebook Pixel 2015 after the latest firmware update to the UD-ULTCDL docking station. All docks currently selling on the market will be incompatible.
  • Not compatible with potential future ARM-based Windows RT/Surface RT systems.
  • No Android phones or tablets currently support Alt Mode video output.
  • ASMedia USB 3.1 controllers as they do not support Alt Mode video output.
  • Cannot be mixed with non-DisplayLink USB graphics adapters and drivers (e.g. MCT, j5, or SMSC).
  • For more systems see the below compatibility chart.

Compatibility Chart

USB-C Power Delivery Charging Compatibility

The included power supply can charge compatible host systems with up to 60 watts of PD power. Charging speed is host dependent but behaves as if laptop/tablet were connected to it’s stock charger.

USB ports on the dock function as a USB hub only; no special charging functionality for charging tablets and smartphone devices.

Video Specifications

USB-C Alternate Mode Video Compatibility
When attached to a supported system (see above compatibility chart), the Alt Mode HDMI port supports display resolutions up to 3840×2160@30Hz (4kp30) as per the HDMI 1.4 specification. Lower resolutions such as 2560×1440 support 60Hz.

DisplayLink
The DisplayLink outputs on the dock can each support a single display up to 1920×1080 (1080p60).

The HDMI “2K” output supports up to 2560×1440, but only when using a single DisplayLink attached display leaving the DVI output disconnected (the Alt Mode HDMI “4K” is independent and does not affect this). 2560×1440 requires a “High Speed” HDMI cable and 2560×1440 mode will operate at a 50Hz refresh rate; all lower modes support 60Hz refresh rate. Please note the attached monitor must natively support 2560×1440 via HDMI input (HDMI to DVI conversion will not support this resolution). Please note that most monitors that support 2560×1600 do not support 2560×1440.

The DisplayLink hardware is capable of supporting nearly arbitrary resolutions, up to its limit of 2560×1440 (HDMI) / 1920×1200 (DVI). VESA standard and widescreen resolutions are supported by most software, including: 2560×1440 (HDMI Only), 1920×1080, 1600×1200, 1680×1050, 1440×900. 1400×1050, 1280×1024, 1280×768, 1280×720, 1152×864, 1024×768, 800×600, 640×480. For all supported resolutions (other than 2560×1440 which has a 50Hz refresh rate), the display is refreshed at 60Hz, and the hardware is capable of 16, and 32bpp color depths. Some operating systems require specific depths, like 32bpp for Windows Aero support.

DisplayLink Compatibility

DisplayLink video functionality is provided by the DL-3900 chipset, which manages dual graphics and audio and gigabit Ethernet functions.

Driver support available in Windows (10, 8.1, or 7), Mac OS X 10.11, 10.12 (with reduced performance compared to Windows systems; Mac systems not currently officially supported).

DisplayLink driver support for Linux is still immature, and performance can unpredictable. At this time Plugable does not support DisplayLink based products on Linux, though the UD-ULTCDL docking station will at least provide charging and Alternate Mode video with supported systems.

DisplayLink-based video outputs do not support HDCP, and will not allow for playback of encrypted Bluray disks or copy-protected content. Also, the Ethernet connection provided by the DisplayLink chip requires a full-duplex connection. (Most modern Ethernet switches and cables meet these requirements but some switches and cables as well as all Ethernet hubs do not.)

Legacy Systems

The UD-UD-ULTCDL relies upon new functionality introduced with USB 3.1 and as such is not recommended with USB 3.0/2.0 legacy systems. If you have a legacy USB-A (3.0) system we would recommend our UD-3900 or UD-5900 instead.

If attached to a legacy USB 3.0 system using a USB 3.1 rated Type-C to Type-A adapter cable, the dock will have limited functionality and is why we market this dock as incompatible with legacy systems. Only the ports controlled by the DisplayLink chip (two video outputs and ethernet) will be functional; the Alt Mode video output and USB Power Delivery/Charging will not function on legacy systems. Please take caution if purchasing a Type-C to Type-A adapter cable as many cables on the market do not follow proper USB Type-C Power Delivery signalling and could potentially cause damage to your system or dock!

