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.
- Check out our best USB Type-C hubs and best USB Type-C accessories
- Here are the best laptops and best laptops under $500
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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'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.
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.
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.
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.