Laptops are handy but most often we crave the experience or should I say the comfort of working on a desktop, right?
What if I told you that experience is just a plug-in away (and you don’t even need a desktop)? Yup, that’s where the best laptop docking stations come in handy.
But that’s not all, you also get multiple USB ports for important accessories, additional displays, Ethernet cables and so on.
And to help you find the one that best fits your needs and budget, we did the digging your you.
Check out top picks for 2018.
Best Laptop Docking Stations 2018
Well, you may ask what does a docking station do for a laptop. Ok, we’ve two types of laptop owners today: those that can work comfortably from the cloud systems thus no need for much storage space or irrelevant ports, and those that want to enjoy massive storage space and control from peripherals and yet stay on a portable device.
We all know what we want to work in a comfortable way. The question remains, how do you get the best laptop docking station in 2018? Well, we have delved into the market to give you a detailed understanding of the best docking stations, an update to our best laptop docking stations 2018.
Each of the docking stations outlined below is designed to offer an expansion to the ultrabook performance to increase your productivity.
|1. Plugable USB 3.0 Universal Dock Editor's Choice||
|2. Anker Dual Display Dock||
|3. Microsoft Surface Dock Editor's Choice||
|4. Elgato Thunderbolt 2 Dock||
|5. Targus USB 3.0 SuperSpeed Dual Video||
|6. Kensington SD3500v Universal||
|7. HP Compaq Ultra Slim Dock||
|8. Lenovo Thinkpad USB 3.0 Dock||
|9. OWC Thunderbolt 2 Dock with 1M Thunderbolt Cable||
|10. HP ZBook 150W TB3 Dock||
1. Plugable USB 3.0 Universal- Best Laptop Docking in 2018
Using a dock makes it easy to use multiple monitors and other peripherals with your laptop. Plugable USB 3.0 Universal Laptop Docking Station for Windows is designed to support dual Full-HD screens. It has modern ports to ensure effective connectivity to your machine. While this device does not work with 4K monitors, it is effective for use in various settings.
This is a small monolith that is made to stand on the desk. It is ready for connection various peripherals to the PC. Made with a black plastic and standing vertically, the dock has a sturdy base and screwed into the bottom. The 7-inch tall dock comes with various essential ports. It allows for easy connection to your laptop and other external devices. Connecting to multiple monitors was interesting during our review. I found the VI and HDMI ports very useful.
Design, Features, and Performance
The dock has USB 2.0 ports and an Ethernet jack. To connect your laptop to the dock, there is a USB-Type B port. On the front, there are two USB 3.0 ports. These are super-speed ports for ultimate data transfer. The face comes with a microphone and headphone jacks. For the old VGA-only monitors, the dock comes with a DVI-to-VGA adapter. Worth mentioning is the need to use an HDMI-to-DVI adapter if your monitor lacks an HDMI port.
- SuperSpeed USB 3.0 for up to 5 Gbps link between a laptop and audio, video, network and extra USB 3.0 ports.
- Backward compatibility to allow connection to USB 2.0 devices.
- Compatible with Windows 10, 8, 7 and XP. It works with Intel and AMD-powered devices only.
- Sufficient display ports including HDMI and VGA/DVI for use with external monitors.
- Gigabit Ethernet network port.
- 4 USB 2.0 ports controlled by Terminus chipset, and USB 3.0 ports.
- Four-Amp AC power adapter, USB Type-A male and USB Type-B male cable. DVI-to-VGA passive port adapter.
During the external monitors’ performance test, I connected the Dell Inspiron 17 5000 laptops to the Plugable USB 3.0 Universal Laptop Docking Station for Windows. The machine has an Intel Core i3-50110U processor, 4GB RAM, and a 500GB hard drive. This means the computer is not expensive. When testing from an HDMI port, the resolution was maxed at 2560 x 1440. The dock enhances video quality to deliver even a 4K video without lags. It can allow for 1080p streaming smoothly.
