The best docking station for MacBook Air will dramatically expand what you can do with your Apple laptop. In the article below, we pick our favorites and give you the information to choose between them.
The MacBook Air is one of the best laptops for photo editors and photographers today, not to mention being among the best laptops for video editing. They're stylish, sturdy, fast-working, and powerful, despite being quite a lot cheaper than the top-end MacBook Pro. But there's just one drawback: because Apple's made these laptops ultra-thin, they haven't left much room for ports.
For example, the latest MacBook Air (M2, 2022) comes with only two Thunderbolt 4 (USB 4.0 Type-C) slots, along with a 3.5mm headphone jack and a MagSafe 3 charging port. This means that if you want to connect a lot of devices to your laptop, you need a docking station.
The best docking station for MacBook Air will take up just one of your laptop's slots, but give you lots more in return. To get the fastest speeds, you'll ideally want one that supports Thunderbolt. But which one: 3 or 4?
The latest MacBook Air (M2, 2022) and the previous MacBook Air (M1, 2020) both support Thunderbolt 4, so if you have one of those, check out entries 1-4 on our list. Older models like the MacBook Air (Retina, 13-inch, 2020), MacBook Air (Retina, 13-inch, 2019), or MacBook Air (Retina, 13-inch, 2018), however, only support Thunderbolt 3. You'll find Thunderbolt 3 docking stations from number 5 onwards on our list.
Best MacBook Air docking stations in 2023
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If you have a modern MacBook Air with Thunderbolt 4, you'll be able to benefit from super-fast and responsive connections to your peripherals. And the Satechi Thunderbolt 4 Dock offers plenty of opportunities to take advantage of that.
This 11-in-1 device boasts four Thunderbolt 4 slots, one of which acts as the host port, with 96W Power Delivery. You also get three USB-A 3.2 ports for your older devices, a USB-A 2.0 slot to charge your smartphone or other devices, an SD card reader, and a Gigabit Ethernet port to boot.
You can connect up to two 4K monitors at 60Hz, although note that there's no HDMI or DisplayPort, so they'll need to be USB-C monitors. We also like that it's designed to be placed either horizontally or vertically. It is very expensive, though, so will be overkill for most people.
At a similar (high) price to our number one pick, this is a similarly sophisticated and capable docking station. It packs in pretty much every kind of port you could ever imagine, including four Thunderbolt 4 ports, three USB-As, one USB-C, a Gigabit Ethernet port, an SD card reader and a 3.5mm audio jack.
You also get an 80cm long USB-C / Thunderbolt 4 cable, a metre-long USB-C to DisplayPort cable, and a metre-long USB-C to HDMI cable. The docking station is pretty light, at 410g although bear in mind the power brick is pretty hefty. You can connect two 4K monitors simultaneously, with HDR at 60Hz, and overall this device works well in practice, never overheating or dropping connection. Like our number one pick, though, it's likely too expensive for most people's needs.
With 11 ports and 90W of power delivery, the Kensington SD5700T has a lot to offer and is more affordable than the first two entries on our list.
If your MacBook Air supports Thunderbolt 4, you'll welcome the four Thunderbolt 4 ports here (one up, three down). Along with that, you'll also benefit from four USB-A ports for your legacy devices, as well as an SD slot, Gigabit Ethernet, and an audio jack. You can connect up to two 4K displays, or one 8K display. Note, though, this docking station doesn't come with HDMI.
See our guide to the best USB-C cables
Need to connect devices to your MacBook via HDMI? Then you're well catered for with the Anker 12-in-1 Apex Thunderbolt 4 Docking Station. It has two HDMI slots, capable of supporting 4K monitors at 60Hz.
On the downside, you get "only" two Thunderbolt 4 ports, compared to the four offered by the models above this in the list. Elsewhere, you'll find one USB-C port, four USB-A ports, an SD card reader, an audio jack, and a Gigabit Ethernet slot.
If your laptop doesn't support Thunderbolt 4, there's no point in spending more than you need. And for our money, the best Thunderbolt 3 docking station right now is the Corsair TBT100.
Unlike the TBT200, which is number 2 on our list, the TBT100 has not just one but two HDMI ports, allowing you to connect two 4K monitors simultaneously at 60Hz. You also get four USB ports (two USB-A and two USB-C), an SD card reader, a Gigabit Ethernet slot, an audio jack, and a Kensington lock to boot. It delivers up to 85W of power to your MacBook Air, and in our view, its design is pretty smart looking too.
Here's another very capable docking station for MacBook Air that supports Thunderbolt 4. Very well-built and reliable, the StarTech Thunderbolt 4 Dock supports up to 96W charging. It also offers a useful range of slots (11 in total), including four Thunderbolt 4 (USB 4.0) ports, one Gigabit Ethernet, three USB 3.2 Type-A ports, one USB 2.0 ports, an audio jack, and a SD slot, although there's no HDMI or DisplayPort.
If video is your main reason for wanting a Thunderbolt 3 dock, here's our top pick. The StarTech Thunderbolt 3 Dual 4K Docking Station features two DisplayPort and two HDMI outputs that can be configured in three different ways: DisplayPort + DisplayPort; HDMI + HDMI; or DisplayPort + HDMI.
This supports up to two 4K displays at 60Hz or one 8K display at 120Hz. More generally, this docking station can deliver up to 96W power delivery and features two Thunderbolt 3 ports, plus three USB-C and two USB-A slots, an audio jack, and RJ-45.