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The perfect docking stations for laptops in 2024

Relying on how a lot stuff you have to plug in, your laptop computer might not have sufficient ports to help all of it — notably when you’ve got extra wired equipment than Bluetooth ones. Docking stations add completely different combos of Ethernet, HDMI, DisplayPort, 3.5mm, reminiscence card and USB connections and, not like easy hubs, are sometimes DC-powered. For individuals who change up their working location usually, a docking station could make it simpler to swap between a fully-connected desk setup and a easy laptop computer, since only one port hyperlinks your pc to the dock. Which docking station you need to get relies upon partly on what you need to plug in, however sifting by way of the a whole lot of fashions on the market will be robust. We tried out a dozen completely different choices that can assist you slim down the perfect docking station on your wants.

What to search for in a docking station

Firstly, think about what you have to plug in. This can doubtless be the deciding issue whenever you go to truly purchase a docking station. Do you want three screens for an expanded work view? A fast technique to add photographs from an SD card? Are you trying to plug in a webcam, mic and streaming mild, whereas concurrently making the most of sooner Ethernet connections? When you’ve settled on the kind of ports you want, you may additionally need to think about the era of these ports as nicely; even ports with the identical form can have completely different capabilities. Right here’s a quick overview of the connectivity completely different docking stations provide.

Monitor ports

Exterior displays usually want one among three ports to connect with a PC: HDMI, DisplayPort or USB-C. HDMI connections are extra frequent than DisplayPort and the cables and units that use them are typically extra inexpensive. The most well-liked model of the DisplayPort interface (v1.4) can deal with increased resolutions and refresh charges than the commonest HDMI model (2.0). The entire docking stations with HDMI sockets that we suggest right here use model 2.0, which may deal with 4K decision at 60Hz or 1080p as much as 240Hz. The DisplayPort-enabled docks help both model 1.2, which permits for 4K decision at 60Hz, or model 1.4, which may deal with 8K at 60Hz or 4K at 120Hz.

You too can use your dock’s downstream (non-host) Thunderbolt ports to hook up your displays. In case your exterior show has a USB-C socket, you possibly can join instantly. In case you have an HDMI or DisplayPort-only monitor, you need to use an adapter or a conversion cable.

After all, the variety of displays you possibly can join and the resolutions/charges they’ll obtain rely on each your pc’s GPU and your displays — and the extra displays you plug in can carry down these numbers as nicely. Make sure you additionally use cables that help the bandwidth you’re hoping for. MacOS customers ought to take into account that MacBooks with the usual M1 or M2 chips help only one exterior monitor natively and require DisplayLink hardware and software to help two exterior shows. MacBooks with M1 Professional, M2 Professional or M2 Max chips can run a number of displays from a single port.

USB ports

Most docking stations provide just a few USB Sort-A ports, that are nice for peripherals like wired mice and keyboards, bus-powered ring lights and flash drives. For sooner information switch speeds to your flash drive, go for USB-A sockets labeled 3.1 or 3.2 — or higher but, use a USB-C Thunderbolt port.

Sort-C USB ports are available in many various flavors. The Thunderbolt 3, 4 and USB4 protocols are newer, extra succesful specs that help energy supply of as much as 100W, a number of 4K shows and information switch speeds of as much as 40Gbps. Different USB-C ports are available in a spread of variations, with some supporting video, information and energy and a few solely capable of handle information and energy. Switch charges and wattages can fluctuate from port to port, however most docks record the wattage or GB/s on both the dock itself or on the product web page. And once more, reaching the quickest speeds will rely on components just like the cables you employ and the units you’re transferring information to.

Practically each dock obtainable at the moment connects to a pc by way of USB-C, typically Thunderbolt, and people host ports are almost all the time labeled with a laptop computer icon. Additionally they permit energy supply to your laptop computer: obtainable wattage varies, however most docks are rated between 85 and 100 watts. That needs to be sufficient to maintain most computer systems powered — and it additionally means you gained’t need to take up an additional laptop computer connector for charging.

Different ports

None of our presently recommended laptops embody an Ethernet jack; a docking station is an effective way to get that connection again. Everyone knows objectively that wired web is quicker than Wi-Fi, however it may take operating a primary pace comparability test to actually get it on a intestine degree. For reference, on Wi-Fi I get a couple of 45 megabit-per-second obtain pace. Over Ethernet, it’s 925 Mbps. For those who pay for a high-speed plan, however solely ever join wirelessly, you’re in all probability leaving loads of bandwidth on the desk. Each docking station I examined contains an Ethernet port, and it might be the connector you find yourself getting probably the most use out of.

