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 external monitors. 

Both docks also have Ethernet ports, allowing you to have a rock-solid connection to the internet. The device allows you to set up dock a permanent environment with of your devices and accessories and then plug the dock into your Surface using the Surface Connect port.

Specifications

Surface Dock

(Image credit: microsoft)

The Surface Dock 2 is a few years old now, but 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.

Swipe to scroll horizontally
Header Cell - Column 0 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 an older Surface device that isn't compatible with the Surface Dock 2 or if you need to use Mini-DisplayPorts.

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

Which should you buy?

Ultimately, the Surface Dock you should buy comes down to what Surface you have. If you have a Surface that was made in 2017 and up, grab the Surface Dock 2 as you can guarantee full compatibility. If you've got an older Surface, the original Surface Dock will be your best bet. 

Zac Bowden
Senior Editor

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.