Best laptop docking stations of 2022 (2022)

Best laptop docking stations of 2022 (1)

The best laptop docking stations can make using your laptop so much more comfortable and convenient. They can instantly expand the functionality of your laptop, adding more ports and allowing you to connect external monitors - all while charging your laptop as well.

Docking stations can be particularly useful for remote workers and anyone who has now found they are working from home a lot more. These handy peripherals, like USB-C docks, can effectively turn your laptop into a feature-packed desktop replacement.

Slim and light laptops, like the MacBook, often come with a limited selection of ports, so these docking stations are an ideal solution if you struggle to plug in extra USB devices. This is why we've included several of the best MacBook docking stations in our roundup.

With this guide, we’ll dive into all the best laptop docking stations, comparing everything from power and style, to cost and connectivity to give you everything you need to stay productive and to turn your trusted laptop into a fully-featured work machine.

Make sure you check out our guide to the best laptops as well, where we highlight the top devices money can buy.

Best laptop docking stations of 2022 in full:

Best laptop docking stations of 2022 (2)

1. StarTech Thunderbolt 4 Dock

The most flexible docking station ever?

Specifications

Ports: 4 Thunderbolt 4 (USB 4.0), 1 Gigabit Ethernet, 3 USB 3.2 Type-A, 1 USB 2.0, audio jack, SD slot

Reasons to buy

+

Thunderbolt 4

+

96 watts charging

+

3x downstream TB4 ports

Reasons to avoid

-

Expensive for a docking station

StarTech already makes some handy equipment for those that use Thunderbolt and USB technology to its limits.

Being slightly late to the Thunderbolt 4 party, StarTech has created a dock that delivers maximum flexibility for users and enough charging power to handle the most demanding laptops.

With 96W of power available for the host system and 15W each for the three Thunderbolt downstream connections and more for triple USB 3.2 Gen 2 ports, this dock is hardly underprovisioned.

The designer aimed to make it sufficient for the needs of every user, irrespective of if they need to connect displays, storage, or any other peripherals.

The only catch to this flexible approach is that to connect displays over Thunderbolt technology, additional cables or adapters are needed, adding extra expense to what is already a very pricey option.

A stylish and well-considered design, the StarTech Thunderbolt 4 dock is excessively priced, and other makers, like OWC, deliver much the same connectivity for a fraction of the price.

Read the full review: StarTech Thunderbolt 4 Dock

Best laptop docking stations of 2022 (3)

2. Targus USB 3.0 Dual Video Docking Station with Power

Great pick for those on the hunt for value

Specifications

Ports: USB 3.0, HDMI, DVI, USB 2.0, 2 3.5mm mini jack

Reasons to buy

+

Speedy USB 3.0 connections

+

Useful for storage

Reasons to avoid

-

Not a huge range of ports

-

USB-C connection needs adaptor

(Video) Best Laptop Docking Station of 2022 | The 5 Best Docking Stations Review

Targus offers this Dual Video Docking Station which won’t break the bank, and comes with integrated laptop recharging facilities that are compatible with most 90W notebooks. So even if you’ve forgotten your charger, you’ll be good to go with this nifty device. It's also handy if you're a bit short of socket space as you'll only need to use one plug.

You can hook up two displays to this dock, and in terms of ports, you get a pair of USB 3.0 ports, alongside a pair of USB 2.0 connectors, plus two powered USB 2.0 ports, and Gigabit Ethernet. Targus also offers a Multiplexer Adaptor which makes this docking station USB-C compatible.

One drawback is that setup isn't as simple as plug-and-play, especially for Windows users who'll need to install the drivers via CD, or source them online.

Best laptop docking stations of 2022 (4)

3. Kensington USB 3.0 Docking Station

Ideal for dual Windows and MacBook use

Reasons to buy

+

Easy to use

+

High speed data transfers

Reasons to avoid

-

Some Windows 10 support issues

Kensington is a well-known and respected brand which has developed a reputation for its docking stations. Its latest USB 3.0 model can be used with MacBook or Windows laptops.

