Best USB-C docks for laptops and tablets 2022on November 19, 2022 at 07:30 Tech Advisor

0

Laptops and tablets are so much more convenient than desktop computers for the very obvious reason of portability—you can’t (or certainly shouldn’t) lug a desktop PC between your home and office or on holiday with you.

The portable computer’s limitation, though, is screen size and often a lack of ports to plug devices into. Some laptops have just one or two ports included as standard, and you need one of those for charging. And tablets have even fewer ports for device expansion.

There are plenty of people who prefer a mouse to the laptop’s trackpad, and even a full-size keyboard to tap away on—of course, there are Bluetooth keyboards and mice that don’t require a side port on the laptop.

The perfect setup would be a laptop for flexibility, plus one or more larger external displays, some USB ports for adding hard drives or a printer, and an Ethernet port so you can enjoy wired Internet access rather than flaky Wi-Fi.

The solution is a dock or docking station that includes all these ports and lets you connect your laptop or tablet to it with one cable.

Best Black Friday USB-C Dock deals

There are some great Black Friday deals this year, including 29% off our favorite USB-C dock, the Anker PowerExpand Elite Dock, in the UK. At the time of writing in the US, the deal was not as good, although there is a $30-off coupon deal at Amazon.

Also for UK readers, there’s 20% off our recommended portable USB-C dock, the Twelve South StayGo.

Check on the live price comparison on each review below for the latest prices.

Best USB-C docks

Setup is simple. Just connect your laptop or tablet to the dock, and it instantly has access to all the dock’s ports as if they were on the laptop itself—except to have that many ports, in reality, would make your laptop as thick as a brick.

In this review roundup, we’ll look at the best docks for USB-C laptops and tablets. Some laptops—notably Apple’s MacBook range—include a faster variant of USB-C called Thunderbolt 3 (TB3) or Thunderbolt 4 (TB4). Such laptops can use USB-C docks, but Thunderbolt’s higher bandwidth (40Gbps vs USB-C’s 5Gbps or 10Gbps) will be lost if not using a dedicated Thunderbolt dock.

Many docking stations are compatible with Apple’s iPad Pro and iPad Air (4th Generation), and USB-C Windows tablets.

If you don’t want a full docking station, just a handy USB-C adapter or dongle, check out our Best USB-C hub roundup. We’ve included a couple of “hubs” here because they’re often cheaper but just as capable as docks.

Plain USB-C laptops won’t work with most Thunderbolt 3 or 4 docks, although there are a few reviewed here (from Caldigit and StarTech.com) that will work with both. That makes them a great choice for hot-desking and mixed workflow environments. Office IT doesn’t have to buy different docks for different use cases—one dock can work on anything, and without adapters or drivers.

Thunderbolt laptops can use any of the USB-C docks reviewed here, but will lose some of their bandwidth and display advantages on the lower-spec docks. 

Owners of Thunderbolt 3 or 4 laptops—such as Apple MacBooks—should also read Macworld’s roundup of the best Thunderbolt 3 and 4 docking stations or our own best Thunderbolt 4 docks. The docks reviewed here mostly work with any TB3/TB4 laptops unless specified, but remember that if the dock is USB-C only, Thunderbolt laptops will not be using their full bandwidth for the fastest data-transfer speeds.

After our list of the best USB-C docks, we explain what each of the ports can do for you.

Anker PowerExpand Elite Dock – Best USB-C/Thunderbolt dock with multiple ports

Pros

13 ports inc 40Gbps to TB laptop, 10Gbps to USB-C

Thunderbolt and USB-C

85W PD

Cons

One display port

Second display uses TB3 port

RRP:



£279

USB-C and Thunderbolt laptop compatibleCompatible with USB-C Windows tablets and USB-C iPadsTwo Thunderbolt 3 ports (40Gbps) – one to host85W PD charging, plus standalone chargingUp to two external displays (2 x 4K at 60Hz; or 1 x 5K at 60Hz)1 x HDMI 2.0 port (4K at 60Hz; or 1 x 5K at 60Hz)2 x USB-C ports (10Gbps) allows second 4K at 60Hz display with adapter4 x USB-A ports (5Gbps)SD Card Reader (SD 4.0 UHS-II)microSD 4.0 Card Reader (SD 4.0 UHS-II)Gigabit Ethernet port for wired Internet accessFront-facing 3.5mm Analogue Audio In & Out port180W power supply

If you need more ports than the Caldigit USB-C HDMI or Pro Docks, Anker’s PowerExpand Elite Thunderbolt 3 dock offers 13.

With its Titan Ridge chipset, it is also USB-C compatible, and is a neat and compact vertical dock.

The PowerExpand Elite can connect up to three external displays on Windows laptops only as macOS doesn’t support MST (Multi-Stream Transport).

The HDMI and Thunderbolt/USB-C port would connect two displays (4K at 60Hz for Thunderbolt laptops), while the third external display would use one of the USB-C ports (4K at 30Hz). Unless your display has a USB-C connection itself, you’ll need an adapter (not included) using the Thunderbolt and USB-C connections.