Simply two of our favourite laptops have SD card readers, and in the event you want a fast technique to add recordsdata from cameras or audio recorders, you might need to get a dock with a kind of slots. Of the docks we examined, about half had SD readers. For now, most (however not all) laptops nonetheless embody a 3.5mm audio jack, however in the event you want wired headphones and need a extra accessible place to plug them in, many docking stations will present.

Whenever you’re counting up the ports on your new dock, keep in mind that most firms embody the host port (the one which connects to your pc) within the complete quantity. So in the event you’re on the lookout for a dock with three Thunderbolt connections, you should definitely examine whether or not one among them can be used to plug in your laptop computer.

The Cal Ditgit TS4 stands upright on a desk and we can see the ports clearly.

Photograph by Amy Skorheim / Engadget


Most docking stations have both a lay-flat or upright design. Most docks put the extra “everlasting” connections in again — corresponding to Ethernet, DC energy, monitor connections and some USBs. Up-front USB ports can be utilized for flash drive transfers, and even plugging in your cellphone for a cost (simply be sure that the port can ship the facility you want). USBs within the rear are finest for keyboards, mice, webcams and different belongings you’re prone to all the time use. Some docks place the host port up entrance, which could make it simpler to plug in your laptop computer whenever you return to your desk, however a bunch port in again might look neater general.

How we examined

We began out by taking a look at on-line evaluations, spec sheets from varied manufacturers and docking stations that our fellow tech websites have coated. We thought of manufacturers we’ve examined earlier than and have favored, and weeded out something that didn’t have what we think about a contemporary suite of connections (corresponding to a dock with no downstream USB-C ports). We narrowed it all the way down to 12 contenders and I examined every dock on an M1 MacBook Professional, a Dell XPS 13 Plus and an Acer Chromebook Spin 514. I plugged in and evaluated the standard of the connections for 12 completely different peripherals together with a 4K and an HD monitor, a 4K and an HD webcam, plus USB units like a mouse, keyboard, streaming mild and mic. I plugged in wired earbuds, and transferred information to a USB-C flash drive and an exterior SSD. I ran primary pace exams on the Ethernet connections in addition to the file transfers. I judged how straightforward the docks had been to make use of in addition to the varied design components I described earlier. I made spreadsheets and had sufficient wires snaking round my work space that my cat stayed off my desk for 3 weeks (a brand new document).

Photograph by Amy Skorheim / Engadget

Host connection: 2 x USB-C | Energy supply to host: 75W (USB-C) | USB-C: 1 x USB 3.0, 1 x 3.1 | USB-A: 2 | Monitor: 2 x HDMI 2.0, 1 x DisplayPort 1.4 | Aux 3.5mm: No | SD Card: No

The Satechi Dual Dock Stand is completely different from all the opposite docks we examined in two respects: it doesn’t require an influence supply and it goes beneath your MacBook as an alternative of beside it. You might nearly classify it as a hub, however I feel the excessive variety of ports earns it docking-station standing. It plugs into the 2 USB-C ports in conjunction with a Mac, which permits MacBooks with M1, M2 or M3 Professional or Max chips to function two exterior displays in prolonged mode. Sadly, MacBooks with customary M1 or M2 chips, can natively solely energy a second exterior show in mirrored mode. The brand new MacBook Air with the M3 chip can solely energy two shows in prolonged mode with the laptop computer lid closed. In case you have a Mac with a regular chip and want two displays, you may want a docking station that helps DisplayLink {hardware} and software program, such because the Kensington SD4780P, which is our high choose for Chromebooks.

Because the Twin Dock works with out energy, it’s so much simpler to arrange than different docks with transformer containers and DC cables. I discovered it made probably the most sense to simply use the MagSafe connector on the laptop computer, however you can too provide energy to the dock utilizing the non-data USB-C port and it’ll move 75 watts to your machine.

Each the 4K and HD displays I examined regarded nice and labored nicely in prolonged mode. There are two USB-Cs for a webcam and mic, plus two USB-As which might be used for a dongle mouse and a streaming mild — that’s doubtless sufficient ports for conferencing or perhaps a primary video creator setup. The dock is in the end restricted by the truth that not one of the USB-C connections are Thunderbolt and there are solely two USB-A sockets to work with. But it surely’s a fantastic alternative for extending productiveness in a means that tucks beneath a MacBook, neatly transferring the cords to the again of the machine and out of the best way.


