Best laptop docking station in 2021

docking station

There’s by no means been a better time to improve your work-from-domestic setup with a docking station that transforms your laptop right into a more comfortable operating surroundings. Here’s what you need to search for.

When the world grew to become the wrong way up in early 2020, a lot of us went home for what we thought would be a brief damage from office lifestyles. Instead, it is was a protracted-term commitment to remotely running. If you have got children, they’re additionally doing far off schoolwork, going to training on a computer screen.

Under the occasions, maybe it’s time to upgrade your paintings-from-home (WFH) setup with a docking station that transforms your pc into a extra comfortable running environment. With one (or maybe two) short connections, you may add a full-sized outside show, a complete-sized keyboard and an outside mouse, a wired Ethernet connection, and get right of entry to to external devices like backup drives, scanners, and printers.

You can accomplish maximum of this for a relative pittance, or you may max out your platinum card with excessive-cease solutions that assist more than one displays and terrific-fast Thunderbolt 3 peripherals.

The fundamental idea behind a docking station is straightforward: It’s a fairly small tool that stays for your desk, linked for your monitor, keyboard, and mouse, plus some thing different gadgets you want to have comfortably to hand. When you are at your desk, you connect the dock on your pc (normally thru a unmarried cable) and feature immediately get right of entry to to the aforementioned external peripherals.

In this manual, we listing some famous, well-reviewed dock options. But they are not all identical. Before you pick one to your paintings-from-domestic workplace, right here’s what you need to search for.

  • Connection kind. This is probably the most crucial item to your sorting listing. Most newish laptops guide USB Type-C connections, which offer strong growth alternatives; earlier than you choose one of these docks, though, you will need to recognise if your pc helps Thunderbolt 3 connections. If you have got a Microsoft Surface device, your selections are greater constrained, thanks to the blade-type connector that those devices use for external connections. If you’ve got an older PC or Mac that doesn’t support one of those requirements, you will need to accept a few extra simple dock options.
  • Power. For a real one-cable connection, your dock needs to supply strength to the pc. Some less expensive docks skip this feature absolutely, assuming you’ll connect a power supply and use the dock solely for connecting to peripherals. If you have got a high-powered pc, ensure your powered dock delivers sufficient watts to maintain up together with your PC’s demands.
  • Video output(s). Look very closely on the specs for video connections. If you want to drive simplest a unmarried full HD (1920 x 1080) show the usage of an HDMI cable, just about any dock will do. Things get complicated fast in case you want assist for a 4K or 5K display (you may need DisplayPort for those resolutions) or in case you need to run or greater external presentations concurrently.
  • Ports. Does the dock you’re thinking about have enough external ports to connect with the devices you’ve got in your computer? Pay special attention to USB ports, which may be Type A or Type C, with or without the ability to power gadgets like a telephone.
  • Wired Ethernet. One of the exquisite blessings of a docking station, if your network router is nearby, is that you can loose your self from every now and then flaky Wi-Fi connections and plug in without delay. The participants on your weekly Zoom call will observe.
  • Audio input/output. You possibly might not think of these connections till you need them. But having dedicated external speakers and a 3.5-inch jack to plug an external microphone into can dramatically remodel your audio fine. If you do webinars or visitor appearances on broadcast media or podcasts, the difference is sizeable and worth procuring.

With the ones considerations in mind, we’ve divided the docking options into three primary classes. First up are docks designed to attach mainly to a single emblem of PCs. Next, we list everyday docking station that provide adequate growth abilities for under $one hundred fifty (outside peripherals no longer blanketed). In the very last section, we highlight greater expensive 1/3-birthday party products that offer plain overall performance blessings for folks who want the satisfactory.

In making our alternatives, we targeted on docking station designed to be used with Windows laptops or MacBooks (or both). If you are trying to make bigger your Chromebook to the laptop, we suggest checking compatibility carefully. Among third-party hardware makers, handiest Kensington gives a large choice of docks with ChromeOS guide.

Docks for a specific PC logo

If you obtain a name-logo PC, there may be an excellent risk that the maker of that tool has at least one and possibly numerous dock options in order to pick out from. The biggest advantage, of direction, is that you could assume the 2 gadgets to paintings together well; and in the event that they do not, you do not must positioned up with the finger-pointing that could arise whilst you stumble upon a war between a PC and a 3rd-celebration peripheral.

This section consists of records approximately docks designed for use with Windows PCs from Dell, HP, Lenovo, and Microsoft. As for Apple, nicely, permit’s get that out of the way first.