One seemingly minor feature that we love is the easy-to-reach on-off switch, which will help save energy, prolong your device’s battery, and stop the dock getting too warm when left unused overnight.

Both USB-C ports are Gen. 2 at 10Gbps, where some docks boast just 5Gbps C-type ports.

Read our full Anker PowerExpand Elite Dock review.

Twelve South StayGo USB-C Hub – Best portable USB-C dock

Pros

9 ports

Portable

85W passthrough power

Cons

No power supply, so requires USB-C charger

Ports a little underpowered

5Gbps to laptop

RRP:



£99.99

USB-C laptop compatible (works with Thunderbolt laptops at lower bandwidth)Compatible with USB-C Windows tablets and USB-C iPads85W PD charging, plus standalone chargingUSB-C to the host (5Gbps)1 x HDMI 1.2 (4K at 30Hz or full HD)3 x USB-A (5Gbps; one with 7.5W BC 1.2 charging)1 x USB-C (for charging)SD Card Reader (UHS-I)microSD Card Reader (UHS-I)Gigabit Ethernet100W power capacity

This lightweight and compact USB-C dock undersells itself by calling itself just a hub. The Twelve South StayGo really a very capable portable dock that will fit in your pocket.

Yes, it doesn’t have its own power supply, but you can connect it to your laptop’s charger (or another) for passthrough charging at up to an impressive 85W. 

It has HDMI for connecting an external display (4K at 30Hz), three USB-A ports (one of which you can use to charge your phone), SD Card reader for adding simple and inexpensive backup storage, and Gigabit Ethernet – all the basic and more.

It even comes with its own neat, short travel USB-C cable stored for protection, and ships with a 1m USB-C cable for normal desktop use.

And it’s available in either black or white.

Read our full
Twelve South StayGo USB-C Hub review

Plugable’s USB-C Triple Display 4K Docking Station – Best for three external displays

Pros

12 (usable) ports inc 10Gbps to laptop

Three display ports

96W PD

Cons

US only



USB-C laptop compatible (works with Thunderbolt laptops at lower bandwidth)Compatible with USB-C Windows tabletsUSB-C to the host (10Gbps)96W PD charging3 x DisplayPort 1.2 (4K at 60Hz to USB-C and TB laptops)3 x HDMI 1.2 (4K at 60Hz to USB-C and TB laptops)4 x USB-A (5Gbps); 1 x USB-C (10Gbps, 20W)Gigabit Ethernet2 x 3.5mm Analog Audio In & Out100W power supply

Plugable’s USB-C Triple Display 4K Docking Station (UD-ULTC4K) does what its name says it can–it is stuffed full of fancy technology that enables it to run three external displays from a USB-C laptop, with all three at full 60Hz 4K if the host laptop support DP 1.4. Although there are six display ports, you can use only three at the same time.

It uses a combination of USB-C DisplayPort Alternate Mode (“Alt Mode”) for the HDMI port and DisplayLink USB graphics for its two DisplayPorts. laptops with Thunderbolt/USB4 or USB-C hosts that support DP 1.4 Alternate Mode can run three 4K displays at 60Hz via either DisplayPort or HDMI. On hosts that support DP 1.2 Alternate Mode, two displays at 60Hz are possible and one at 30Hz.

This brings with it some complexity and compatibility issues on certain versions of the macOS, but with DisplayLink drivers installed, all should be well.

The four USB-A ports are generous, although limited to 5Gbps compared to the 10Gbps USB-C link to the computer.

Read our full
Plugable USB-C Triple 4K Display Docking Station (UD-ULTC4K) v2 review

Ugreen USB-C Triple Display Docking Station

Pros

12 ports inc 10Gbps to laptop

85W PD

Three 4K 60Hz ports

Cons

No power supply, so requires USB-C charger

No USB device charging except laptop

UHS-I card reader speed

RRP:



£369.99

Best Prices Today:



£349.99 at Amazon

USB-C laptop compatible (works with Thunderbolt laptops at lower bandwidth)Compatible with USB-C Windows tabletsUSB-C to the host (10Gbps)85W PD charging1 x DisplayPort 1.2 (4K at 60Hz to USB-C and TB laptops)1 x HDMI 2.0 (4K at 60Hz to USB-C and TB laptops)1 x HDMI 2.1 (8K at 30Hz or 4/5/6K at 60Hz)3 x USB-A (5Gbps); 1 x USB-C (10Gbps)Gigabit EthernetSD Card Reader (UHS-I)MicroSD Card Reader (UHS-I)3.5mm Analog Audio In & Out

The Ugreen USB-C Triple Display Docking Station is another dock that supports up to three external displays—again requiring DisplayLink drivers for Macs.

This compact dock requires a USB-C charger for power as it doesn’t ship with a power supply. If you want to reach the potential 85W laptop charging Power Delivery (PD) on offer here, you need at least a 100W PD charger.

