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The best laptop docking stations in 2021

Best laptop docking station 2021: Satechi USB-C On-the-Go Multiport Adapter
(Image credit: Satechi)

The best laptop docking stations are becoming increasingly important, as laptops gets slimmer and slimmer, leaving less room for ports to connect your devices. In fact the thinnest laptops, such as the MacBook Air, LG Gram 17 and HP Elite Dragonfly, have barely any slots at all. 

That’s where laptop docking stations come in, allowing you to connect all the monitors and peripherals to your laptop you could wish for. In this article, we've brought together the best laptop docking stations available today. But how do you choose the right one for you?

There are a number of factors to consider. First, and perhaps most obvious, is the question: Which devices you want to connect (monitor? keyboard? mouse? SD card?) and what slots do you need to do so. Generally, the more you spend, the better the connectivity; but that's not always the case. So to help you out, we've detailed the exact ports each laptop docking stations on our list offers.

You also think about how much space you have on your desk to accommodate a laptop docking station, and how often you'll need to carry it from place to place. For this reason, we've spelt out the exact dimensions and weight of each device. Finally, some laptop docking stations are optimised for specific brands and types hardware, so where that's the case we've highlighted that too. 

10 best laptop docking stations in 2021

(Image credit: CalDigit)

1. CalDigit TS3 Plus Thunderbolt 3 Dock

The best laptop docking station overall.

Size: 13.1 x 4 x 9.84cm | Weight: 470g | Ports: 2 x Thunderbolt 3 40Gb/s, DisplayPort 1.2, 5 x USB-A, USB-C 3.1 Gen 1, USB-C 3.1 Gen 2, Gigabit Ethernet, UHS-II SD Card Slot (SD 4.0), Optical Audio (S/PDIF), 3.5mm Stereo Audio In & Out

15 ports
Connect 4K and 5K displays
Compact and lightweight
Expensive

The CalDigit TS3 is our pick as the best laptop docking station overall. That's largely because it features such a wide range of connections: 15 overall, which is more than any other on this list. 

That means you get an impressive seven USB ports, along with the ability to connect 5K displays or dual 4K displays, digital optical audio out, an SD card reader... and yet it's still a very compact and relatively lightweight device. Yes, it's expensive, but you really will find everything you need in this high-end laptop docking station.

(Image credit: Targus)

2. Targus USB 3.0 Dual Video Docking Station with Power

The best laptop docking station for those on a budget

Size: 20 x 38.1 x 48cm | Weight: 1.44kg | Ports: 2 x USB 3.0, 2 x powered USB 2.0, 2 x USB 2.0 ports, HDMI, DVI, 3.5mm jack

Cheap
6 USB ports
Powers 90W laptops
Fewer connections than others

Looking for a laptop docking station that's more affordable? Then this device from Targus could be just the ticket. Despite the low price, it comes with six USB ports: 2x USB 3.0 and 4x USB 2.0.  That includes two powered USB 2.0 ports, and the built-in power charger supports most 90W laptops. 

You also get a Gigabit Ethernet port, Audio In/Out ports to connect speakers and a security lock slot. That's basically your lot, but if that's all you need, then this is a great value package.

(Image credit: Belkin)

3. Belkin Thunderbolt 3 Dock

The best laptop docking station for MacBook Pro users

Size: 20.8 x 8.8 x 2.8cm | Weight: 362g | Ports: 2 x Thunderbolt 3 (USB-C) ports, 3 x USB-A 3.0 Ports, Display port, audio in/out port, audio out port, 1GB Ethernet port

Optimised for MacBook 2016-17
Plays nice with other Macbooks
Daisy-chain 5 Thunderbolt 3 devices
Expensive

If you're a Mac user, you want to be sure that any non-Apple peripherals you buy play nicely with Apple hardware, and that's definitely the case here. This laptop docking station from Belkin is specifically designed and optimized for MacBook Pro 2016/17, running OS X Sierra or later, and works well with the 2018 version as well. 

As the name suggests, you can use it to charge and power your MacBook Pro with a single Thunderbolt 3 cable, up to 85W. As well, of course, as connecting hard drives, monitors, speakers, headphones, and more. 

To get specific, you can daisy-chain up to five additional Thunderbolt devices through a single Thunderbolt port, which should be enough for even the most demanding MacBook user.

(Image credit: Kensington)

4. Kensington StudioDock iPad docking station

The best laptop docking station for iPad Pro users

Size: 55.5 x 45 x 26.1 cm | Weight: 5.44kg | Ports: USB-C 3.2 Gen1, 3 x USB-A 3.2 Gen1, HDMI 2.0 video, 3.5mm audio, UHS-II SD 4.0 card reader

Optimised for iPad
Rapid iPad charging
4 USB ports
Expensive

Here's another great laptop docking station that's optimized for the Apple ecosystem. This one's aimed at people using their iPad Pro for productivity purposes. With that in mind, it comes with a brilliant stand, which allows you magnetically attach your iPad Pro 11" (2018 or later) or iPad Air (2020+) in portrait or landscape mode, for a real desktop-like experience. 

The StudioDock is perfect from connecting all your devices, via the four USB ports, 3.5 mm audio jack and a Gigabit Ethernet jack. And you can also benefit from rapid iPad charging, Qi wireless iPhone and AirPod charging, 4K HDMI streaming, and an SD 4.0 card reader. 

