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Best docking stations for MacBook in 2021

Best docking stations for MacBook in 2021
(Image credit: CalDigit)

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. Those who own one of the latest MacBooks will attest to their power, performance and sleek design. However, as laptops like the MacBook Pro and MacBook Air become thinner and lighter, so too does the selection of available ports.

With the potential to add additional monitors, peripherals, or external storage, a good dock can overhaul how you make use of your MacBook. The best Macbook docking stations will also save you space, keep your workspace organized, and breathe life back into your pre-Thunderbolt legacy devices. Some even have advanced features, such as onboard storage or wireless charging.

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. We’ve focused on docks that make the most of the limited number of ports found on Apple’s MacBook Pro and MacBook Air, though a number of these devices work great with the iPad Pro and numerous Thunderbolt 3-compatible Windows machines. 

It’s worth noting that while many of these docks are capable of running multiple displays, owners of M1 MacBook models will be limited to just one external display. There’s also our list of the best docking stations to check out, which covers a broader range of devices. However, if you’re a MacBook owner looking to beef up your workstation, you’re in the right place.

What are the best docking stations for MacBook?

The best docking station for MacBook is the CalDigit TS3 Plus. This Thunderbolt 3 docking station offers a plethora of ports and a whopping 87 watts of power delivery. It also features a Digital Optical Audio output and full Apple SuperDrive compatibility, making it great for multimedia. Multiple displays are supported with the use of an adapter, however, its single DisplayPort is ideal for M1 MacBook users limited to one external display.

(Image credit: CalDigit)

If you’re ready to go all-in on Thunderbolt 4, the Kensington SD5700T Thunderbolt 4 Dock is just what you need. Plug this dock into a Thunderbolt 4/USB 4 port and you’ll receive a myriad of useful inputs in return, chief among those are an additional three Thunderbolt 4 ports. This is great for daisy-chaining multiple docks or future-proofing your workstation by making space for future Thunderbolt 4 peripherals. Kensington’s dock can also support multiple 4K displays and has 90W of host charging.

If space is a limited commodity, the Linedock Docking Station could be ideal. Designed to sit directly beneath your MacBook, the Linedock takes up next to no space at all. Available in 13-inch, 15-inch and 16-inch sizes, the Linedock can accommodate both MacBook Pro/Air laptops or iPad Pro tablets. It won’t just increase the number of available ports; the LineDock is also a portable battery that can provide an extra charge for your MacBook Pro or Air and has built-in SSD storage available of up to 2TB. 

(Image credit: Laptop Mag)

1. CalDigit TS3 Plus

Best docking station for MacBooks

Reasons to buy
+Digital Optical Audio (S/PDIF) port+Plenty of ports+87W of host charging+SuperDrive compatible
Reasons to avoid
-Only one DisplayPort

When it comes to ports, you can never have too many. CalDigit’s TS3 Plus is a port powerhouse that makes for a fantastic workstation solution for both Intel and M1 MacBooks alike. After connecting the dock to a Thunderbolt 3 port, you can take advantage of five USB-A 3.1 ports, two USB-C ports (10Gb/s & 5Gb/s), a single DisplayPort, an SD Card reader, a Gigabit Ethernet port, and an additional Thunderbolt 3 input. That additional Thunderbolt 3 port can be used to access external storage at a speedy 40Gb/s, or it can be used to daisy chain another Thunderbolt dock or hub to your setup. While there’s only a single DisplayPort, an adapter can be used for multiple 4K displays. However, this isn’t much of an issue for M1 MacBook users who can currently only use a single external display, anyway. 

There are also analog ports for audio-in and audio-out, and if you’re a bit of an audiophile, there’s a Digital Optical Audio (S/PDIF) port for high-quality audio playback. This is great if you want to hook up to your amplifier or home theater system, and squeeze the best sound possible out of your MacBook. The TS3 Plus also features CalDigit’s custom driver for full SuperDrive support, meaning you won’t have to juggle your ports around when looking to handle physical media.

