Best Thunderbolt 3 Docks of 2018

Best Thunderbolt 3 Docks Windows Central 2019

The CalDigit TS3 Plus can deliver 85W of power to your devices, and it has 15 total ports, making it our top pick for a Thunderbolt 3 docking station.

Our pick

CalDigit TS3 Plus

More ports and better performance.

CalDigit's TS3 Plus should be at the top of your list thanks to 15 total ports, up to 85 W of power, and sturdy construction.

Who should buy this Thunderbolt 3 dock

Anyone with a laptop that has a Thunderbolt 3 port can take advantage of this docking station. It has plenty of ports for connecting external devices, and it will charge them while connected. It's best used on a desk, as it requires an external source of power to function properly.

Is it a good time to buy this dock?

This docking station is still very popular and so far nothing better has hit the market. They hold onto their value for quite a while, too, so don't expect any sudden price drops in the near future.

Reasons to buy

  • 15 total ports
  • Durable aluminum build
  • UHS-II SD card reader
  • Handles dual 4K displays at 60Hz
  • Delivers up to 85 W of power

Reasons not to buy

  • Cheaper options are available

A compact, powerful dock for your laptop

Many modern Ultrabooks include at least one Thunderbolt 3 port, and while the latest standard offers superior performance and supports plenty of devices — you can charge a laptop one minute and send a signal to a display the next — not all your peripherals will use the USB-C-shaped port. Likewise, as laptops get thinner, manufacturers are more likely to include fewer ports. The answer? A Thunderbolt 3 docking station that provides ports for multiple accessories.

CalDigit's dock has 15 ports you can use to connect peripherals, including 4K displays, keyboard, mouse, SD card, and Ethernet cables.

Ports include five USB-A 3.1, two USB-C 3.1, DisplayPort 1.2, two Thunderbolt 3 (one connecting the host laptop), Ethernet, S/PDIF, an SD card reader, and 3.5mm audio in and out. The dock has a small footprint — it can stand up vertically or sit horizontally — and weighs in at just over one pound. The aluminum case is built strong, and there's lifetime support and a one-year warranty in case something goes wrong.

The docking station can deliver up to 85 W of power to your laptop, and you can choose from either a 0.7-meter or 2-meter cable for a connection. 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 unless you hit the road. Set it up on a desk, plug in a single cable, and watch your laptop become a capable workstation.

Alternatives to the CalDigit TS3 Plus

The CalDigit TS3 Plus is an outstanding dock, but it's not always available or it might not be quite what you're looking for. In that case, there are some quality alternatives.

Runner-up

Plugable Thunderbolt 3 dock

A mid-range, cheaper dock that retains plenty of features.

With up to 60 W of charging, support for 4K displays at 60Hz, and myriad other ports, this Plugable dock is a solid option.

It doesn't have quite as many ports as our top pick, but it's also about $60 cheaper, making it the runner-up if you can't get your hands on the TS3 Plus. Here you get a dock that can power a multi-monitor setup and deliver up to 60 W of power to your devices. For ports, it has five USB-A 3.0, Ethernet, two Thunderbolt 3 (one for the host laptop), DisplayPort, and a 3.5 mm audio jack.

Affordable option

Cable Matters Thunderbolt 3 dock

Hold onto HDMI with this dock.

This dock charges your devices at up to 60 W, it has five USB-A 3.0 ports, and it holds onto an HDMI port rather than using DisplayPort. It's also about $50 less than our top pick.

This Thunderbolt 3 dock has for ports five USB-A 3.0, Ethernet, a UHS-I SD card reader, 3.5 mm audio jack, two Thunderbolt 3 (one for connecting the host PC), and HDMI. It can deliver up to 60 W of power, and it can handle two 4K displays at 60Hz. If you'd rather not deal with an adapter for DisplayPort, this dock is a great solution, and it will save you about $50 compared to the CalDigit TS3 Plus.

Portable pick

IOGEAR GTD300

A smaller dock with a lower price.

For those always on the move, IOGEAR's GTD300 Thunderbolt 3 dock can be a huge boon, especially if your laptop is lacking in video outputs or an Ethernet hookup.

While you won't get the same charging performance here as you get with our other picks that require a power supply to function, this dock from IOGEAR offers up one USB-A 3.0, Ethernet, DisplayPort 1.2, and HDMI 2.0 ports. It can handle two 4K displays at 60Hz, and it's about the size of a bar of soap, making it easy to take with you.

Bottom line

CalDigit's TS3 Plus is our top pick for Thunderbolt 3 docking station thanks to outstanding performance, more port selection, and great charging capabilities. If you don't want to spend quite as much or can't get your hands on our top pick, there are some quality alternatives, like the Cable Matters dock that substitutes HDMI for DisplayPort and comes in at about $50 less.

Credits — The team that worked on this guide

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 word conjurer at Windows Central, covering everything related to Windows, gaming, and hardware. He's been involved in technology for more than a decade and knows a thing or two about the magic inside a device chassis. Hit him up on Twitter: @RichEdmonds.

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