One of the HDMI ports and the DisplayPort support 4K at 60Hz (Mac and Windows) and the second HDMI can push up to 8K at 30Hz in Windows and up to 4K at 60Hz with a Mac. The HDMI 2.1 port can hit 60Hz at under 8K, for example, 4K, 5K or 6K.

There’s also front-mounted USB-C and USB-A ports that can transfer data at 10Gbps, which is speedier than on offer on many USB-C docks. At the back there are two slower but still reasonable 5Gbps USB-A ports.

A handy power button is situated at the top of this vertical docking station.

Read our full
Ugreen USB-C Triple Display Docking Station review

Kensington SD4839P USB-C Triple Video Docking Station

Pros

9 ports inc 10Gbps to laptop

Three display ports

Cons

Triple display limited to HD

Windows only

RRP:



£199.99

USB-C laptop compatible (works with Thunderbolt laptops at lower bandwidth)Compatible with USB-C Windows tabletsUSB-C to the host (10Gbps)85W PD charging2 x DisplayPort 1.4 (4K at 60Hz to USB-C and TB laptops)1 x HDMI 2.0 (4K at 60Hz to USB-C and TB laptops)3 x USB-A (10Gbps, 4.5W); 1 x USB-C (10Gbps, 7.5W)Gigabit Ethernet3.5mm Analog Audio In & Out134W power supply

The Kensington SD4839P USB-C Triple Video Docking Station is blessed with a 10Gbps USB-C connection to the host computer and has three USB-A and one USB-C port also rated at that speed. It’s not Thunderbolt but it’s still speedy.

Another selling point is its three display ports—2x DisplayPort 1.4 and 1x HDMI 2.0. These allow for dual 4K displays at 60Hz—thanks to the use of HBR3 DP1.4 and DSC (display stream compression)—but are limited to 1080p HD when you use all three for a triple-display setup. If you want three 4K displays running at the same time, look to the Plugable UD-ULTC4K or Ugreen Triple Display docks reviewed here.

The 85W PD charging should be adequate for all but the most-demanding laptops, and the dock has a 134W power supply so connected devices cam also be charged via the dock (at up to 7.5W on the sole USB-C port. The USB-A ports are a little underpowered at just 4.5W.

This is an ultra-slim horizontal dock that has a small footprint and is well-priced for a triple-display docking station.

EZQuest Ultimate Plus USB-C Multimedia Hub

Pros

Supports three external displays (2x 4K; 1x HD)

VGA if you need it

12 ports, inc 4x 5Gbps USB-A

Cons

Requires USB-C charger

Second 4K display is 30Hz; third display is HD

5Gbps to laptop

RRP:



£189.99

Best Prices Today:



£173.26 at Amazon

USB-C laptop compatible (works with Thunderbolt laptops at lower bandwidth)Compatible with USB-C Windows tabletsUSB-C to the host (5Gbps)85W PD charging1 x HDMI DP 1.4 (4K at 60Hz to USB-C and TB laptops)1 x HDMI DP 1.2 (4K at 30Hz to USB-C and TB laptops)1 x VGA (1080p HD)4 x USB-A (5Gbps)Gigabit EthernetSD Card Reader (UHS-I)MicroSD Card Reader (UHS-I)3.5mm Analog Audio In & Out

The EZQuest Ultimate Plus USB-C Multimedia Hub will be useful if you own a display with a VGA port. It also boasts two HDMI ports, and supports one 4K at 60Hz and one 4K at 30Hz via HDMI. The VGA port is limited to 1080p HD.

The compact dock also features four 5Gbps USB-A ports, Gigabit Ethernet and card readers.

Like the Ugreen dock, it requires a USB-C charger for power and can pass through up to 85W to the connected laptop, but connects via slower 5Gbps USB-C.

Caldigit USB-C HDMI Dock – Best value dual-HDMI dock for mixed USB-C and Thunderbolt 3

Pros

9 ports inc 40Gbps to TB laptop, 10Gbps to USB-C

Thunderbolt and USB-C

Two HDMI ports

94W PD

Cons

No downstream Thunderbolt port

RRP:



£249.99

USB-C and Thunderbolt laptop compatibleCompatible with USB-C Windows tablets and USB-C iPads1 x Thunderbolt 3 / USB-C port to host94W PD charging, plus standalone charging2 x HDMI 2.0b ports (dual 4K at 60Hz to T3 laptops; or dual 1080p or a single 4K at 30Hz display to a USB-C laptop)3 x USB 3.2 Gen. 1 Type-A ports (5Gbps)1 x USB 3.2 Gen. 2 Type-C ports (10Gbps) portSD Card Reader (SD 4.0 UHS-II)Gigabit Ethernet port for wired Internet accessFront-facing 3.5mm Analogue Audio In & Out port150W power supply

While it’s called a “USB-C” dock, Caldigit’s USB-C HDMI Dock is compatible with Thunderbolt 3 and 4 laptops, and any USB4-certified device.

