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Key Points:

  • A docking station is a device that features multiple ports and connects to your laptop with one cable. Its primary purpose is to expand the number of accessible ports as if they were built into the laptop itself.
  • Anker PowerExpand Elite Dock has 13 ports, delivers 85W (watts) of power, and most importantly, it’s compatible with both USB-C and Thunderbolt laptops.
  • Apple’s Thunderbolt 3 and Thunderbolt 4 standards are compatible with USB-C. This means that most of the devices listed in this guide can be used by both Windows and Mac users.
  • Gaming laptops require a 130W power supply at minimum, and most products listed in this post have a sub-100W power delivery.

Laptops and tablets are significantly more convenient to work with than desktops, thanks to their portability. Portability comes at a price, though, and while screen real estate and limited power are some of the biggest drawbacks of laptops, the lack of input and output ports remains a number-one issue for a users.

The modern setup revolves around a laptop for added flexibility, paired with one or more external displays, as well as additional USB ports for connecting various peripherals, like mice and a keyboard, a printer, or perhaps an external hard drive. Unfortunately, most laptops have limited port options and mostly come with two USB ports, HDMI, and an Ethernet cable connector.

The solution to the lack of ports is a docking station — a device that features multiple ports and connects to your laptop with one cable. Its primary purpose is to expand the number of accessible ports as if they were built into the laptop itself. In this review, we look at some of the best USB-C docking stations you can buy.

Here are the best USB-C docking stations:

Anker 577 Thunderbolt Docking Station (13-in-1, Thunderbolt 3) for Thunderbolt Laptops, 85W Charging for Laptop, 18W Charging for Phones, 4K Dual Display, 10 Gbps USB-C Data, Ethernet, Audio, SD 4.0
$279.99
  • Compatibility Information: Works with Windows laptops or non-M1 MacBooks equipped with a Thunderbolt 3 or 4 port. Not compatible with M1 MacBooks or Linux or Chrome OS laptops.
  • Incredible Expansion: Equipped with dual Thunderbolt 3 ports, 2 USB-C ports, 4 USB-A ports, an HDMI port, an Ethernet port, SD/microSD card slots, and a 3.5 mm AUX port.
  • Unparalleled Charging Options: With 85W and 15W Thunderbolt 3 ports plus an 18W USB-C Power Delivery port, PowerExpand offers multiple ways to get a high-speed charge for anything from laptops to...
  • Dual Display: The Thunderbolt 3 port supports [email protected] while the HDMI port supports a resolution of [email protected] Connect to both simultaneously to enjoy crystal-clear streaming or mirroring across 2...
  • Anker 577 Thunderbolt Docking Station (13-in-1, Thunderbolt 3)/PowerExpand Elite 13-in-1 Thunderbolt 3 Dock, 180W power adapter, Thunderbolt 3 cable (2.3 ft), welcome guide, our worry-free 18-month...
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02/03/2023 05:31 am GMT

The Anker PowerExpand Elite Dock takes the title of the overall best due to its fantastic capabilities. It has 13 ports, delivers 85W (watts) of power, and most importantly, it’s compatible with both USB-C and Thunderbolt laptops.

Anker PowerExpand Elite Dock is a compact and vertical docking station powered by the Titan Ridge chipset, which supports both USB-C and Thunderbolt technologies. This allows the device to use its HDMI in conjunction with two additional USB-C ports to connect up to three 4K monitors with a 60Hz refresh rate on Windows devices.

Next to the aforementioned USB-C and Thunderbolt 3 ports, the dock features four USB-A 3.2 Gen 1 ports with speeds up to 5Gbps; an SD card reader; a Gigabit Ethernet port for wired Internet connection; and a front-facing, 3.5mm analog audio I/O port. As previously mentioned, the power delivery for charging is 85W, which can charge most mid-performance laptops, while the entire dock is powered by a 180W power supply.

