Best Thunderbolt 3 Docks Windows Central 2020
The CalDigit TS3 Plus can deliver 85W of power to your devices, and it has 15 total ports contained in a durable and compact aluminum chassis. This is our top pick for a Thunderbolt 3 docking station, but other options might better suit your needs.
- Best Overall: CalDigit TS3 Plus
- Runner-up: CalDigit USB-C Pro Dock
- With HDMI: Cable Matters Thunderbolt 3 dock
- Robust Security: Kensington LD5400T
- Best Modular Design: HP Thunderbolt Dock G2
- Portable Pick: IOGEAR GTD300
Best Overall: CalDigit TS3 Plus
Many modern Ultrabooks include at least one Thunderbolt 3 port. 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.
The CalDigit TS3 Plus includes 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 85W 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.
- 15 total ports
- Durable aluminum build
- UHS-II SD card reader
- Handles dual 4K displays at 60Hz
- Delivers up to 85W of power
- Cheaper options are available
- No HDMI port
More ports and better performance
CalDigit's TS3 Plus should be at the top of your list thanks to 15 total ports, up to 85W of power, and sturdy construction.
Runner-up: CalDigit USB-C Pro Dock
If you often find yourself switching between devices — say a tablet or laptop with USB-C and a laptop using Thunderbolt 3 — and don't want to worry about compatibility, CalDigit's USB-C Pro Dock will make a great choice. It doesn't have as many ports as the TS3 Plus, but it still offers two DisplayPort 1.2, three USB-A 3.2, USB-C 3.2, a UHS-II SD card reader, Ethernet, and 3.5mm audio.
Connected with Thunderbolt 3, the dock can handle dual 4K displays with up to a 60Hz refresh rate, while a USB-C connection will handle dual FHD displays or a single 4K display at 30Hz. Even if you connect with just USB-A, you'll still have access to the USB ports, SD card reader, Ethernet, and audio jack on the dock. While connected with USB-C or Thunderbolt 3, you can charge the host device with up to 85W of power.
- Up to 85W charging
- Durable aluminum chassis
- Excellent port selection and performance
- Removable host cable
- Works with USB-A, USB-C, and Thunderbolt 3
- Fewer overall ports than our top pick
- No downstream Thunderbolt 3
Ideal for those who often switch devices
CalDigit's USB-C Pro Dock is a high-performance solution compatible with USB-A, USB-C, and Thunderbolt 3.
With HDMI: Cable Matters Thunderbolt 3 dock
If you don't want to spend as much as you would on the CalDigit TS3 Plus but still want an aluminum docking station with a lot of ports, this option from Cable Matters will make a great choice. It doesn't have quite as many ports as our top pick, but it does have HDMI and support for dual 4K displays at 60Hz refresh rate. Other ports include a UHS-I SD card reader, five USB-A 3.0, Ethernet, two Thunderbolt 3 (one for the host PC), and a 3.5mm audio jack.
You get up to 60W of charging power back to your laptop through the host Thunderbolt 3 connection. And there are status LEDs on the front of the dock to let you know that the connection and power are both in order. This dock is made to sit horizontally on your desk, with most ports on the back to promote clean cable management.
- Ports include HDMI
- Solid aluminum construction
- More affordable price
- Dual 4K display at 60Hz
- Lesser 60W charging
- Fewer total ports
Hold onto HDMI with this dock
This dock charges your devices at up to 60W, it has five USB-A ports, and it holds onto HDMI rather than using DisplayPort.
Robust Security: Kensington LD5400T
The Kensington LD5400T Thunderbolt 3 dock might come at a relatively steep price, but it offers robust security features that the other docks lack. Instead of merely sitting on a corner of your desk, you place your laptop into the retractable clutches of the dock to secure it in place. The dock itself can either be screwed into the desk, it can be locked up with a standard Kensington lock cable, or it can be tethered down with an included 6-foot cable to keep it in place when you're not around.
Two fobs are included for easy unlocking if you want to take your laptop with you, and the entire thing is built strong to resist tampering. Although there's no HDMI or SD card reader included, you do get four USB-A 3.0, two Thunderbolt 3 (one for the host cable), DisplayPort 1.2, RJ45 Ethernet, and 3.5mm audio. As for connecting external displays, it can handle dual 4K at a 60Hz refresh rate or single 5K at the same 60Hz refresh rate. When connected back to your laptop, you'll get up to 85W of charging power to keep it topped up.
- High-quality construction
- Up to 85W charging
- Plenty of ports
- Keeps your laptop secure
- Three-year warranty
- No HDMI port or SD card reader
A docking station that keeps your laptop where you left it
Get up to 85W of charging power back to the host laptop, eight total ports, dual 4K display support, and robust security features.
Best Modular Design: HP Thunderbolt G2
Alongside three USB-C, three USB-A 3.0, Thunderbolt 3, two DisplayPort, VGA, RJ45 Ethernet, and a 3.5mm audio jack, the HP G2 docking station has a detachable speaker that can be used for clear conference calls and more. While most other docks look like boxes, the G2 has a much more attractive rounded cube design that takes up minimal room on your desk.
You get up to 100W of charging back to your laptop through the Thunderbolt 3 host cable, and the dock has support for Wake-on-LAN, PXE boot, and MAC address passthrough for simple remote management. If you're working with external displays, know that the dock will handle dual 4K displays at a 60Hz refresh rate. 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.
- Includes a modular speaker
- 100W of charging power
- Plenty of ports
- Compact design
- Supports Wake-on-LAN, PXE boot
- Speaker module adds cost
- Host cable does not detach
Best Modular Design
Modular speaker included
Connect your laptop with access to a bunch of extra ports, charging up to 100W, and a speaker module for fielding calls.
Portable Pick: IOGEAR GTD300
While the other docks in this roundup are rather large and not exactly great for travel, IOGEAR's GTD300 is not much larger than a bar of soap, making it easy to stuff into a laptop bag or even a pocket. Its plastic construction keeps it light, and the host cable — which is unfortunately non-removable — is hidden away in a channel on the bottom when not in use.
Ports include USB-A 3.0, DisplayPort 1.2, Ethernet, and HDMI 2.0, making it ideal for hooking up external monitors when you're on the move. Support for dual 4K displays at 60Hz or a single 5K display at 60Hz is included. There's no external power supply to offer charging back to your laptop, and you might want more than one USB-A port, but considering the price and size, this is altogether an excellent option for travelers.
- Compact, lightweight build
- Channel to hide cable on bottom
- Dual 4K displays at 60Hz
- Relatively affordable
- Only one USB-A port
- Non-removable host cable
A smaller dock with a lower price
For those on the move, IOGEAR's GTD300 dock can be a huge boon, especially if your laptop is lacking in video outputs or Ethernet.
If you're looking to make the most out of your futuristic Thunderbolt 3 connection — whether you love the high-speed connectivity or the versatility it provides with just one cable — then a dock is a great option. It can add multiple ports to your setup, which expands what you can do with a laptop, which nowadays are limited in port selection.
CalDigit's TS3 Plus is our top pick for Thunderbolt 3 docking station thanks to outstanding performance, more port selection, and excellent charging capabilities. Its aluminum construction is durable and compact, most ports are located along the back for easy cable management, and it comes with a generous warranty to help ease into the cost.
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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