This modern docking station uses a Thunderbolt 3 chipset called “Titan Ridge”, which allows the dock to work on both Thunderbolt 3 and USB-C. Normally USB-C laptops can’t use Thunderbolt 3 docks. T3 laptops can use USB-C docks but at a reduced bandwidth—USB-C runs at 5-10Gbps, but T3 at 40Gbps.

This flexibility means that Thunderbolt 3 laptops get to use all their bandwidth while USB-C laptop owners can use the same dock, and not have to buy a plain USB-C docking station. And since it works with USB-C, it can turn an iPad Pro or USB-C Windows tablet into a full computer experience since it can charge the tablet, connect a 4K monitor, keyboard, mouse and hard drives.

The USB-C HDMI Dock has two built-in HDMI connectors for directly adding dual 4K (at 60Hz if using a Thunderbolt 3 laptop) monitors to your laptop without the need for any USB-C Video Adapters. USB-C laptops can run dual displays at HD (1080p) or a single 4K monitor at 30Hz.

The USB-C HDMI Dock also charges at 94W, enough for most top-end laptops. Standalone charging functionality allows the dock to charge USB devices, such as a phone, tablet or smartwatch, at up to 7.5W without the laptop connected.

This is a great USB-C dock in its own right, and the T3/T4/USB4 compatibility is a future-proof and mixed-environment bonus.

Read our full
Caldigit USB-C HDMI Dock review

Kensington SD5700T Thunderbolt 4 Docking Station – Best Thunderbolt 4 dock

Pros

Thunderbolt 4

11 ports, inc 4 TB4

40Gbps to TB laptop, 10Gbps to USB-C

Cons

4.5W USB-A ports

RRP:



£339.99

One upstream Thunderbolt 4 port (40Gbps, 90W PD)
Three Thunderbolt 4 downstream ports (40Gbps, 15W)
Three USB-A ports (10Gbps, 4.5W)
One USB-A port (480Mbps, 7.5W)
Gigabit Ethernet
• SD Card Reader (SD 4.0 UHS-II)
• Front-facing 3.5mm Analogue Audio In & Out port
180W power supply

The Kensington SD5700T Thunderbolt 4 Docking Station gives you everything a dock should and is compatible with the latest Thunderbolt 4 connection standard, which is itself backwards compatible with Thunderbolt 3 and USB-C–so offers the best of all worlds.

If your laptop has Thunderbolt 4 ports, it’s best to connect to a ThB4 dock such as this one.

At 180W, the power supply is the highest we’ve seen in all our hub and dock tests–great if you are powering multiple devices connected to the dock.

Read our full
Kensington SD5700T Thunderbolt 4 Docking Station review

HyperDrive GEN2 12-Port USB-C Dock – Best value USB-C dock with 12 ports

Pros

12 ports inc 10Gbps to laptop

Three display ports

Cons

No power supply, so requires USB-C charger

Limited for Macs

RRP:



£139.99

USB-C laptop compatible (works with Thunderbolt laptops at lower bandwidth)Compatible with USB-C Windows tablets and USB-C iPads85W PD charging via 1 x USB-C portUSB-C to the host (10Gbps)2 x HDMI (4K at 60Hz)DisplayPort 1.4 (4K at 60Hz)2 x USB-A port (10Gbps)2 x USB-A ports (480Mbps)SD Card Reader (SD 4.0 UHS-II)microSD Card Reader (SD 4.0 UHS-II)Gigabit Ethernet port3.5mm Analog Audio In & Out

USB-C comes in several flavours, based on speed and bandwidth: from Gen1 5Gbps standard to 10GBps Gen2.

The HyperDrive Gen2 USB-C Dock represents great value, bristling with 12 ports. You’ll need to bring your own USB-C wall charger (up to 100W), though, as there’s no power supply with this docking station.

It uses the pro-look compact metal form factor beloved of Thunderbolt 3 docks, but takes that level of multiple-port flexibility to the world of USB-C.

Two of its USB-A ports support 10Gbps bandwidth, but the other two are the far more lowly 480Mbps USB 2.0. 

Video options are plentiful (two HDMI and one DisplayPort) but Mac users should remember that over USB-C they can have just the one external display unless they download third-party DisplayLink drivers.

Caldigit USB-C SOHO Dock – Best portable USB-C dock for external display

Pros

Portable

Fast USB ports inc 10Gbps to laptop

Two display ports (4K at 60Hz)

Cons

No power supply, so requires USB-C charger

Few USB ports

No Gigabit Ethernet

RRP:



£89.99

USB-C laptop compatible (works with Thunderbolt laptops at lower bandwidth)Compatible with USB-C Windows tablets and USB-C iPads100W passthrough chargingUSB-C to the host (10Gbps)1 x DisplayPort 1.4 & 1 x HDMI 2.0 (single 4K display at 60Hz; or dual 4K at 30Hz)1 x USB-C (10Gbps)1 x USB-A (10Gbps)1 x USB-C Power DeliverySD Card Reader (UHS-II)microSD Card Reader (UHS-II)

Caldigit has done it again with its tiny SOHO (Small Office Home Office) Dock that beats other USB-C docks by supporting an external 4K display at 60Hz, rather than the lower-quality 30Hz limitation usually found with USB-C.