(Image credit: Microsoft)

5. Microsoft Surface Dock

The best laptop docking station for Surface users

Size: 13 x 6 x 3cm | Weight: 550g | Ports: 2 x Mini DisplayPorts, Gigabit Ethernet, 4 x USB 3.0 Ports, audio out

Optimised for Surface
Good range of connectivity
Stylish looks
Not the cheapest

It's not only Apple users who need peripherals that optimised for their specific hardware. But if you're a Microsoft Surface user, the choice is very easy, as Microsoft has created a laptop docking station just for you. 

Compatible with a wide range of Surface models, this handy device helps you to get more of a desktop PC experience from your Surface. Charge your device and connect it to external monitors, keyboard, mouse, and more, via the two Mini DisplayPorts, four USB 3.0 ports, Gigabit Ethernet port and an audio-out jack.

(Image credit: Dell)

6. Dell USB 3.0 UHD Triple Video Docking Station

The best laptop docking station for Dell Inspiron users

Size: 52.58 x 38.1 x 28.4cm | Weight: 286g | Ports: 3 x USB 3.0, 2 x USB 2.0, DisplayPort, 2 x HDMI, Ethernet, 2 x audio jack

Optimised for Dell Inspiron
Connect 3 monitors
11 ports in total
Works best with Dell laptops

This laptop docking station is made by Dell, for Dell hardware; specifically the latest in its Inspiron series of laptops. With a wide range of ports (11 in total), including three USB 3.0 and two USB 2.0 connections, it's compatible with a vast array of peripherals, such as external hard drives, printers and scanners. As the name suggests, it supports high speed connections to Ultra HD 4K displays. And with the provision of both a DisplayPort and two HDMI slots, you can connect as many as three external monitors, one of them 4K, at once.

(Image credit: Targus)

7. Targus Universal DV1K-4K Docking Station

The best laptop docking station for limited desk space

Size: ‎19.5 x 27 x 1cm | Weight: 270g | Ports: 6 x USB 3.0, USB to laptop, 2 x DVI, DisplayPort, Gigabit Ethernet, audio jack

Compact and stylish
11 ports
Dual-monitor support
Just one 4K connection

Here's another solid choice if you're looking to connect a variety of different devices at once. This laptop docking station comes with 11 ports in total, including six USB 3.0 slots. It also supports one 4K display or two screens with 2048 x 1152 resolutions. When it comes to dual-monitor support, you have a choice of two DVI ports and a full-size DisplayPort. Best of all, the design is stylish, compact and discreet; perfect for anyone with limited desk space who wants to keep everything streamlined and uncluttered.

(Image credit: Kensington)

8. Kensington SD5700T Thunderbolt 4 Dock

The best laptop docking station with Thunderbolt 4

Size: 19.5 x 7.5 x 30cm | Weight: 435g | Ports: 4 x Thunderbolt 4 ports, 4 x USB-A ports (5V/1.5A port and 3 x Gen2 at 10Gbps ports), Gigabit Ethernet port, audio combo jack and UHS-II SD 4.0 card reader

Multiple Thunderbolt 4 ports
Supports 4K and 8K
90W power delivery
No DisplayPort or DVI

Need Thunderbolt 4 connectivity from your laptop docking station? Then check out this beauty. You can connect up to three extra Thunderbolt devices via the included 0.8 m Thunderbolt 4 cable, meaning you'll get transfer speeds of up to 40Gbps. When it comes to video, that means support for 8K at 30Hz, or up to two 4K monitors at 60Hz. More broadly, you get a total of 11 ports, and with full support for USB-C PD 3.0 or USB4 peripheral accessories, you can charge devices with 90W of delivery. 

(Image credit: Dell)

9. Dell D6000 Universal Dock

The best laptop docking station for connecting 4K monitors

Size: 7.8 x 16.8 x 3cm | Weight: 380g | Ports: 4 x USB-A, USB-C, 2 x DisplayPort, HDMI, Gigabit Ethernet, audio combo, speaker out

Connect three 4K monitors
Connect a 5K display
11 ports in total
May be overkill for some

Got a laptop equipped with USB-C or USB 3.0 ports, and need to connect up to three 4K monitors to your laptops at once? Incredibly, the Dell D6000 Universal Dock allows you to do just that, as well as supporting a single 5K display. Beyond that, there's a good range of connectivity in general, with 11 ports in total, including four USB-A slots, HDMI, DisplayPort and Ethernet connections. All this, at quite a reasonable price, is impressive indeed.

(Image credit: Satechi)

10. Satechi USB-C On-the-Go Multiport Adapter

The best laptop docking station for travel

Size: 20.19 x 10.01 x 3cm | Weight: 222g | Ports: USB Type-C Power Delivery, 3 x USB 3.0, Ethernet, HDMI, RJ-45, microSD, SD Memory Card

Light and compact
Good range of ports
Supports 4K
Lacks DisplayPort and DVI

Want a laptop docking station you can take on your travels? Then this compact and lightweight (222g) device from Satechi is a great option. It will easily fit into your bag, backpack or suitcase, and offers a good range of connectivity. That includes USB-C PD and USB 3.0 ports, for transfering files and pass-through charging, an Ethernet port for a wired Internet connection, and an HDMI port for connecting a 4K monitor. It's nice and cheap, too.

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Tom May is a freelance writer and editor specializing in art, photography, design and travel. He has been editor of Professional Photography magazine, associate editor at Creative Bloq, and deputy editor at net magazine. He has also worked for a wide range of mainstream titles including The Sun, Radio Times, NME, Heat, Company and Bella.