This device will let you transform one USB port into six (it sports four USB 2.0 ports around the back, and a pair of USB 3.0 affairs on the front). You also get a DVI connector and adapters to use it with either HDMI or VGA leads, and there’s an optional multi-display adapter for hooking up more than one monitor.

Some users have reported that Windows 10 doesn't always automatically recognize it, so you may need to download new drivers from the Kensington support page.

It sits nicely next to your laptop, and is affordably priced – it really is one of the best laptop docking stations around right now.

Read our review of the best portable SSD of 2022

Best laptop docking stations of 2022 (5)

4. Toshiba Dynadock V3.0+

Great for Windows users

Specifications

Ports: USB 3.0, DVI, Ethernet port

Reasons to buy

+

Upright design saves space

+

Competitive pricing

Reasons to avoid

-

Lack of ports

Toshiba is another big tech name that makes laptop docking stations. The Dynadock V3.0 is one of the firm’s most popular offerings, and is targeted at Windows laptop users who want to benefit from expanded capabilities, not to mention a compact design.

Like most docking stations nowadays, the Dynadock offers USB 3.0 ports - you get four of these here. There is also a DVI connector (with adapters for HDMI or VGA) along with an Ethernet port, and the dock uses one cable connection for ease-of-use and portability. And because the Dynadock sports an upright design, it’ll fit nicely on even the most cramped desk environment.

Gamers will be pleased with the Dynadock's ability to support monitors with a video resolution of up to 2048 x 1152 pixels, while the device also comes with a security lock slot for additional peace of mind.

Best laptop docking stations of 2022 (6)

5. ORICO Thunderbolt 3 M.2 Dual-bay Docking Station

Niche choice for those needing M.2 SSD drives

Specifications

Ports: 2 Thunderbolt 3, 1 USB 3.1 Gen 1, 2 USB 3.1 Gen 2, Gigabit Ethernet, audio jack, DisplayPort

Reasons to buy

+

M.2 internal drives

+

Plenty of ports

(Video) Top 3 Best Laptop Docking Stations in 2022 👌

Reasons to avoid

-

Only 60W charging

The unique feature of this ORICO docking bay is that it can take M.2 SSD drives and make them available to any connecting alongside all the other peripherals that this dock can accept.

However, you don’t get the same performance as an internally connected NVMe drive over Thunderbolt, and the two slots can’t both be used for NVMe PCIe drives, as the second slot can only accept an M.2 SATA SSD.

The best speeds are likely to be around 2750MB/s reads, and 1500MB/s writes, irrespective of the M.2 NVMe drives installed in this dock.

What might be more of an issue is that the charging limit for connected laptops is just 60W, making it suitable for only thin Ultrabook designs that don’t have discrete GPUs onboard.

With a high MSRP and a collection of use caveats, the ORICO Thunderbolt 3 M.2 Dual-bay Docking Station might be playing to something of a niche interest group, even if it is beautifully made.

Read the full review: ORICO Thunderbolt 3 M.2 Dual-bay Docking Station

Best laptop docking stations of 2022 (7)

6. Microsoft Surface Dock

Top pick for Microsoft Surface users

Specifications

Ports: 2 x Mini DisplayPort, Gigabit Ethernet, 4 x USB 3.0, audio-out jack

Reasons to buy

+

Looks neat and stylish

+

Ideal for Microsoft Surface products

Microsoft is a company known primarily for its software prowess, but in recent years, it has been increasingly working on the hardware front. The Surface line-up of tablet hybrids demonstrates this perfectly. If you own one, you’ll be happy to learn that you can also reap the rewards offered by a docking station.

The Surface Dock will let you turn your Surface convertible into a fully-fledged desktop PC. It’s compatible with the Surface Pro 3, Surface Pro 4 and Surface Book. Connectivity-wise, there are two Mini DisplayPorts, one Gigabit Ethernet port, four USB 3.0 ports and an audio-out jack.