It achieves this by using separate lanes for both video and USB–meaning it can provide a consistent 4K 60Hz display while offering 10Gbps USB performance.

The SOHO Dock features the fastest USB ports you’ll find: both the USB-A and USB-C ports are rated at 10Gbps bandwidth, compared to many docks that have such ports at 5Gbps.

It also comes with both DisplayPort 1.4 and HDMI 2.0 ports for flexibility when adding an external display to your laptop.

The SOHO Dock doesn’t have many USB ports compared to the equally portable Twelve South StayGo, but if you need just one of each and speed is important to you, then it’s hard to beat.

Note that there’s no Gigabit Ethernet port for wired Internet access.

As this dock doesn’t come with its own power supply, power delivery to the laptop would be gained by attaching your wall charger to the dock, so depends on the charger’s capability.

Read our full
Caldigit USB-C SOHO Dock review

OWC USB-C Travel Dock E – Best compact USB-C dock

Pros

Portable

92W passthrough power

Cons

No power supply, so requires USB-C charger

Ports a little underpowered

5Gbps to laptop

RRP:



£75.99

Best Prices Today:



£69.95 at Amazon

USB-C laptop-compatible (works with Thunderbolt laptops at lower bandwidth)Compatible with USB-C Windows tablets and USB-C iPads92W passthrough chargingUSB-C cable to the host (5Gbps)1 x USB-C port (5Gbps)1 x HDMI 2.0 (single 4K display at 60Hz)2 x USB-A (5Gbps)Gigabit EthernetSD Card Reader (SD 4.0 UHS-II)

This portable USB-C dock has six ports, and boasts at least one of everything you should need. The E stands for Ethernet – a port missing from most USB-C adapters.

It connects to the laptop by a short 15cm cable. If you need a longer cable, you’d be better off with a dock without an integrated cable. But for travel purposes, a dock with its own cable saves you from carrying an extra one around with you.

The USB-C and USB-A ports are 5Gbps; you will find 10Gbps USB and more such ports on some docks but not in this compact size.

The pass-through charging is impressive at 92W, and you have the option of using the laptop’s bus power if you don’t have a wall charger to hand or access to an outlet.

It weighs just 174g (6.1oz) and is compact enough to fit in a trouser pocket. When you’re not travelling, it is great for taking up very little desk space.

PNY All-in-One USB-C Dock – Lightest USB-C dock with power

Pros

Portable

100W passthrough power

Two display ports

Cons

No power supply, so requires USB-C charger

5Gbps to laptop

RRP:



£74.99

Best Prices Today:



£74.99 at Amazon

USB-C laptop compatible (works with Thunderbolt laptops at lower bandwidth)100W passthrough chargingUSB-C to the host (5Gbps)2 x 5Gbps USB-C (one PD)1 x HDMI 1.2 (single 4K display at 30Hz)1 x VGA (single 1080p display; 1920×1200)2 x USB-A (5Gbps)Gigabit EthernetSD Card Reader (UHS-I)microSD Card Reader (UHS-I)100W maximum power

The portable PNY All-in-One USB-C Dock is compact (12-x-7-x-1.4 cm) and super lightweight, offering connection to one external display via either HDMI or VGA.

It packs its own short, integrated USB-C cable, making it a one-stop tool for your connection requirements, and no need to bring a separate cable to connect to your laptop.

Compared to other travel docks, it’s noticeably lighter (107g vs 151g), and a little shorter but an equal amount longer.

It matches well on ports and power, although the Twelve South StayGo has one more USB-A port, and its SD and microSD cards can be read simultaneously while the PNY can read one card at a time – which will rarely be a problem for most users.

It does boast a VGA port, which might come in useful with older displays or projectors.

We do prefer the StayGo’s two included cables (although neither is integrated), as one offers a handy 1m length compared to the PNY’s fairly meagre 12cm.

That said, its extreme lightness and VGA may well tempt those who travel to multiple destinations with mixed display options.

Read our full
PNY 9-in-1 Mini Portable USB-C Hub review

Lention USB-C Docking Station – Under-laptop USB-C dock for Windows

Pros

Design

Three display ports

100W passthrough power

Cons

No power supply, so requires USB-C charger

4K at 30Hz

5Gbps to laptop

Not for Mac

RRP:



£119.99

Best Prices Today:



£119.99 at Amazon

USB-C laptop compatible (works with Thunderbolt laptops at lower bandwidth)100W passthrough charging via USB-C (requires wall charger)USB-C to the host (5Gbps)1 x HDMI (single 4K display at 30Hz)1 x DisplayPort (single 4K display at 30Hz)1 x VGA (single 1080p HD display)2 x USB-A (5Gbps)1 x USB-A (480Mbps)Gigabit EthernetSD Card Reader (UHS-I)microSD Card Reader (UHS-I)

The Lention USB-C Universal Docking Station is designed to sit under your laptop, and so take up no extra desktop space. It also has a flap that makes it easy to rest a tablet, although not at the same time as the laptop.

