What are best docking stations for my laptop?
Update 15 February 2017: We've refreshed this list to ensure you're still getting the absolute best docking stations for your laptop.
Using a docking station with your laptop can effectively turn it into a desktop. Connect external monitors, printers, and other office devices to maximize efficiency and output. Want to know which laptop docking station is best for you? Here's a roundup of the best docking stations you can get right now.
Plugable USB-C triple display docking station
Your laptop connects via USB-C with power delivery to charge your laptop while you work; connect also your mouse, keyboard, headphones, microphone, and up to three external displays, and you'll still have ports to spare. It has both USB 3.0 and USB-C ports, so you can combine products that use both ports, and you can connect a 4K monitor. Laptop Mag made this dock their top pick:
Between its support for both charging and video over USB Type-C, along with its ability to output at 4K, you won't need to replace this peripheral for a long time.
If you're looking for the most versatile laptop dock that will change your laptop into a desktop, you have to go with the Plugable USB-C triple display docking station — it starts at about $180. Windows, MacOS, and Linux are all supported.
Plugable USB-C docking station
If you like the idea of Plugable's triple-display dock, but don't need quite as much screen, this mid-range option will likely suit you well. On the front, it has two USB 3.0 ports, a USB-C port, plus 3.5mm headphone and microphone jacks. On the back, you'll find another USB-C port, an Ethernet port, an HDMI port, and two USB 2.0 ports. PCMag named this dock an Editor's Choice, saying:
The Plugable USB-C Docking Station With Power Delivery give you a greatest-hits lineup of common ports, and at $129 it's cheaper than some of the other docks out there.
Expect to get a 30Hz refresh rate when using a 4K monitor — anything else will hit 60Hz. If you don't need three external displays but also like to have some USB-C functionality, check out this dock from Plugable.
Plugable UD-3900 USB 3.0 docking station
Likened to be the smaller sibling of the Plugable USB-C triple display dock, the Plugable UD-3900 still has quite a few features for a low price — about $95.
If you don't think you'll need three displays or a 4K monitor, the Plugable UD-3900 will be a great low-cost option — Laptop Mag named it their top pick for a cheap dock:
It managed everything we threw at it without experiencing any lag, even when we paired it with a laptop with meditocre specs. Simply put, the performance was impressive for the price.
It has four USB 2.0 ports, an Ethernet port, a DVI port (60Hz), and an HDMI port (50Hz at 1440p, 60Hz at 1080p) on the back, as well as two USB 3.0 ports on the front for quick, easy access. Connect your laptop through a USB 3.0 cable, then connect up to two external displays, as well as a keyboard, mouse, and headphones. Even after all these connections, you'll still have ports left open.
Dell D3100 USB 3.0 docking station
Are you looking for a dock with 4K support and a sleek profile? Dell has you covered with their D3100 dock that connects to your laptop via a USB 3.0 cable. It doesn't support USB-C, but for the price — about $130 — it remains a contender. Laptop Mag named it an Editor's Choice in their review, going on to say:
Users who want to connect over USB Type-C will need to buy a dongle, but otherwise, the D3100 is an inexpensive and compelling option that will work with most of today's computers.
This thing has enough ports for all your office's devices and supports up to three external monitors — one in 4K, the other two in 1080p. There's also an Ethernet port and a handful of USB 3.0 and 2.0 ports; low-end laptops might see minor performance issues, but otherwise the Dell D3100 will keep everything running smoothly no matter how much stuff you have plugged in.
Targus 4K docking station
The Targus 4K docking station does something the other docks on this list don't do: it can act as an angled support for your laptop while it sits on your desk. It has a rubberized surface that keeps your laptop in place while you type, and, of course, it has a ton of ports.
Your laptop connects through a USB Micro-B port located on the back of the dock. Connect a 4K monitor through a DisplayPort (30Hz), or connect dual monitors through DVI ports (60Hz). There is also an Ethernet port, six USB 3.0 ports — one with enabled charging — and an audio jack.
This is a great dock for those of you with an already crowded workspace. Place it beneath your laptop, reduce strain on your wrists, and get to work. It starts at about $150.
Lenovo ThinkPad OneLink Pro Dock
Those of you currently enjoying one of Lenovo's fine laptops might want a docking station that matches — enter the Lenovo OneLink Pro. Designed for older E-series and Yoga laptops, this dock connects to your laptop through Lenovo's proprietary OneLink port.
There are two USB 3.0 ports and a 3.5mm jack on the front, and on the back there are two more USB 3.0 ports, two USB 2.0 ports, an Ethernet port, a DVI port that supports up to 1200p, and a DisplayPort that supports up to 1600p. PCMag, in their review, said:
Obviously, this product will be limited to those who have compatible Lenovo laptops, but if you're one of them, it's a pretty good solution at a decent price.
This dock must be plugged into a wall outlet, but it charges your laptop when plugged in. If your Lenovo laptop is a bit newer and has a OneLink+ port, you can grab the upgraded dock, compatible with the X1 Carbon, X1 Yoga, and more, but be warned: the majority of users claim it is not built to the same standards.