Best Docking Station for Windows Laptop HP, Tech, Takes 2021

Best Docking Stations for Laptop

Best Docking Station for Windows Laptop HP, Tech, Takes 2021

When the world turned upside down in early 2020, many of us went home for what we thought would be a brief break from office life. Instead, it’s turned into a long-term commitment to remotely working. If you have kids, they’re also doing remote schoolwork, going to classes on a computer screen.

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Under the circumstances, maybe it’s time to upgrade your work-from-home (WFH) setup with a docking station that transforms your laptop into a more comfortable working environment.
With one (or maybe two) quick connections, you can add a full-sized external display, a full-sized keyboard and an external mouse, a wired Ethernet connection, and access to external devices like backup drives, scanners, and printers.

Best Docking Stations for Windows Laptop HP, Tech, Takes 2021

You can accomplish most of this for a relative pittance, or you can max out your platinum card with high-end solutions that support multiple displays and super-fast Thunderbolt 3 peripherals.

The basic concept behind a docking station is simple: It’s a relatively small device that stays on your desk, connected to your monitor, keyboard, and mouse, plus whatever other devices you want to have readily at hand.

When you’re at your desk, you connect the dock to your laptop (typically via a single cable) and have instant access to the aforementioned external peripherals

There’s never been a better time to upgrade your work-from-home setup with a docking station that transforms your laptop into a more comfortable working environment. Here’s what you should look for.

Amazon Best Sellers: Best Laptop Docking Stations 2021

With those considerations in mind, we’ve divided the docking options into three major categories. First up are docks designed to connect specifically to a single brand of PCs. Next, we list generic docking stations that offer adequate expansion capabilities for under $150 (external peripherals not included). In the final section, we highlight more expensive third-party products that offer undeniable performance advantages for those who need the best.

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In making our selections, we focused on docking stations designed for use with Windows laptops or MacBooks (or both). If you’re looking to expand your Chromebook to the desktop, we recommend checking compatibility carefully. Among third-party hardware makers, only Kensington offers a wide selection of docks with ChromeOS support.  

Do Docking Stations Work With All Laptops?

Universal docking stations work with any laptop that has a compatible connection. For example, a Thunderbolt 3 docking station can work with any computer with a Thunderbolt 3 port.

However, laptops with proprietary connectors like Microsoft Surface devices require explicitly designed docks for them. Be sure to check your laptop’s connectivity options before purchasing a docking station.

Docks for a specific PC brand

If you bought a name-brand PC, there’s a good chance that the maker of that device has at least one and probably several dock options for you to choose from. The biggest advantage, of course, is that you can expect the two devices to work together properly; and if they don’t, you don’t have to put up with the finger-pointing that can occur when you encounter a conflict between a PC and a third-party peripheral.

This section includes information about docks designed for use with Windows PCs from Dell, HP, Lenovo, and Microsoft. As for Apple, well, let’s get that out of the way first.

Apple USB-C Digital AV Multiport Adapter

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We’d love to tell you about an Apple-branded docking station for use with your MacBook, but there is, alas, no such thing. The closest thing Apple offers is an overpriced dongle, the USB-C Digital AV Multiport Adapter. Plug the MacBook power adapter into the USB-C port, connect a monitor to the HDMI port, plug something into the single USB Type-A port, and that’s it. You’re out of expansion opportunities.

That might work if you have an Apple Bluetooth keyboard and mouse and you don’t care about a wired network connection. But if your needs are demanding, you’ll need to explore third-party products.

Ports: USB Type-C (1); USB Type-A (1)

Display: HDMI (1), 3840 x 2160 $69 AT APPLE

Dell Dell Thunderbolt Dock – WD19TB

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You can find a dizzying selection of docking stations at Dell’s website, with a half-dozen Dell-branded docks on the Products For Work page and a much larger selection (including third-party solutions) on the Products for Home page.

For modern Dell PCs that include Thunderbolt 3 support, the WD19TB dock ($280) is the only way to go. It delivers 130W of power over the docking connection and has enough video connections to drive three big displays. You’ll find one USB-C port and one USB 3.1 (Type A) port on the front panel, with the remainder of the ports on the rear, for devices that permanently stay connected. 

Ports: USB Type-A (4); USB Type-C (1); speaker output; combo audio; Gigabit Ethernet

Display: HDMI (1); DisplayPort (2); up to three simultaneous 4K displays or a single 5K display $280 AT DELL

Dell Universal Dock D6000

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You can find a dizzying selection of docking stations at Dell’s website, with a half-dozen Dell-branded docks on the Products For Work page and a much larger selection (including third-party solutions) on the Products for Home page.