It has three USB-A ports – one at USB 2.0’s 480Mbps and the other two at 5Gbps USB 3.0. The spare USB-C port is for attaching a wall charger as the dock doesn’t come with its own power supply. It can’t be used to attach a different USB-C device.

What is special about this dock is its three varied video options: HDMI, DisplayPort and VGA. Windows PCs can connect to three external displays at the same time, although the resolution is then pegged back to 720p HD quality rather than 1080p or 4K, which is possible with fewer monitors attached.

Although possible on a Mac, using DisplayLink software, Lention doesn’t recommend multiple displays for Macs, and when using two simultaneously on a Mac, only a Mirrored image is possible – so we wouldn’t rate this dock for use with Macs when better docks are available.

But for Windows it is fine, as long as the computer supports DisplayPort Alternate Mode.

Moshi Symbus Q – Best USB-C dock for wireless phone charging

Pros

Wireless phone charging

Compact

Cons

4K at 30Hz

5Gbps to laptop

RRP:



£219.99

USB-C laptop compatible (works with Thunderbolt laptops at lower bandwidth)Compatible with USB-C Windows tablets and USB-C iPads60W PD chargingUSB-C to the host (5Gbps)HDMI 2.0 (4K at 30Hz, 1080p at 60Hz)2 x USB-A (5Gbps)Gigabit EthernetWireless phone charger90W power supply

This is a small dock (11.6 x 7.2 x 3.2 cm) that has a neat trick we haven’t seen on others—it doubles up as a Qi wireless charger for your phone!

This wireless charging supports iPhones at 7.5W and Samsung phones at 9W for fast charging. And it can charge through cases up to 5mm thick.

It doesn’t have Audio In/Out but Bluetooth might suit you better than wired for sound anyway.

We found the Symbus Q to be a very stable compact docking station. It has a built-in, short cable so needs to be fairly close to your laptop.

There’s also a model (just Symbus) that doesn’t include Qi wireless charging, from Amazon.

HyperDrive GEN2 6-Port USB-C Hub

Pros

Portable

10Gbps to laptop

60Hz 4K

Cons

No power supply, so requires USB-C charger

RRP:



£89.99

Best Prices Today:



£51.37 at Amazon

USB-C laptop compatible (works with Thunderbolt laptops at lower bandwidth)Compatible with USB-C Windows tablets and USB-C iPads85W PD chargingUSB-C to the host (10Gbps)HDMI (4K at 60Hz)1 x USB-A (10Gbps)SD Card Reader (UHS-II)microSD Card Reader (UHS-II)

This little USB-C hub is very solidly built. Its metal exterior is ridged to keep the dock cool.

While not overloaded with ports, its six cover the essentials: HDMI for an external display, a fast 10Gbps, a solitary USB-A port for one extra device, both SD and microSD Card readers (at full speed), a 3.5mm audio slot, and USB-C for power delivery up to an impressive 100W – enough for any high-end laptop.

Most notable is the HDMI connection that can handle 4K at 60Hz, unlike most USB-C docks.

There’s no Gigabit Ethernet for wired Internet, so it’s for Wi-Fi lovers only. The one USB-A port might be seen as stingy but for a portable USB-C dock, it’s not for mass device connections.

Plugable USB-C & USB 3.0 Dual HDMI USB Docking Station (UD-3900C)

Pros

USB-C and USB-A compatible

Two HDMI

Six USB-A

Cons

No power to laptop

No 4K display

5Gbps to laptop

RRP:



£189

Best Prices Today:



Not Available at Amazon

USB-C and USB-A laptop compatible (works with Thunderbolt laptops at lower bandwidth)Compatible with USB-C Windows tablets and USB-C iPadsNo PD chargingHybrid USB-C and USB-A to the host (5Gbps)2 x HDMI 1.3 (HD at 60Hz)2 x USB-A (5Gbps)4 x USB-A (480MBps)2 x Input and Output audio jacks

This “universal” USB docking station uses a 2-in-1 cable that means you can connect either to USB-A or USB-C systems. This makes it useful in hybrid, hot-desking office environments where older laptops (USB-A) might mingle with more modern ones (USB-C or Thunderbolt).

The Plugable UD-3900C dock features two HDMI 1.3 ports so you can connect more than one external display, although the maximum 2048-x-1152 resolution for each is not 4K.

Alongside these display connections at the back are four USB 2.0 ports (480Mbps) and Gigabit Ethernet. At the front are two faster 5Gbps USB-A ports and 3.5mm audio input and output jacks. All USB ports can charge at a rather weedy 2.5W, so this is not the dock for using to charge devices, and the 20W power supply means it won’t charge a connected laptop either, so you need a separate PD wall charger attached to your laptop at the same time.