Overall, for your Windows PC, the Plugable USB 3.0 Universal Laptop Docking Station for Windows is all you need to achieve the ultimate performance level. It is affordable and delivers immensely. Our review team reviewed it as a powerful dock even after throwing a lot to it. The device expands the laptop performance to deliver beyond the ordinary.
- The docking station is affordable
- Offers immense performance enhancement
- Expand connectivity thanks to the plenty ports available
- Designed in vertical-only look
- There is no direct 4K resolution support
2. Anker Dual Display – Universal Docking Station
Modern laptops, tablets, and ultrabooks have gone slim, but at the expense of a few important ports. This has hampered the ability to connect to peripherals and other accessories. If you love connecting your portable device to external monitors, keyboard, mouse among other peripherals, you need a quality docking station.
Getting the outright docking station could be tricky. The new Anker Dual Display Universal Docking Station offers you an obvious choice. If you want to take control of your workspace, this is the best station for coordination. Built for simplicity, this docking station gives you the ability to connect all your peripherals through a single USB 3.0 cable.
Thanks to the DVI and HDMI dual connection, you can connect to two external monitors to give you a total of 3 display units. This is a great working experience at home or office.
The Anker Dual Display Universal Docking Station works comfortably with Android, Ubuntu, Mac and Windows (10, 8, 8.1, 7 and XP). This is one of the most reliable, and favorite universal docking station in the market. I found the station to offer optimal use with every laptop I had.
Worth mentioning, for Linux and Mac users, ensure that you have the correct software.
The station comes with ‘Automatic Bandwidth Prioritization.’ This is a built-in feature that keeps on working to ensure the constant and smooth running of the system. It ensures no breakdowns and lags during your work. Transfer of data can be the best at 5 Gbps thanks to the dual USB 3.0 ports. They allow connection to high-speed devices at a go. The ports are found on the front panel. The back panel comes with 4 additional USB ports, USB 2.0 ports for extra connection to your system. In additional super speeds on the USB 3.0 ports, one of the two USB 3.0 ports can allow for charging. I must admit that this is a feature out of the ordinary. Most docking stations do not have this feature.
The design features a sleek black finish with a detachable standing base. There is a driver CD in the package too. For comfortable use, the station comes with an instruction manual, USB 3.0 cable, and a power adapter. Here are some of the goodies I enjoyed about using the Anker Dual Display Universal Docking Station:
The mother of all hubs helps you to work at the helm: Bring that printer, scanner, external HDD, speakers, monitors, keyboards, mice, webcams, and routers together, and there is no worry for multiple cables. You can utterly turn your laptop into a command center.
Multitasking is a dream-come-true: You can add up to 2 more monitors thus expanding your control on the active applications. I enjoyed this feature so much thanks to the Anker Dual Display Universal Docking Station. You can use the high-resolution displays through DVI and HDMI so as to surf the web, stream videos and manage your business operation at one go.
Incredibly dynamic design: The docking station consolidates all your peripheral devices for better management. Also comes with a chip for prioritization when running at a full capacity. The base stand is made of zinc-alloy, a sturdy one to remain stable when in operation.
- Suitable for multitasking
- Comes with chip for prioritization
- High-resolution displays through HDMI
- Has only 2 usb 3.0 ports
3. Microsoft Surface Dock –Best Laptop Docking Station
Transform your Surface into a desktop PC by using a Dock now for the ultimate performance results. It comes with an array of useful ports that are needed to deliver High-Definition video. There is a Gigabit Ethernet port for quality connectivity and to ensure that you remain online.
There are 4 USB 3.0 ports that allow super-speed data transfer to and from the laptop. Your dock has an audio output thus making this an all-around docking station you are looking for in the market.
Get it right at work. Using a Microsoft Surface Dock transforms your ultraportable Surface into an immensely powerful desktop PC.
If you have been using Surface Pro 3, then the current docking station is nothing new to you. The unit comes with a full base making it easy to slip the Surface Pro 3 into the protective dock. There is an Ethernet port on the back. A Mini DisplayPort and 5 USB ports ( 2 USB 2.0 and 3 USB 3.0 ports).
