Plugable UD-3900 Dual Display Universal Docking Station

UD-3900

Features

  • Provides SuperSpeed USB 3.0 (5 Gbps) link between computer to video, audio, network, and two additional USB 3.0 ports.
  • Compatible with Windows 10, 8, 7, and XP. Intel/AMD only (no Windows RT/ARM). Not supported for Mac or Linux at this time.
  • Backwards compatible with USB 2.0 (480Mbps) for both the PC and attached devices.
  • HDMI and DVI/VGA  ports for two external monitors supports display resolutions up to 2560×1440* (HDMI) and DVI / VGA to 2048×1152 / 1920×1200.
  • *Note: 2560×1440 output only available when using a single HDMI display connected through the dock. See additional details relating to 2560×1440 functionality in the FAQ below.
  • Network port offers wired Gigabit Ethernet connectivity (also 10/100 capable).
  • Graphics, audio, and networking all managed by single DisplayLink DL-3900 chipset.
  • USB 3.0 ports and components controlled by VIA VL811 chipset; four USB 2.0 ports controlled by Terminus chipset.
  • Stereo audio in/out with hotplug detection.
  • Comes with four-amp AC power adapter, USB 3.0 Type-A male to Type-B male cable, and DVI-to-VGA passive port adapter.

Connect up to 10 accessories to your Windows PC through a single SuperSpeed USB 3.0 port with the Plugable UD-3900, a universal docking station for Windows-based computers that offers the speed, performance, and reliability found in proprietary docking stations for specific laptop PC brands.
UD-3900 Back

With graphics, networking, and hub chipsets that have been selected and tested together to ensure maximum quality, the UD-3900 provides:

  • An HDMI and a DVI port for connecting two external monitors and supports resolutions up to 2560×1440* (HDMI) and DVI / VGA to 2048×1152 / 1920×1200 (DVI-to-VGA adapter also included)
  • An RJ-45 Gigabit Ethernet network port (also supports 10/100 Ethernet)
  • External speaker output jack and a microphone line in
  • Two USB 3.0 ports for accessories (such as an external hard drive or another graphics port)
  • Four USB 2.0 ports (great for a keyboard and mouse with two ports to spare)

Note: 2560×1440 output only available when using a single HDMI display connected through the dock. See additional details relating to 2560×1440 functionality in the FAQ below.

Speed and Power

UD-3000 frontal viewPerformance is best when hooking up the UD-3900 docking station to a USB 3.0 port on a PC, allowing SuperSpeed data-transfer rates of up to five gigabits per second between the computer and the dock’s USB 3.0 components and ports. Play full-motion video in 1080p on the monitors attached to the dock’s video ports. Access your Gigabit Ethernet network through the dock’s network adapter without bottlenecks. Open files in lightning-fast time on external drives connected to the docking station’s USB 3.0 ports. The UD-3900 also can be connected to a computer’s USB 2.0 port, though communications between the computer and the docking station will be no faster than the USB 2.0 maximum of 480 megabits per second.

The UD-3900’s four-amp power supply provides current for attaching bus-powered devices to the spare USB 2.0 and 3.0 ports, like flash drives or additional USB graphics adapters. However, the unit is not a charging hub. It has no functionality for recharging iPads, iPods, other tablets, or smartphones via its USB ports.

The dock will wake along with your PC from suspend and hibernation modes.

UD-3900 Dock Connection Diagram. Click to enlarge

Integrated Chipsets

The heart of the docking station is its DisplayLink DL-3900 chipset, which manages dual graphics and audio output and Gigabit Ethernet functions. The integration of these functions on a single chipset means fewer internal components need to be bolted together, leading to increased compatibility and reliability overall. Drivers are installed automatically from Windows Update if an Internet connection is present when the docking station is first connected (a drivers CD also comes in the box).

You can extend or mirror your primary Windows desktop to a monitor connected to the UD-3900. With DisplayLink technology, graphics processing still is handled by connected computer’s central processor and graphics processor. The DisplayLink drivers on that PC compress and transmit pixels to the DL-3900 chipset, which decodes the data and displays it.

