Diamond DS3900 Ultra Dock Dual Video Docking Station Review
Sean Gibson / Nov 20th, 2013 1 Comment
While most gamers have plenty of peripherals to plug into their computer, often times if that gaming rig is actually a gaming laptop, most hardware comes woefully short of meeting needs. Additionally, even for casual gamers that have standard to low-end laptops (or even desktops) there is a need not just to have a USB 2.0 hub, but a need for many. USB 2.0 ports are necessary for peripheral and wireless network adapters, USB 3.0 ports for data transfers and backups, and display adapters to add an external monitor. While there have been many separate peripherals to handle these problems individually, such as USB 2.0 and 3.0 hubs, USB-to-ethernet adapters, and even external video card solutions to “add a monitor” to your set up, there has never been an all-in-one solution to handle all of these use cases… until now.
Enter the Diamond DS3900 Ultra Dock Dual Video Docking Station. The unit is a USB-powered docking station to allow users to plug in multiple USB devices and even an external monitor, simply by using a single USB 3.0 cable. With this device, which includes the driver software, USB 3.0 cable, and stand, users can connect it up to an Ultrabook, MacBook, or other computer and access external hard drives, headsets, or even large display monitors. All that is needed is some space on your desk, an open AC power port on your power strip, and a single USB 3.0 port on your computer or laptop.
Diamond DS3900 Specs
The Diamond DS3900 Ultra Dock Dual Video Docking Station supports gigabit ethernet, has four USB 2.0 ports, a front-mounted stereo and mic-in combo jack, two front-mounted USB 3.0 ports, one of which supports “Quick Charge” (BC1/2 battery charging function) for iPad and iPhone devices, and supports DVI and HDMI compatible displays up to 2048×1152 resolution. The unit is compatible with Windows 8, Windows 7, Windows XP, Vista, and Mac OS X.
The required drivers can be found on the CD-ROM included in the box or on the Diamond Multimedia website. These need to be used prior to plugging in the DS3900. Once installed, users will be prompted to plug the unit into a free USB 3.0 port. The unit will then go through the normal operation system installation, which may take a while as multiple drivers are being installed. Total installation time for our tests took approximately eleven minutes total.
Diamond DS3900 Performance
Right off the bat, the coolest feature that the Diamond DS3900 Ultra Dock Dual Video Docking Station sports is the ability to add two more displays to your system. Testing with both a MacBook Pro and an ASUS Windows 7 laptop, the DS3900 was able to add another display both via the DVI and the HDMI ports, bringing the number of displays powered by the computer and DS3900 to three. It’s a very impressive feature that just worked as soon as the drivers were installed and the monitors plugged in. It’s a god-send for those stuck with just one display on an Ultrabook, or those who have an Ultrabook with just one external option (HDMI) and want to set up a three or even four monitor workstation. While the unit has resolution limit of 1080p (1920×1080), chances are even gamers aren’t going to insist on support for 1440p or 1600p for this type of use case.
USB performance was equally impressive. Units were able to plug in easily and were instantly recognized by the system. For those that have never used USB 3.0 in the past, it is capable of transferring data at up to 5Gbit/s, which is more than ten times as fast as the 480 Mbit/s top speed of USB 2.0. The DS3900 conforms to the “blue” standard, meaning that the USB 3.0 ports on the unit are blue, making them easy to identify.
In terms of performance, it could not have gone smoother. It really is one of those things that once it is all setup, it’s pretty much set for life. If you have a laptop or notebook hooked up to it, there is only one cord to unplug to be on-the-go, taking account for the two extra monitors and up to six USB devices that might be plugged into it.
Best Use Cases Satisfied
The Diamond DS3900 Ultra Dock immediately solves the pain that many gamers feel who use an Ultrabook or MacBook. Typically on these devices they will only have, at most, one external video port, and either one or two USB 3.0 ports. For a primary system, that simply won’t cut it and putting this unit in place, as opposed to buying a new laptop, makes total sense. By using just one cable on the portable system, it opens up four USB 2.0 ports, two USB 3.0 ports (netting users one more port), plus the ability to add in two more monitors and have access to ethernet connections. It’s an all-in-one beast that can make life a lot easier for these types of users.
In terms of “cool factor” and performance, the Diamond DS3900 Ultra Dock impresses considerably. As mentioned previously, the unit worked with minimal hassle on both a MacBook Pro and an ASUS manufactured Windows 7 laptop for three-monitor setups (one laptop screen + two external displays powered by the DS3900). Installation was a breeze and USB 2.0 and 3.0 performance was met to expectations.
The DS3900 retails for $129.99 which might surprise some. However, considering that other USB 3.0 external display solutions typically run about $70-$90, adding in the cost of getting in all the other features makes the unit reasonably priced. Those that want to hunt around might find it about $10-$20 cheaper at major online retailers. Although it might be a tad out of reach for a typical gamer’s budget, it perfectly satisfies the use case that so many Ultrabook, MacBook or other laptop owners run into, wanting more USB 3.0/2.0 ports and more external displays available to them. Overall, the Diamond DS3900 Ultra Dock Dual Video Docking Station is an impressive little monster that every gamer who owns a portable system should consider purchasing.
tags: diamond , diamond multimedia , ds3900 ultra dock , external monitor , hardware , review , usb 3.0