  • Distinctive design enhances MacBooks
  • Can energy two displays on Macs with M1 Professional or M2 Professional chips
  • Good number of ports

  • Simply two USB-A ports
  • No Thunderbolt ports

$130 at Adorama

Photograph by Amy Skorheim / Engadget

Host connection: Thunderbolt 4 | Max energy supply to host: 96W (DC) | USB-C: 1 x TB4, 1 x 3.2 | USB-A: 4 | Monitor: 2 x HDMI 2.0 | Aux 3.5mm: Sure | SD Card: SD and microSD

For individuals who need the additional pace and connectivity of the newest Thunderbolt interface, I like to recommend Kensington’s AD2010T4 Thunderbolt 4 Dual 4K Docking Station. Of all of the TB4 docking stations examined, the AD2010 is the one one beneath $300, but it carried out on par with and even supplied a greater number of ports than a number of the others I examined. It offers you two Thunderbolt 4 connections, one for the host and one for equipment, plus an extra 3.2 USB-C. Twin HDMI 2.0 sockets can deal with two exterior screens with as much as 4K decision (at 60Hz). However in the event you want three further displays or have an 8K display, you possibly can faucet into the Thunderbolt port.

There’s a complete of 4 USB-As, which is sufficient for a wired mouse or keyboard and a pair different peripherals. It has an SD and a microSD card slot, a 3.5mm audio combo jack and an Ethernet jack. There are even two Kensington lock slots that allow you to physically secure your dock with a cable.

The system itself has a stable really feel and a horny metallic design. My solely gripe is with the lay-flat orientation and that just about half of the ports are on the entrance edge — I feel upright docks that preserve most connections round again have an general neater look on a desk. Nonetheless, I ought to level out that Kensington sells mounts for its docks, which may assist with aesthetics. 


  • Competitively priced
  • Highly effective downstream TB4 port
  • Loads of USB-A connections

  • Most ports are up entrance
  • Lay-flat design could be a area hog and not using a mount

$200 at Amazon

Photograph by Amy Skorheim / Engadget

Host connection: Thunderbolt 4 | Energy supply to host: 98W (DC) | USB-C: 2 x TB4, 3 x 3.2 | USB-A: 5 | Monitor: 1 x DisplayPort 1.4 | Aux 3.5mm: 1 x audio combo, 1 x audio in, 1 x audio out | SD Card: SD and microSD

There’s so much to understand about CalDigit’s TS4 docking station: It has a sturdy, upright design with a bunch connection on the rear and a whopping 5 downstream USB-C ports, two of that are Thunderbolt 4. Up entrance, you get an SD and a microSD card slot together with a headphone jack, two USB-C and a USB-A connector. In again, there’s room for 4 extra USB-A units and two 3.5mm jacks, one for audio in and one for audio out. One space the place the dock might really feel missing is in show inputs. It solely has one DisplayPort 1.4, however it has loads of TB4 ports, which you’ll be able to simply use to outfit a full command heart (in the event you don’t have a USB-C monitor, there are many adapters).

The multi-gig Ethernet jack can deal with as much as 2.5Gbps, so in the event you’re paying for a screaming-fast web plan, this dock can assist you make the most of it. The TS4 can ship as much as 98W of energy to your laptop computer, although like every docking station, the wattage goes down when different gadgets are additionally drawing energy.

The TS4 labored equally nicely with my MacBook Professional and the Dell XPS13 Plus and was even appropriate with a Chromebook. I examined learn/write speeds on a Samsung T7 SSD by way of a Thunderbolt port and acquired 734 MB/s learn and 655 MB/s write speeds on the Mac and 1048/994 on the Dell. In comparison with the opposite docks, that was within the lower-middle vary for the Mac and the quickest general for the PC. On PC, it additionally dealt with a 1GB folder switch to a flash drive sooner than some other dock and delivered the quickest connection speeds over the Ethernet. It’s the one unit that permit me plug in each single peripheral I had readily available without delay. For those who’ve acquired plenty of tech you need to use concurrently (and cash isn’t a priority), that is the one to get.


  • An abundance of ports
  • Compact, upright design
  • 2.5Gbps Ethernet port

$400 at Amazon

Photograph by Amy Skorheim / Engadget

Host connection: USB-C | Energy supply to host: 100W (DC) | USB-C: 1 x 3.1 | USB-A: 5 | Monitor: 2 x HDMI 2.0, 2 x DisplayPort 1.2 | Aux 3.5mm: 1 x audio combo | SD Card: No

The Kensington SD4780P Dual 4K usually requires a DisplayLink driver, however any Chromebook made after 2017 helps the connection from the bounce. Discovering a docking station that works with ChromeOS is hard; of the 12 items I examined, solely 4 related in any respect with the Acer Chromebook Spin 514, and a kind of 4 couldn’t run two displays. The SD4780P makes use of a USB-C host connection, by way of which it presents a most energy supply of 100W and was capable of run each the 4K and HD screens cleanly.