The UD-3900 can be used in conjunction with any of Plugable’s other USB graphics adapters for adding extra monitors. Please note that USB graphics adapters not powered by DisplayLink technology cannot be used on your PC simultaneously with the UD-3900. Drivers for non-DisplayLink USB graphics adapters must be uninstalled from the PC.

The internal USB 3.0 components and two extra ports are managed by a VIA VL811 chipset, while the USB 2.0 controller chipset for the four USB 3.0 ports comes from Terminus Technology. USB 3.0 devices must be connected to USB 3.0 ports for proper functionality, but USB 2.0/1.1 devices can be connected to any of the six USB ports.

What’s in the Box

The Plugable UD-3900 comes with a four-amp, five-volt power supply; a USB 3.0 Type-A male to Type-B male cable; a passive DVI-to-VGA port adapter; a quick-install guide; and a drivers CD.

Resolutions Supported

The hardware is capable of supporting nearly arbitrary resolutions, up to its limit of 2560x1440 (HDMI) / 1920x1200 (DVI). VESA standard and widescreen resolutions are supported by most software, including: 2560x1440 (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 2560x1440 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.

Note: 2560×1440 output only available when using a single HDMI display connected through the dock. See additional details relating to 2560×1440 functionality in the FAQ below.

Hardware Requirements

Dual Core Intel or AMD CPU, 2GHz or better. Windows GPU should be Intel, AMD, or Nvidia.

Operating System and Driver Details


WINDOWS VERSION COMPATIBILITY:
Drivers can be installed automatically via Windows Update with support for Windows 10, 8, 7, and XP. 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, we recommend visiting the Plugable driver webpage for the most recent drivers and other information.

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.

Please note that USB graphics adapters or docking stations not powered by DisplayLink technology, such as Magic Control Technology (MCT), Samsung Central Station (SMSC), and Fresco Logic cannot be used on your system simultaneously with our DisplayLink-based products. Drivers for non-DisplayLink USB graphics adapters must be uninstalled from the host system before using our products The above list of 3rd-party technologies covers most known incompatibilities, but the same potential for incompatibility exists with any type of USB video device or screen mirroring/extension software. While it is impossible to create an exhaustive list of such software or devices, the following have also been found to be incompatible:

1. Samsung SideSync
2. Kramer VIA ConnectPro

MAC COMPATIBILITY:
Mac is not supported due to significant limitations in the operating system.

LINUX COMPATIBILITY:
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

Our DisplayLink-based USB video adapters and docking stations that offer a HDMI output are compatible with most HDMI TVs. To use a TV as a monitor via our products, 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.

Plugable DisplayLink-based USB video adapters and docking stations do not support High-bandwidth Digital Content Protection (also known as HDCP). HDCP is a protection mechanism employed to prevent perfect digital copies of protected media. The details of how the system works at a low level are complex but put simply, in order to play back protected content from physical media (such as a Blu-Ray disc) or a digital service (such as Netflix, Amazon Instant Video, etc.) all devices connected in the ‘chain’ must support the HDCP protection mechanism. Since our devices do not support HDCP, the playback of these types of media will not work.

Performance Tuning

If you’re experiencing slowness or latency on your UD-3900 connected display:

  • 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.

Gaming

Our DisplayLink-based USB graphics adapters and docking stations are "virtual" devices where much of the heavy lifting is done by the host system's CPU, by hooking into the graphics stack. The DirectX and OpenGL APIs used by many games assume direct hardware access (a PCIe graphics card).  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 DisplayLink-based USB graphics products, because this emulation cannot be perfect. 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 a 3D games will.