It’s a handy docking station for hot-desking office spaces where there’s a mix of USB-A and USB-C laptops, but the low port speeds and lack of charging aren’t impressive enough specs for us to recommend this dock to users of Thunderbolt 3 or 4 laptops or USB-C-only users.

Plugable USB 3.0 Dual 4K Display Docking Station (UD-6950H) – HDMI and DisplayPort

Pros

Choice of HDMI and/or DisplayPort

Six USB-A ports

Four display ports

Cons

No power to laptop

5Gbps to laptop

US only

RRP:



£189

USB-C laptop compatible (works with Thunderbolt laptops at lower bandwidth)Compatible with USB-C Windows tablets and USB-C iPadsNo PD chargingUSB-C to the host (5Gbps)2 x HDMI 2.0 (4K at 60Hz)2 x DisplayPort 1.2 (4K at 60Hz)6 x USB-A (5Gbps, 4.5W)Gigabit Ethernet2 x Input and Output audio jacks

The Plugable UD-6950H Docking Station boasts two DisplayPort and two HDMI ports, so you can connect two monitors (4K displays at 60Hz) to your laptop via this dock using either display connector.

This choice makes it suitable for hot-desking office environments where laptops might come with either connection, and saves buying adapters if you have one monitor of each type.

Other than that, it’s a fairly standard Gigabit Ethernet dock, although it does offer an impressive six USB-A ports.

The downside is that you’ll still need to power your laptop outside of the dock, as it doesn’t have any charging functionality—only a low power supply for the dock itself.

Dell DA300 – A dinky mobile USB-C hub

Pros

Dinky and portable

10Gbps to laptop

60Hz 4K

Cons

No power to laptop

RRP:



£101.99

USB-C laptop compatible (works with Thunderbolt laptops at lower bandwidth)USB-C cable to the host (10Gbps)No PD chargingDisplayPort 1.2; HDMI 2.0; VGA; (4K at 30Hz, 1080p at 60Hz)1 x USB-A (10GBps); 1 x USB-C (10Gbps)Gigabit EthernetNo power supply

Dell’s DA300 Mobile USB-C Adapter is a much dinkier dock than most of the docks reviewed here. You could simply pop it in your pocket (it weighs 80g) and use both at home and away, although one at each location, pre-connected to your other devices, would make sense.

It comes with its own USB-C cable, and can rotate, so the ports you need closest are where you want them.

There’s no power supply, so no PD charging. That means connected devices will take their power from your laptop—which can, of course, still be charged in a regular manner by its own charger.

That’s why we prefer the Twelve South StayGo as our favourite portable USB-C dock, although you’ll get higher frame rates on a 4K display with this dock.

Because it has a 10Gbps USB-C connection to the laptop, it can support 4K resolution at full 60Hz, with laptops that support DP1.3 and above with 4K displays. It will work with just about any display you are confronted with (DisplayPort, HDMI, USB-C, and even ye-olde VGA) so is great in the business person’s briefcase for those tricky meeting room presentation situations.

And it’s pretty cheap, too, if you can live without it charging your laptop while in use, and you don’t need multiple external displays.

Baseus 8-in-1 USB-C Hub – Best USB-C Hub that acts like a dock

Pros

8 ports inc Ethernet, 4K HDMI

100W PD

3x USB-A (5Gbps)

Cons

4K at 30Hz

5Gbps to laptop

RRP:



£39.99

Best Prices Today:



£39.99 at Amazon

USB-C laptop compatible (works with Thunderbolt laptops at lower bandwidth)Compatible with USB-C Windows tablets and USB-C iPads100W PD charging via USB-C portUSB-C to the host (5Gbps)HDMI (4K at 30Hz on laptops which support DisplayPort 1.4)3 x USB-A (5Gbps)SD Card Reader (UHS-I)TF (microSD) Card Reader (UHS-I)

The Baseus 8-in1 USB-C HUb doesn’t call itself a dock, but does a remarkably good job as a docking station at a very affordable price.

Its feature set is comparable to a portable dock with an HDMI port for an external 4K display (at 30Hz rather than 60Hz) and Gigabit Ethernet for wired Internet access.

And you can connect your USB-C PD charger to bring up to 100W pass-through power to the host laptop so you don’t lose a valuable USB-C or Thunderbolt 3 port on the laptop if you need to charge or sync. There are three USB-A ports pushing data at 5Gbps but a little underwhelming on device charging at 7.5W each. There are SD and MicroSD (TF) slots for storage cards, so you can slot in a camera card, or use the flash memory for extra laptop storage.

Useful ports on the dock

USB-C: First, you need to connect your USB-C laptop to the dock, which takes up one of the dock’s USB-C ports, unless the dock has its own attached cable. One of the docks we tested can also connect to USB-A laptops so is useful for mixed hot-desking environments.

