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Microsoft Surface Dock vs Surface Dock 2: What's the difference?

The Surface Dock and Surface Dock 2 are accessories that allow you to connect multiple devices and peripherals to your Surface. You can attach devices like keyboards, mice, and webcams and push your Surface device's display output to multiple monitors. 

Both docks also have Ethernet ports, allowing you to have a rock-solid connection to the internet. The idea is that you can set the dock up once with all of your devices and accessories and then just plug the dock into your Surface using the Surface Connect port.

Technical specifications

Surface Dock

(Image credit: microsoft)

The original Surface Dock was left without an update for a long time. After years of having just the original dock, Microsoft announced the Surface Dock 2. The Surface Dock 2 has USB-C ports to work with modern devices, has better charging capabilities, and better support for external displays. It even has a longer cable than the original dock to make it easier to connect your Surface to the dock.

The Surface Dock 2 can power two 4K displays at once at 60Hz or two 5K displays at once at 30Hz. It also has a total power delivery of 199W, and 120 of those watts can charge your Surface device. The remaining 79W can help charge accessories attached to the dock.

In contrast, the original Surface Dock has a much lower set of specs. When pushing to external displays, the original Surface Dock caps at 4096x2160 at 30Hz or 2960x1440 at 60Hz. It also has a lower 90W for power delivery. As a result, the Surface Book 2 can sometimes drain power even while charging.

Surface Dock 2Surface Dock
USB-C ports2x front facing
2x rear-facing (video enabled)
No
USB-A2x rear-facing USB-A 3.2 (Up to 10Gbps)4x USB 3.0 (Up to 5Gbps)
EthernetGigabit EthernetGigabit Ethernet
Audio3.5mm audio in/outAudio out
Mini DisplayPortsNo2x Mini DisplayPorts
Security lock slotYesYes

In addition to its better transfer speeds and port selection, the Surface Dock 2 has enterprise management tools that allow admins to allow access to specific sets of ports depending on authentication. Some of the specifications are outlined by Microsoft Mechanics in a video on the Surface Dock 2 if you'd like to see more details.

Compatibility

Microsoft Dock

(Image credit: Future)

The downside to the Surface Dock 2 is that it only works with certain Surface devices. To use a Surface Dock 2, you need a Surface device made in 2017 or later. Based on this Microsoft support document (opens in new tab), the following Surface devices are supported by the Surface Dock 2:

  • Surface Book 3
  • Surface Book 2
  • Surface Pro 8
  • Surface Pro 7+
  • Surface Pro 7
  • Surface Pro 6
  • Surface Pro (5th Gen)
  • Surface Pro (5th Gen) with LTE Advanced
  • Surface Pro X
  • Surface Laptop Studio
  • Surface Laptop 4
  • Surface Laptop 3
  • Surface Laptop 2
  • Surface Laptop (1st Gen)
  • Surface Laptop Go (1st Gen)
  • Surface Laptop Go 2
  • Surface Go 3
  • Surface Go 2
  • Surface Go
  • Surface Go 2 with LTE Advanced
  • Surface Go with Advanced LTE

The Surface Dock 2 improves upon the original Surface Dock in just about every way. It's faster, has more modern ports, can push more resolution to external displays, supports audio in and out, and has more management tools. The Surface Dock 2 is pricey, but it's only $60 more than the original Surface Dock right now. For that price difference, you're getting quite a few improvements. The only reason to grab an original Surface Dock is if you use a Surface device that can't work with the Surface Dock 2 or if you need to use MiniDisplayPorts.

Be sure to check out our roundup of best Surface PCs too!

Zac Bowden
Zac Bowden

Zac Bowden is a Senior Editor at Windows Central. Bringing you exclusive coverage into the world of Windows 10 on PCs, tablets, phones, and more. Also an avid collector of rare Microsoft prototype devices! Keep in touch on Twitter: @zacbowden.