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If you already have a laptop, you can turn into a feature-packed desktop substitute. A laptop docking station helps you extend the connectivity options of your notebook, making it an even more handy machine. With a universal docking station, you can attach your laptop to not only a wide variety of peripherals via the extra USB ports, but you can also hook up additional displays.
Ok, that’s not all about laptop docking stations, they come in different styles and varieties. We are going to get to the nitty gritty and help you pick the best from the lot.
Just like everything else docks too come in diverse tastes – read types-. Some have sleek designs, while others have designs only its manufacturers like. Okay, enough with the puns, let’s take a look at some of the major categories you will most likely run into.
Just like the name suggests, this laptop docking station is tailored down to be portable. In a nutshell, it is designed to be carried around instead of placing it on your desk. Mainly they are intended for people who are always on the move and need extra functionality and power for their laptops.
Desk Docking Station
It is more like the complete package. In most cases than not, it includes; a charging system, various ports (Ethernet and video connections) and even extra storage. Additionally, they may also include a figurative kind of dock where your insert your laptop.
Well, don’t be scared, a replicator is a kind of a port expander. It is used to expand the functionality of smaller laptops, for instance, an Ultrabook.
A replicator somewhat recreates common desktop ports and bequests them to your laptop. Yep, that’s all about replicators they don’t improve the functionality of your laptop, and connectivity choices offered can be limited.
The best way to describe a display stand, “a blend between a replicator and a laptop docking station but with added physical support.” A display stand may include a keyboard shelf alongside a raised platform for your laptop.
The main idea is just to bring that desktop feeling while you are using your laptop.
A Good Dock: Key Feature to Look Out For
Some docks do have an additional charging outlet via a priority connector. This will, of course, save you the need to regularly plugging and unplugging your charger.
USB Type C
When it comes to connectivity, USB is the standard. USB Type C aims at completely replacing all types of USB on both host and client devices. This is extremely crucial if you are planning on plugging external hard drives or similar options that may have already adopted the USB Type C tech.
Wired Net Connectivity
Wired connection is vital to boosting your network experience. When shopping for a laptop docking station look out for one that has an ethernet port.
Extra External Screen Support
Avid gamers or college student, for instance, may need to hook up to or more screens when building their gaming setups or researching for assignments. If you are one of them or maybe for another reason feel you may want to add an extra monitor, look out for docks that are compatible with multiple displays.
Our top picks
Please pay close attention to the description and ensure that your Laptop and OS is supported.
StarTech Thunderbolt 3 Docking Station (Windows Only) - Best Advanced Dock
- Thunderbolt 3 Dual-4K Docking Station for PC Laptops / Windows Only / Dual 4K Ultra HD
- This Thunderbolt 3 Dock is not compatible with any MacBooks, and is only compatible with Thunderbolt 3 port-equipped PC laptops
- Compatible w/ most Windows based Thunderbolt 3 equipped laptops & Ultrabooks incl Dell XPS 13 9350, Asus UX501VW, HP Zbook 15 G3, HP Zbook 17 G3, & Lenovo P50 / Thunderbolt 3 Docking Station / Dell Dock / Laptop Dock / Thunderbolt 3 USB-C Dock
- This Thunderbolt 3 dock is not designed to charge your host laptop
- Please Note: Your computer's Thunderbolt 3 ports might not function properly at first, and may require you to get the latest updates for your particular Thunderbolt 3 system. Certain monitors may be limited to 4K at 30Hz when connecting through DisplayPort incl: Dell P2715Q, Viewsonic VX2475Smhl-4K, Philips 288P6LJEB, LG 31MU97C-B, Asus PB287Q (these models will need to be set to 4K at 30Hz) Dell U2413 requires that MST be turned off to support 4K at 60Hz.
Plugable USB 3.0 Universal Laptop Docking Station (Windows Only, and Not For Gaming) - Best Affordbale Dock
- Provides SuperSpeed USB 3.0 (5Gbps) link from PC to dual video, gigabit Ethernet, audio input/output, and two USB 3.0 ports. (VIA VL811+ chipset with latest 9095 firmware. USB 2.0 backwards compatibility, plug and play, devices can be hot-swapped, supports USB over-current protection)
- HDMI port supports resolutions up to 2560x1440* and DVI/VGA port supports display resolutions up to 2048x1152 / 1920x1200; wired Ethernet port supports 10/100/1000Mbps speeds
- Full support for Windows 10, 8.1, 8, 7, & legacy XP systems. Surface RT, Mac OS X, and Linux/Unix are not supported. Docking station suggested for use with web and productivity software; not recommended for gaming
- *2560x1440 output only available when using a single HDMI display. If dual displays are connected, each will be limited to a maximum resolution of 1920x1200. 2560x1440 output requires a "High Speed" HDMI cable. 2560x1440 mode operates at a 50Hz refresh rate; all lower modes support 60Hz refresh. 2560x1440 output requires current DisplayLink drivers and attached monitor must natively support 2560x1440 via HDMI input
- We love our Plugable products, and hope you will too. All of our products are backed with a 1 year limited parts and labor warranty as well as Seattle-based email support
Anker Uspeed USB 3.0 Dual Display Docking Station (Windows, Mac, and Linux Supported) - Best Multi OS Dock
- Consolidate devices and connect to all of your peripherals at once via a single USB 3.0 cable. Supports Windows 10, 8.1, 8, 7, & legacy XP systems. Latest software for Mac, Android, Ubuntu on official DisplayLink website.
- Supports simultaneous HDMI and DVI displays, allowing you to expand your desktop to three monitors. Ethernet port supports 10 / 100 / 1000Mbps speeds.
- Automatic bandwidth prioritization of connected devices ensures smooth, stable operation, even when every port is full.
