What makes a great laptop docking station? Connectivity of course! Value is important, too. A really good laptop docking station, allows you to plug-in and share a number of resources as if it was a desktop and then unplug and take your laptop on your way leaving the docking station behind.
Each time you return your laptop to the laptop docking station, you want to be up and running quickly sharing monitors, external drives, and whatever other hardware you may want to connect.
Universal docking stations connect your laptop to all your peripherals using a single USB cable. That means the faster the USB connection, the better your experience. A top-rated docking station should use a USB 3.0 connection which is the fastest available as of this writing.
Docking stations also serve another purpose you may not have thought of. Laptops are notorious for not being very upgradeable. A universal docking station can solve most of that problem by allowing you to connect a multitude of USB and display devices that you may not otherwise be able to connect directly to your laptop.
That mess of wires connecting your docking station to monitors and other external devices can be safely left behind while you take your laptop where you need to go. Then, just plug-in to quickly get access to all those devices.
Universal may not be as universal as you want. A laptop docking station has to be compatible with the laptop you want to connect. That might mean Windows 8.1 or it could mean Linux. It’s important to check the compatibility of the docking station you want to buy to make sure your operating system, drivers, and firmware are covered.
One of the most desirable features of a docking station is its ability to connect one or more larger monitors to your laptop for work and play. Some universal docking stations feature a DVI-I port which can mirror VGA and HDMI adapters extending your Windows desktop to your external one or more external monitors.
We found a top-rated universal docking station that is both popular and very capable. See if this model is the perfect docking station for your needs!
Laptop Docking Station: Top Rated Universal Docking Station
The Plugable UD-3900 USB 3.0 SuperSpeed Universal Docking Station’s claim to fame is its ability to connect up to 10 accessories to your laptop through a single very fast USB 3.0 connection. With all of its connectivity it’s like an upgrade for your laptop. Out of the box this Plugable dock is compatible with Windows 7 and 8.1 and with an existing internet connection can automatically install drivers for those operating systems through Windows Update.
Connecting several USB devices to a docking station can mean problems due to a lack of power to supply them all. Not with this Plugable model. Its built-in premium 5V 4A 20W UL certified power supply provides all the power you need for any connected device. With this setup you can leave all of your messy wires and external peripherals connected to the docking station and take your laptop on your travels. When you come back, connect one cable and you’re quickly back in business with complete access. Here’s what you need to know.
- Connect up to 10 accessories to your laptop using a single very fast (5 Gbps) USB 3.0 cable
- Features a DVI-I port with VGA and HDMI adapters for mirroring/extending your Windows desktop to an external monitor (resolutions up to 2048×1152 supported),
- Includes the latest drivers and firmware for compatibility with Windows 8.1, Window 7 and earlier Windows operating systems as well
- Although this system is designed to take advantage of the speed of USB 3.0, it is fully backward-compatible with USB 2.0 laptops and devices
- Premium UD-3000 5V/4A 20W UL-certified power supply supports several devices requiring USB 3.0’s 900mA per port power requirements
- This model will function as a USB hub only and cannot be used as a standalone device charger
- Device hot-swap capable
- Supports USB over-current protection
- HDMI port supports resolutions up to 2560×1440* and DVI/VGA port supports display resolutions up to 2048×1152 / 1920×1200
- 1 – HDMI port
- 1 – DVI-I output
- 1 – Gigabit Ethernet port (10/100/1000 supported with full duplex)
- 1 – Audio input/output
- 2 – USB 3.0 ports
- 4 – USB 2.0 ports
- 1 – USB 3.0 Type-A male to Type-B male cable (USB 2.0 compatible)
- 1 – DVI-to-VGA adapter
- 1 – DVI-to-HDMI adapter
Note: This model requires an Intel, AMD, or NVIDIA main GPU and driver with Windows Aero enabled. It is not compatible with ARM-based Windows like Windows 8/8.1 for the Surface RT or Windows Embedded systems. This model is not recommended for gaming. Surface RT, Mac OS X, and Linux/Unix are not supported.
Plugable UD-3900 USB 3.0 Universal Docking Station Product Video
- Great customer support
- Easy setup
- Good value for quality and features
- Compact size
- Some reports that USB 3.0 connection is sensitive to movement
- Must use native HDMI to DVI cable
- Some reports of multiple replugs for proper operation
- Not designed to support gaming
Laptop Docking Station Comparison Chart
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As always, thanks for reading our docking station article! We sincerely hope that it has provided you with valuable information about the Plugable UD-3900 laptop docking station that helps you make an informed choice!