Apple

USB-C DIGITAL AV MULTIPORT ADAPTER

We’d love to tell you approximately an Apple-branded docking station to be used together with your MacBook, however there may be, lamentably, no such issue. The closest thing Apple gives is an overpriced dongle, the USB-C Digital AV Multiport Adapter. Plug the MacBook strength adapter into the USB-C port, connect a screen to the HDMI port, plug some thing into the unmarried USB Type-A port, and that is it. You’re out of enlargement opportunities.

That might paintings if you have an Apple Bluetooth keyboard and mouse and you don’t care about a wired community connection. But in case your wishes are stressful, you’ll want to discover 0.33-birthday celebration merchandise.

Ports: USB Type-C (1); USB Type-A (1)

Display: HDMI (1), 3840 x 2160

You can find a dizzying choice of docking station at Dell’s website, with a half of-dozen Dell-branded docks on the Products For Work web page and a much larger selection (together with 1/3-birthday celebration answers) on the Products for Home page.

For present day Dell PCs that consist of Thunderbolt 3 help, the WD19TB dock ($280) is the only way to head. It gives you 130W of power over the docking connection and has enough video connections to power 3 huge shows. You’ll discover one USB-C port and one USB three.1 (Type A) port on the front panel, with the the rest of the ports at the rear, for gadgets that completely stay connected.

Ports: USB Type-A (four); USB Type-C (1); speaker output; combination audio; Gigabit Ethernet

Display: HDMI (1); DisplayPort (2); up to 3 simultaneous 4K shows or a unmarried 5K show

Dell

DELL UNIVERSAL DOCK D6000

You can find a dizzying choice of docking station at Dell’s internet site, with a half of-dozen Dell-branded docks on the Products For Work page and a miles large selection (including 0.33-party solutions) at the Products for Home page.

We propose the $two hundred D6000 Universal Dock for older PCs that are not geared up with USB-C Thunderbolt 3 ports. This dock has an outstanding collection of ports, gives you as much as 65W of power, and may cope with up to 3 presentations right now. The downside is that the USB three.0 connection makes use of DisplayLink era, that can purpose driving force issues in a few configurations.

Ports: USB Type-A (four); USB Type-C (1); speaker output; blend audio; Gigabit Ethernet

Display: HDMI (1); DisplayPort (2); up to a few simultaneous 4K shows or a single 5K show

HP

HP USB-C Dock

Navigating HP’s internet site is never a laugh, and getting particular specifications for any of the enterprise’s merchandise appears like a recreation that we can simplest play if a person gives us cheat codes. So we present this no-frills dock and express regret in advance for the dearth of certain specs. Maximum energy output is 65W, and it includes a USB-C to USB-A adapter. Our survey of 1/3-birthday celebration shops suggests that you need to examine the reviews earlier than you surrender your credit card.

Ports: USB 2.Zero Type-A (three); USB three Type-A (1); USB Type-C (1)

Display: HDMI (1); DisplayPort 1.2 (2); VGA (1); supports two monitors, doesn’t list particular resolution

Lenovo

Lenovo USB-C Mini Dock

Among the most important OEMs, Lenovo wins the charge wars with these two dock alternatives. The primary USB-C Mini Dock is small enough to hide at the back of your pc whilst nevertheless turning in up to 45W of strength and enabling a complete array of external device connections. For devices with Thunderbolt 3 guide, the extra powerful Essential Dock americathe electricity output to 65W and helps two 4K video display units with a single USB-C connection.

Ports: USB Type-C (1); USB three.1 Type-A (1); USB 2.0 Type-A (1); Gigabit Ethernet; combo audio

Display: HDMI 2.0 (1); VGA (1); supports a unmarried show up to 4K resolution using HDMI or 1080P using VGA

For Lenovo devices with Thunderbolt three aid, the extra powerful Essential Dock united statesthe electricity output to 65W and helps  4K video display units with a unmarried USB-C connection.

Ports: USB 3.Zero Type-A (2); USB Type-C and not using a video help (2); Gigabit Ethernet; combination audio

Display: HDMI 2.Zero (1); DisplayPort 1.4 (1); supports dual 4K presentations

Microsoft Surface

SURFACE DOCK 2

Microsoft’s Surface Pro line has constantly been prominent with the aid of its exclusive blade-style connector, which provides electricity, video, and peripheral connections thru a decidedly proprietary format. You’ll also probably need adapter to attach the USB Type-C connectors on the rear for your outside monitors. The modern-day access inside the agency’s docking alternatives requires a reasonably current Surface Pro tool (Surface Pro three and four and unique Surface Book no longer supported). If you meet those specs, you get 199W of energy, aid for twin 4K presentations, and a total of six USB ports. The listing charge for this dock is much better, however it’s been discounted from Day 1.