Device Specifications

The Plugable Ultimate USB-C Universal Docking Station features:

  • One HDMI 1.4 (USB-C Alt Mode) 2K @ 60Hz / 4K @ 30Hz
  • One DVI/VGA (DisplayLink-based) 2K @ 60Hz
  • One HDMI 1.4 (DisplayLink-based) 2K @ 60Hz
  • One Front USB 3.0 Type-C port (with 1.5A Power Delivery)
  • One Front USB 3.0 Type-A port
  • Three Rear USB 3.0 Type-A ports
  • Gigabit Ethernet (Full-duplex required)
  • Audio In/Out (3.5mm TRS “headphone” jacks)
  • 60W (20V, 3A) Power Adapter for UK and EU

In the Box

Plugable UD-ULTCDL dock with stand, 1m USB-C to USB-C cable, DVI-to-VGA passive port adapter, 60W (20V, 3A) power adapter with both UK and EU compliant power supply cables (plugs).

Box contents

Hardware Requirements

USB-C capable system with USB Power Delivery charging, USB-C Alternate Mode video support, and Dual Core Intel or AMD CPU, 2GHz or better. Windows GPU should be Intel, AMD, or NVIDIA.

Docking Station Setup Instructions

How to connect your accessories to the docking station.

  1. Connect the docking station to it’s included power adapter and connect the power adapter to an AC outlet. The blue light on the front of the dock should illuminate
  2. Connect the included USB-C to USB-C cable to the rear USB-C port labeled “TO HOST”. This cable will later be connected to the USB-C port on your system
  3. Decide which monitor you want to use as the primary screen and connect this to the HDMI port labeled “4K HDMI” as this port uses USB-C Alt Mode and will provide the best performance
  4. If you have additional monitors you should then connect them to the “2K HDMI” and “DVI” ports which are provided via DisplayLink USB graphics
  5. Connect any additional accessories such as keyboard, mouse, headset/speakers, and Ethernet

Driver Installation Instructions

Windows 10 / Windows 8.1 / Windows 7
Drivers can be installed automatically via Windows Update with support for Windows 10, 8, and 7. Not compatible with ARM-based Windows RT/Surface RT. Note that Microsoft limits multiple display support in Windows 7 “Starter” Edition to mirroring screens. Even though drivers are provided automatically.

DisplayLink’s Windows drivers make use of the main GPU for rendering, and require an Intel, NVIDIA, ATI/AMD primary graphics driver supporting WDDM to be installed. Most systems since Windows 7 satisfy this requirement.

Different USB graphics driver types (DisplayLink, MCT/Tritton, SMSC, Fresco) are not compatible on the same system. In particular, some versions of MCT drivers will bluescreen when other USB graphics drivers are also present. Uninstall other USB graphics driver types before switching types, and stay with a single type (e.g. DisplayLink based) on a single system.

  1. The most recent drivers can be downloaded here
  2. Navigate to your Downloads folder and launch the DisplayLink installation program
  3. Connect the dock when prompted to do so during installation. (If pre-installing drivers before receiving the unit, click “Skip” when given the option during device detection.)
    NOTE: Monitors may blink during driver installation and system may need to be rebooted
  4. Configure your displays

Mac OS X 10.11.x / macOS 10.12.x

Currently Mac is not supported due to significant limitations in the operating system. See notes at the top of this page for more details.

  1. The most recent drivers can be downloaded here
  2. Navigate to your Downloads folder and open the “DisplayLink USB Graphics Software for Mac OS X 2.5.1” (or newer version) DMG file
  3. The DMG file will “mount” to the desktop as “DisplayLink Installer”. Open the folder and then launch the “DisplayLink Software Installer.pkg”
  4. Follow the on screen prompts and when finished reboot the system
  5. After the reboot connect the docking station
  6. Configure your displays

For more detailed instructions click here.

Linux

Linux is not supported for this device.

Touchscreen Compatibility

Some touchscreens are compatible, it is dependent upon whether the touchscreen monitor software supports multiple monitor setups. Please contact your monitor manufacturer to determine if multiple monitor setups are supported.

HDMI TV Compatibility

The docking station supports HDMI through the 1.4 standard. To use a TV as a monitor via the dock, the TV must support EDID, the extended display identification standard for communicating monitor capabilities to a PC. Many TVs that have a VGA port in addition to an HDMI port assume that computers will use VGA for connectivity rather than HDMI. In these cases, a VGA connection from the PC’s internal video card to the TV might provide the best results.

HDCP protected content not supported.

Performance Tuning

If you’re experiencing slowness or latency on your display connected to the dock’s HDMI 2K or DVI output:

  • Make sure your adapter is connected to a USB 3.0 port (if available) on your computer.
  • If USB 3.0 is not available, play 3D games and videos on a display that isn’t connected via USB.
  • When all else fails, reduce your USB-connected monitor’s screen resolution via the Windows display control panel.

By reducing the amount of data that needs to be compressed and sent over USB, you’ll increase responsiveness.

