I had been contemplating switching to a powerful gaming laptop to streamline my desk setup. Additionally, while I have a functioning gaming PC, it started showing its age. Well, I recently bit the bullet and swapped out my gaming rig in favor of MSI’s GE76 Raider. Although thrilled with the upgrade, I encountered connectivity issues from the word go. To that end, the laptop didn’t have enough ports for my peripherals.
Unfortunately, that’s the case with most laptops. While a gaming laptop still ships a handful of ports, buyers opting for new-age MacBooks or thin-and-light Windows machines will find themselves in deep water, especially if they want to make the most of a multi-monitor setup.
Enter, StarTech’s 4K Triple Monitor Laptop Docking Station. As its name suggests, the USB-C dock comes with a truckload of connectors, allowing users to connect a host of accessories. More notably, the docking station can interface your laptop with up to three 4K monitors. I managed to get my hands on a unit, and here is my assessment of the device’s performance.
Specs at a Glance
The StarTech 4K USB-C Docking Station comes with a bevy of connectors. To that end, the device gets three USB 3.2 Type-A ports at the back with a rated bandwidth of 5Gbps. You’ll also get a separate fast-charging Type-A connector on the dock’s left-hand fascia. Moving on, the dock features two DisplayPorts and an HDMI connector to facilitate connection with up to three 4K monitors.
If you plan to populate all three connectors, note that you’ll only be able to output at 60Hz from the two DP connectors. The HDMI port, on the other hand, will output at 30Hz. For the purpose of this article, I linked my laptop to a 2K monitor that refreshes at 144Hz via the HDMI port.
Moving on, the dock also comes with two USB-C 3.2 Gen1 connectors. Do note that the dock can work with laptops that only ship with a Thunderbolt connector too.
Of course, you will have to be contend with lesser bandwidth (5Gbps vs. 40Gbps, as offered by a Thunderbolt 3 port). You’ll also get a headphone and mic combo, positioned next to the fast-charging Type-A port, along with a Gigabit Ethernet port. The docking station ships with a 150W adapter which plugs into the barrel connector at the back of the device.
Design and Performance
The StarTech 4K USB-C Dock looks the part of a premium product. Now, the dock has been constructed in its entirety using plastic. Be that as it may, the device doesn’t feel flimsy or cheap. Instead, the unit has a good heft and doesn’t creak or flex when you apply pressure to it.
That’s not all, as the dock features a stylish two-toned finish that should blend well with most setups. The top of the dock, for instance, is enveloped in a matte black hue. The unit’s edges, on the other hand, get a shimmery silver paint job that looks quite elegant.
Now, unlike some competing products, the StarTech 4K USB-C Dock can only be used in a horizontal orientation. The device measures 12.6 x 6.3 x 3.1 inches, so ensure you have ample room on your desk or under your monitor for the dock.
The dock comes with a bunch of accessories too. To that end, the company bundles a USB-C-to-USB-C cable, a power adapter, and anti-slip rubber pads with the device. Needless to say, you can get the dock up and running the minute you unbox it.
As prefaced previously, the dock can output at up to 4K resolution. Thankfully, the company outlines that the unit can downscale to lower-res displays as well. And, during my time with the dock, I didn’t encounter any significant connectivity issues either.
In fact, the device interfaced with my 2K monitor seamlessly and I could make the most of the display’s snappy 144Hz refresh rate as well. I even paired the unit to an AOC monitor I had lying around, and the dock could output to both displays without any hassles.
More importantly, the dock comes with a bevy of connectors that allowed me to connect a myriad of accessories, including a gaming mouse, keyboard, and a 2.4GHz dongle for my headphones. All the accessories worked flawlessly and I didn’t notice any latency seep in while playing games or jotting down emails. What’s more, the dock offers a 100W USB PD output too.
To no one’s surprise, I couldn’t power my gaming laptop via the dock. That said, my Xiaomi ultrabook interfaced superbly with StarTech’s offering and I could charge the laptop and output the display to a bigger screen simultaneously. Needless to say, you should have no issues using the device with a Dell XPS or even a MacBook.
Having said that, the dock is not without its faults. For starters, the unit doesn’t ship with an SD card reader, which is a glaring omission. As such, if you’re a creative professional that uses say, a MacBook Air, then you’ll have to snag a separate SD card reader to go along with the dock. I also noticed that I had to unplug and reconnect the Type-C cable interfacing the dock to my laptop upon every startup. Else, the dock refused to output to my 2K monitor.
The StarTech USB-C 4K dock costs a little under $300 and for its asking price, has a lot going for it. For starters, the unit offers a robust construction too and comes with a wide range of connectors as well. Correspondingly, if you dabble with a lot of peripherals or need multiple monitors to edit photos and videos or skim through oodles of Excel sheets, then you will find the dock right up your alley.
On the flip side, the dock costs a pretty penny so, only opt for the unit if you want to connect three monitors to your laptop. For everyone else, a smaller, USB-C docking station should suffice too.
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Last updated on 07 July, 2023
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