A DisplayLink USB-C dock is what you might call a “tweener” device: something between USB-C and Thunderbolt. DisplayLink docks embed a small chip from Synaptics in the docking station, and require use of a software driver that you’ll need to download. (USB-C and Thunderbolt are essentially plug and play.) The Synaptics chip compresses the data, and gives you the ability to connect (no joke) up to three or sometimes four 4K display all over a 10Gbps USB-C cable. It feels a bit like black magic.
They’re not foolproof; DisplayLink docks are best for office work (email, Word, Excel, and so on that don’t require a whole lot of bandwidth, because the images are largely static) and web browsing. Transfer a lot of data (or play back a lot of high-bitrate video) and you’ll see some stuttering.
We used to break out DisplayLink docks into their own page, but we now include recommendations on this list of the best USB-C hubs, as well as our list of the best Thunderbolt docks. If you shop smart, you can get the capabilities of a Thunderbolt dock, for less.