Does Plugable support ChromeOS with our DisplayLink-based products?

Last Update: November 21st, 2022
Article ID: 1632107

Plugable’s DisplayLink-based products are supported with ChromeOS (the operating system used in Chromebook laptops), however there are some potential limitations.

In brief:

1. Plugable recommends using our DisplayLink-based products with Chromebooks that have an Intel central processing unit (CPU) or an AMD CPU.  Chromebooks with ARM CPUs are not recommended due to ARM CPU performance limitations.

2. Most Chromebooks meet the minimum hardware specifications we recommend for use with products based on the DL-3900 chipset.

The DL-6950 chipset has higher recommended hardware specifications which may not be met by some Chromebooks, which in turn may result in lower than expected performance.  

As of this writing, Plugable makes products based on the DisplayLink DL-3900 (https://www.synaptics.com/products/displaylink-graphics/integrated-chipsets/dl-3000)  and DL-6950 chipsets (https://www.synaptics.com/products/displaylink-graphics/integrated-chipsets/dl-6000).  You can determine which DisplayLink chipset is in use within a Plugable product by its model name. For example, a ‘UD-3900’ docking station uses the DL-3900 chipset and a ‘UD-6950Z’ docking station uses the DL-6950 chipset.

3. For best performance, Plugable recommends using our DisplayLink-based products with Chromebooks that were released in the year 2020 or later. 

4. Plugable recommends that a Chromebook have ChromeOS version 100 or later installed. Earlier versions of ChromeOS are not officially supported.

5. In some cases, the wired Ethernet network adapter within a Plugable DisplayLink-based product may perform at a lower than expected level of performance when used with a Chromebook as compared to when the same device is used with a Windows or Mac computer.  

As a result, the Ethernet adapter may not support Gigabit Ethernet speed. This is due to a limitation of the Ethernet network driver built-in to ChromeOS, it is not a limitation of Plugable’s DisplayLink-based products. 

6. Google exercises complete control over ChromeOS. As a result of this control, there can be cases where a ChromeOS update could cause unexpected behavior of a Plugable DisplayLink-based device.  

It is not possible for a 3rd-party to install driver updates or apply fixes to ChromeOS. All driver updates or fixes are provided by Google as Google publishes updates to ChromeOS.  

7.. Plugable offers a diagnostic utility called PlugDebug → https://plugable.com/pages/plugdebug which helps simplify the process of assisting our customers using Windows, macOS, or Linux. 

Unfortunately due to the control Google exercises over ChromeOS, it is not possible to use a diagnostic tool like PlugDebug with a Chromebook.  

More detail:

To expand further on some of the items listed above…

Plugable products based on DisplayLink USB video technology (https://www.synaptics.com/products/displaylink-graphics) are in essence ‘virtual’ graphics processing units that rely on the host computer’s central processing unit (CPU) and physical graphics processing unit (GPU) in order to generate the image shown on the DisplayLink-attached displays. 

Because ChromeOS is quite efficient, it does not generally require a powerful CPU in order to work well. As a result, many Chromebooks have lower powered CPUs as compared to their Windows and Mac counterparts. 

This is a boon in that Chromebooks can be made comparatively cheaper and have excellent battery life, however when it comes to using Plugable products based on DisplayLink technology some lower powered processors may not provide the same level of performance as compared to a system with a more powerful CPU and GPU. 

This drives our recommendation that for best performance, Chromebooks made in 2020 or later that have either Intel CPUs or AMD CPUs be used in conjunction with Plugable’s DisplayLink-based products. 

This symbiotic relationship is also what informs the potential performance differences between products based on the DL-3900 and DL-6950 chipset. 

Some Chromebooks are based on an ARM CPU, and speaking in general the ARM CPUs are not as powerful as an Intel CPU or AMD CPU.  As a result, we do not recommend using Plugable’s DisplayLink-based products with Chromebooks that have an ARM CPU.

If you are unsure which type of CPU your Chromebook has within it, you can consult the Chromebook manufacturer’s specifications.

If the manufacturer’s information does not help, Google maintains a list of all Chromebooks and the type of CPU they have here → https://www.chromium.org/chromium-os/developer-information-for-chrome-os-devices/

Within Google’s list, the column ‘User ABI’ refers to the type of CPU, where ‘x86_64’ refers to an Intel or AMD CPU while ‘arm’ refers to an ARM CPU.

Further to this, a Chromebook should have ChromeOS version 100 or higher installed in order to be used with a Plugable DisplayLink-based product. Google has a guide for determining the ChromeOS version as well as updating ChromeOS here → https://support.google.com/chromebook/answer/177889