(Image credit: Laptop Mag)

2. Corsair TBT100 Thunderbolt 3 Dock

Best Thunderbolt 3 docking station

Reasons to buy
+Premium durable design+Plenty of ports+Support for 4K, 60Hz displays+85W host charging
Reasons to avoid
-Expensive

The Corsair TBT100’s modern, matte black design is great to look at, but its cable management potential will keep your entire workstation a thing of beauty, too. The TBT100 has an impressive assortment of ports, including two USB 3.2 Type-C ports, a Thunderbolt 3 port, a USB 3.1 Type-A port, two HDMI 2.0 ports, a Gigabit Ethernet port, a headset jack, and an SD card reader. With such an impressive selection of inputs, and support for two 60 Hz 4K displays, you could easily manage a bustling workstation or gaming setup without issues.

In our review, we paired the TBT100 with Apple’s MacBook Pro M1 and saw it perform seamlessly. Even while extending the display, Corsair’s dock kept our device charged and ready to go. Our only real gripe with this dock was its hefty price tag, but if you’re in the market for a heavy-duty dock, it remains hard to beat in terms of port selection and premium build.

See our full Corsair TBT100 Thunderbolt 3 Dock review.

(Image credit: Laptop Mag)

3. CalDigit Thunderbolt 4 Element Hub

Best 13” MacBook Pro/Air docking station

Reasons to buy
+Three Thunderbolt 4/USB4 ports+SuperDrive compatible+Reversible design+Apple 6K Pro Display XDR support
Reasons to avoid
-Only 60W host charging

The CalDigit Thunderbolt 4 Element Hub is a fantastic solution for expanding the ports on your MacBook, especially if you’re using the latest M1 revision. Not only does the Element Hub have three 40Gb/s Thunderbolt 4/USB 4 ports on hand, but it also has four SuperSpeed USB-A 3.2 ports with 10Gb/s throughput. That’s plenty of ports for your peripherals, and you can also extend your display onto a second screen in 4K (or 6K with Apple’s Pro Display XDR). With only 60 watts of power delivery, the CalDigit Hub might struggle with larger MacBooks, especially if you need a lot of peripherals, but it makes for an ideal 13-inch MacBook Pro/Air docking station.

CalDigit has also managed to solve the issues many hubs have with the power-hungry Apple SuperDrive. Apple would usually suggest directly connecting the SuperDrive to your MacBook to avoid any potential issues when it comes to its power draw. However, thanks to a custom CalDigit driver, you can happily connect the SuperDrive to the Element Hub and use it without hassle. This is great news for anyone reliant on physical media, especially with few ports available on later Intel & M1 MacBooks.

(Image credit: Laptop Mag)

4. Kensington SD5700T Thunderbolt 4 Dock

Best Thunderbolt 4 docking station

Reasons to buy
+90W host charging+Multiple Thunderbolt 4/USB 4 ports+Supports external 4K displays+Plug and Play
Reasons to avoid
-Pricey

The Kensington SD5700T is a great solution for limited inputs. Not only is Kensington’s dock rife with additional ports, ready to accommodate a wide range of peripherals, but it also offers a whopping 90 watts of host charging. That amount of power can accommodate some serious hardware, not to mention a whole range of desktop peripherals and accessories, making it ideal as a workstation hub.

Upon connecting Kensington’s dock to your device, you’ll have access to three Thunderbolt 4 ports, three SuperSpeed USB-A ports, an SD card reader, a combination audio input/output jack, and a Gigabit Ethernet port. In our review, we highlighted how easily the Kensington SD5700T connected with our devices, managing multiple peripherals without a hitch. We were similarly impressed when connecting external monitors, encountering zero lag or stutter. We thought the SD5700T pulled off a remarkable job at turning our laptop into a desktop behemoth and saw it as a powerful, future-proof product for years to come.

See our full Kensington SD5700T Thunderbolt 4 Dock review.

(Image credit: Laptop Mag)

5. Belkin Thunderbolt 3 Dock Core

Best portable docking station

Reasons to buy
+Ultraportable+Supports 4K displays+Good amount of ports for size
Reasons to avoid
-Pricey for a travel dock-Tethered Thunderbolt 3 cable

Belkin’s Thunderbolt 3 Dock Core is an ultraportable and compact dock that allows you to piece together a workstation virtually anywhere. Its square design hosts ports on all sides and includes a DisplayPort, an HDMI 2.0 port, a Gigabit Ethernet connection, a USB-C port, a USB-A, and a SuperSpeed USB-A (10 Gb/s) port, and a combination audio input/output jack. That’s a decent number of ports to have on hand while away from your desktop, allowing you to connect multiple displays and peripherals with ease.

