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Best laptop docking stations

Best laptop docking stations
(Image credit: Future)

Whether you take your laptop everywhere or always leave it in the house, you want to have the best docking station possible to match your laptop when its sitting on your desk, especially if you don't have enough ports. With a laptop docking station, you can attach your system to multiple monitors and a wide variety of peripherals with extra USB ports.

Depending on your needs, you can find budget laptop docking stations that will output to dual HD monitors over standard USB, or more expensive docking stations that have support for USB Type-C and for 4K monitors that will work not only with your current laptop, but also your next one.

You can take a look at our ports guide and Thunderbolt 3 explainer to learn about all of the ports out there and which ones you need. Microsoft just unveiled a bunch of Surface products, including the Surface Dock 2, which offers four USB Type-C ports, an Ethernet port, a headphone jack, two USB Type-A ports and a Kensington lock all for $259.

Here are the best laptop docking stations

Plugable USB-C Triple Display Dock Best laptop docking stations

1. Plugable USB-C Triple Display Dock (4.5 Stars)

The best overall docking station you can buy

Ports: 12

4K Output
Supports three monitors
Charges USB Type-C laptops
Vertical-only design
Fewer ports than competitors

Using the Plugable USB-C Triple Display Dock (UD-ULTCD) feels a bit like living in the future. It works with all of the newest standards, including USB Type-C for charging and external displays, along with support for a 4K monitor. 

It's oriented in a vertical position, so you can't keep the dock under your laptop or monitors, but its performance and support for three displays simultaneously makes the Triple Display Dock our top choice.

See our full Plugable USB-C Triple Display Dock review.

Plugable Thunderbolt 3 Docking Station (TBT3-UDV) Best laptop docking stations

2. Plugable Thunderbolt 3 Docking Station (4.5 Stars)

The best Thunderbolt 3 docking station

Ports: 10

Solid price
Horizontal design with option for stand
Powers up to two 4K monitors while also charging
No forward-facing USB Type-C port

Considering Plugable's other offerings, we weren't surprised that its Thunderbolt 3 Docking Station is excellent. It's the best we've tested so far, with a reasonable price, the ability to be used both vertically and horizontally and a DisplayPort to HDMI adapter in the box. It charges a laptop while powering up to two 4K displays or a single 5K monitor and has a few extra USB 3.0 ports for legacy peripherals.

Plugable UD-3900 Dual Display Universal Docking Station Best laptop docking stations

3. Plugable UD-3900 (4 Stars)

The best cheap docking station

Ports: 12

Good performance
Plenty of ports
Vertical-only design
Doesn't support 4K

They say you get what you pay for, but Plugable's UD-3900 gives you a lot of performance for under $100. It supplies full-HD support to two monitors, and has all the ports that the vast majority of users need. If you don't have a 4K monitor on your desk or a USB Type-C port on your laptop, this will support everything you have today at a low price.

See our full Plugable UD-3900 Dual Display Universal Docking Station review.

Humanscale M/Connect 2 Best laptop docking stations

4. Humanscale M/Connect 2 (4 Stars)

Ports: 12

4K and USB Type-C support
Great cable management
Handle to easily adjust your display
Tough to put together
Has fewer data ports than prior version

The Humanscale M/Connect 2 is something you're more likely to see in your office than your home. It's a full-scale ergonomic solution with USB Type-C for charging (and a USB Type-A adapter, if you're not ready for the new standard just yet) and supports dual 4K monitors.

It's clamp design allows you to keep the majority of your cables under your desk, allowing for a neat workspace. It starts around $300, though you'll have to pay more for a monitor arm to attach to it.

See our full Humanscale M/Connect 2 review.

Targus Universal DV1K-4K Docking Station Best laptop docking stations

5. Targus Universal DV1K-4K Docking Station (4 Stars)

Ports: 11

Compact, subtle design
4K output
Six USB 3.0 ports
Smooth performance
4K support limited to one display

The one downside to a dock is that it takes up space on your desk, but Targus' DV1K-4K docking station is easy to tuck away. The small, well-built dock is designed to fit under your laptop, sporting a nonslip surface to keep your system from sliding down. 

