Numerous high-speed ports can get clogged by the main 10Gbps USB-C connection
The Monoprice 13-in-1 Dual-HDMI + DP MST Dock offers good value, though your experience with this premium USB-C dongle really depends on your laptop.
This Monoprice docks lands squarely in the middle of the messy reality that is USB-C hardware: numerous acronyms, ports, and features. What can this Monoprice 13-in-1 Dual-HDMI + DP MST Dock do? A decent amount, though it depends on your PC.
What the Monoprice 13-in-1 dock’s documentation implies is that you’ll be able to run a pair of 4K displays across this USB-C dock. (The “MST” in the product’s name stands for “MultiStream Transport,” which signifies that it can power multiple displays.) At an MSRP of $54.99, this would appear to offer a pretty affordable deal in the world of USB-C hubs and docks.
What Monoprice doesn’t tell you is that this dock’s performance will depend on which laptop you own: The rule of thumb is the more recent, the better. A Microsoft Surface Book 2 with an 8th-gen Core chip inside didn’t produce any output over its USB-C port; several recent Samsung and Surface laptops with 12th-gen and 13th-gen Core chips inside worked well, though.
So what’s the best you can expect? Monoprice’s in-box documentation is confusing, but the actual product page is somewhat clearer: If you’d like to use a single external display, you can run it at 4K, 60Hz. (Our tests confirm this.) With two displays you can run one at 4K30, and the other at 1080p60. Three displays? All of them must be run at 1080p.
But even on paper, it’s muddier: One HDMI port supports 60Hz; the other, 30Hz. Which one? Pull out the documentation. And in reality, when I connected two external displays — no matter the configuration — one displayed 4K30, and the other defaulted to 1440p, at 60Hz. That’s better than expected, but it’s still confusing.
In part, that’s because I had connected the displays, via the dock, to my PC’s Thunderbolt port, which uses DisplayPort 1.4 as a transport protocol. If you have a PC or a laptop with DisplayPort 1.2 (and few people know if they do, offhand) expect even slower speeds. Without your laptop’s documentation in hand, you’re rolling the dice.
Get past that, though, and this Monoprice dock simplifies itself. The dock saves money by not supplying a power brick, but attaching your laptop’s USB-C charger to the input port works fine — up to 100W of power delivery. Just realize that the dock and any bus-powered devices you have attached will eat up some of that power, too.
Mark Hachman / IDG
What ports does the Monoprice 13-in-1 dock include?
Otherwise, there’s a host of ports: five USB-A ports (three transferring data at 5Gbps, and two at legacy 480Mbps speeds), SD and microSD readers (both transferring data at a poky 104MB/s, or UHS-I speeds), an audio/mic jack, and gigabit Ethernet, plus the HDMI and DisplayPort ports.
Just remember that everything is being transferred over the 10Gbps USB-C bus, so you may notice slowdowns or stuttering when downloading something over Ethernet, transferring data on a hard drive, and displaying it on multiple monitors. That’s not the dock’s fault.
Monoprice’s dock doesn’t suffer from any thermal issues; the plastic chassis gets warm, but barely so. It measures 5.5 x 2.2 x 0.65 inches.
This 13-in-1 dock is priced fairly aggressively, too. We’re seeing 8-in-1 docks priced at about $25 to $35, depending on the configuration; the $54.99 feels appropriate. This is really more of a high-powered dongle than a true USB-C dock, anyway. You can buy it from Monoprice direct, or from Target. It isn’t available in the UK.
For alternative options, see our full roundup of the best USB-C docks.