StarTech.com Triple-4K USB-C Docking Station full review
Docking stations are all the rage for users who love the portable flexibility of their laptop but who also desire the traditional joys of a desktop computer set up.
With a powerful-enough dock, you can hook a laptop up to an array of devices (external screen, keyboard, mouse, hard drive etc) via one USB-C cable from the dock to the laptop.
So when you leave for the office or pack up for the day, you can simply disconnect that cable and take your laptop with you to wherever you’re going. When you arrive, you can (with a second dock) recreate the same desktop-like set up just by plugging back in via USB-C. Of course, you might not need a dock at home and at work, so just one docking station may be all you need.
Aside from the convenience of using a keyboard and mouse (and don’t forget you could just as easily use wireless input devices), the best use of a dock is giving yourself a much larger external display – or more than one if you fancy it.
The StarTech.com Triple-4K Monitor USB-C docking station gives you up to three external screens!
StarTech Triple-4K Monitor USB-C docking station pricing
Ports and specs
The Triple-4K dock features two DisplayPort slots and one HDMI port, four USB-A 3.0 ports (one Fast-Charge at the side), a Gigabit Ethernet port, and two 5Gbps USB-C ports.
There are also two headphone/microphone 3.5mm jacks (3 position) and another side-mounted 3.5mm jack (4 position) that’s good for a headphone and mic set. A lock slot is also included.
It boasts an impressive 100W Power Delivery to the laptop via the USB-C cable.
Remember that laptops boasting Thunderbolt 3 can use USB-C docks, but bandwidth will be tethered to 5Gbps with this dock rather than Thunderbolt's 40Gbps. StatTech also offers its full-speed Thunderbolt 3 Dual-4K Docking Station so check which type of USB-C your laptop is packing.
That Thunderbolt 3 dock (as you'll find with some other USB-C docks) also includes an SD Card slot, which is great for adding cheap, portable storage to your laptop. This Triple-4K dock lacks that slot.
Three displays but MacBooks require Mojave
The dock can support two 4K monitors at 60Hz via the DisplayPorts and another at 30Hz via HDMI. Alternatively, it can connect one 5K display using the two DisplayPorts.
Note that just two of the three 4K displays are at the recommended 60Hz (best for sharp and fast graphics), as one will be limited to 30Hz.
StarTech overcomes USB-C’s resolution limitations by using a technology called DisplayLink for its two DisplayPorts. DisplayLink will require drivers to be installed at set up – and drivers mean potential incompatibilities.
While it is Windows, Chrome and Mac compatible, there seem to be Mac issues with DisplayLink that might put some Mac users off.
StarTech states that "DisplayLink-powered USB video adapters and docking stations are not compatible with any MacBook running macOS 10.13.4 - 10.13.6.” It suggests that upgrading to macOS 10.14 (Mojave) is an option for users “to restore DisplayLink functionality.”
If you own a MacBook Pro then note that you might need to install drivers as Apple upgrades its operating system. But if you need three external screens it might be worth the hassle. If you need just two, look at other docking stations. Check out Macworld's roundup of the best docking stations for MacBooks.
Connections at rear and side
In size and shape, the Tripe-4K dock is very similar to the StarTech Thunderbolt 3 Dual-4K Docking Station, but with no ports on the front, preferring one side to host a couple of slots.
The other difference is, of course, that the Triple-4K dock features 5Gbps USB-C rather than the identical in looks but more powerful 40Gbps Thunderbolt 3.
The USB-C dock will work with Thunderbolt 3 laptops (such as the Dell XPS 13 and Apple MacBook Pro) but limited in bandwidth to 5Gbps.
The StarTech.com Triple-4K Monitor USB-C docking station is the dock for you if you need to be surrounded by multiple displays, being capable of hosting three external monitors.
Its 100W Power Delivery USB-C cable is impressive but less so for Thunderbolt 3 laptops that will lose the 40Gbps advantage by attaching to a slower USB-C dock.
That said, for USB-C laptops, this docking station has plenty of ports and power, plus that multi-screen capability.
However, Mac users might want to scan the Mac compatibility issues with the DisplayLink technology that enables the three-monitor functionality, which should be fixed for macOS Mojave.
StarTech.com Triple-4K USB-C Docking Station: Specs
- Two DisplayPort slots and one HDMI port, four USB-A 3.0 ports (including one Fast-Charge at the side), a Gigabit Ethernet port, and two 5Gbps USB-C ports. There are also three headphone/microphone 3.5mm jacks.