Pros:Cons:
13 PortsNone
Thunderbolt and USB-C
85W Power Delivery
Twelve South StayGo | USB-C Hub for Type C MacBooks, Laptops and iPad Pro with included 1 meter desktop cable + stowable travel cable for Home, Office & Travel
$87.10
  • STAY OR GO: StayGo includes a 1 meter cable to use at your workstation and a detachable travel cable that stores inside the StayGo when not in use. The matte black aluminum shell dissipates heat for...
  • DECLUTTER: The included 1 meter cable gives you the length to store the hub out of sight. Keep your workspace clear by avoiding cords or dongles handing off the side of your laptop.
  • MULTIPORT CONNECTION: 4K HDMI Port, (2) USB A 3.0 Ports, (1) Dual functionality USB A port w/ BC 1.2 for up to 7.5 Watts for faster charging, (1) Gigabit Ethernet Port, (1) SD Port / (1) Micro SD Port...
  • PLUG & PLAY: Does not require any software, drivers, or installation
  • DESIGNED FOR TYPE-C DEVICES: MacBook Pro/Air with USB C, iPad Pro with USB C, Microsoft Surface Go/ Surface Book 2, Huawei Matebook, Lenovo IdeaPad 720s, ThinkPad T470, T570, X1 Yoga, 720, 920, Razer...
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02/03/2023 02:01 am GMT

If you’re looking for portability, look no further. This little dock might be underselling itself as a hub, but it’s a very capable docking station inside a portable format. Of course, there are some trade-offs, and in this case, it’s the lack of a dedicated power supply.

Instead of sporting its own adapter or power brick, the Twelve South StayGo USB-C hub connects to your laptop charger for passthrough charging of up to 85W, which is more than enough for charging standard laptops and smartphones. But that’s not its main purpose — expanding your I/O options is!

The dock has its own HDMI port for connecting external displays, at 4K resolutions limited to 30Hz. It also has three USB-A 3.2 Gen 1 ports — one of which has 7.5W charging capabilities — and two USB-C ports for charging and data transfer. This is further complemented with SD and microSD card readers, Gigabit Ethernet, and a 100W power supply drawn from the host device’s USB-C port.

Pros:Cons:
9 PortsUnderpowered Ports
Portable
85W passthrough power
CalDigit USB-C HDMI Dock - 2 x HDMI 2.0, 94W Charging, Thunderbolt 3, UHS II SD Card Slot, USB C 10Gb, USB A x 3, LAN, 3.5mm Audio for Mac and PC, USB-C and Thunderbolt 4 Compatible (Dual HDMI 2.0b)
  • [UNIVERSAL COMPATIBILITY] Can be used with computers with USB-C, Thunderbolt 3, or even USB-A. Perfect for IT Environments utilizing both Windows and Macs **Functionality will vary depending on host...
  • [10 PORTS OF CONNECTIVITY]: 1 x Thunderbolt 3 (Backwards Compatible with USB-C), 2 x HDMI 2.0b, 3 x USB 3.2 Type A (5Gb/s), 1 x USB-C 3.2 Gen 2 (10Gb/s Data Only), Gigabit Ethernet, UHS-II SD Card...
  • [POWERFUL 94W LAPTOP CHARGING]: Provides up to 94W to charge your laptop and power all of your USB peripherals [STAND ALONE CHARGING] All three USB-A ports can charge devices without being connected...
  • [DUAL 4K EXTENDED DISPLAYS]: Connect up to two [email protected] (4096 x 2160 30-bit color) monitors via HDMI 2.0b
  • [MAC & WINDOWS COMPATIBLE]: Ideal for 2016+ MacBook Pro, 2017+ iMac Pro or Windows Ultrabooks with Thunderbolt 3 or USB-C such as the Microsoft Surface, Spectre, XPS, Razer Blade
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Despite being called a USB-C dock, Caldigit's USB-C HDMI dock is compatible with Thunderbolt 3 and Thunderbolt 4 laptops and any USB4 device. This is partially courtesy of Apple’s stubbornness to switch to USB-C and partially courtesy of the Titan Ridge chipset.