FAQ

Q: Why is my docking station not charging my laptop?
A: Verify if your system supports PD over USB-C and also identify which port has this functionality if multiple USB-C ports are available. Please note that some systems that charge over USB-C/Thunderbolt 3 may not support charging from universal docks and may only charge from approved chargers and devices from the system manufacturer.

Q: I have confirmed my host machine is compatible with this docking station but one or more functions of the dock doesn’t appear to be working.
A: Resetting the docking station is a good step to take if one or more portions of the dock aren’t functioning:

  1. Disconnect docking station from host machine and power adapter
  2. Leave unplugged for 1 minute for power to dissipate
  3. Connect docking station initially into power only and confirm blue indicator light is on
  4. Connect docking station to host machine using USB-C cable and test for functionality
  5. If the above steps do not change the behavior, rebooting the host system may restore functionality

If none of the indicator lights are lit or you are still are having problems, please contact us at support@plugable.com.

Q: What do the blue LED and the green LED on the Plugable UD-ULTCDL indicate?
A: The blue LED indicates that the Plugable UD-ULTCDL is being powered by its power adapter. The green LED lights up and stays steady when a  device is connected through any of the 5 USB ports on the dock. If no devices are connected to the USB ports on the Plugable UD-ULTCDL, the green LED only lights up for around five seconds when the dock itself is connected to the upstream system.

Q: What do the green and amber LEDs on the Ethernet port on the Plugable UD-ULTCDL indicate?
A: The green link LED on the Ethernet port on the Plugable UD-ULTCDL is an indication that the Ethernet cable plugged into the port is live and it stays steady as long as the live cable is plugged in. The blinking amber activity LED is an indications that data is transferring through the port.  Both these LEDs will not light up when:
1) The drivers for the dock have not installed properly or is corrupted
2) The Ethernet Cable plugged in is not live or is faulty
3) The Ethernet cable is connected to a device that requires a half-duplex connection (see next question)
4) The port has failed

Q: When I plug an Ethernet cable into the dock, none of the LEDs light up, and I do not get assigned a valid IP address. What could be causing this?
A: The Ethernet controller in the docking station requires a full duplex connection. Half duplex connections are not supported.

Often, the issue is caused by older Ethernet hubs and/or cabling that do not support full duplex connections.

Q: My wired (or wireless) mouse and/or keyboard are experiencing lag/latency (jumpy/jerky mouse pointer movement, missing key-presses, duplicate key-presses, etc) when connected to the dock.
A: Dell released a patch that changes a Windows Registry entry related to the Intel Management Engine that is not Dell exclusive which has resolved these issues for several of our customers using a range of different host systems from different manufacturers. We recommend to try installing this patch if you have some of the aforementioned issues:
http://www.dell.com/support/home/en/en/dedhs1/Drivers/DriversDetails?driverId=2K0JJ

Q: Why does my wireless mouse or keyboard appear sluggish or not work properly when used with the dock?
A: Most USB receivers for wireless mice and keyboards operate in the 2.4Ghz band. When connecting the receiver to any USB 3.0 port there is potential for interference that can affect the devices performance. The most effective method is to add a short USB 2.0 extension cable between the dock and the receiver to mitigate the effect, and many wireless keyboards and mice come with such a cable for this reason.

Intel has a technical whitepaper on the behavior for those interested here:
http://www.intel.com/content/www/us/en/io/universal-serial-bus/usb3-frequency-interference-paper.html

and we have written about the behavior in more detail here (please see the RF interference section):

http://plugable.com/2017/03/17/troubleshooting-wi-fi-performance-and-wireless-keyboard-mouse-issues-on-usb-docking-stations/

Q: What’s the difference in USB-C ports on the front and rear of the docking station?
A: The USB-C port located on the back side of the docking station is designed to charge your host computer as well as connect the docking station to the host machine. The front facing USB-C port is for device connectivity only and is part of the built-in USB 3.0 hub on the front facing USB 3.0 (type-A) ports.

Q: Can I hook up another USB-C Alt Mode video adapter to the USB-C port on the front of the dock?
A: No, for a couple of reasons. USB-C systems only support one “Alternate Mode” output, and for a USB-C port to support this feature it must be physically wired to the graphics processor (GPU) in the host system. The one available Alt Mode connection from a host system is being used by the docking station to provide its HDMI output. Additionally, the USB-C port on the front of the dock is not wired in such a way to support this functionality.