We suggest the $200 D6000 Universal Dock for older PCs that aren’t equipped with USB-C Thunderbolt 3 ports. This dock has an impressive assortment of ports, delivers up to 65W of power, and can handle up to three displays at once. The downside is that the USB 3.0 connection uses DisplayLink technology, which can cause driver issues in some configurations.

Ports: USB Type-A (4); USB Type-C (1); speaker output; combo audio; Gigabit Ethernet

Display: HDMI (1); DisplayPort (2); up to three simultaneous 4K displays or a single 5K display $200 AT DELL

HP USB-C Dock

Docking Station for Laptop

Navigating HP’s website is never fun, and getting detailed specs for any of the company’s products feels like a game that we can only play if someone gives us cheat codes. So we present this no-frills dock and apologize in advance for the lack of detailed specs. Maximum power output is 65W, and it includes a USB-C to USB-A adapter. Our survey of third-party retailers suggests that you should read the reviews before you hand over your credit card.

Ports: USB 2.0 Type-A (3); USB 3 Type-A (1); USB Type-C (1)

Display: HDMI (1); DisplayPort 1.2 (2); VGA (1); supports two monitors, doesn’t list detailed resolution $153 AT HP

Lenovo USB-C Mini Dock

Docking Station for Laptop

Among the major OEMs, Lenovo wins the price wars with these two dock options. The basic USB-C Mini Dock is small enough to hide behind your laptop while still delivering up to 45W of power and enabling a full array of external device connections. For devices with Thunderbolt 3 support, the more powerful Essential Dock ups the power output to 65W and supports two 4K monitors with a single USB-C connection.

Ports: USB Type-C (1); USB 3.1 Type-A (1); USB 2.0 Type-A (1); Gigabit Ethernet; combo audio

Display: HDMI 2.0 (1); VGA (1); supports a single display up to 4K resolution using HDMI or 1080P using VGA $90 AT LENOVO

Lenovo Thunderbolt 3 Essential Dock

Docking Station for Laptop

For Lenovo devices with Thunderbolt 3 support, the more powerful Essential Dock ups the power output to 65W and supports two 4K monitors with a single USB-C connection.

Ports: USB 3.0 Type-A (2); USB Type-C with no video support (2); Gigabit Ethernet; combo audio

Display: HDMI 2.0 (1); DisplayPort 1.4 (1); supports dual 4K displays $190 AT LENOVO

Microsoft Surface Dock 2

Docking Station for Laptop

Microsoft’s Surface Pro line has always been distinguished by its distinctive blade-style connector, which delivers power, video, and peripheral connections through a decidedly proprietary format. You’ll also probably need adapter to connect the USB Type-C connectors on the rear to your external monitors. The latest entry in the company’s docking options requires a reasonably modern Surface Pro device (Surface Pro 3 and 4 and original Surface Book not supported). If you meet those specs, you get 199W of power, support for dual 4K displays, and a total of six USB ports. The list price for this dock is much higher, but it’s been discounted from Day 1.

Ports: USB 3.2 Type-A (2); USB Type-C (4); audio out; Gigabit Ethernet

Display: USB Type-C; supports up to two 4K displays at 60Hz $180 AT MICROSOFT SURFACE

THIRD-PARTY OPTIONS

The biggest advantage of a third-party docking solution is flexibility. If you replace your laptop with a new model from a different manufacturer, you should be able to plug it into your existing dock and get right to work. For this section, we highlight docks from four leading manufacturers.

Plugable Thunderbolt 3 and USB-C docking station – TBT3-UDC1

Docking Station for Laptop

Don’t let this dock’s small size fool you; it packs a lot of power into a small package and can deliver 60W over USB-C to your laptop. The best feature is that you can use it with any system that includes USB-C support (with the noteworthy exception of HP’s EliteBook 850 G3, which is incompatible). It’s most effective, though, when connected to a system that supports Thunderbolt 3, including Dell’s XPS 13 and 15 models, MacBook Air and Pros from 2016 or later, and Lenovo’s popular ThinkPad Carbon X1 (6th Gen or later). The company’s website has a useful compatibility chart that can help you determine whether the dock will work with your laptop.

Ports: USB 3.2 Gen 2 Type-A (2); USB 3.0 Type-A (2); USB Type-C (2); Gigabit Ethernet; combo audio

Display: DisplayPort (2); supports two 4K monitors at 60Hz (Thunderbolt 3) or two 1080p displays (USB-C) $189 AT AMAZON

Thunderbolt 3 Dock – TB3DK2DPP

Docking Station for Laptop

You pay top dollar for StarTech.com’s top of the line dock, but you get exactly what you pay for. With the ability to deliver 85W over USB-C PD, this is the best choice for anyone with a power-hungry, high-end laptop like a MacBook Pro 15 or 16. Don’t even think of using it with a PC that doesn’t support Thunderbolt 3, however.