The sleek, minimalist, black design will look sharp in most home offices, and if you own a Surface laptop it's easy to see why you would want to stick to the theme. Having said all that, compared to some of the best laptop docking stations on this list, this dock doesn’t come particularly cheap.

Pair your dock with a stand for your screen, read our review of the best monitor stands

Best laptop docking stations of 2022 (8)

7. Dell USB 3.0 UHD Triple Video Docking Station

The Dell user's choice

Specifications

Ports: 3x USB 3.0, 2x USB 2.0, DisplayPort, 2x HDMI, Ethernet, 2 x audio jack

Reasons to buy

+

Nice design

+

4K display support

Reasons to avoid

-

Works best with Dell products

-

More expensive than alternative products

Although - as this list of best laptop docking stations demonstrates - there are universal laptop docking stations out there, many models are built by manufacturers for their own notebooks.

Dell’s USB 3.0 dock exemplifies this. It works with most of the company’s latest laptops in the Inspiron series and, like much of the competition, uses USB 3.0 as the prevalent port – it has three USB 3.0 connectors, along with two USB 2.0 ports.

As the name suggests, 4K screens are catered for, and you get a DisplayPort along with a pair of HDMI ports, meaning you can hook up a total of three external monitors (one of them 4K) if you wish. Dell bundles an HDMI to DVI adapter, to support older displays still using DVI, and this dock also boasts an Ethernet port along with audio/headphone jacks.

Best laptop docking stations of 2022 (9)

8. Wavlink Universal Docking Station

Great for multi-screen users

Specifications

Ports: 2 x USB 3.0, 4 x USB 2.0, HDMI, Ethernet, audio

Reasons to buy

+

Supports HMDI and DVI/VGA

+

6 USB ports

+

Budget pricing

Reasons to avoid

-

Only one year warranty

(Video) 5 Best Docking Station For Laptop 2022

The Wavlink Universal Docking Station is a very versatile piece of kit that is compatible not just with Windows machines but also Intel-based Macs. It includes dual display outputs for monitors, and it supports HMDI and DVI/VGA displays with resolutions of up to 2048 x 1152. In theory this means you can expand you laptop to have three display monitors.

There are also no less than six USB ports, two of which are Superspeed USB 3.0, with the other four being USB 2.0 for use with other hardware such as printers, keyword, scanner, or a digital camera. There's also an Ethernet port, as well as earphone and mic audio sockets. This is a strong and flexible piece of hardware that comes in at a surprisingly low price.

The only slight drawback is the warranty that covers you for only a year.

On the hunt for a printer to go? Read our review of the best portable printers

Best laptop docking stations of 2022 (10)

9. Corsair TBT100 Thunderbolt 3 Dock

Great pick for power and ports

Specifications

Ports: 2x HDMI 2.0, Ethernet, 2x USB Type A, 2x USB-C, 3.5mm, SD card reader, Kensington lock

Reasons to buy

+

85W charging

+

Can connect up to two monitors

Reasons to avoid

-

Possible intermittent disconnections

If you’re willing to splurge on the docking station, Corsair’s TBT100 is an excellent option with a host of ports that will let you connect up to two 4K monitors, two USB-C devices, and a UHS-II SD card reader, to start. It also offers 85W charging ideal for 15-inch laptops and smaller. That’s while keeping things slim in the form factor department.

It's a nice looking piece of kit, with the Corsair designers having added a subtle curve along the top to avoid the common laptop dock pitfall of looking like a swimming pool diving brick.

It’s not a perfect dock, and Corsair’s quality control could be better as some users have experienced intermittent disconnections, but those without issues have a robust docking station ideal for multi-tasking.

Read the full review: Corsair TBT100 Thunderbolt 3 Dock

Best laptop docking stations of 2022 (11)

10. J5Create JUD500 USB 3.0 Ultra Station

Perfect for machine to machine sharing

Specifications

Ports: 2x USB 3.0, USB 2.0, VGA, HDMI, Ethernet, 2 x audio jack

Reasons to buy

+

Slimline design

+

'Wormhole' feature

Reasons to avoid

-

Some users may not like the bolt-on design

The J5Create Ultra Station is a neat and compact dock indeed, being a thin bar which you can attach to the back of your notebook. It provides a variety of connectivity options for Windows laptops and MacBooks: you get a pair of USB 3.0 ports (one of which has power for charging) and a USB 2.0 port, along with VGA and HDMI ports, Ethernet, plus speaker and mic jacks.