If there’s one stand-out issue with the Thunderbolt 3 Dock Core, it’s the tethered Thunderbolt 3 cable you’ll use to connect it to your MacBook. If this breaks or becomes damaged, it renders the dock as little more than a charger for your peripherals. Belkin does, however, include a two-year product warranty on purchase, which should offer you some peace of mind when it comes to picking one up.

(Image credit: Laptop Mag)

6. Plugable Thunderbolt 3 and USB-C Dual Display Dock

Best docking station for multiple displays

Reasons to buy
+96W host charging+Great number of ports+Mac and Windows compatibility+Flexible HDMI or DisplayPort options
Reasons to avoid
-Pricey

Plugable’s Thunderbolt 3 and USB-C Dual Display dock is one of the most versatile docks available for MacBooks. Connect this device to a Thunderbolt 3 port and you’ll receive an impressive 14 inputs in return. Among those inputs are two DisplayPorts, two HDMI ports, seven USB ports, an SD/MicroSD card reader, a Gigabit Ethernet port, and a combination audio input/output jack. Plugable has pretty much every base covered when it comes to available ports, but it also has you covered when it comes to power.

The Thunderbolt 3 and USB-C Dual Display dock has a maximum power of up to 100 watts and will supply your MacBook with 96 watts of host charging while connected. That’s enough power for the larger 16-inch MacBook Pro and will have you covered when using several power-hungry peripherals and up to two external 4K displays.

(Image credit: Laptop Mag)

7. Linedock Docking Station

Best docking station for tight workspaces

Reasons to buy
+Built-in storage+iPad Pro compatible+Apple-like, low-profile design
Reasons to avoid
-USB-C host connection-No Ethernet port

Linedock’s range of MacBook docking stations is impressive, consisting of devices that offer you more ports, power and storage. Being able to augment your MacBook with an additional nine ports is the difference between having a powerful laptop at your desk and having a true workstation in front of you. The Linedock includes three USB-C ports, three USB 3.0 ports, an SD card reader, an HDMI 2.0 port, a Mini DisplayPort, and built-in storage of up to 2TB. The Linedock also includes a 19,350mAh internal battery capable of supplying a full charge to your MacBook Pro or Air while on the go in just two hours. 

Designed with the 13-inch, 15-inch and 16-inch MacBook Pro in mind (though still compatible with other devices if you don’t mind a less flush setup), the Linedock sits underneath your MacBook and blends into your workstation as if not there at all. Using the included Cubicable USB-C adapter, the Linedock seamlessly connects to your MacBook and supports data transfer rates of 10GB/s, power delivery of up to 100W, and video output at 4K resolutions. 

(Image credit: Laptop Mag)

8. Moshi Symbus Q

Best docking station with wireless charging

Reasons to buy
+Wireless charging pad+Supports Apple Wireless Fast Charging+Plug and play+Supports 4K, 60 Hz displays
Reasons to avoid
-No additional Thunderbolt 3 ports

Why limit the usefulness of your dock to simply your MacBook? How about a dock that can offer something to a host of your Apple products all in one go? The Moshi Symbus Q is exactly that device. The Symbus Q includes an HDMI 2.0 port that supports 4K HDR, a Gigabit Ethernet port, and two USB-A 3.1 Gen 1 ports with 5Gb/s throughput. That alone isn’t massively impressive, but the Moshi Symbus Q has something else up its sleeve.

At the top of the Symbus Q is a cushioned 15W Qi-EPP certified wireless charging pad capable of reaching devices through cases up to five millimeters in thickness. It’s compatible with a range of devices, including the iPhone and AirPods. It also supports Apple and Samsung's 7.5W and 10W wireless fast charging, respectively. It’s a unique feature that could prove incredibly handy to the right person. Not to mention the fact that it helps to keep your workspace tidy.