Q: Does the UD-ULTCDL support DisplayPort monitors?
A: No. While we appreciate DisplayPort technology, we chose to implement HDMI and DVI/VGA ports for compatibility with the widest number of monitors. Please note that DisplayPort to HDMI cables (as with any cable involving protocol/signal conversion) are not bidirectional adapters. Such cables will not allow an HDMI output port (such as those on the dock) to function with a DisplayPort input on a monitor.

Q: Does the HDMI port support 4K resolution at 60Hz?
A: No. The port complies with HDMI 1.4, and as such 3840×2160 is only achievable at 30Hz. 2560×1440 and all lower resolutions will display at 60Hz.

Q: Can I game on this docking station? Is NVIDIA Surround or AMD Eyefinity supported?
A: Gaming is possible over the 4K display output as that is tied directly into the host system’s GPU via USB-C Alternate Mode.

Surround gaming is not possible as the 2K and DVI display outputs are USB graphics devices – USB graphics devices, like the UD-ULTCDL, are “virtual” devices where much of the heavy lifting is done by the CPU, by hooking into the graphics stack. The DirectX APIs used by games assume direct hardware access (a PCIe graphics card or USB-C Alternate Mode).  DisplayLink’s drivers attempt to emulate as much of the functionality as possible, which is why some 3D functionality (like that needed for desktop and apps) works.

We don’t recommend running games with USB graphics, because this emulation cannot be perfect. And even without specific compatibility problems, performance will always be a challenge – the extra CPU work required for USB graphics will be a source of reduced frame rates and problems. Normal desktop and application use are fine because they don’t push the system as hard as 3D games do.

Common problems experienced when trying to run a game on a USB graphics adapter include:

  • Games not launching
  • Games crashing
  • Screen flickering
  • Screen going black

Q: How do I play audio through the headphone jack on the dock or though my monitor attached to the dock?
A: First check if the docking station is set to be your primary playback device in your sound setting’s control panel/system preferences. If you wish for audio to play through the headphone jack on the dock, select “Plugable Audio” as your preferred playback device in your operating system. If your HDMI monitor has speakers or its own headphone jack, you should see your monitor listed as a selectable playback device in your operating system.

Q: My laptop/tablet won’t wake via docking station’s attached keyboard or mouse. Is this expected behavior?
A: This behavior is system specific. Many newer systems will not wake via an external keyboard or mouse. (This behavior can be confirmed by connecting a USB keyboard or mouse directly to a USB port on your system rather than the dock. If the system is unable to wake from a direct-attached USB device, it will not wake from a keyboard or mouse connected through the docking station.

Q: Why does the “Display Color Calibration” tool in Windows seems to have no effect on the display(s) attached to my dock?
A: The DisplayLink GPU does not support color calibration functionality. Most monitors have built-in controls that can be used to adjust the characteristics of the display, though we realize this approach may not be ideal in all cases. For environments that necessitate near-perfect color reproduction and display calibration capabilities via software, a dedicated graphics card is recommended.

Q: When I right-click in the Chrome browser, the context menu opens on a different display than the application is on. What causes this?
A: This behavior has been known to occur in rare instances, and is a known bug in the Chrome browser being tracked by the Chrome developers. Please see this Chromium Issue for the most recent updates.

Q: After a recent update, when I use Chrome on my Mac or Windows system with a USB graphics device, the window looks distorted. Is there a workaround?
A: Some versions of Chrome have had regressions which cause graphical distortion when Chrome windows are in use on USB-attached monitors.

Usually this issue is fixed promptly in the next Chrome release, but if it persists the best current workaround is to disable hardware acceleration in the Chrome settings. To do so: Click the Chrome menu header -> Preferences -> Settings -> Show advanced settings -> Scroll down to “System” -> Uncheck “Use hardware acceleration when available”.

To help make Google aware of the issue so they can properly prioritize fixing it, affected users can report the regression to Google using the built-in bug reporter: Preferences -> About -> Report an issue

Q: When I right-click in the Chrome browser, the context menu opens on a different display than the application is on. What causes this?
A: This behavior has been known to occur in rare instances, and is a known bug in the Chrome browser being tracked by the Chrome developers. Please see this Chromium Issue for the most recent updates.

Q: Can I connect my Apple SuperDrive to the dock?
A: Some devices such as the Apple SuperDrive look for Apple-specific signaling and will not work when connected through any USB hub. See Apple HT201788.

Q: Can I use this USB-C docking station with an Intel Thunderbolt 3 capable system?
A: Yes, here is a diagram to help understand the differences between the different USB generations and Thunderbolt 3:

USB Comparison Chart_edit

Model: UD-ULTCDL

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