The new Microsoft Surface Dock is compatible for use with Surface Pro 3, Surface Pro 4, and Surface Book laptop. There is a magnetic connector to the external devices. Designed with class, it sits unobtrusively behind your laptop. This creates a decent look on your desk. Both the current and previous Surface Pro tablets are easily supported.
Measuring 5.12 by 2.36 by 1.18 inches, the Microsoft Surface Dock weighs barely 1.21 lbs.
Design and Features
The port selection from this docking station is incredible. Compared to its predecessor, the new dock comes with a great choice for quality connection ports. There is even great news thanks to the dock’s capacity to drive 4K-resolution displays. Transfer of data on this dock is super-speed. All the USB ports are USB 3.0 making the device very effective.
Use a single Surface Connect cable to pass all the signals between the dock and the tablet. Naturally, there is a need to supply the dock with its power. Charging your Surface Pro should not be an issue since it can charge while connected.
The new Microsoft Surface Dock comes in a sleek, compact look as opposed the previous design.
The following are the main features of the new Microsoft Surface Dock:
- 4 USB 3.0 ports: For super-speed transfer of data from the laptop. The ports are used for connection to all other peripherals.
- Gigabit Ethernet port: To offer speedy LAN connection thus effective surfing and always staying online.
- SurfaceConnect Technology: This is a state-of-the-art transfer technology that allows for charging and simple connectivity through a single cable.
- Audio-out and 2 Mini DisplayPort input ports: You can only enjoy the of your laptop’s entertainment capacity with the new dock station.
As you would expect, the Microsoft Surface Dock comes with an easy guide on how to use it. It is a reliable solution for maximum performance results for your ultrabook. Always utilize the dock for ultimate results, and you will enjoy working from home and the office on multiple applications at one go.
4. Plugable Thunderbolt 3 – Laptop Dock with Thunderbolt Cable
Plugable is one of the most reputed brands when it comes to docking stations (as you know from our #1 pick) and the Thunderbolt 3 is just another example of why.
And unlike our previous pick, this one is tailored made for MacBook Pro users but will provide
seamless functionality to Thunderbolt 3 compatible windows laptops as well.
Though for windows users updated NVM firmware, system BIOS, and Thunderbolt/GPU drivers are a must. Here’s more about this docking station.
Design, Features, and Performance
Setting the Thunderbolt 3 apart from the Plugable Universal Dock is its compatibility with 4K monitors which can be connected using the integrated DisplayPort output or the Active DisplayPort to HDMI adapter (included with the purchase).
But it also efficiently connects with other low resolutions like lower resolution modes such as
3440×1440, 2560×1600 etc. Allowing to connect your external disks or mobile to the docking station are the five 3.0 USB ports
(now, transfer data at lightning speed) while the combined analog audio input lets you connect your headphones or speakers. After all, what’s work without some good music, right?
With 60W of power, your laptop will never out of battery (so no annoying Battery Low indications while working) and the 40 Mbps bandwidth ensures everything operates at optimum speed (a good graphics card comes in handy here).
And keeping you online at all times is the Gigabit Ethernet networks that operate via the 1.0 Gbps i210 Intel network adapter and 10Gbps peer-to-peer networking in case of a direct connection with another Thunderbolt 3-enabled laptop.
The anodized aluminum build and space gray finish means it fits in seamlessly with the décor of both your room or office cabin and will last you for years to come.
But what If you have a small desk? No worries, the stand allows for vertical placement so space is never an issue and since the stand is removable you can switch to a horizontal placement within a few seconds.
To top of the list of its high-end features, the Thunderbolt 3 you can also get dual displays. But keep in mind, a second display will largely depend on your laptop’s manufacturer and will require additional hardware to be purchased.