However, that’s not all. There’s also a nifty ‘wormhole’ USB connection that allows you to hook up another computer – as well as your initial laptop – and do things like share files by simply dragging and dropping them across from machine to machine. This can also be used to share your keyboard and mouse between devices, and works cross-platform (i.e. you can hook up and share things between a Windows notebook and MacBook).

(Video) 5 Best Laptop Docking Station 2022

Best laptop docking stations of 2022 (12)

11. Plugable UD-3900 Universal Laptop Docking Station

Budget option for high-res HMDI

Specifications

Ports: 2 x USB 3.0, 2 x USB 2.0, HDMI, Ethernet, audio

Reasons to buy

+

Low cost model

+

Good display resolution

Reasons to avoid

-

Limited display support

-

Windows only

The Plugable USB 3.0 Universal Laptop Docking Station for Windows makes for a strong budget option for those who want extra connections. The specs include a SuperSpeed USB 3.0 (5Gbps) link from PC to dual video, as well as connections for Ethernet, audio input/output, and two USB 3.0 ports. The HDMI port can support a single display of up to 2560x1440, though if two displays are set up this reduces the maximum resolution to 1920x1200.

However, it is only compatible for Windows machines. Additional limitations are that it cannot be mixed with non-DisplayLink USB graphic adapters, such as MCT, j5, or SMSC. It also doesn't support DVI dual-link or Displayport connections, HDCP, or the playback of protected Blu-ray disks. Despite these limitations it's still a useful piece of budget hardware that's good for many uses.

Tend to stand while you work? Check out our review of the best standing desk mats

Best laptop docking stations of 2022 (13)

12. Beelink Expand X Smartphone Docking Station

For those looking to transform your smartphone into a desktop PC

Specifications

Ports: 2 x USB 2.0, 2 x USB Type-C, 2 x USB 2.0, 2 x USB Type-C, 1 x micro USB, 1 x HDMI x micro USB, 1 x HDMI

Reasons to buy

+

Superb build quality

+

Loads of ports

Reasons to avoid

-

Only USB 2.0 ports

Although this is a buying guide for best laptop docking stations, we believe that the Beelink Expand X merits a special mention due to its usefulness and unique characteristics.

Instead of a laptop, this innovative docking station transforms your smartphone - within seconds - into a full-fledged, keyboard-toting, monitor-equipped desktop PC. If you liked Samsung Dex, you will like this similar effort from Beelink. It has a unique feature that allows a single keyboard and mouse to control your smartphone-turn-PC and a traditional laptop or PC, without the need to unplug dongles.

If you want to have a second PC up and running fast with switched on wireless connectivity and hybrid working is the new paradigm you’re embracing, then the Expand X should be high on your list.

Read the full review: Beelink Expand X

What is a laptop docking station?

Quite simply, a docking station is a piece of hardware that allows a user to convert their portable laptop into a more rigid desktop computer.

It works by allowing a user to connect their laptop to other hardware typical of a desktop PC, including a monitor, keyboard, mouse, printer, and external drives. While this, naturally, reduces the portability of your laptop, it does offer the significant advantages provides by a desktop computer, including more comfort and increased visibility provided with a larger screen.

And with docking stations as easy to unplug from as they are to plug into, they provide a laptop owner with the best of both worlds.

How to choose the best laptop docking station for you

Before deciding on which of the best laptop docking stations to go for, you'll need to consider a number of features and functions provided by those on this list.

Laptop docking stations provide a variety of connectivity options and ports, and some even come with the advantage of being able to charge your laptop whilst it is plugged in. For those with a shortage of socket space, this could swing the balance.