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

Docking Station Comparison

* 2560x1440 output only available when using a single HDMI display connected through the dock. If dual displays are connected, each will be limited to a maximum resolution of 1920x1200. 2560x1440 output requires a "High Speed" HDMI cable. 2560x1440 mode will operate at a 50Hz refresh rate; all lower modes support 60Hz refresh. 2560x1440 output requires current DisplayLink drivers and attached monitor must natively support 2560x1440 via HDMI input (most 2560x1600 monitors do not support 2560x1440)

** 3840×2160 output only available when using a single HDMI display. If dual displays are connected, each will be limited to a maximum resolution of 1920×1200. 3840×2160 output requires a “High Speed” HDMI cable. 3840×2160 mode operates at a 30Hz refresh rate; all lower modes support 60Hz refresh. 3840×2160 output requires current DisplayLink drivers and attached monitor must natively support 3840×2160 via HDMI input

Only for supported tablets. Please see plugable.com/ud-pro8 for more details

Support

Feel free to contact us directly at support@plugable.com if you have any questions. Whether you’ve purchased the UD-3900 and need support or you’re considering a purchase and would like help understanding this adapter’s features, we’re here to help.

FAQ

Where can I download the user manual/quick start guide included in the box with the dock?
The most current documentation is available here

I have never used a laptop or desktop with more than one monitor before. Now that my Windows system has more than one display I am not sure how things are supposed to work or how to change them. Do you have any videos that can help?
We have a produced a series of short videos that introduce the concepts of multi-monitor setups, how to make changes to the way things behave and how to solve common problems. The direct links to the videos are:

I installed the dock on my laptop and everything works well with the laptop lid open. However, when I close the laptop lid the monitors connected to the dock turn off and the laptop shuts down. How do I fix this?

Windows has special power management settings that control what happens when the laptop lid is closed. If this happening, these settings need to be changed. Please right-click on the Start button and select ‘Power Options’ from the menu.

From the choices present on the left-hand side of the Power Options window, please click on ‘Choose what closing the lid does’. ** Important note – if you are running the Creators Update (or newer) to Windows 10, you will have click on the ‘Additional power settings’ option to access this window **

Make sure the setting for ‘When I close the lid’ under the ‘Plugged In’ column is set to ‘Do Nothing’. Click the ‘Save Changes’ button and restart the system, making sure that the laptop’s power adapter is also connected, and test the behavior again.

If I add the dock to my system to add additional monitors, does that prevent any of my system’s built-in video outputs from working? For example, if I connect the unit to my Surface Pro 4 tablet, does that prevent the built-in mini-DisplayPort output from working?
No, the docking station’s presence on your system will not preclude the use of any of your system’s built-in video outputs.

The USB 3.0 cable included in the box is too short for my setup. Can I purchase a longer one separately, and what type of cable to I need?
If the included three foot USB 3.0 cable is not of sufficient length, a longer cable up to six feet in length can be purchased separately (we don’t recommend cables longer than six feet due to potential performance issues). The type of cable required is a USB 3.0 Type-A to Type-B cable. An example of such a cable would this one.

I have headphones or speakers connected to the analog audio output jack on the front of the dock, but no sound is coming out. How do I fix this?
The first thing to check when this happens is that the default Playback device is set correctly within Windows. We have a short video that shows how to do this here

I have connected an HDMI TV to the dock, and it appears that some of the image onscreen is being cutoff. What is happening and how to do I fix this?
In some cases a TV will cutoff parts of an image in an effort to make the image fit within the confines of display. This is called ‘overscan’. Most TV’s have a way to adjust this behavior, but the specifics of how to do so can vary substantially between different brands and models. Please watch our short video on the subject here to help resolve the issue.

Do Plugable USB docking stations and graphics adapters support Windows 10?
Windows 10 drivers are available for all of our USB docking stations and graphics adapters. As with any new operating system, Plugable recommends that users wait before upgrading any mission critical systems. For additional information on Plugable USB graphics devices and Windows 10, please check out our blog post covering things more in depth.

After a recent update, when I use Chrome on my Mac with a USB graphics device, the window looks distorted. Is there a workaround?
While we don't support our USB graphics devices on Mac, we have reproduced this behavior during internal testing. It appears there has been a regression in the current version of Chrome for OS X (Version 46) which causes graphical distortion when Chrome windows are in use on USB-attached monitors.