All in all, any MacBook Pro user is sure to be delighted with the Thunderbolt 3 as it is compatible with it, unlike the USB 3.0 Universal dock. Yup, it will cost you few extra bucks but with top of the line features, the Thunderbolt will jolt up your productivity and comfort levels.
#5: Plugable USB-C Mini Docking Station
Told you Plugable is a top-notch brand and this time it’s one of their most compact docking stations that makes the list. If you’re a person always on the go, this is just the docking station you have been wishing for.
But don’t misunderstand its compact design, the Mini Docking station is packed with features and power that’s sure to leave anyone impressed.
Design, Features, and Performance
For a small docking station, this Mini model delivers a whopping 85W of power. This makes charging your mobile and laptops hassle free and quick.
Plus, if you love a crystal clear view of your work, the 4K compatible HDMI output is just what you needed but if not, it works perfectly well with lower resolutions as well.
Being online is an important aspect of everyday work these days and that’s where the 1 Gigabit Ethernet port comes to the party.
And to make work fun or keep out the distractions you can also enjoy your favorite music through the TRRS jack that lets you connect your headphones or even microphone.
With the 4 USB 3.0 Ports, all your data will not take more than a few seconds or minutes to get transferred depending on the file size.
If you’re a hardcore gamer (don’t tell me you aren’t playing Fortnite) or a graphic designer, the VESA DisplayPort in tandem with a graphics card will provide an unmatched experience with an excellent display so no detail ever goes unnoticed.
Lastly, while the Plugable Mini Docking Station is compatible with MacBook and most window laptops if you’re using a USB 3.0/2.0 Type-A legacy system (mostly AMD laptops), this one’s not for you.
To conclude all I would like to say is when it comes to compact docking stations, the Plugable Mini sticks by its promise of being the most powerful and productive docking station on the market. Does cost slightly higher but it’s convenience and comfort you pay for and that in my opinion makes anything worthwhile.
Nothing comes through for your workstation like having multiple display units for the different projects you could be handling. The Kensington SD3500v Universal USB 3.0 Dual Display Docking Station comes with the best expansion capacity to make your laptop a powerful device to deliver adequately.
Let’s face it; today every manufacturer is fighting to go ultra-thin on their notebooks. This has become the trend with a lot of sacrifices on some of the features including ports and storage space among others. Thanks to the docking station technology, you can enjoy expansive connectivity and display all in one. The docking station comes with modern USB 3.0 ports for super-speed data transfer. You can now copy stuff to and from your laptop at a speed of up to 5 Gbps. The ports have a reliable backward compatibility technology to accommodate USB 2.0. This dual docking station brings forth an immense productivity boost without sacrificing on aesthetics or taking up much desk space.
Featuring a slim design, the docking station complements the modern Ultrabooks in a perfect manner. You can use the Kensington to lock down the station for maximum security. This universal docking station is created to work with your ultrabooks including MacBook machines and other super slim laptops by converting them into a powerful workstation without much of an effort.
Display and Setup
You can have multiple monitors while working on our project. With Kensington SD3500v Universal USB 3.0 Dual Display Docking Station, it is as simple as connecting to a single cable. It comes with a DVI port to allow for connection to the DVI monitor. There is a DVI>VGA adapter that allows for connection to VGA monitor too. In case you have an HDMI monitor, there is an HMDI out port that you can connect to and display to a large screen.
I enjoyed connecting to a second HDMI monitor to the DVI port through and include DVI>HDMI adapter. With this docking station, it is possible to run both DVI and HDMI ports at one go.
Make your workspace even bigger. The Kensington SD3500v Universal USB 3.0 Dual Display Docking Station comes with an ‘Extend Mode.’ It allows for sharing of the desktop across multiple screens. This is a feature I found to be interesting for improved productivity when working with and viewing multiple applications at the same time.
Heard of cloning? Well, with Kensington SD3500v Universal USB 3.0 Dual Display Docking Station, it is possible to replicate the content from one monitor to a second display. This works best for presentations and team projects. You can continue to work on the master display as the content is projected on the other monitor.
