Anyone who has used a MacBook or any USB-C laptop only is likely to experience “dongle life”. While we wait for the rest of the world to use all USB-C-ify, we often have to resort to a series of adapters to aid our older or less compatible devices and displays.
Many M1 Mac users have also encountered the unfortunate headache of realizing that their multi-display ambitions have been foiled by Apple limiting the M1 chip to either a single monitor (in the case of the MacBook) or dual displays (if they have an M1 Mac Mini).
While I recently featured a Thunderbolt 4 docking station from Accell (Thunderbolt being a very fast and versatile type of USB-C) that can solve all of these issues for Windows PC users, this excellent unit was still missing. the one feature that could have made it so versatile for M1 Mac users.
This option from Ugreen addresses that shortcoming by adding DisplayLink support, allowing your M1 to do things even Apple never intended. Let’s see why this combination of features makes the Ugreen USB-C Multi-Function Docking Station a perfect companion for your Mac or Windows PC.
The Ugreen Pro multi-function docking station offers a total of 12 ports between its range of front and rear connections. Like most USB-C docking stations, it lets you quickly transform your laptop into a full-fledged desktop workstation by plugging in a single cable.
Also: Slow internet at home? This adapter allows you to reuse the cable for better connectivity
The front ports (pictured above) include the single 10Gbps USB-C port that you’re most likely to use as a connection point for your laptop. However, you also have quick access to a headphone/mic combo port, an SD/TF card reader, and an additional USB-A port for mice, keyboards, or other pesky peripherals that stick to the old standard.
On the back, the docking station includes the following ports:
- Two 5Gbps USB-A ports for peripherals like mice, keyboards, webcams and printers
- One USB-C 3.2 Gen 2 10Gbps port for connecting a laptop or other device on the back
- A backwards compatible PD 3.0 20V/5A power port where you can connect your laptop’s included USB-C power adapter or other power source.
- One Gigabit Ethernet port
- Three video output ports: one 8K 30Hz HDMI (backward compatible with 4K 60Hz), one 4K 60Hz HDMI, and one 4K 60Hz DisplayPort (DP)
This all translates into the ability to run a three-monitor setup with a wired LAN connection, a host of USB-C and USB-A peripherals, and power, all through a single included Thunderbolt 4 cable. You’ll need to provide your own power adapter, which isn’t ideal if you don’t already have a USB-C one on your laptop. MagSafe-based MacBook owners and Mac Mini users, for example, will likely need to buy a third-party USB-C charger which says it is compatible with their laptop model.
At this point, you might be thinking, “Wait a minute…my MacBook/Mini M1 can’t support a three-screen setup, so what’s the point?” Normally that would be true. However, this is where DisplayLink comes in. This technology allows you to run additional monitors on almost any Windows or macOS system by creating what are essentially virtual GPU (video card) outputs.
In the case of the M1 MacBook Air and M1 Mac Mini that I tested this dock with, the installation process involved installing a driver from the Synaptics (makers of DisplayLink) website. After the quick install was complete, I tested the HDMI and DP displays in a variety of resolutions. All appeared, without issue, in the Standard Display section of the macOS Settings app, with no discernible difference between them and monitors natively connected via the Mac’s singular Thunderbolt video output or the Mac Mini’s lone HDMI output. It was really surprisingly simple.
Of course, the Ugreen Pro Multi-Function Docking Station is by no means the cheapest solution. You could accomplish most of the same things while spending a lot less on a combination of several individual adapters, dongles, and cables. But, a big part of what you’re paying for here is the extreme convenience this singular, monolithic unit provides. It’s supposed to be a one-stop-shop for all your connection and fitting needs, and it performed very well in my testing.
When you arrive at your desk after a long, tiring day and only need to plug in that one cable to connect to a dozen devices, the money you’ve spent on it will start to be worth it. This is even more true for Mac M1 users who might otherwise struggle to achieve their full setup goals without a DisplayLink compatible adapter like this.