Ports: USB 3.2 Type-A (2); USB Type-C (four); audio out; Gigabit Ethernet

Display: USB Type-C; supports up to two 4K displays at 60Hz

THIRD-PARTY OPTIONS

The biggest benefit of a third-birthday celebration docking answer is flexibility. If you update your laptop with a brand new version from a exclusive manufacturer, you ought to be capable of plug it into your existing dock and get right to paintings. For this segment, we highlight docks from four main manufacturers.

Plugable

THUNDERBOLT 3 AND USB-C DOCKING STATION – TBT3-UDC1

Don’t allow this dock’s small length idiot you; it packs a variety of power right into a small bundle and can deliver 60W over USB-C on your pc. The excellent feature is that you could use it with any system that includes USB-C aid (with the noteworthy exception of HP’s EliteBook 850 G3, that is incompatible). It’s simplest, even though, when linked to a gadget that helps Thunderbolt 3, including Dell’s XPS thirteen and 15 models, MacBook Air and Pros from 2016 or later, and Lenovo’s popular ThinkPad Carbon X1 (6th Gen or later). The organisation’s website has a beneficial compatibility chart that permit you to determine whether the dock will paintings with your pc.

Ports: USB 3.2 Gen 2 Type-A (2); USB 3.Zero Type-A (2); USB Type-C (2); Gigabit Ethernet; combination audio

Display: DisplayPort (2); supports two 4K monitors at 60Hz (Thunderbolt 3) or  1080p presentations (USB-C)

StarTech

Thunderbolt three Dock – TB3DK2DPP

You pay top dollar for StarTech.Com’s pinnacle of the line dock, however you get exactly what you pay for. With the potential to deliver 85W over USB-C PD, this is the first-rate desire for every body with a electricity-hungry, high-give up laptop like a MacBook Pro 15 or 16. Don’t even think about the use of it with a PC that doesn’t guide Thunderbolt three, however.

Ports: USB 3.0 Type-A (2); USB Type-C Thunderbolt 3 (2); Gigabit Ethernet; separate microphone and speaker jacks

Display: DisplayPort (1); helps up to two 5K displays over DisplayPort and Thunderbolt three

If you have got a Windows computer that consists of USB-C with Power Delivery however doesn’t support Thunderbolt three, recollect the less costly Dual Monitor dock; connect your laptop’s USB-C strength deliver and you may electricity both your computer and the dock with peripherals.

Ports: USB 3.0 (2); Gigabit Ethernet

Display: HDMI (2); supports a unmarried ultrawide show, two 1080p displays at 60Hz, or up to two 4K displays at 30Hz

Kensington

Thunderbolt three and USB-C Hybrid Docking Station – SD5500T/SD5550T

Kensington’s website online is filled with useful technical statistics. If you’re stumped approximately what the various connector specs mean, go to its most important web page for some beneficial tech assist. The SD5500T dock works with just about any modern-day Windows PC or Mac, with or without Thunderbolt 3 assist.

Ports: USB three Type-A (3); USB Type-C (2); Gigabit Ethernet; combo audio

Display: DisplayPort (2); supports  4K shows at 60Hz with Thunderbolt three; with USB-C Alt Mode, supports one 4K display or two 1080p video display units at 30Hz

Surface Pro proprietors ought to take a protracted observe Kensington’s SD7000 dock, which includes a cool hinge which could role the show at eye level or lay it down for use with a Surface Pen.

Ports: USB 3.Zero (Type-A (four); USB Type-C (1), does now not help alt mode; combo audio; Gigabit Ethernet

Display: HDMI 2.0 (1); DisplayPort 1.2 (1); helps a unmarried 4K screen at 60 Hz or two 4K presentations at 30 Hz

Cable Matters

THUNDERBOLT three/USB-C HYBRID DOCKING STATION

This hybrid dock is right if you have a couple of laptops (Mac or Windows) which have a mix of USB-C and Thunderbolt three connections. USB-C PD gives you as much as 60W, that is sufficient for most midsize laptops. Windows PCs may need Thunderbolt 3 updates and custom community drivers to paintings properly. Note that the manufacturer specially advises that Chromebooks are not like minded with this dock.

Ports: USB 3.0 Type-A (2); USB Type-C (2); Gigabit Ethernet; combo audio

Display: DisplayPort (2); helps one 5K display or up to two 4K presentations with Thunderbolt 3; in USB-C Alt Mode, supports one 4K show or two 1080p shows at 30Hz

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