Targus Universal DisplayLink Docking Stations Support Up to Six 4K Monitors via a Single USB Cable

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USB type C connectors are becoming more and more common and beside transmitting data and power, some devices also support video over USB which requires a dock, and if you have some serious display requirements, Targus docking stations over USB-C or USB 3.0 might be what you are looking for, as they support two 4K monitors at the same time thanks to their multiple HDMI 2.0, DisplayPort 1.2a and DVI outputs, and you can even daisy-chain three docking stations over USB 3.0 type A cables in order to control six 4K monitors from one USB port.

Targus Dock 160 – Click to Enlarge

Targus has several models, but let’s check out the specifications of their “USB 3.0 DV4K DOCK160USZ dock station” pictured above:

  • Chipset – DisplayLink DL-6950
  • Video Output Ports – 2x HDMI 2.0 ports, 2x DisplayPort 1.2a ports supporting up to dual 4K Ultra HD video @ 4096×2160 60Hz 24 bpp
  • Audio – 1x 3.5 mm audio in/out jack for microphone, headphone or speakers, 6-Channel (5.1) audio over HDMI/DisplayPort
  • USB
    • 1x USB-C port (USB 3.0 data only)
    • 4x USB 3.0 SuperSpeed ports (1x powered for fast device charging)
    • Input from PC – USB 3.0 micro B port marked “UP”
  • Connectivity – 1x Gigabit Ethernet port
  • Misc – Integrated lock slot accommodates standard industry-security locks to safeguard equipment
  • Power Supply – 19V (45Watt) power supply

The dock comes with a detachable one meter USB-µB/M to A/M cable, and a 45Watt AC power supply. It works with Windows 7/8/10, Chrome OS, Mac OS X 10.8 or later, Linux, and Android 5.0/5.1 or greater operating systems. Beside controlling two displays, you can also attach USB 3.0 devices, access the network through Ethernet, and charge the input device (computer/laptop/smartphone). The company also offers Dock 410 docking station using USB-C input instead, still supporting up to  two 4K monitors, but with two DisplayPorts, one HDMI, and one DVI-D, and featuring a 65 Watts power supply. I found about their solution through Charbax video below at DisplayLink Booth at CES 2017. The video is 17 minutes long, and covers multiple DisplayLink solutions. The part related to the dock starts at 1:26.

It seems fairly complicated to find out whether a dock will work with your laptop, as some specific USB feature may be required, and you’d better ask the seller or to the company whether it will really be compatible with computer, laptop, or mobile device and which limitation you should expect. I’ve included some customers questions from Targus website to give an idea of what I mean:

Q: This has 2 DP1.2 ports, do these ports also support MST, such that I could split each port using a MST port splitter and drive 4 standard 1920×1200 displays?

A: Great question! Currently the DOCK160USZ does not support MST on either DP1.2 port. It is being considered by our product development team but to date we have yet to find any Intel based graphics that support more than three (two external and one local) monitor.

Q: With what type of Cable will connect to my laptop (my laptop has TB3); Will it charge my laptop thru the connection cable as well, Or I still have to charge laptop separately

A:  To connect it your laptop via TB3, you may use a USB Type-A to USB Type-C adapter such as the Targus ACC923USX adapter. The DOCK160USZ is not designed to charge the host PC via TB3. The Targus DOCK410USZ can power and charge up to 60W via the TB3 port and is recommended for most TB3 applications.

Q: Will DOCK130USZ comes with a USB-3.0 C cable to connect to a dell XPS 9365, and would it power the laptop?

A: The DOCK130USZ comes with a USB 3.0 Type Micro B to A cable. While USB 3.0 can often charge certain devices (i.e. a smartphone), it is not designed to charge the host PC. The Targus DOCK410USZ however, should power and charge the Dell XPS 9365 on the DisplayPort Alternate Mode port with power (right side) and may power and charge on the Thunderbolt 3 port (left side).

So you have to carefully think about your use case to find out if it can meet your needs.

Targus Dock 160 is sold on Amazon US for $249.99, and Dock 410 with USB-C input port for $188.91.If you only want to drive a single 4K display from a USB port, and don’t need any of the other features, there are much cheaper solutions.

