Best MacBook docking stations in 2024

Best MacBook docking stations: Quick Links

Satechi Dual Dock Stand review photos

(Image credit: Laptop Mag / Rael Hornby)

1. The list in brief
Best Thunderbolt
Best USB Type-C
Best USB Hub
6. How we test
7. Why trust Laptop Mag

The best MacBook docking stations can transform Apple’s impressive range of laptops into fully-fledged workstations, ready to tackle anything you can throw their way.

Owners of the M3 MacBook Air and M3 MacBook Pro laptops will attest to their power, performance, and sleek design. However, as devices like these become thinner and lighter, so does the selection of available ports.

With the potential to add additional monitors and peripherals, a good dock can overhaul how you use your MacBook—not to mention your productivity and efficiency along the way.

The best MacBook docking stations will also save you space, keep your workspace organized, and breathe life into your pre-Thunderbolt legacy devices. Some even have advanced features, such as built-in SSD enclosures.

At Laptop Mag, we’ve scoured the net and pulled from our reviewed products to bring you our selection of the best docking stations for MacBook, no matter if you own a MacBook Air or MacBook Pro.

We’ve focused on docks that maximize the limited number of ports on Apple’s modern MacBooks, though some of these devices work great with the iPad Pro and numerous Thunderbolt and USB-C-compatible Windows machines.

With all that in mind, let's dive into our selection of the best MacBook docking stations in 2024.

Curated by
Laptop Mag Writer
Curated by
Rael Hornby

Rael Hornby brings decades of tech enthusiasm to the table with a broad history of technical support, web design, and journalism under his belt. As Laptop Mag's content editor and resident reviewer of accessories and peripherals, he's responsible for getting hands-on with any docking stations that come our way and putting them through their paces — ensuring they perform as claimed and that the often high asking price of this hardware results in fantastic value for our readers.

The list in brief

Best MacBook docking stations

Why you can trust Laptop Mag Our expert reviewers spend hours testing and comparing products and services so you can choose the best for you. Find out more about how we test.

Best Thunderbolt docking station

An 18-in-1 port expansion for ultimate productivity

Reasons to buy

18-in-1 hub
Fast Thunderbolt 4 ports
98W of host charging
2.5 Gigabit Ethernet

Reasons to avoid

What is a Thunderbolt 4 dock?

Thunderbolt 4 docks can fully utilize your MacBook's Thunderbolt ports to capitalize on those impressive 40Gbps transfer speeds. They are ideal for setups where performance is paramount, typically offering the best support for external displays and a wider selection of faster ports.

Buy it if

✔️ You want a high performance dock: The CalDigit TS4 is one of the best docking stations you can look for when it comes to bolstering your MacBook with a selection of powerful ports. Impressively speedy ports pepper this dock's chassis, and many of them offer impressive charging potential. If you're a heavy Thunderbolt user, the TS4 is a more than safe bet.

Don't buy it if

✖️ You don't require many Thunderbolt connections: Having access to ultra-high-spec Thunderbolt ports is great, but using them is even better. CalDigit's dock is ideal for peripheral-heavy power users, but if you're unlikely to be making the most of your Thunderbolt ports, you'll be paying a premium and not getting your money's worth.

If you own a MacBook housing an Apple Silicon chip, then the CalDigit Thunderbolt Station 4 is everything you need and more. From the first M1 MacBook to the latest 16-inch M3 MacBook Pro, CalDigit’s dock has you covered for ports, speed, power, and displays.

With an impressive array of 18 powerful ports, a single Thunderbolt cable can transform your MacBook into a full workstation. Whether you're looking to expand your display, power your peripherals, or augment your laptop with further storage or input options, CalDigit's dock is among the finest options available.

The CalDigit TS4 has been one of my favorite docking stations to review, thanks to its well-thought-out selection of ports and a deluge of charging options. There's a great mix of modern and legacy ports to use, and the TS4’s 98W of Power Delivery will ensure your machine is topped to the brim with juice no matter how hefty your workload gets.

Better still, the TS4 cannot only connect to a Thunderbolt port but also offers a set of additional Thunderbolt 4 ports. These ports are ideal for external storage drives, allowing your MacBook to access data within Thunderbolt-compliant SSDs twice as fast as USB-C.