The docking station comes with an intuitive display management console. It sits on the laptop’s applications bar. With this, you can switch between various display modes, change the master and slave monitors, or adjust the alignment as you position the screens. For corporate, there is an installation support for mass installation through Microsoft Server.
The Kensington SD3500v Universal USB 3.0 dual display docking station features a modern design with ports well positioned to ensure maximum productivity. You do not have to worry about making your laptop come through during mass production and presentation anymore – get your docking station now.
- Optimized for Windows laptops and 2-in-1 convertibles
- Audio 2.0 for enhanced sound
- Built-in Kensington Security Slot
- Features the extend mode that allows you to share desktop across multiple screens
- Average build quality
- Has only 2 USB 3.0 ports
7. HP Compaq Ultra-Slim – For HP EliteBook Notebooks
The docking system helps in expanding the display, connectivity features, and network capacity. This is an advanced way to enhance productivity at work. With a simple slide-in, one-click dock, you can enjoy the coolest ultrabook expansion system.
Featuring four USB 3.0 ports for optimal speed connectivity, this dock station comes with an expansive connectivity to all your USB devices. Data transmission over the new USB 3.0 technology is super-speed as compared to the traditional USB 2.0 ports. The ports have backward compatibility with the USB 2.0 devices and are bi-directional.
The display can never get any better. With the VGA and DisplayPort ports, the dock station will ensure that you get future and legacy compatibility for your choice of video devices. The HP Compaq Ultra-Slim Docking Station comes with a high-speed Ethernet/LAN port to ensure that you stay online.
Design, Features, and Performance
When working from outside the office, your HP laptop can be of ease to carry around. If you need to expand the performance and productivity, you can now use your docking station to enjoy a feel like none other.
With a single cable connection to your laptop, you can sit back and enjoy full-space expansion and connectivity to all your devices. Everyone wants to have the convenience and capacity to work from any place at full capacity. The HP docking station converts your portable device into a powerhouse with fully-fledged working capacity. All you need is to connect to the right devices and enjoy.
Working on multiple projects and need to highlight results from various programs? Worry no more. The docking station is what you need. With multiple display connectivity, you can enjoy 3 display units at one go without a problem. The dock station works efficiently in displaying different tasks on the 3 monitors making your notebook appear a modern powerhouse workstation.
During our review, I experienced the difference that comes with the use of a docking station. It made you feel a whole new way from the typical laptop use. It turns your computer into a workstation beyond what you can ever imagine. It is a superb technology that you need for better results while using your HP laptop.
Charge your smartphone without hustling for a socket to plug in thanks to the charging USB port on the dock station. Powering your laptop is even fun and simple on this station. In a nutshell, the station makes everything work easily and with less involvement.
#8 Sabrent Universal Docking Station
Not only is it feature rich but also compactly designed and can easily fit into any backpack so you can have a workstation anyplace, anytime you wish.
Design, Features, and Performance
One of the best features of this docking station is that it supports 2 displays and that too simultaneously through the HDMI and DVI ports. A feature I am sure every multi-tasking person will appreciate as it helps get the job done quickly. But that’s not all. Along with the 2 screens, you can also enjoy non-stop music so your busy workday never gets too monotonous.
And neither will you have to wait for hours for your data to be transferred as the docking station features Two USB 3.0 + Two USB 2.0 Ports which allow for speeds for 5Gbps and 480Mbps respectively.
The 2.0 Ports are also ideal for wireless keyboards, mouse, printer or other USB devices. This way everything you need is available right at your desk allowing you to better focus on the important things at hand.
Also, allowing you to stay connected to the internet and have all your files downloaded or uploaded or even stream movies and live sports at rapid speeds is the 10/100/1000 Gigabit Ethernet Port.
The Sabrent is also designed is a way that it can itself hold your tablet upright without any additional accessories. So you have an additional display and you didn’t even have to compromise an inch of your desk space.
