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The most effective docking stations for laptops in 2024

Relying on how a lot stuff it is advisable plug in, your laptop computer could not have sufficient ports to help all of it — notably in case you have extra wired equipment than Bluetooth ones. Docking stations add totally different combos of Ethernet, HDMI, DisplayPort, 3.5mm, reminiscence card and USB connections and, not like easy hubs, are sometimes DC-powered. For many 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 partially on what you need to plug in, however sifting by way of the tons of of fashions on the market will be powerful. We tried out a dozen totally different choices that can assist you slender down the perfect docking station to your wants.

What to search for in a docking station

Initially, contemplate what it is advisable plug in. This can possible be the deciding issue once you go to truly purchase a docking station. Do you want three screens for an expanded work view? A fast technique to add images from an SD card? Are you seeking to plug in a webcam, mic and streaming gentle, 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 contemplate the technology of these ports as nicely; even ports with the identical form can have totally different capabilities. Right here’s a short overview of the connectivity totally different docking stations supply.

Monitor ports

Exterior displays usually want one in all three ports to connect with a PC: HDMI, DisplayPort or USB-C. HDMI connections are extra widespread than DisplayPort and the cables and gadgets that use them are typically extra inexpensive. The most well-liked model of the DisplayPort interface (v1.4) can deal with greater resolutions and refresh charges than the most typical HDMI model (2.0). All the docking stations with HDMI sockets that we suggest right here use model 2.0, which might 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 might deal with 8K at 60Hz or 4K at 120Hz.

You may also 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 may join straight. If in case you have an HDMI or DisplayPort-only monitor, you need to use an adapter or a conversion cable.

In fact, the variety of displays you may 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 convey down these numbers as nicely. You should definitely additionally use cables that help the bandwidth you’re hoping for. MacOS customers ought to remember 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 supply just a few USB Kind-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.

Kind-C USB ports are available 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 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 differ from port to port, however most docks listing 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 elements just like the cables you utilize and the gadgets you’re transferring information to.

Almost each dock accessible in the present day connects to a pc through USB-C, usually Thunderbolt, and people host ports are practically all the time labeled with a laptop computer icon. In addition they permit energy supply to your laptop computer: accessible wattage varies, however most docks are rated between 85 and 100 watts. That must be sufficient to maintain most computer systems powered — and it additionally means you received’t must take up an additional laptop computer connector for charging.

Different ports

None of our at the moment recommended laptops embrace 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, nevertheless it may take working a primary velocity comparability test to actually get it on a intestine degree. For reference, on Wi-Fi I get a few 45 megabit-per-second obtain velocity. Over Ethernet, it’s 925 Mbps. When you pay for a high-speed plan, however solely ever join wirelessly, you’re most likely leaving a whole lot of bandwidth on the desk. Each docking station I examined contains an Ethernet port, and it may very well be the connector you find yourself getting essentially the most use out of.

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

While you’re counting up the ports to your new dock, do not forget that most corporations embrace the host port (the one which connects to your pc) within the complete quantity. So in case you’re in search of a dock with three Thunderbolt connections, be sure you examine whether or not one in all them might be used to plug in your laptop computer.

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

Picture by Amy Skorheim / Engadget


Most docking stations have both a lay-flat or upright design. Most docks put the extra “everlasting” connections in again — comparable 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 the port can ship the ability you want). USBs within the rear are greatest for keyboards, mice, webcams and different stuff 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 once you return to your desk, however a number port in again could look neater total.

How we examined

We began out by on-line critiques, spec sheets from numerous manufacturers and docking stations that our fellow tech websites have coated. We thought-about manufacturers we’ve examined earlier than and have favored, and weeded out something that didn’t have what we contemplate a contemporary suite of connections (comparable 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 totally different peripherals together with a 4K and an HD monitor, a 4K and an HD webcam, plus USB gadgets like a mouse, keyboard, streaming gentle and mic. I plugged in wired earbuds, and transferred information to a USB-C flash drive and an exterior SSD. I ran primary velocity exams on the Ethernet connections in addition to the file transfers. I judged how straightforward the docks have been to make use of in addition to the varied design elements 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 file).

Picture 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 totally 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 can 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 together 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 commonplace 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. If in case you have a Mac with a typical chip and want two displays, you will want a docking station that helps DisplayLink {hardware} and software program, such because the Kensington SD4780P, which is our prime decide for Chromebooks.