- Two USB 3.0 ports (one of which can charge at 5V / 1.5A) give you access to SuperSpeed data transfer rates of up to 5Gbps. Four USB 2.0 ports also available.
- Package includes: Anker USB 3.0 Docking Station, detachable base stand, 19V 2A AC power adapter, USB 3.0 cable, driver CD, user manual, quick installation guide.
Kensington Universal USB3.0 Dual Display Docking Station (Windows, Mac, and Surface Supported) - Best Universal Dock
- Universal USB 3.0 dock for laptops and Surface running Windows versions 10, 8.1, 8, 7 and Mac OS 10.13. DVI-to-VGA and DVI-to-HDMI adapters included for greater monitor compatibility
- Single display resolution of up to 2560x1600 (including QHD 2560x1440) via HDMI; Dual display resolution of up to 2048x1152 including 1080p video via HDMI, VGA or DVI
- 2 SuperSpeed USB 3.0 ports (backwards compatible to USB 2.0) that support high-speed data transfer up to 5Gbps
- 4 USB 2.0 ports for peripherals like a keyboard and mouse, printers, and other accessories
- Gigabit (10/100/1000) ethernet; external headphone and microphone jacks with Audio 2.0 for enhanced sound quality; 2 year warranty
Elgato Thunderbolt 3 Dock (Windows and Mac Supported) - Versatile Laptop Docking Station
- Connect everything to your MacBook Pro or Windows notebook at once
- Charge your MacBook Pro with up to 85 W through the same cable you use to connect
- Two ThunderboltTM 3 USB-C ports: extended versatility, including 5K display support,dual display support: up to 2x 4K resolution
- compatible with (Mac: macOS Sierra 10.12 or later ThunderboltTM 3 port , PC: Windows 10 or later ThunderboltTM 3 port)
- Three USB 3.0 ports: high-power device support for iPad, SuperDrive and more. 1x 3.5 mm Headphone Output (amplified analog stereo)
CalDigit TS3 - Thunderbolt 3 Dock (Compatible with 2016 Macbook Pro and Thunderbolt 3 Windows PCs)
- Charge up to 85W and expand your connectivity with a single Thunderbolt cable!
- Dual Thunderbolt 3 40Gb/s ports for daisy-chaining up to 5 Thunderbolt devices such as displays, monitors, external hard drives and RAIDs
- Dual Extended Monitors up to 4K at 60Hz, Single displays up to 5k at 60hz supported
- 2x Thunderbolt 3 Type C, DisplayPort, 3 x USB 3.1, 2 x eSATA 6G, Gigabit Ethernet, 3.5mm Audio in & out
- Compatible with 2016 Macbook Pro and Thunderbolt 3 Windows PCs
Pioneer USB C PD APS-DKPD01 Docking Station ( Windows and Mac Support) - Trusted Brand
- Compatible with USB-C and ThunderboltTM 3
- The Pioneer USB-C PD Dock is highly versatile and expandable. It provides three USB 3.1 Type A ports, two USB 3.1 Type-C ports, HDMI, DisplayPort, Ethernet and audio (input/output) to expand your laptop's connectivity.
- ULTRA FAST CHARGING: The rear USB-C port of provides 5V/3A (15W) power output charging over, two times faster than a standard USB 3.0 port. The front-facing USB 3.1 port delivers 5V/2.1A (10.5W) stand-alone fast charging, which is 133% faster than a standard USB 3.0 port.
- For Mac users-Dual mirrored monitors can be easily set up with the MacBook and the Pioneer USB-C PD Dock to support resolutions including 4K @ 30Hz, 2K @ 30Hz & 60Hz and Full HD 1080p @ 30Hz & 60Hz
Belkin F4U095tt Thunderbolt 3 Express Dock (Compatible with 2016 MacBook Pro running OS X Sierra or later. Not compatible with PC) - Best Docking Station For Mac
- Compatible with 2016 MacBook Pro running OS X Sierra or later. Not compatible with PC
- Some DisplayPort monitors on the market require extra steps to configure. For details see the Product Description below.
- True single cable docking solution: Connect 8 separate devices through a single Thunderbolt cable and daisy chain up to 5 Thunderbolt devices from the dock
- High speed: Transfer data at 40 Gbps transfer rates even when running multiple peripherals at once
- Two 4K displays: Dual 4K video output from both display port and thunderbolt 3 USB-C for a more detailed and life-like HD experience on two screens
Diamond Multimedia Ultra USB 3.0/2.0 Docking Station (Mac and Windows Supported) - Best Universal Dock
- Now with one simple cable connection to your computer, you can have access to large screen displays, stereo speakers, external hard drive, optical disk drive, printers, USB keyboard, mouse and other USB devices.
- Connectors: DVI, HDMI, RJ-45 Gigabit Ethernet Port, DC Power Jack, USB 2.0 Ports x 4, USB 2.0 Ports x 4, USB 3.0 B Female, 3.5mm Lineout/Mic input
- Chipset: Display Link DL-3900
- Number of Displays Supported : 2
- Max resolution : 2048 ×1152
Toshiba Dynadock V3.0 PA5082U-1PRP (Windows Only) - Best Universal USB 3.0 Docking Station
- One simple USB 3.0 cable connection from your laptop to all your accessories for maximum convenience; also USB 2.0 compatible
- Built-in video card supports display resolutions up to 2048 x 1152
- HDMI out port built-in for Full 1080 HD video and gaming
- Two 3.5mm audio ports: microphone in and headphone out
- Six USB ports in total. Front: Two (2) easy access USB 3.0 "Always On" Sleep & Charge ports to supply power to charge your phone, camera, MP3 player, etc. Back: Four (4) USB 2.0 ports.