Best Thunderbolt 3 Docks of 2018Source: Windows Central

Best Thunderbolt 3 docks Windows Central 2021

The CalDigit TS3 Plus is our pick for the best Thunderbolt 3 dock thanks to its 85W of power delivery and 15 total ports contained in a durable and compact aluminum chassis. If you have a laptop with a Thunderbolt 3 port, it will boost productivity and allow you to connect all your peripherals. If the CalDigit TS3 Plus isn't quite for you, plenty of other options are also rounded up here.

Best overall: CalDigit TS3 Plus

The CalDigit TS3 Plus.Source: Windows Central

Many modern Ultrabooks include at least one Thunderbolt 3 port. While the 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 1 pound.

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. Check out our CalDigit TS3 Plus review for more information.

Pros

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

Cons

  • Cheaper options are available
  • No HDMI port

Best overall

CalDigit TS3 Plus

CalDigit TS3 Plus Thunderbolt 3 dock

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

CalDigit USB-C Pro DockSource: Windows Central

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, this dock would 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. Have a look at our CalDigit USB-C Pro Dock review for further details.

Note that CalDigit now has a second version of the dock available, this time with two HDMI 2.0b ports instead of DisplayPort. This is perfect for anyone who primarily deals with HDMI displays and who doesn't want to deal with dongles.

Pros

  • Up to 85W charging
  • Durable aluminum chassis
  • Excellent port selection and performance
  • Removable host cable
  • Works with USB-A, USB-C, and Thunderbolt 3

Cons

  • Fewer overall ports than our top pick
  • No downstream Thunderbolt 3

Runner-up

CalDigit USB-C Pro Dock

CalDigit USB-C Pro Dock

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: Corsair TBT100

Corsair TBT100 Thunderbolt 3 Dock reviewSource: Harish Jonnalagadda / Windows Central

The Corsair TBT100 Thunderbolt 3 dock is a slim, horizontal option that's great if you need to keep HDMI connectivity. It has two HDMI 2.0 ports on the back, flanked by USB-C, Thunderbolt 3 (host), Ethernet, dual USB-A, AC adapter plug, and Kensington lock slot. The dock's front has another USB-C port, an SD card reader, and a 3.5mm audio jack. That's less connectivity than our top pick, and there's no Thunderbolt 3 downstream, but it makes the list thanks to those HDMI ports. They can handle dual 4K displays, each with a 60Hz refresh rate.

While connected to your laptop, the Corsair TBT100 will deliver up to 85W of charging power. That's enough to keep most Ultrabooks charged up, save for some that suck up a lot of power for a discrete GPU. Our Corsair TBT100 review goes much more in-depth if this is the dock you're interested in.

Pros

  • Two USB-C ports
  • Two HDMI 2.0 ports
  • Up to 85W charging
  • Full-size SD card reader
  • Elegant design

Cons

  • No Thunderbolt 3 downlink
  • Just two USB-A

With HDMI

Corsair TBT100 Thunderbolt 3 Dock

Corsair TBT100 dock

Hold onto HDMI with this dock

This dock charges your devices at up to 85W, it has two USB-C ports, and it holds onto HDMI rather than using DisplayPort.

Robust security: Kensington LD5400T

Kensington LD5400T dock rear portsSource: Windows Central

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 a 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.

The price has recently dropped significantly, making this option a lot more attractive. As always, have a look at our Kensington LD5400T Thunderbolt 3 dock review for much more information.

Pros

  • High-quality construction
  • Up to 85W charging
  • Plenty of ports
  • Keeps your laptop secure
  • Budget pricing

Cons

  • No HDMI port or SD card reader

Robust security

Kensington LD5400T

Kensington LD5400T docking station

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

The HP Thunderbolt Dock G2Source: Windows Central

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.

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 with speaker

HP Thunderbolt Dock G2

Modular speaker included

Connect your laptop with access to many extra ports, charging up to 100W, and a speaker module for fielding calls.

Gamer pick: Seagate FireCuda

Seagate Firecuda Game DockSource: Windows Central

PC gamers always need more storage space, but adding more sometimes isn't possible if your case or laptop is already full of hardware. If your PC happens to have a Thunderbolt 3 port, you can add something like the Seagate FireCuda. Not only does it add a 4TB 7,200RPM hard-disk drive (HDD), it also adds 10 ports, including two Thunderbolt 3 (one for host), DisplayPort 1.4, five USB-A 3.1, Ethernet, and two 3.5mm jacks for audio in and out.

The HDD isn't the fastest, but there is room inside the dock for an M.2 PCIe NVMe solid-state drive (SSD) of your choosing. The entire package is well built, and it has its own RGB lighting to add to your setup. A downside here, as noted in our Seagate FireCuda gaming dock review, is that the HDD and built-in cooling fan will add some noise to your office or gaming room.

Pros

  • Tons of ports
  • Built-in 4TB HDD
  • M.2 PCIe NVMe SSD expansion slot
  • Bathed in RGB
  • Nice design

Cons

  • HDD and fan add noise

Gamer pick

Firecuda Game Dock Se

Seagate FireCuda dock

Storage and ports in one spot

If you'd like to add ports, storage, and RGB to a gaming laptop or gaming PC, Seagate's FireCuda dock is the way to go.

Port variety: OWC Thunderbolt 3 Dock

OWC Thunderbolt 3 DockSource: Windows Central

OWC's Thunderbolt 3 Dock is a high-end option for anyone who needs downstream Thunderbolt 3, readers for removable SD storage, and dual display support at 4K resolution and 60Hz refresh rate. The UHS-II SD and microSD card readers don't work simultaneously, but they are quite convenient for photographers and videographers.

Two Mini DisplayPorts handle video out, and there are a further five USB-A, USB-C, 3.5mm audio, Ethernet, and S/PDIF connections. When connected to your laptop, the dock manages to deliver up to 85W of power to keep the battery topped up.

This is a great dock if you need the extra USB-C and Thunderbolt 3, as well as two Mini DisplayPort hookups. Our OWC Thunderbolt 3 Dock review has much more information.

Pros

  • Downstream Thunderbolt 3
  • Dual 4K@60Hz display support
  • UHS-II SD and microSD card readers
  • 85W charging power
  • 13 total ports

Cons

  • Uses Mini DisplayPort
  • One SD card at a time
  • Not as many ports as top picks

Port variety

OWC Thunderbolt 3 Dock

OWC Thunderbolt 3 Dock

A lot of connectivity

OWC's Thunderbolt 3 Dock offers just about every port you need for a healthy workflow, all wrapped up in a sturdy aluminum shell.

Bottom line

If you're looking to make the most out of your laptop's Thunderbolt 3 connection — whether you love the high-speed connectivity or the versatility it provides with just one cable — then any of these best Thunderbolt 3 docks will make a great option. They can add multiple ports to your setup, which expands what you can do with a laptop, which nowadays is 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, and most ports are located along the back for easy cable management.

Don't have a device with Thunderbolt 3? There are plenty of other best laptop docking stations that work with the best Windows laptop options available today. And be sure to check out our collection of the best Thunderbolt 4 hubs and docking stations for the next-gen version of Thunderbolt 4 connectivity.

Credits — The team that worked on this guide

Author:

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.

Author:

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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