Most docks feature extra USB-C ports to attach compatible devices or connect to a USB-C display. You can also buy a USB-C to HDMI or USB-C to DisplayPort adapter to use this extra port to add an external display; see below.

USB-C comes in either 5Gbps or 10Gbps bandwidth varieties. If data-transfer speed is important, look for a dock with a higher rating. USB speed ratings are numerous, so pay attention to the technical specifications.

Also look for docks with USB PD, which stands for Power Delivery–this is a key feature on a full docking station. And then match that with the wattage your laptop needs to charge at full power. Most mid-sized laptops require 60W, but some larger laptops are begging for as much as 100W. Docks that can handle that much charging power can be more expensive as they need a larger power supply.

If the dock doesn’t have PD, then it will be drawing power from your laptop to run the other devices–unless the dock features a USB-C port that allows for passthrough charging via a separate USB-C charger (see our roundup of the best USB-C chargers). The same will happen with PDs with a lower wattage than the laptop. An 87W laptop can be charged by a 60W USB PD, but at a slower pace.

(Windows PC users must check if their USB-C port is capable of laptop charging as not all PC manufacturers have added this functionality to their USB-C ports, limiting them to data or display only.)

We also list the total wattage of the power supply, as this will often allow the charging of connected bus-powered devices.

Thunderbolt and USB4: Looking exactly like USB-C, Thunderbolt is a much faster connection standard–certified at 40Gbps. Thunderbolt 4 and USB4 are backwards compatible with Thunderbolt 3 and USB-C, and have some extra benefits such as smarter daisy-chaining and the ability for docks to include up to four TB4 ports.

Standalone charging: This means the dock can charge devices, such as a phone or tablet, even when the laptop is disconnected.

USB-A: This is the ‘old’ rectangular USB standard that’s still used by many devices, such as hard drives, memory sticks, and printers. Work out how many of these you need when selecting the right dock for you. Like USB-C, USB-A comes in different speeds: from a lowly 480Mbps (USB 2.0) to the most common 5Gbps (USB 3.0/3.1) and the latest speedy 10Gbps (USB 3.1 v2). USB speeds and types explained here.

Display: You might want to hook your laptop up to an external display for more screen space. Why not boost that 13in laptop screen to a 32in 4K monitor? Some external displays use USB-C, so you can connect via a laptop’s spare port or via one on the dock. Most docks, however, include either DisplayPort or HDMI ports, or a mix of both; some include the old VGA standard. And you can attach USB-C to HDMI or USB-C to DisplayPort adapters, too. 

Most dual-monitor setups allow for two displays at 1080p HD resolution, but the best high-resolution displays are 4K. 4K at 60Hz is the best for gaming and high-graphics performance, while 4K at 30Hz is good enough for more productivity-based tasks–but not as great as at that higher rate. 

Non-Thunderbolt USB-C docks are mostly limited to 30Hz 4K but there are some that can support 60Hz on one external display.

Look out for the version of DisplayPort or HDMI, as the later versions have greater powers when it comes to higher resolutions and refresh rates.

HDMI 1.4: Supports up to 4K (3840-x-2160) at 30Hz, or 1080p HD at 120Hz.

HDMI 2.0: Supports up to 4K at 60Hz

DisplayPort 1.2: Supports up to 4K at 60Hz

DisplayPort 1.3: Supports up to 4K at 120Hz or 8K at 30Hz

DisplayPort 1.4: Supports up to 8K at 60Hz and HDR

For laptops that have only a 5Gbps USB-C port, 4K at 60Hz is out of the question. So check your laptop specs. (Thunderbolt laptops have no problem getting 4K at 60Hz even on two displays.)

Most mid- to high-end displays now have DisplayPort and HDMI built into the monitor, allowing users to choose the connector they want to use. The resolution is the same on HDMI and DisplayPort, but DisplayPort can be more stable and capable in certain situations. Read more on HDMI vs DisplayPort.

Note that the latest Macs (except the latest M1 Pro and M1 Max MacBook Pro models) support only one external display over USB-C (two over Thunderbolt), although you can get around this limitation by installing DisplayLink drivers.

Gigabit Ethernet: With an Ethernet port on the dock you can connect to wired Internet, which is usually much faster than Wi-Fi.

SD or Micro SD Card Reader: We usually think of these as camera memory/storage cards, and one of these reader ports will allow you to quickly slip in your photo-laden card for immediate access from your laptop. However, more usefully, SD or Micro SD Cards are also an incredibly inexpensive way of adding portable storage to your laptop. Take a look on Amazon for affordable SD and Micro SD Cards (Amazon UK or Amazon US), where you can buy 256GB for around £30 or $40. Adding that amount of storage to a laptop would normally cost you around £150.

Tablets: A lot of these docks work with USB-C tablets, such as the iPad Pro and Windows tablets, but check first that the Windows tablet has USB-C and the appropriate video options. Also, check out the best tablet stands.

Computer Accessories

Leave a Comment

Generated by Feedzy