PEOPLE LOVE LAPTOP COMPUTERS for many reasons, but small screens and cramped keyboards are generally not among them. As laptops get thinner, room for ports gets squeezed, making it difficult to replace a desktop with something more compact.
Luckily, docking stations close that gap. These devices make it far easier to use a thin and light notebook built for mobility while stuck in a cubicle. And the new StarTech.com Triple-4K Monitor USB-C Docking Station for Laptops turns modern laptops into graphics powerhouses by supporting three 4K monitors or one 5K monitor via a single USB-C port.
The silver and black box, which measures about 10.5 x 3.25 inches, looks business-like. As with other docks, you can plug in a keyboard, mouse, Ethernet cable, external hard disk, speakers, microphone, headset, and external monitor, along with its power cable.
You connect the laptop itself with a single USB-C cable that also charges the laptop battery. Plugging in and out is simple and quick. You can plug in a fast-charging phone or tablet as well, so long as it supports USB Battery Charging Specification Revision 1.2.
While the dock works well, it’s not magic. Your laptop must support high-resolution external monitors, and not all laptops do. Laptops with only a USB-A port will support all functions except charging the laptop.
Setup and Configuration
Inside the retail-ready box sits the docking station, the 18-inch USB-C cable, the universal power adapter (a power brick with U.S. and European cords), and the instruction manual. “Getting Started Pamphlet” would be a more appropriate name, but the dock doesn’t do much on its own except pass through signals, so there’s not a big need for a full-length book.
We plugged this into the ASUSPRO B9440 thin and light laptop we tested last fall (ChannelPro, Oct. 2017). At 2.3 pounds and 0.6 inches thick, it offers little room for ports, and the ASUS sports only a USB-C, USB-A, and combo headphone/mic jack. A dongle adds a few more ports, but no Ethernet for instance. It has an Intel i5-7300U chip, 8GB RAM, a 512GB SSD, and runs Windows 10. Since USB-C ports are relatively recent, most laptops with them are fairly new and fairly high end, like this one.
Drivers for Windows 10 will download onto the docking station automatically, but if not, they are easy to get from the StarTech.com website. An app called DisplayLink Manager slides into the hidden icons window. The ASUS device needed to have the dock plugged in and powered (it always needs AC power) before being turned on to initiate laptop charging.
Ports on the back of the dock (pictured) include three USB 3.0 ports, two USB-C ports (one specifically for connecting to the laptop), a gigabit Ethernet port, one HDMI port, and two DisplayPort video ports. The 3.5 mm mic and speaker/headphone ports are on the far right, while the on/off switch and AC power input port are on the far left. A headset jack and a fast-charging USB 3.0 port are on one side.
Does It Work?
It seems wasteful to use USB 3.0 ports for a keyboard and a mouse, but they worked. An external USB hard drive became available immediately and worked speedily, and that was through the slower USB 3.0 port, not the available USB-C option. Music through the earphone jack sounded just like when plugged into the laptop.