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 (opens in new tab) and anyone who has now found they are working from home a lot more. These handy peripherals, like USB-C docks (opens in new tab), 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 that’ll 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 (opens in new tab) as well, where we highlight the top devices money can buy.
Best laptop docking stations of 2022 in full:
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 (opens in new tab)
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.
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.
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.
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.
Like most docking stations nowadays, the Dynadock offers USB 3.0 ports, although more than many as 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.
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 (opens in new tab)
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. This dock doesn’t come particularly cheap, though.
Although there are universal laptop docking stations out there, of course, 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.
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.
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 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 (opens in new tab)
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).
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.
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. This docking station transforms your smartphone - within seconds - into a full-fledged, keyboard-toting, monitor-equipped desktop PC (opens in new tab). If you liked Samsung Dex (opens in new tab), you will like this one. It has a unique feature that allows a single keyboard and mouse to control your smartphone-turn-PC and a traditional laptop or PC. No 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 (opens in new tab)
- Check out the best gaming laptops (opens in new tab)
- We've also featured the best standing desk (opens in new tab).