For the reason that 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 essentially the most sense to simply use the MagSafe connector on the laptop computer, however you may also provide energy to the dock utilizing the non-data USB-C port and it’ll go 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 may very well be used for a dongle mouse and a streaming gentle — that’s possible 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. However it’s an incredible alternative for extending productiveness in a method that tucks beneath a MacBook, neatly shifting the cords to the again of the machine and out of the way in which.


  • 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

Picture 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 many who need the additional velocity 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 collection of ports than a few of the others I examined. It offers you two Thunderbolt 4 connections, one for the host and one for equipment, plus a further 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 case you want three extra displays or have an 8K display screen, you may 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 machine itself has a strong really feel and a lovely steel design. My solely gripe is with the lay-flat orientation and that almost half of the ports are on the entrance edge — I feel upright docks that preserve most connections round again have an total 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 with no mount

$200 at Amazon

Picture 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 number 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 gadgets and two 3.5mm jacks, one for audio in and one for audio out. One space the place the dock could really feel missing is in show inputs. It solely has one DisplayPort 1.4, nevertheless it has loads of TB4 ports, which you’ll be able to simply use to outfit a full command middle (in case 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 case you’re paying for a screaming-fast web plan, this dock can assist you benefit from 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 suitable with a Chromebook. I examined learn/write speeds on a Samsung T7 SSD through a Thunderbolt port and received 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 total 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 allow me plug in each single peripheral I had available without delay. When you’ve received a lot 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

Picture 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 soar. Discovering a docking station that works with ChromeOS is hard; of the 12 items I examined, solely 4 linked in any respect with the Acer Chromebook Spin 514, and a type of 4 couldn’t run two displays. The SD4780P makes use of a USB-C host connection, by way of which it gives 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 in a position to make use of each a webcam and mic on the identical time. Meaning you’ll want to make use of your Chromebook’s built-in ports in order for you greater than a type of forms of gadgets arrange. The plastic construct makes it look slightly low cost and I’m not loopy concerning the lay-flat design, however the host port is within the again, which can make your setup neater. If all you’re in search of is a technique to get just a few additional displays and use your wired USB equipment, this can be a good decide 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

After I pulled the Plugable TBT4-UDZ Thunderbolt 4 out of the field, I used to be satisfied it could make the minimize: It has a sensible upright design, a lovely steel 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 usually $235), the Anker 575 USB-C may make for an excellent funds decide for Home windows. It carried out nicely with the Dell XPS 13 Plus, however had hassle with the third display screen, the 4K webcam and headphone jack when linked to the MacBook Professional. It’s fairly compact, which implies it will possibly get wobbly when a bunch of cables are plugged in, nevertheless 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 practically the identical ports because the AD2010 (minus the microSD slot) and a lovely rounded design — nevertheless it’s $90 extra, so I’d solely suggest getting it in case you discover it on sale.

Acer USB Kind-C Dock

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


Are docking stations price it?

Docking stations are price it in case you have extra equipment to plug in than your laptop computer permits. Say you might have a USB-C digicam and mic, plus a USB-A mouse, keyboard and streaming gentle; only a few trendy 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 case you simply want just a few additional USB sockets, you is likely to be higher off going with a hub, as these are typically cheaper.

How a lot does a laptop computer dock price?

Laptop computer docking stations are typically larger and costlier than easy USB-A or USB-C hubs, due to the broader array of connections. Yow will discover them as little as $50 and so they can get as costly as $450. An inexpensive worth 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 offered cable to connect with your pc. After that, you may join your peripherals to the dock and they need to be prepared to make use of along with your laptop computer. A number of docking stations, notably people who deal with extra complicated monitor setups, require a driver. The directions that include your dock will level you to an internet site the place you may obtain that companion software program.

Does a laptop computer cost on a docking station?

Almost all docking stations can help you cost your laptop computer by way of the host connection (the cable working 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 go on between 65W and 100W of energy to laptops, and practically all embrace a DC adapter.

Are all docking stations suitable with all laptops?

No, not all docking stations are suitable 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 listing which manufacturers and fashions they work with on the web product web page — be sure you additionally examine the technology of your laptop computer as some docks can’t help sure chips.

What are some well-liked 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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