Ports: USB 3.0 Type-A (2); USB Type-C Thunderbolt 3 (2); Gigabit Ethernet; separate microphone and speaker jacks

Display: DisplayPort (1); supports up to two 5K displays over DisplayPort and Thunderbolt 3$249 AT AMAZON

Dual Monitor USB C Docking Station for Windows Laptops

Docking Station for Laptop

If you have a Windows laptop that includes USB-C with Power Delivery but doesn’t support Thunderbolt 3, consider the less expensive Dual Monitor dock; attach your laptop’s USB-C power supply and you can power both your laptop and the dock with peripherals.

Ports: USB 3.0 (2); Gigabit Ethernet

Display: HDMI (2); supports a single ultrawide display, two 1080p displays at 60Hz, or up to two 4K displays at 30Hz $112 AT AMAZON

Kensington Thunderbolt 3 and USB-C Hybrid Docking Station – SD5500T/SD5550T

Docking Station for Laptop

Kensington’s site is packed with useful technical information. If you’re stumped about what the various connector specifications mean, visit its main page for some useful tech help. The SD5500T dock works with just about any modern Windows PC or Mac, with or without Thunderbolt 3 support. 

Ports: USB 3 Type-A (3); USB Type-C (2); Gigabit Ethernet; combo audio

Display: DisplayPort (2); supports two 4K displays at 60Hz with Thunderbolt 3; with USB-C Alt Mode, supports one 4K display or two 1080p monitors at 30Hz $249 AT AMAZON

Kensington SD7000 Surface Pro Docking Station

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Surface Pro owners should take a long look at Kensington’s SD7000 dock, which includes a cool hinge that can position the display at eye level or lay it down for use with a Surface Pen.

Ports: USB 3.0 (Type-A (4); USB Type-C (1), does not support alt mode; combo audio; Gigabit Ethernet

Display: HDMI 2.0 (1); DisplayPort 1.2 (1); supports a single 4K monitor at 60 Hz or two 4K displays at 30 Hz $387 AT AMAZON

Cable Matter Thunderbolt 3/USB-C Hybrid Docking Station

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This hybrid dock is ideal if you have multiple laptops (Mac or Windows) that have a mix of USB-C and Thunderbolt 3 connections. USB-C PD delivers up to 60W, which is enough for most midsize laptops. Windows PCs might need Thunderbolt 3 updates and custom network drivers to work properly. Note that the manufacturer specifically advises that Chromebooks are not compatible with this dock.

Ports: USB 3.0 Type-A (2); USB Type-C (2); Gigabit Ethernet; combo audio

Display: DisplayPort (2); supports one 5K display or up to two 4K displays with Thunderbolt 3; in USB-C Alt Mode, supports one 4K display or two 1080p displays at 30Hz $189 AT AMAZON

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What does a docking station for a laptop do?

Docking stations for laptops are meant to bridge the gap between portability and having a stationary place to work and play. With a docking station, you can get the best of both worlds with a system that allows your laptop to work for both purposes.

Can any laptop use a docking station?

These days, you can find universal docking stations that will work with any laptop that has a USB 3.0 port. … Some laptops have their own docking stations, taking away the need for a universal one. For instance, when I bought my main PC—a Lenovo X220—I paid extra to get a docking station specific to that model.

Is a laptop docking station necessary?

If you have a relatively modern laptop, you might need to buy a docking station to access the peripherals you want to use. From gaming mice to keyboards, to HDMI-connected monitors, if your laptop only has USB-C or Thunderbolt 3, you’ll need an adapter of some kind to use them.

Best Docking Stations for Laptop
Best Docking Stations for Laptop

How do I choose a docking station for my laptop?

The right cables have a plug that you can connect to the port. That’s why an HDMI port, for example, requires an HDMI cable. The plug is called “male” and the port “female”. Also, look at the length of the cable and check if it’s long enough to cover the distance between the dock and your laptop.

Does a Docking Station Charge a Laptop?

Most Thunderbolt 3, Thunderbolt 4, and USB-C laptop docking stations provide additional charging power for your laptop. Microsoft Surface Dock 2 can also charge Surface laptops using the proprietary Surface Connect interface. However, docking stations with a standard USB 3.0 connection do not support laptop charging.

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