Until this issue is fixed in a future version of Chrome, 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

2560×1440 Functionality
2560×1440 output is only available when a single HDMI monitor is connected to the dock, and requires a “High Speed” HDMI cable. 2560×1440 mode will operate at a 50Hz refresh rate; all lower modes support 60Hz refresh rate. 2560×1440 output requires current DisplayLink drivers and attached monitor must natively support 2560×1440 via HDMI input. Please note that most monitors that support 2560×1600 do not support 2560×1440.


What do the blue LED and the green LED on the Plugable UD-3900 indicate?
The blue LED indicates that the Plugable UD-3900 is being powered by its power adapter. The green LED lights up and stays steady when a  device is connected through any of the six USB ports on the dock. If no devices are connected to the USB ports on the Plugable UD-3900, the green LED only lights up for around five seconds when the dock itself is connected to the upstream system.

The blue power LED is flashing and my dock doesn’t work, what is wrong?
That the blue power light blinks indicates the unit is not getting the power it needs to function properly. The first things to check in that case are as follows:

  • That the wall power outlet (or power strip) is working properly. Switching to another outlet or power strip can sometimes help
  • That the ‘prong’ that attaches to the power adapter and provides the blades that insert into the power outlet is securely attached
  • The power adapter is securely connected to the back of the docking station and to the wall power outlet
  • That the correct power adapter model for the dock is in use, as on rare occasions a different power adapter may be used accidentally. A picture of the correct power adapter for the UD-3900 is shown below (click to enlarge)
  • UD-3900 Power adapter shown with U.S. style plug

In what countries can the power adapter included with the UD-3900 work?
The included power adapter supports voltages ranging from 100-240V, and frequencies ranging from 50Hz and 60Hz. When purchased in the U.S., the power adapter includes ‘prongs’ or ‘blades’ for U.S. style outlets. When purchased in the UK or EU, the power adapter includes prongs for both the UK and EU style outlets. At this time we do not offer prongs for any other outlet style. If necessary, a simple ‘travel style’ adapter can be used in conjunction with the power adapter to work with other styles of outlets.

I lost the power adapter for my UD-3900. Where can I buy a new one?
We sell replacement power adapters for use in the US, UK and EU via our eBay Store here. Direct links to each specific style are:

What do the green and amber LEDs on the Ethernet port on the Plugable UD-3900 indicate?
The green link LED on the Ethernet port on the Plugable UD-3900 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 indication that data is transferring through the port.  Both these LEDs will not light up when:

  • The DisplayLink driver for the dock has not installed properly or is corrupted
  • The Ethernet Cable plugged in is not live or is faulty
  • The network device to which the dock is connected only supports half-duplex communication (see next FAQ question below)
  • The port has failed

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?
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.

Why does the “Display Color Calibration” tool in Windows seems to have no effect on the display(s) attached to my dock?
The DisplayLink driver 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.

I use an application to change the color of my display to make it easier to see (like the f.lux application) but it doesn’t seem to affect the display I have connected to the dock. Why is this?
As mentioned above, the DisplayLink driver does not currently support this type of color adjustment so applications like f.lux will not affect displays connected to the dock. DisplayLink (the maker of the chip in the dock and author of the driver) is working to add this functionality in the future. Please see this post on the DisplayLink website for more information and the current state of the project.

While I can adjust the brightness of my internal laptop display or directly connected external display using the Windows Display Settings application, this option is grayed out and not available for the displays attached to the dock. Is something wrong?
Windows does not have the ability to adjust the brightness of a USB-attached display, so the behavior is expected. We recommend making use of the display’s internal on-screen menu options to adjust the brightness.

I cannot use my Intel, Nvidia, or AMD/ATI graphics utility to manage the monitors connected to the dock. Why is this?
The utilities provided by Intel, Nvidia and AMD/ATI are designed to only recognize and work with graphics adapters made by their respective manufacturers and they will not recognize USB-attached displays connected to the dock. It is recommended to use the facilities built-in to Windows to manage the displays connected to the dock (‘Display Settings’ on Windows 10 and ‘Screen Resolution’ on Windows 8.1 and 7).