A 20W USB-C port is available to keep your phone or tablet powered simultaneously. You could even connect an Apple MagSafe charger and have a dedicated space for all your wireless power needs.

The CalDigit TS4 can support two 6K external displays for M1/M2/M3 Pro MacBooks or a single 6K external display (@ 60 Hz) for M1/M2/M3 MacBooks. Plus, at 4K, you’ll enjoy super-fast refresh rates at up to 144Hz, no matter which MacBook you own.

The TS4 was a joy to review and proved to be an impressive piece of hardware overall. The dock's numerous and speedy ports are ideal for power users, creatives, and professionals and can greatly contribute to a thriving workstation and your continued productivity while sitting in front of it.

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USB-C PDYes, up to 98W (host) and 20W USB-C
Display output1 x 8K @ 60Hz (1 x DisplayPort/USB-C DP), 2 x 4K/6K @ 60Hz (1 x DisplayPort, 1 x USB-C DP)
Thunderbolt 4/USB4Yes

For a complete rundown of this dock's features, ports, and performance, see our full CalDigit Thunderbolt Station 4 review.

Best USB-C docking station

(Image credit: Laptop Mag / Rael Hornby)
An all-in-one solution for ports, storage, power, and improved comfort

Reasons to buy

Built-in SSD enclosure
75W Power Delivery to host
Improves laptop ergonomics

Reasons to avoid

No card readers
Requires two left-side USB-C ports
What is a USB-C dock?

USB-C docks are the standard for most docking stations, replacing legacy USB Type-A offerings. USB Type-C docks won't offer the speeds of Thunderbolt 3/4 docks and are limited to a maximum transfer speed of 20Gbps. However, they are fully compatible with Thunderbolt ports and are a much cheaper and more than acceptable option for most people.

Buy it if

✔️ You want an all-in-one docking station: Whether you like your desk to be on the minimalist side of things or just want to cut down on your devices, Satechi's Dual Dock Stand is an all-in-one ergonomic laptop riser, SSD enclosure, and docking station that's bound to impress.

Don't buy it if

✖️ You have other uses for your Thunderbolt ports: Satechi's dock requires two USB Type-C ports on the left-hand side of your device. This will consume your Thunderbolt ports entirely and won't return a Thunderbolt port to you in its port selection.

USB-C docking stations may feel a generation behind in transfer speeds, but they more than make up for it with additional features that can make them stand out as viable options in the face of much faster Thunderbolt docks.

While lacking the speeds of other Thunderbolt docking stations, the Satechi Dual Dock Stand offers plenty of different features to make up for it. Not content with being a very serviceable USB-C hub that offers nine additional ports, the Dual Dock Stand also works as an ergonomic laptop riser for improved comfort while typing and using your MacBook over longer periods.

I've found that these designs tend to cause overheating issues, which can cause your MacBook to experience performance issues. However, the brains at Satechi have ensured that its dock dissipates heat well enough through vents in key positions to prevent this from being an issue.

The result is a much more ergonomically friendly typing experience, with a host of ports available from a device that effectively leaves no footprint on your desk—cleverly tucked away underneath your MacBook.

But wait, there's more! The Dual Dock Stand also encloses additional SATA/NVMe M.2 SSD storage. This means you have an external storage drive built into the device and capable of acting as a data hub between the various devices you connect.

Factor in the Dual Dock Stand's impressive charging capabilities, offering up to 75W of Power Delivery through a dual USB-C connection, and this single piece of hardware can handle a full suite of computing tasks.

In my review, I was amazed at how well Satechi had pulled off its wedge-like laptop stand without falling into the same Thermal pitfalls as products that came before it. However, I was utterly blown away at how the company went on to cram such a well-performing external SSD enclosure into the mix without compromising on performance or quality.

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USB-C PDYes, up to 75W
Display output2 x 4K @ 60Hz (2 x HDMI, 1 x DisplayPort)
Thunderbolt 4/USB4No

For a complete rundown of this dock's features, ports, and performance, see our full Satechi Dual Dock Stand review.

