A docking station is designed to make life easier for more complex laptop setups. These stations allow you to route monitor connections through your laptop, charge accessories, hold extra storage, and make your laptop a bit more functional. It’s an ideal solution for managing projects on multiple screens via a laptop, streaming games to an audience, important editing or design work, and more.
We’ve reviewed a lot of laptops and looked at a lot of various docking stations. Our top recommendation is the CalDigit TS3 Plus with Thunderbolt 3 support. It’s not the only solid choice for a docking station, though.
Note: With the latest ports and operating systems, compatibility with Windows 10 or MacOS isn’t really an issue. All our docking station picks work with both.
CalDigit TS3 Plus
This Thunderbolt 3 dock really does have a little of everything. It supports both Thunderbolt 3 and DisplayPort connections for up to two 4K, 60fps displays, with a second Thunderbolt 3 port provided for charging accessories or moving lots of data (ideal for photographers and similar jobs). The first Thunderbolt port provides 87 watts of power for charging a laptop, and the second 15 watts for charging smaller devices.
But that’s just the start: The station also includes five USB-A ports, two USB-C ports (both first and second generations), an optical audio port, and a 3.5mm headphone jack. There’s even a UHS-II SD card slot for expanding your storage capabilities if necessary.
All of this resides inside a well-designed aluminum case with an integrated heatsink. With all the port options, it’s a little bulky, but it’s hard to find a better solution for managing laptop connections.
Kensington SD5300T Thunderbolt 3 Docking Station
Don’t let the slim design of this Kensington station fool you: Inside is enough power to easily handle two 4K video connections or a 5K resolution single monitor. There’s one Thunderbolt 3 port (with compatible cable included) and one USB-C port, along with five USB 3.1 ports and a Gigabit Ethernet port. The headphone jack supports mics too, and there’s an SD card reader for easy storage expansion. All this combines into one easy-to-use station that even has VESA mounting holes for positioning it above a desk. For those who absolutely need an HDMI connection, a USB-C to HDMI adapter is included.
CaDigit USB-C Pro Dock
This excellent dock provides both USB-C and Thunderbolt 3 connections, but it can also work with USB-A ports if needed. Ten ports in total are available, including two DisplayPort, three USB 3.2 ports, Gigabit Ethernet, and a UHS-II SD card slot. The USB-A powered port also supports independent charging without needing to connect to anything else. Those two DisplayPort connections in particular make this dock stand out from the crowd — they can both support 4K, 60fps connections and are useful for all kinds of professional projects.
Targus 4K Universal Laptop Docking Station
This affordable Targus station is an excellent pick for those who have or appreciate smaller setups: If you don’t really need to connect to two UHD monitors at once, the dock supports a single 4K connection via DisplayPort. Those with older monitor ports will appreciate the DVI-I and DVI-D ports as well. There’s also a Gigabit Ethernet port (so you can reap the benefits of super speeds), five USB 3.0 ports, and one USB 3.0-powered port for charging devices as quickly as possible. The design also includes an integrated lock slot for securing the station when necessary and has an audio port for speakers, headphones, and microphones. It’s a versatile pick that those with specific monitor port requirements will appreciate.
Belkin Thunderbolt 3 Dock Mini
Bulky docking stations can be intrusive, luckily Belkin designed its mini docking station with a small footprint and an eye toward portability. Whether you’re mobile or just prefer a tidy work area, this dock stores easily in a laptop bag or pack when it’s not in use.
Despite its size, the dock can still handle dual 4K, 60fps displays via HDMI, plus a USB 3.0 and USB 2.0 port. There’s also a Gigabit Ethernet port for wired connections. However, unlike most of our docking station picks, there’s no 3.5mm headphone jack here, so you’ll have to find your headphone connection elsewhere.
Belkin offers its customers both a two-year manufacturer’s warranty for parts and a two-year manufacturer’s warranty for labor, added insurance if this dock is going to be doing a lot of work in a busy environment.
AmazonBasics USB 3.0 Universal Docking Station
Display ports have gone through quite a few updates over the years. Unfortunately, this makes docking stations that support legacy connections more uncommon. However, this dock from Amazon allows you to use many different displays and includes a DVI-to-VGA adapter so you can make older connections work if necessary.
The dock natively includes four USB 2.0 ports, two USB 3.0, and an RJ-45 Gigabit Ethernet for wired networks. Nine peripheral ports, a mix of both USB 3.0 and USB 2.0, aren’t the fastest connections around but provide support for additional accessories.
When you set up, follow the directions about downloading the necessary firmware for using this dock. You must install the DisplayLink driver before initial use. While the AmazonBasics model will not work with Linux, it does support the most common operating systems (iOS and Windows).
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