And to keep that tablet or your mobile or laptop charged for the uninterrupted working experience it also comes with 2.4A Fast Charging Ports.
Lastly, if you’re using a windows laptop it comes with all the important drivers and a detailed user manual for easy setup and usage (just in case you’re new to using a docking station).
Well, I am sure by now you’ve heard plenty about the impressive features the Sabrent is loaded with but what’s even more eye-catching about it is that it all comes for less than $100. Convenience, comfort, and budget-friendly, well, sounds a like a real winner to me.
#9: Lenovo ThinkPad USB-C Ultra Dock
Being a Lenovo product I had plenty of expectations from this dock and guess what, it lives up to that by delivering excellent functionality and convenience. Here’s everything to you need to know about it.
Design, Features, and Performance
To begin with, it’s got a sleek design and is lightweight which means it can be used both at home and carried in your laptop bag to your office without feeling the additional weight.
You can either enjoy your favorite movies and games through a single screen at 4k resolution or if you’ve got your work mode on and want to multi-task, switch dual screens at 1080p resolution. Further helping you in getting work done in quick time are the 3 3.0 USB ports, 2 2.0USB ports and, 1 USB – C upstream connector so all your files and folders get transferred in a matter of minutes.
Next up, we all want a fast internet connection, don’t we now? With a reliable Ethernet port, the Ultra dock ensures your internet operates at optimum speeds at all times. This makes sharing files with peers simpler.
Lastly, you can also charge your mobile devices like the smartphone while using the dock thanks to the 90W power it delivers and the available charging ports. It requires AC power to operate.
For any buyer looking for a docking station, spending around $200 can be daunting. But if you’re looking for a reliable and fast docking station that’s compatible with almost every Lenovo laptop, it’s the ideal dock. It takes little to no space on the desk and will help you maximize your productivity with its amazing features.
Not happy with the just 2 displays? If you really want to up your game the TrendNet Universal docking stations gives you the ability to do just that with 3 displays. Plus, at a cost that won’t pinch your pocket either.
It may lack the fancy frills of the more high-end docking stations but it’s not one we’d want to ignore. Here’s why it makes the top 10.
Design, Features, and Performance
The dock comes with a multi-HD display and to provide you with the elusive third display it also supports two 1080 resolutions screens (now that’s how you really multi-task). And since you’d be busy working, to lighten things up you can also listen to your favorite music
either via the HDMI port or headphone port provided at the front of the dock (just in case you’re in the zone).
The two 3.0 USB ports as expected give you the power of transferring all your data at really high speed. 5 GBPS to be precise. And with the 2 2.0 USB ports at the back, you can connect your wireless keyboard, mouse, printer etc. for greater productivity and comfort.
To make sure you can be online at all times and download important files, stream movies etc. without any hassles or long wait the dock also comes with a Gigabit Ethernet port.
Also, it does not take up much of your desk space and can be easily placed in a vertical position as it has a sturdy supporting stand.
Included in the package are also all the drivers and installation guides so you should have it all up and running within a few minutes.
My only issue and reason for it being at #10 were that it does not support charging of devices like the mobile or tablet like the previous picks.
But because the dock is compatible with almost all windows and Mac laptops, has the necessary ports, a space-saving design and will cost you less than $100, it’s for sure one the budget buyer’s should consider.
Wrapping it up
Docking stations are designed to convert laptops into more reliable desktop replacements. With the modern laptops going smaller thanks to the dearth of ports and storage space, these stations have been known to work best in making ultrabooks more comfortable and powerful from wherever you are. They simply turn a laptop into an easy-to-use desktop.
It is true to say that mobile devices are very convenient to use. However, to get most of your work done, there is always need for a computer. This is the scope even for laptops. They are convenient for use, but desktop PCs are the outright choice for office domain. This is no longer a cause for worry. With docking stations, you can be sure to enjoy the best of both worlds. You can simply chuck your laptop while in meetings and later dock it into a regular desktop and connect to a monitor or keyboard while in the office or at home.