Are Plugable USB video adapters or docking stations compatible with Touchscreens?
Touchscreens that do not require drivers and use the host’s operating system’s built-in USB Human Interface drivers (HID) to record touch inputs can be made to work with our products, but Plugable does not provide support for doing so due the complexity of multi-monitor touch screen setups.

Can the UD-3900 charge host computer devices like the Dell Venue 8 Pro?
The UD-3900 offers no host device charging capabilities.

When I right-click in the Chrome browser, the context menu opens on a different display than the application is on. What causes this?
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.

My wireless keyboard/mouse isn’t working at all, or isn’t working properly when connected to the dock.
2.4Ghz wireless devices such as wireless keyboard/mouse receivers, Bluetooth and WiFi adapters, may not work in the USB 3.0 ports on the dock. Connecting wireless devices to one of the top-most USB 2.0 ports on the rear of the dock is recommended for best results. If the problem still occurs, a short USB 2.0 extension cable to move the wireless device further from the dock will often resolve the issue.

This happens because USB 3.0 host controllers and USB 3.0 devices may emit 2.4GHz interference. We have written about this in more detail in our blog post on the subject here. For even more information please see Intel’s whitepaper here.

When I connect the dock to my system, my internal Wi-Fi adapter stops working or suffers from poor performance. Why is this happening?
There are several factors that can cause this to happen, along with several potential fixes. Please see our blog post on the topic for more information.

I have a cable with a DisplayPort connector on one end and an HDMI connector on the other. Can I use this cable to connect a DisplayPort display to the HDMI output of the dock?
No, the cable described is a passive cable designed to work in one direction only, from a DisplayPort output to a HDMI input. It will not work in the other direction.

I’m not sure what types of video cables can be used to connect my monitors to the dock. What options are available?
Please see our detailed blog post on the subject here for more information about video cable options.

Can I use the dock in conjunction with a KVM switch?
No, Plugable does not recommend or support using our dock with a traditional KVM switch. If you simply need to share the dock between two systems, the dock can be manually disconnected from the first system and then manually connected to the second system. For those that would like a more permanent solution that does not require disconnecting the unit, our USB 3.0 Sharing Switch can be used to share the dock between two systems (the dock can only be used by one system at a time).

After the Windows Anniversary or Creators Update, applications that make use of OpenGL (like SketchUp for example) are not working properly and/or produce an error message when launched while the dock is connected to my system. Why is this happening and how do I fix this?

Microsoft and DisplayLink (the maker of the chip in our dock and author of the driver) have identified a bug within the Windows 10 Anniversary and Creators Update. With the Anniversary or Creators Update to Windows 10, Microsoft has now integrated support for the DisplayLink technology used in our docking station into Windows itself, and in certain cases applications which make use of OpenGL may not work as expected.

For example, the SketchUp application requires the use of graphics adapter that supports a standard known as OpenGL -> http://help.sketchup.com/en/article/114278

In some instances, Windows mistakenly directs the tasks intended for the system’s internal graphics adapter (which does support OpenGL) to the DisplayLink-based docking station. Our docking station is not a traditional graphics adapter in and of itself (it relies on the CPU and internal graphics adapter to work), and this results in the incorrect behavior or error message. DisplayLink speaks to this issue directly here -> http://support.displaylink.com/knowledgebase/articles/942862-my-device-is-not-working-properly-on-windows-10-an (under the section ‘OPENGL 1.1 REPORTED INSTEAD OF 4.X’)

Pending Microsoft fixing the issue within Windows itself, there are two possible workarounds. The first is to configure Windows to have the ‘Main’ display set to a display directly connected to your internal graphics adapter, whether that is an internal laptop display or another external display connected to one of the systems built-in video outputs (a quick guide to doing so is here -> https://youtu.be/7nnKztRZXsw).

If that doesn’t prove a suitable workaround, booting the system without the dock connected, launching SketchUp (or any other OpenGL application), and then connecting the dock may also help.

 

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