Best Laptop Docking Stations

Updated November 2019
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BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We only make money if you purchase a product through our links, and we never accept free products from manufacturers. Read more  
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.Read more 
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Why trust BestReviews?
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We only make money if you purchase a product through our links, and we never accept free products from manufacturers. Read more  
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We only make money if you purchase a product through our links, and we never accept free products from manufacturers. Read more  
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.Read more 
How we decided

We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.

43 Models Considered
8 Hours Researched
1 Experts Interviewed
503 Consumers Consulted
Zero products received from manufacturers.

We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.

Buying guide for best Laptop Docking Stations

Last Updated November 2019

Telecommuting is more prevalent in today’s workforce than ever before. With technological advances in communications and computing, the workplace is almost anywhere you want it to be. Making this transient work-life more convenient are laptop docking stations. They allow a laptop to become the hub of productivity, connecting it to numerous digital accessories at any work site. From printers, to external hard-drives and standalone monitors, a docking station turns any laptop into a more complete machine.

Most laptop owners have multiple devices at their home, and at their office, that they use on a regular basis. A good laptop docking station affords the user effortless switching between these locales without sacrificing convenience. A simple plug and go solution for workers on the go. What’s more, they deem most laptops more functional as they expand the number of USB outlets available to any worker.

Laptop docking stations are becoming standard in most office settings because of the need for mobility in the modern labor force.

Key considerations

As with most electronic components, the most important consideration when purchasing a laptop docking station is your primary use. Some people only need the docking station to connect to a monitor and external keyboard while at work. Others use it primarily for printing and scanning purposes. Docking stations offer a myriad of technical specifications for almost any purpose. Determine what your primary needs are and it will be far easier to choose the best docking station for you.

Once you’ve determined your needs, think about functionality and price. If you know the main specs you’re looking for in a docking station, then finding a good balance between those specs, and your “sweet-spot” price should be easy. Here are a few more useful considerations to help you flush out the best option.

Universal vs. model-specific

Many laptop docking stations are universal, meaning they can work with any laptop up to spec. Others are designed to be used with a specific type of laptop (Surface Pro, Thinkpad, etc.) If you know that you only plan to use the station for a specific type of laptop, then a universal station isn’t necessary, though it offers less flexibility should your computing situation change in the future.

Port options

Most laptop docking stations offer between two and six USB ports, but some offer even more for those who have the need. In addition to the number of ports, the format is important. If you need the ability to connect through VGA or a Thunderbolt cable, make sure that the dock you choose has those capabilities.

Video capacity

This is an option that many who don’t work with video editing or graphics may not pay attention to — until it’s too late. Not all laptop docking stations offer the highest level of video resolution. The most quality stations used for video editing offer Ultra HD 4K resolution. Most do not, so make sure to do your research if you think this may be something you need or want.

Power specs

Some laptop docking stations have their own power supply, powerful enough to charge peripheral devices. Others run of off of the power supplied by your laptop. Consider what accessories you will be running off of the station, and think about your power needs. Also make sure you have enough power outlets to plug in the station at your workspace.

Docking station design

The choice between a vertical and a horizontal station has as much to do with practicality as it does with personal choice. Your workspace will likely dictate the best option in terms of orientation, but individual preferences will enter into the equation as well. Make sure to look at the area in your workspace before deciding which dock will fit the best. In addition to orientation, it’s a good idea to measure the space you have for the docking station, then compare it to the spec measurements of the station you choose.

The Best of Both Worlds

While many docking stations claim to work with Apple products just as well as they do with their Windows counterparts, the Thunderbolt 3 dock truly delivers. The thin brushed aluminum body is a sturdy and stylish addition to any desktop and the dependable charging and dual monitor capability of this model makes it stand above the rest in its category. It comes through on promises where so many others fail.

Laptop docking station prices

Most of the variation in price concerns the technical capabilities of each station. If you don’t have a need for the higher capacity video editing stations, then you may not need to spend on the high end of the spectrum. It’s a good idea to use price as only one considering factor in making your choice, and not the only one.

Inexpensive: Most laptop docking stations can be found for just under $100 each. Most of the options in this category offer the basic needs for workplace functionality. For those who don’t need all the fancy bells and whistles, you should be able to find a good station for you within this range.

Mid-range: This includes the models between $100 and $200. In this range, more features become available, including a higher number of ports, and higher power capabilities. The mid-range stable of docking stations offer something for those who have more high-tech needs as well as those who need just the basics. There is an option for everyone in this price bracket.

Expensive: Models that are priced at $200 or more are great for anyone who wants to make sure they are never wanting for technical capabilities. These docking stations give the most options in terms of video capabilities and port options. Although they are the top dogs in the range, they are still just as easy to use for a tech newbie.

DID YOU KNOW?

Most modern laptop docking stations have both USB 3.0 and USB 2.0 ports. Understand the difference and you can utilize them to their maximum potential.

DID YOU KNOW?

Not all docking stations are able to work on Apple computers. Some are strictly Windows-based.

DID YOU KNOW?

Many tablet computers now have their own dedicated docking station models in order to get the most out of their unique touch-screen capabilities.

Tips

  • Find out what cables are provided with each station. Some only provide a single power cable, while others will give you multiple USB cables and even a Thunderbolt cable. You want to make sure you have everything you need to get started right away.
  • If you’ll be plugging in and out of your docking station regularly, place the station in an area that’s easily accessible. You wouldn’t want to have to crawl under your desk every time you plug in to work. Most docking stations are small, so they should fit comfortably on your desktop.
  • Some docking stations offer locking capability, so if you need that extra security, make sure to find one that is able to lock.

Powerhouse on a Budget

The WAVLINK USB 3.0 Universal Docking Station is a great choice for those who have basic docking station needs on a basic docking station budget. Though it doesn’t offer Ultra HD 4K resolution, the 1080p HDMI and DVI ports offer a high resolution alternative at a reasonable price. Its compact size gives you many options for placement at the workplace.

Other products we considered

With so many high quality laptop docking stations on the market, it’s hard to pick only a few. As mentioned above, every price range has a number of serviceable options for buyers. For example, the Plugable 3.0 Universal Laptop Docking Station is a great option for Windows users who want to purchase around the $100 mark. Its six USB ports will give you the option to connect to just about any device you would need. Another serviceable option is the Amazon Basics USB 3.0 Universal Laptop Docking Station. On the inexpensive end, this station offers a total of 9 peripheral ports for maximum usability. If you’re looking for a higher-end option, consider the WAVLINK USB C Dual 4K Universal Laptop Docking Station. Its 60 watt power delivery will give you all the power you need for any job.

Many Ultra HD 4K video editing is now done on laptops connected to large standalone monitors connected through 4K capable docking stations. This offers documentarians and cinematographers the ability to edit on the go.

FAQ

Q. Will the docking station charge my phone, etc.?
A.
The answer to this question depends on the individual station. Some supply enough power to charge your accessories, but others do not. Check the specs on your choice to see their power capabilities.

Q. Can I run dual monitors from every laptop docking station?
A.
No. As with the power capabilities, dual monitor options are available on some docking stations, but not others. Please check each product description to see if it meets your needs.

Q. Do all Laptop docking stations work with my Apple computer?
A. 
Not necessarily. Some docking stations are Windows only models, so make sure the one you choose is able to work with Apple systems.

The team that worked on this review
  • Jacob
    Jacob
    Editorial Manager
  • Melinda
    Melinda
    Web Producer

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