Design tends to vary between upright or horizontal, though there are some in this list that show an additional aesthetic flair that may be important to some who take pride in the look of their home office. Lastly, you'll have a budget in mind so make sure to take that into account when whittling down your choices - prices can contrast wildly.

The best laptop docking stations: How we test

We've taken into account a number of key factors in order to whittle down to our list of best laptop docking stations. Given how often you'll be plugging your laptop in and out of the docking station, ease of connectivity is a must, and we've listed all accompanying ports with each station, and noted where some docking stations offer more choice over others. A robust build is another fundamental aspect, and we've noted those that seem built for endurance.

Although it is of course subjective, we've also considered design and style, along with other bonus features such as whether the docking station charges your laptop at the same time. Finally, we also made where docking stations boasted versatility between laptops, versus those that have been designed specifically for certain brands.

  • Check out the best gaming laptops

Brian has over 30 years publishing experience as a writer and editor across a range of computing, technology, and marketing titles. He has been interviewed multiple times for the BBC and been a speaker at international conferences. His specialty on techradar is Software as a Service (SaaS) applications, covering everything from office suites to IT service tools. He is also a science fiction and fantasy author, published as Brian G Turner.

With contributions from

  • Collin ProbstB2B Hardware Editor, TechRadar Pro
(Video) TOP 5 BEST LAPTOP DOCKING STATIONS 2022

FAQs

Are laptop docking stations worth it? ›

Docking stations give laptop users the best of both worlds. They allow portability whilst easily enabling employees to work at an office desk. A USB docking station turns your laptop into a desktop powerhouse, providing full connectivity to monitors, LAN, the internet, printers, and more.

Can I use any docking station for my laptop? ›

The laptop must have either a Thunderbolt 3 or 4 port (which can supply up to 100 watts for PCs, or 85 watts for MacBooks) or a USB Type-C port that explicitly supports Power Delivery (PD) over the port you want to use for the connection to the dock.

Do docking stations improve laptop performance? ›

Amidst this, a question arises – does a docking station improve performance? Absolutely yes, because it helps in boosting productivity with multi-display functionality and ports availability. Docking station benefits are many, but one can easily make mistakes when buying a universal docking station for a laptop.

Are docking stations obsolete? ›

As a result of these constant updates, laptop dock deployments eventually become obsolete as the standard they're built on becomes too slow to support the latest monitors, peripherals, and accessories.

What are the disadvantages of a docking station? ›

What are the drawbacks of using a docking station?
  • Docking stations require a compatible laptop.
  • Docking stations require additional accessories to function accurately.
  • Usually they are expensive.
  • It looks complicated to fix and install the docking station for the first time.

What's the difference between a docking station and a hub? ›

Hubs expand the number of ports on your device to connect and/or charge another peripheral. They work like power strips for your computer. Docking stations are plugged into the wall and transform your portable device into a desktop replacement. A dock is like adding a second engine to your computer.

Is a docking station necessary for dual monitors? ›

1-1 of 1 Answer. This system has one HDMI-Out port for one external monitor, you can use the laptop screen plus the external monitor for two screens. If you want two external monitors, you will need to use a dock, like a universal USB port replicator.

Why are docking stations so expensive? ›

Expensive hubs can handle more and handle it much faster.

The most advanced USB-C docking stations have newer ports with technologies, like Thunderbolt 3, that support faster charging and faster data transfer. The more expensive the laptop accessory, the more likely it is to support a high-resolution monitor, too.

Can a docking station cause Internet issues? ›

A docking station sits between the printer and direct connectivity to the PC. This opens up the possibility for communication interference. We always recommend connecting a printer directly to a USB port on the physical PC.

Why do docking stations get hot? ›

Yes, this is normal and expected.

Both Thunderbolt and eSATA are high speed interfaces (10Gb/s and 6Gb/s, respectively). The ICs to handle these high speed signals can become very hot (temperatures as high as 200+ degree Fahrenheit or 90+ degree Celcius are allowed by the specifications) during operation.

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