The dock is also small enough to fit under your monitors, if you prefer. The DV1K-4K supports one 4K monitor and has a ton of USB 3.0 ports, making it a strong choice for power users.

See our full Targus Universal DV1K-4K Docking Station review.

Dell D6000 Universal Dock Best laptop docking stations

6. Dell D6000 Universal Dock (4 Stars)

Ports: 11

Supports both USB 3.0 and USB Type-C
Powers up to three 4K monitors
Cable isn't removable
Adapter is clumsy

Most businesses have USB 3.0 laptops now, but will want something with USB Type-C for the future. Look no further than Dell's new D6000 universal dock, which has a built-in adapter to easily switch between the standards, so you can connect it to just about any laptop. It can go up to 5K on a single screen or handle up to three 4K screens over USB Type-C.

See our full Dell D6000 Universal Dock review.

HP Thunderbolt Dock with Audio Best laptop docking stations

7. HP Thunderbolt Dock with Audio (4 Stars)

Ports: 12

Audio sounds great
Powers up totwo 4K monitors
Conference call capabilities
Cable isn't removable
Adapter is clumsy

HP's Thunderbolt Dock with Audio is perfect for managing a ton of ports as well as having group conference calls due to its echo-canceling microphone and dedicated speakers. 

The ports include: one Thunderbolt 3 port, three USB 3.0 ports, a male power jack and USB Type-C leading out of the bottom, a headphone jack, a security lock slot, one USB-C DisplayPort (data and power out) port, two DisplayPort ports, one VGA port, two USB 3.0 ports, an RJ45 port and a power jack. Due to its Thunderbolt 3 (USB Type-C) male output, it's compatible with more than just HP devices.

Kensington SD2000P Task Master USB-C Dock Station Best laptop docking stations

8. Kensington SD2000P Task Master (3.5 Stars)

Ports: 8

Sleek design
Features USB 3.1 and USB Type-C
Can be mounted
Powers only one 4K monitor at a time

The Kensington SD2000P is a solid overall docking station if you need something portable and small, but being small comes at a price, as the dock is only able to power up to one 4K monitor at a time at 30-Hz. Despite that, it has a decent number of ports and it can charge a laptop while also powering a 4K monitor. 

There’s two USB Type-C ports, two USB 3.1 ports, an RJ-45 Ethernet port, an HDMI port, a DisplayPort++ and a Kensington lock slot. The underside also allows the mounting of any 75mm or 100mm VESA compatible external display.

Linedock Docking Station Best laptop docking stations

9. Linedock Docking Station (3 Stars)

Ports: 12

SSD storage
Features a battery pack
Serves only one form factor
Unfriendly to Windows

The Linedock Docking Station is specifically designed for the 13-inch MacBook Air and MacBook Pro, and while it's still compatible with other laptops (even those with different sizes), you won't get that perfect fit. 

It comes with three USB 3.1 ports, three USB Type-C ports, an HDMI 2.0 port, a Mini DisplayPort and an SD Card Slot. It also offers a 20,000 mAh battery pack inside of it that you can use to charge a variety of devices including your laptop. On top of all that, you can configure the Linedock with an SSD (256GB or 1TB) that you can use an external drive.

Kensington SD4700P Universal USB-C and USB 3.0 Docking Station Best laptop docking stations

10. Kensington SD4700P Docking Station (2.5 Stars)

Ports: 12

Horizontal design
Features USB 3.1 and USB Type-C
Can be mounted
Powers only one 4K monitor at a time
Flimsy Type-C port

Unlike its little brother, it doesn’t feel like the Kensington SD4700P really has a place in the world, especially due to its limitations. The Kensington SD4700P can only power one 4K monitor at a time or two 2K monitors at a time, which is where it stumbles against its competitors. 

To top it all off, it’s relatively expensive. The Kensington SD4700P features five USB 3.0 ports, two USB Type-C ports, an HDMI Port, a DisplayPort++, an RJ45 Ethernet port, a Kensington lock slot and a headphone jack. During testing, I found the Type-C port to be quite flimsy, as it would dislodge on its own frequently.