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tkaiser
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tkaiser

I checked the ‘OS X 10.8 or later’ claim and it’s not true: http://support.displaylink.com/knowledgebase/articles/949426

Beware, this is not using USB(-C) ‘Alternate modes’ to transport a native display signal from your device to the display but is the properietary ‘DisplayLink’ technology relying on a driver on your device that sends an ‘optimized’ framebuffer stream over traditional USB3 or network to the controller inside the Dock which then outputs to the connected displays there. Good luck with OS upgrades and without seeing that in reality I would expect artefacts and maybe even stuttering when data transmissions happen in parallel on the USB3 bus 🙂

tkaiser
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tkaiser

@cnxsoft
Nah, a honest description would be ‘OS X 10.8 to 10.11’ since with 10.12 they’re running into bugs they can’t fix themselves but have to rely on Apple to fix them (and this touches two of the many annoying things with Apple: latest hardware always only runs with latest OS X version — unless you’re very experienced at the kernel extensions level — and they don’t really care about 3rd parties).

If a hardware wants to claim ‘OS X 10.8 or later’ compatibility then this is only true if Apple included the necessary driver for the main chip with OS X (which is a buying criteria for me and the customers I consult in this area, storage and networking products without a native driver included by Apple should be avoided)

And it’s still important for any potential buyer of these docks that the display path is not as expected especially on Macs where Thunderbolt being available since 2011 provides a totally different situation due to native DisplayPort being able to be transported over TB without driver hassles and with guaranteed bandwidth (requires of course that display capabilities and TB version match!)

thesandbender
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I’m with @tkaiser on this, be very wary of these USB attached splitters. Why I obviously don’t have any experience with this one I’ve used and setup others (including displaylink based ones) in a variety of situations (WIndows/Mac/Linux) mostly for Financial and development use. The driver support is always flaky with Windows being the most stable, then Mac and Linux has been a crap shoot.
It’s also very important to note that they all use compression (you have to, USB 3 is 5gbps not enough for one 4k monitor, much less two… 4K requires ~17gbps – DP 1.2). So yes, you have two nice shiny 4K monitors setup and you’re going to get compression artifacts. It’s not as noticeable when you have relatively stable image (e.g. code or text for a website) but if you have video or changing graphics (e.g. financial charts) it can get ugly.
As @tkaiser said, you’re much better off with a proper USB-C or Thunderbolt dock if you can use it. If you don’t have those and are concerned about compatibility or image quality your better off using a Matrox Dual or TripleHead2Go. They are pricey but they plug directly into your existing video card and create a virtual monitor and then split the signal appropriately. There are other issues with that though, your graphics card has to be able drive the virtual monitor (which is effective 6K for three head 2K solution) and that’s asking a lot even for newer laptops. Matrox has a pretty good support matrix about what will and won’t work.
For people who need portability but want multi-head everywhere the best solution we’ve come up with is to build out a cheap windows box with an i3 or i5 and good graphics card and then have them remote into laptop over 1Gbe. It’s not cheap but people worrying about multiple 2/3 4k monitors setups usually aren’t that worried about price.

tkaiser
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tkaiser

@thesandbender
Regarding ‘need portability but want multi-head everywhere’ and if OS X is an option MacBook Pro are always worth a look. I tried to combine my former MBP (Late 2011) with the worst display I’ve ever bought (Apple’s Thunderbolt ‘display’ which is not just ‘glossy’ but simply a mirror you can only use if you love to look at yourself all the time) just to replace it instantly with a 30″ DELL two weeks later. But to my surprise even this old laptop could drive the 2 external and the internal display at the same time without any trouble.

Latest 15″ MBP (Late 2016): 2880×1800 native LCD resolution and externally ‘Up to two displays with 5120 by 2880 pixels at 60 Hz or up to four displays with 4096 by 2304 pixels at 60 Hz’

wasabi
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wasabi

I have to agree with thesandben regarding Linux support. No more DisplayLink for me. Since their last driver update on Oct 7th, I have been unable to use my current DisplayLink USB 3 dock in Ubuntu due to extremely high load. The problem was reported in the forums, but more than 3 months later there is still no solution. This effectively makes the device useless. Unless they really commit and show adequate Linux support, this is not an option for people who need a reliable setup.

adam
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adam

does not work on linux! support and drivers could as well be non-existent