It permits for a variety of USB-A peripherals by way of 5 such ports, however there’s solely a single downstream USB-C, so I wasn’t ready to make use of each a webcam and mic on the identical time. Which means you’ll want to make use of your Chromebook’s built-in ports if you’d like greater than a kind of kinds of units arrange. The plastic construct makes it look a little bit low-cost and I’m not loopy in regards to the lay-flat design, however the host port is within the again, which can make your setup neater. If all you’re on the lookout for is a technique to get just a few additional displays and use your wired USB equipment, this can be a good choose for Chromebooks. 


  • Works nicely with Chromebooks
  • 5 USB-A ports

  • Requires a driver for non Chromebooks
  • Only one downstream USB-C

$199 at Amazon

Different docking stations we examined

Plugable TBT4-UDZ

Once I pulled the Plugable TBT4-UDZ Thunderbolt 4 out of the field, I used to be satisfied it will make the minimize: It has a sensible upright design, a horny metallic end, and the host connection is TB4. Whereas there are many USB-A and monitor ports, there’s only one downstream USB-C. A contemporary dock, notably one which prices $300, ought to allow you to run, say, a USB-C cam and mic on the identical time. In any other case, it’s fairly limiting.

Anker 575 USB-C

At $250 (and extra typically $235), the Anker 575 USB-C may make for a great price range choose for Home windows. It carried out nicely with the Dell XPS 13 Plus, however had hassle with the third display, the 4K webcam and headphone jack when related to the MacBook Professional. It’s fairly compact, which implies it may possibly get wobbly when a bunch of cables are plugged in, however it has a wide selection of ports and was capable of deal with my primary setup nicely.

Belkin Join Professional Thunderbolt 4

Belkin’s Connect Pro Thunderbolt 4 Dock is a contender for a Thunderbolt 4 various. It has almost the identical ports because the AD2010 (minus the microSD slot) and a horny rounded design — however it’s $90 extra, so I’d solely suggest getting it in the event you discover it on sale.

Acer USB Sort-C Dock

Acer’s USB Type-C Dock D501 prices $10 greater than our Kensington choose for Chromebooks, however it performs equally and is value a point out. It has almost the identical ports (together with the moderately limiting single downstream USB-C) however each the Ethernet and information switch speeds had been sooner.


Are docking stations value it?

Docking stations are value it when you’ve got extra equipment to plug in than your laptop computer permits. Say you’ve gotten a USB-C digicam and mic, plus a USB-A mouse, keyboard and streaming mild; only a few fashionable laptops have sufficient connections to help all of that without delay. A docking station could make that setup possible whereas additionally supplying you with additional ports like an Ethernet connection, and supplying energy to your laptop computer. Nonetheless, in the event you simply want just a few additional USB sockets, you could be higher off going with a hub, as these are usually cheaper.

How a lot does a laptop computer dock value?

Laptop computer docking stations are usually greater and costlier than easy USB-A or USB-C hubs, because of the broader array of connections. You’ll find them as little as $50 they usually can get as costly as $450. An affordable value for a dock with a wide selection of ports from a good model will common round $200.

How do I arrange my laptop computer dock?

Most docking stations are plug and play. First, join the DC energy cable to the dock and a wall outlet. Then search for the “host” or upstream port on the dock — it’s nearly all the time a USB-C/Thunderbolt port and infrequently branded with an icon of a laptop computer. Use the supplied cable to connect with your pc. After that, you possibly can join your peripherals to the dock and they need to be prepared to make use of along with your laptop computer. Just a few docking stations, notably those who deal with extra complicated monitor setups, require a driver. The directions that include your dock will level you to a web site the place you possibly can obtain that companion software program.

Does a laptop computer cost on a docking station?

Practically all docking stations let you cost your laptop computer by way of the host connection (the cable operating from the dock to your pc). That functionality, plus the upper variety of ports is what separates a docking station from a hub. Docks can move on between 65W and 100W of energy to laptops, and almost all embody a DC adapter.

Are all docking stations appropriate with all laptops?

No, not all docking stations are appropriate with each laptop computer. In our exams, the Chromebook had the largest compatibility points, the Dell PC had the least, and the MacBook fell someplace in between. All docks will record which manufacturers and fashions they work with on the net product web page — you should definitely additionally examine the era of your laptop computer as some docks can’t help sure chips.

What are some standard docking station manufacturers?

Kensington, Anker, Pluggable and Belkin are respected and well-known manufacturers making docking stations for all laptops. Lenovo, Dell and HP all make docks that can work with their very own computer systems in addition to different manufacturers.

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