The 10 Best Laptop Docking Stations

Updated September 20, 2017 by Melissa Harr

10 Best Laptop Docking Stations
Best High-End
Best Mid-Range
Best Inexpensive
We spent 42 hours on research, videography, and editing, to review the top selections for this wiki. Today’s laptops are convenient, sure, but what happens when you have robust computing to do? Enter the laptop dock. Sometimes called port replicators, these devices connect an array of peripherals, including monitors, keyboards, and speakers, to create a productive desktop environment. As when purchasing any hardware accessory, read all technical specifications carefully to ensure compatibility. When users buy our independently chosen editorial picks, we may earn commissions to support our work. Skip to the best laptop docking station on Amazon.

10. Trendnet TU3-DS2

Finding the functionality you desire without breaking the bank may seem impossible — until you try the Trendnet TU3-DS2. This model is an all-around sturdy pick, from its space-saving design to its wide variety of ports to its fast, simple install for both Mac and Windows.
  • vertical white unit
  • comes with usb cable
  • issues possible with mac os
Brand TRENDnet
Model TU3-DS2
Weight 2.3 pounds
Rating 4.0 / 5.0

9. Anker USB 3.0

Get practicality and power with the Anker USB 3.0. This intelligent model does more than just unify your devices, it utilizes a smart chip for bandwidth prioritization, which makes for smooth operation no matter how many gadgets you plug in.
  • sits horizontally or vertically
  • not all features function on macs
  • windows 8 requires driver updates
Brand Anker
Model AK-68ANDOCKS-BA
Weight 2.1 pounds
Rating 4.0 / 5.0

8. Dell D3100

Amp up your productivity by using three external monitors with the Dell D3100; it features one DisplayPort and two HDMI slots. This model makes a strong selection for corporate environments, too, since it has Wake-on-LAN capability and a cable lock opening.
  • fast data transfer speeds
  • unobtrusive design
  • displayport may require adapter
Brand Dell
Model D3100
Weight 2.4 pounds
Rating 4.0 / 5.0

7. Targus ACP77USZ

The Targus ACP77USZ provides many of the same elements as others in its class, but it goes a step beyond with the ability to charge your 90w PC. A range of power tips are housed inside the device for convenience, and the dock itself can be used as a space-preserving stand.
  • works well with large monitors
  • led power indicator
  • could be difficult to configure
Brand Targus
Model ACP77USZ
Weight 3.6 pounds
Rating 4.2 / 5.0

6. Microsoft Surface Dock

If you love your Surface tablet but desire a desktop experience, the Microsoft Surface Dock might be just what you need. Use its four USB 3.0 ports to connect peripherals, such as a keyboard or mouse, and the two Mini DisplayPorts to connect additional monitors.
  • surfaceconnect cable
  • one audio output port
  • active adapters best for display
Brand Microsoft
Model PD9-00003
Weight 2.5 pounds
Rating 4.1 / 5.0

5. Kensington SD3500v

Extend your desktop or clone it with the Kensington SD3500v, an upright device that has HDMI out, DVI out, and two front USB 3.0 and four rear USB 2.0 ports. The unit also produces clear, high-quality sound through Audio 2.0 and is compatible with both Mac and Windows.
  • has a small footprint
  • a trusted brand
  • mountable style also available
Brand Kensington
Model K33972US
Weight 2 pounds
Rating 4.4 / 5.0

4. Toshiba Dynadock

Have you been searching for a quality audio experience along with wide peripheral support? Then you might choose the Toshiba Dynadock and its 5.1 surround sound capabilities that function through both the 3.5mm jacks and the HDMI port. The latter supports 1080p HD, too.
  • two charging usb ports
  • dual monitor capacity
  • sits on sturdy base plate
Brand Toshiba
Model PA3927U1PRP
Weight 2.8 pounds
Rating 4.1 / 5.0

3. Elgato Thunderbolt 2

Ultrabook and MacBook users love the Elgato Thunderbolt 2, which contains an HDMI port that can handle 4K resolution; create dual monitors by adding a Thunderbolt display. Use the USB ports to charge your devices — even when your computer is not connected or is off.
  • audio ports handily located in front
  • sleek and stylish design
  • eject all storage simultaneously
Brand Elgato
Model 1TS108901002
Weight 2.1 pounds
Rating 4.6 / 5.0

2. Plugable UD-3900

The Plugable UD-3900 is the durable, versatile choice for home and business needs. It has two monitor ports, one HDMI and one DVI; an Ethernet port that supports both gigabit and 10/100; a speaker output jack; a microphone line in; and six USB ports — two 3.0 and four 2.0.
  • includes passive dvi-to-vga adapter
  • supports a range of resolutions
  • quick and simple set up
Brand Plugable
Model UD-3900
Weight 1.9 pounds
Rating 4.6 / 5.0