Best USB hub

Plugable 5-in-1 USB-C Hub

(Image credit: Plugable)

3. Plugable 5-in-1 USB-C Multiport Adapter

A simple, snap-on selection of ports at an ultra-low price

Reasons to buy

100W Power Deilivery
Keeps MagSafe port free
Speedy ports
Travel friendly

Reasons to avoid

Limited ports
Requires two left-side USB-C ports
What is a USB hub?

USB hubs, like the best USB Type-C hubs, are much more portable (and oftentimes more affordable) than regular docking stations. A wide selection of alternatives is available, including Monoprice's more flushed-out Dual-HDMI + DP MST Docking Station.

Buy it if

✔️ You want simple, affordable port expansion: The Plugable 5-in-1 USB-C Multiport Adapter simply slots into place on the left-hand side of your MacBook and does exactly what it says on the box: expand your port selection. It's a straightforward option that's available at a temptingly low price.

Don't buy it if

✖️ You want to use an external display: With no video outputs, Plugable's 5-in-1 hub isn't ideal for those looking to expand their screen real estate, especially as it consumes both Thunderbolt ports. If support for an external monitor is essential, consider the Plugable USB-C 7-in-1 Hub and take advantage of its HDMI 1.4 output.

Not every setup requires a full-on docking station to help manage it. Sometimes, a USB Type-C hub will do just nicely.

There are plenty of these devices out there to choose from, but when it comes to those specifically designed for MacBooks, you'll want to consider the Plugable 5-in-1 USB-C Multiport Adapter.

This small-scale USB-C hub slots into place on the left-hand side of your 14-inch and 16-inch MacBook Pro, taking up both USB-C/Thunderbolt ports. Once in place, you can access a mix of USB Type-A/C, Ethernet, and 3.5mm audio ports.

There are five ports in total, so this isn't going to be the device power users have been longing for, but it is more than enough to handle an external mouse and keyboard, a wired internet connection, and some wired headphones. There is also a single USB Type-C port spare to use however you please.

Better still, thanks to a clever cut-out design, you'll still be able to connect your MagSafe charger to your MacBook without hassle. However, if you have a powerful enough GaN charger knocking about, you can connect it to the USB Type-C ports of Plugable's hub and keep your MacBook topped up with up to 100W of available charge.

Plugable's 5-in-1 USB-C Multiport Adapter might be small, and it might not offer a full spectrum of ports like other hubs and docks, but for its size, it's an invaluable addition to any MacBook owner's arsenal, especially due to its supremely portable design and pocket-friendly dimensions.

One major downside to this hub is that it offers no video outputs. When combined with the need to consume two ports already, you're left with few options when it comes to expanding your screen. However, if you're looking for something simple to help manage a few peripherals occasionally, then the Plugable 5-in-1 USB-C Multiport Adapter is ideal.

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USB-C PDYes, up to 100W
Display outputNone
Thunderbolt 4/USB4No


  • Q: What is a docking station?
    A: Docking stations are primarily hardware port extensions for your laptop or MacBook. Their core feature is granting access to a wider selection of ports. This gives you more options for maximizing your machine's productivity, efficiency, and potential by making more peripherals and accessories available to you at any one time.

    In addition to this, most modern docking stations allow you to manage a number of external displays to expand your screen space with ease. They can also supply your laptop (and often accessories, too) with a steady stream of power. This means you can sidestep the use of your laptop's proprietary charger and, highlighting a dock's impressive cable management potential, cut down on the amount of wires in use.

    However, some docks offer additional features like doubling as an ergonomic laptop stand, improving audio potential with built-in speakers, or subtly taking its place on your desk while acting as a monitor stand.
  • Q: Why are docking stations so expensive?
    A: While a docking station might not look deserving of its price tag from the outside, the inside can house as many chips as the laptop it's connecting to.

    Docking stations are incredibly complex pieces of hardware that need to manage several streams of traffic simultaneously, including data, video, and oftentimes audio, while supplying a steady stream of power to the host machine and any peripherals connected to it.

    As such, higher-quality docking stations can quickly escalate in price. However, that increased asking price will often translate into expanded performance, more ports, and better support for faster, higher-resolution external displays.

    We answer this question in more depth in our article, answering, "Why are docking stations so damn expensive?"
  • Q: Can I use a docking station with my MacBook?
    A: Absolutely! Each dock listed on this page should work fine with Apple devices. Our selection of the best laptop docking stations is solid for MacBook users, too. This page highlights just a few of our recommended docks or hubs specifically for MacBooks, but just about any USB-C/Thunderbolt dock will benefit Apple's laptops.

