The CalDigit TS3 Plus has an outstanding selection of ports and can charge your laptop with up to 85 watts of power, making it our top selection for a docking station.

Best Overall: CalDigit TS3 Plus

As modern Ultrabooks move to Thunderbolt 3 connectivity, laptop docks are changing to keep up. This dock from CalDigit is made from a solid piece of aluminum and has 15 ports that you can use to connect your peripherals, including 4K displays, keyboard, mouse, SD card, Ethernet cable, and more.

The dock itself has a small footprint — it can stand up vertically or sit horizontally — and it weighs in at just over one pound. The aluminum case is built strong, there's lifetime support, and a one-year warranty in case something goes wrong.

It can even deliver up to 85 watts of power to your laptop, and the cable here is 0.7 meters in length, though you can get a dock with a 2-meter cable for more money. It's nice knowing that your laptop will always be charged when you have to unplug it and hit the road. As long as your laptop has a Thunderbolt 3 port, this dock will eliminate the need for most other adapters and hubs you have lying around. Set it up on a desk, plug in a single cable, and watch your laptop become a full-fledged workstation.

Pros

  • 15 total ports
  • Up to 85W of power
  • Handles dual 4K displays at 60 Hz
  • UHS-II SD card reader
  • Sturdy build and small footprint

Cons

  • Laptop requires Thunderbolt 3
  • Cheaper options available

Best Overall

CalDigit TS3 Plus

Most ports and best performance

As long as your laptop has a Thunderbolt 3 port, CalDigit's TS3 Plus should be at the top of your list. It has a total of 15 ports, including five USB-A 3.1, two USB-C 3.1, DisplayPort 1.2, two Thunderbolt 3, Ethernet, S/PDIF, an SD card reader, and 3.5mm audio in and out.

Best Value: Plugable USB-A 3.0

Our top pick for a docking station comes at a high price, and if your laptop doesn't have a Thunderbolt 3 port, it's not going to work at all. Enter Plugable's USB-A 3.0 docking station, a relatively affordable alternative that is ideal for older laptops with only USB-A connectivity.

There's no 4K monitor support, but it will handle two 1080p external displays or one 1440p external display, allowing you to set up a workstation at home or at the office. Other than HDMI and DVI ports, this dock includes four USB-A 3.0, Ethernet, and two USB-A 3.0. It's all wrapped up in a package that stands vertically to save space on a crowded workspace.

Pros:

  • Ideal for laptops without USB-C or Thunderbolt 3
  • Affordable price
  • Plenty of ports
  • Vertical stand to save space
  • Supports two external monitors

Cons:

  • No 4K support
  • No charging

Best Value

Plugable USB-A dock

A cheaper dock that only requires a USB-A port

Those with laptops without USB-C or Thunderbolt 3 can take advantage of this relatively affordable dock from Plugable. It still has a great selection of ports and can be the centerpiece of a grounded workstation.

Best Modular Design: HP Thunderbolt Dock G2

HP's docking station has three USB-C, three USB-A 3.0, a Thunderbolt 3, two DisplayPort, VGA, RJ45 Ethernet, and a 3.5 mm audio jack, giving you plenty of options for connecting accessories. Rather than a flat boxy look, the G2 is more of a rounded cube that's quite compact, even though there's a detachable speaker module that sits on top. If you often find yourself in conference calls and find your laptop's speakers are lacking, this is the answer.

You get up to 100W of charging power back to devices, and the dock supports Wake-on-LAN, PXE boot, and MAC address passthrough for easy remote management. It's also capable of handling dual 4K displays at 60Hz. The only downside here is that the host cable is hard-wired into the device, so if it stops working you will likely have to replace the entire dock.

Pros

  • Includes a modular speaker
  • 100W of charging power
  • Plenty of ports
  • Compact design
  • Supports Wake-on-LAN, PXE boot

Cons

  • Speaker module adds cost
  • Host cable does not detach

Best Modular Design

HP Thunderbolt Dock G2

Modular speaker included

Connect your laptop with a Thunderbolt 3 cable for access to a bunch of extra ports, charging up to 100 watts, and a speaker module that lets you field calls or listen to music in your downtime.

Best USB-C: Dell D6000

Most laptops these days are including either USB-C or USB-A, and the Dell D6000 dock can connect to both. When connected with USB-C you get up to 65W of charging back to the host, and you get support for up to three 4K displays thanks to plenty of connectivity options. Ports include four USB-A 3.0, one USB-C, two DisplayPort, HDMI, a 3.5mm audio jack, RJ45 Ethernet, and a Kensington lock slot.

That's an impressive roundup of ports, and this dock will make a great option if you have a laptop with only USB-A now but plan on upgrading to something with USB-C in the near future. It's also a great way to save quite a bit of money compared to full Thunderbolt 3 docks, though you will get many of the same perks. The only thing to be wary of is that the host cable running back to your PC does not detach, so if it stops working you'll likely need to replace the entire unit.

Pros

  • Works with USB-C or USB-A
  • Up to 65W of charging
  • Supports multiple external monitors
  • Competitive price
  • Plenty of ports

Cons

  • No Thunderbolt 3 support
  • Main cable in not detachable

Best USB-C

Dell D6000

No need for Thunderbolt 3

If your laptop only has a USB-C or USB-A port, this dock is a far cheaper option than our top pick and still offers outstanding performance when it comes to external displays and charging.

Bottom line

The CalDigit TS3 Plus is our pick for best laptop docking station thanks to excellent performance across the board and a wide selection of ports that will turn your laptop into a future-proof workstation. Those who prefer something with more of an enterprise focus can check out HP's G2 dock with an audio module, and Plugable makes an affordable option that doesn't rely on Thunderbolt 3 or USB-C. Finally, Dell's D6000 is a high-performance choice for those with USB-C or USB-A but no Thunderbolt 3.

Credits — The team that worked on this guide

Cale Hunt Cale Hunt is a staff writer at Windows Central. He focuses mainly on PC, laptop, and accessory coverage, as well as the emerging world of VR. He is an avid PC gamer and multi-platform user, and spends most of his time either tinkering with or writing about tech.

Rich Edmonds is a staff reviewer at Windows Central, which means he tests out more software and hardware than he cares to remember. Joining Mobile Nations in 2010, you can usually find him inside a PC case tinkering around when not at a screen fighting with Grammarly to use British words. Hit him up on Twitter: @RichEdmonds.

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