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 https://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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