    However, it's worth noting that due to limitations with certain Apple M-series chipsets, the number of external displays you can use will vary. If you're unsure, always check beforehand how many displays can be connected to your MacBook.
  • Q: Which types of docking stations are the fastest?
    A: Thunderbolt 3/4 docking stations are the best pick for MacBooks if you want the fastest data transfer speeds and overall performance.

    In the future, these docks will likely be overtaken by Thunderbolt 5 and USB4 2.0 docking stations, which may offer speeds of 80Gbps and improved power delivery of up to 240W.
  • Q: What are the differences between a Thunderbolt/USB4 docking station and a USB-C docking station?
    A: One key difference between these types of docking stations is data transfer speed. Thunderbolt 4 docking stations can transfer speeds of 40Gbps, double that of the fastest standard USB-C port speeds.

    These expanded speeds are great for faster, snappier, and more responsive connections and reduce the risk of encountering a performance bottleneck. While USB-C docks can offer a similar number of high-spec ports to a Thunderbolt dock, the increased bandwidth of a Thunderbolt connection allows for more of those ports to work near their maximum potential simultaneously.

How we test docking stations

Every item we review at Laptop Mag is subject to a variety of synthetic and real-life tests to ensure the product operates as claimed and meets the needs and wants of our readers. Docking stations are not different, though there's more involved in our testing process than simply running through a checklist of a manufacturer's claims.

When it comes to docks, we judge a product's performance based on five metrics: power, ports, performance, presentation, and price.

Firstly, we ensure that a docking station delivers the expected charge by connecting it to various laptops (with increasing power demands) and observing how well they maintain their charge throughout a working day. We also use USB power meters to measure the wattage of the charge heading to the host machine.

Secondly, we use the dock's ports to accommodate peripherals, monitors, and accessories across various setups to test how the number of available ports fares depending on the use case. This helps us to determine a dock's ideal use case, with port number and variety all playing a role in determining how you can best use it.

We then test each of these ports, ensuring they perform to the standards claimed by the manufacturer. This can involve transferring files back and forth to and from an external SSD onto the host machine and connecting multiple monitors to the dock's video outputs to ensure there is no noticeable lag or visual hiccups.

Then, we consider how well the dock handles cable management, a key but often overlooked feature. This also takes into account port placement and the dock's overall design and layout.

Finally, we use these metrics to judge the value of each dock against its MSRP to ensure it's a worthy investment. Docking stations are notoriously expensive pieces of hardware to invest in, so we want to ensure that every docking station we recommend delivers the quality that its price tag might suggest.

With this in mind, we score each dock using a 5-star rating, and we select the best docks within certain categories to appear on this page.

Why trust Laptop Mag

Laptop Mag reviews over one hundred different laptops every year, from paperweight ultralights to everyday workhorses to lumbering gaming notebooks that scorch the frame rates of even the hottest AAA games. We're not just experts in the laptop field, as we go one step further by meticulously testing smartphones, tablets, headphones, PC accessories, software, and even the latest in gaming. 

We are 100% independent and have decades of experience to help you buy with confidence. In fact, Laptop Mag has been testing and reviewing products for three decades, and we continue to deliver trustworthy reviews you can rely on. 

Our experienced team of writers and editors scour the available information about the laptop and put it through its paces to determine which is best for you. But before they start, the testing team subjects each system to a rigorous regimen of synthetic and real-world tests to see how a system handles the type of work and games you’re most likely to throw at it. 

Our editorial trustworthiness is enforced by one of the world's largest technology publishers, Future Publishing. As a company, we have unrivaled experience across every tech sector — and we're the group's specialist for all things mobile tech. 

Rael Hornby
Content Editor

Rael Hornby, potentially influenced by far too many LucasArts titles at an early age, once thought he’d grow up to be a mighty pirate. However, after several interventions with close friends and family members, you’re now much more likely to see his name attached to the bylines of tech articles. While not maintaining a double life as an aspiring writer by day and indie game dev by night, you’ll find him sat in a corner somewhere muttering to himself about microtransactions or hunting down promising indie games on Twitter.