1. Startech TB3DK2DPWA

The Startech TB3DK2DPWA offers Windows users the ability to powerfully join an assortment of gizmos, all through one Thunderbolt 3 connection. Use the dual 4K video outputs to enhance your productivity, whether you’re working in a home office or hot-desking.
  • durable aluminum case
  • perfect for creative professionals
  • fast-charge usb capacity
Brand StarTech
Model TB3DK2DPWA
Weight 2.7 pounds
Rating 4.6 / 5.0

Total Connectivity At All Times

Computers are smaller, faster, and more integrated with our lives today than ever before. Direct evidence of this can be found in the high performance and utility of today's most advanced portable devices. Tablet PCs, for example, are gaining popularity in gaming and VR applications thanks to the increased power of their state-of-the-art chipsets. More people than ever in the history of personal computing are ditching desktop boxes and going fully mobile, with lightweight ultrabooks able to approach the performance levels of high-end desktops from just a short time ago.

The capabilities of today's home computers are truly impressive. Peripheral devices of nearly endless variety can attach via USB cable. Network and video data protocol has been standardized to the point of using a single type of ethernet or HDMI connector on every modern modem and television. Digital storage increases in capacity and speed as we speak. But the slickest ultralight laptops and fastest tablets just don't have the physical space for all that tech.

And there are some situations where a 15-inch screen and a couple USB plugs just aren't going to get the job done.

For those instances, we turn to docking stations, often referred to as port replicators. These handy devices connect directly to your portable computer and offer a wide array of capabilities, mainly serving as sophisticated types of breakout boxes adapted for use with end-user computers. The expanded availability of today's most common adapters liberates super-thin notebook computers cursed with a limited port selection. As you'll see while searching for the right choice for your desk, there are (unsurprisingly) a lot of different features in the field.

The Benefits Of A Dock

Different docks are constructed to suit varying needs. Some styles stand upright on your desk, and some are designed to sit underneath your notebook computer itself. In that vein, some of the more involved models feature built-in fans to improve airflow and reduce temperature, increasing the performance and reliability of your machine. A select few models even have on-board chargers, so you won't even have to bend over and plug in your laptop's power adapter when you want to drop anchor and connect with your peripherals.

A number of popular laptop brands produce dedicated docks that fit with individual models of their computers. These are great choices if they're available. They often provide a sturdy physical base to add a heavier, desktop-like feel to your workspace, which can help you remain comfortable and focused when working for long periods of time. They can sometimes be a little pricey, but they're usually worth it.

While many people use wireless internet throughout their homes for both their laptop and desktop setups, this does have its drawbacks. When streaming HD video or connecting with your fellow gamers and racking up the frags, the latency and interference over the 802.11 band simply won't cut it. A wired connection to your modem is usually the best option in these cases. And the vast majority of docking stations do provide a physical ethernet plug.

What Can These Things Do?

The simplest types of replicators don't offer much in the way of bells and whistles. These are sometimes designed with specific uses in mind, such as web or video connections that a laptop can't otherwise accommodate. For that reason, they don't offer a huge improvement in connectivity like more comprehensive units do. While the basic style may have limited functionality, there's little chance of a bandwidth bottleneck forming between the adapters, ensuring the consistent throughput needed for things like live video streaming.

If your model of laptop doesn't have its own dedicated dock produced alongside it, you can look to a large selection of universal docking stations. In addition to providing easy access to physical network and video ports, a lot of these offer additional helpful features. Some units support multiple ultra-HD outputs, splitting your video among multiple high-res monitors or TV screens. A few such units even include on-board graphics and audio processors that can take over for underperforming laptop GPUs and support full 5.1-channel surround sound from a previously stereo-only computer.

In addition to the common HDMI port and a smattering of USB outlets, some docking stations offer more specialized i/o ports, like DisplayPort, mini DP, and even old-school-style PS2 connectors for use with legacy hardware.

Many models communicate using USB-C technology for optimum speed between the dock and your laptop. This is especially important when looking at models with a large number of different ports communicating with the docking unit's chipset. For that reason, some high-end stations incorporate dynamic technology that throttles bandwidth and prioritizes data across the device's connections, keeping the information flow smooth and preventing interruptions. This way your laptop can, for instance, reliably read a 4k video file from an external hard drive, process that video, and transmit it over HDMI through your docking station without experiencing any hiccups or loss of video quality.

Also, there's one very important note for Apple users: be certain of the capabilities of the docking station you choose, as some of them simply will not work with Macs. Others will work but with only partial functionality, as some features may be disabled. So, if you're hoping to connect your Macbook Pro on the fly, it's best to find a dock designed for your brand.

Whichever model you choose, it's sure to streamline the way you and your computer interact with data, media, storage, and playback devices, whether you're working hard at the office or unwinding at home.



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Last updated on September 20, 2017 by Melissa Harr

Melissa is a writer, editor, and EFL educator from the U.S. She's worked in the field since earning her B.A. in 2012, during which time she's judged fiction contests, taught English in Asia, and authored e-courses about arts and crafts. In her free time, she likes to make stuff out of sticks and string.


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