The dock’s biggest selling point, though, isn’t its superb performance in mixed workflow environments; its built-in dual HDMI connectors are. These allow users to directly connect two 4K dual monitors running at 60Hz on a Thunderbolt laptop. This feature is somewhat limited for USB-C devices, which run dual displays at HD resolutions (1080p) or a single 4K resolution monitor at 30 Hz.

Other ports include one Thunderbolt 3/USB-C port, three USB-A 3.2 Gen 1 ports, one USB-C 3.2 Gen 2 port, an SD card reader, Ethernet, 3.5 audio I/O, and a 150W power supply.

Pros:Cons:
Thunderbolt and USB-CNo downstream Thunderbolt Ports
Two HDMI Ports
94W Power Delivery
OWC USB-C Travel Dock E, Portable 6 Port Hub with USB 3.2, HDMI 2.0, SD Card Reader, Gigabit Ethernet, USB-C with 100W Power Pass Through Charging, Space Grey
$59.99
  • USB-C HUB with 6 Ports of Connectivity: (2) USB 3.2 Type-A, (1) HDMI 2.0, (1) SD card reader, (1) Gigabit Ethernet, (1) USB-C 100W charging power pass through
  • Bus powered, Portable, Light Weight, Compact, Durable Aluminum Housing: Reduce Dongle heft and hassle, this USB C Ethernet Hub is Ideal for Travel and Mobile Work, Weighing only 174.0 g (0.38 lbs)
  • Up to 100W pass-through power when connected to a power adapter, the dock can pass up to 92W to the host computer, power not used by the dock and its ports is passed to the host for battery charging.
  • Works with all: Adds ports to Macs, PCs, tablets, or phones with a built-in USB-C or Thunderbolt 3 port
  • 2 Year OWC Limited Warranty; Includes: (1) OWC USB-C Travel Dock E, Dock Ejector software Download for Mac Download for Windows
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02/02/2023 04:31 pm GMT

Being limited with space doesn’t have to mean being limited with I/O ports, and this little dock proves that point. The OWC USB-C Travel Dock E sports at least one of every port you should or might need, including the Ethernet and HDMI ports, and an impressive 92W power delivery.

The device has a USB-C port on HDMI 2.0, supporting a single 4K display at 60Hz, two USB-A 3.2 Gen 1 ports, a Gigabit Ethernet, and an SD card reader. Connectivity-wise, it works with USB-C laptops, though Thunderbolt users may still use it at a reduced bandwidth. It sports an integrated 6-inch cable, which is somewhat limiting, but then again, it’s meant to fit in your backpack.

Pros:Cons:
PortableUnderpowered ports
92W passthrough
HyperDrive USB C 12-in-1 Dock, Triple Monitor 4K60Hz HDMI DP USB 3.1 PD100W, Laptop USB-C GEN2 Docking Station for Mac Chrome PC
$239.99
  • [Adding 12 ports] Turn a single usb c port on your laptop and device into a HyperDrive dock with 12 high speed power ports: HDMI 4K60Hz x2, DP 4K60Hz, USB-A 10Gbps x2, USB-A 2.0 x2, Gigabit Ethernet,...
  • [Triple monitor (Dual HDMI&DP) 4K 60Hz Video - 2X refresh rate] Get more screen space for more productivity. *Mac OS DOES NOT support MST (Multi Stream Transfer) so it will show one extended display...
  • [USB-A GEN2 10Gbps - 2X speed] Blazing fast 2nd generation USB-A 3.2 10Gbps with 2X faster transfer speed than our 1st generation hubs. *Apple SuperDrive not supported. [Essential Ports for...
  • [Minimalist design for Hyper 12-in-1 USB docking station] Stand vertically and lie horizontally flat. Minimalistic industrial look that is both elegant and functional. The metallic exterior and ridged...
  • [A Practical & Professional] You will need one of docking station triple display for solving your usage requirements and make your device or laptop look decent. [Quality assurance] HyperJuice is carry...
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02/03/2023 03:27 pm GMT

The HyperDrive GEN2 12-Port USB-C dock is our best-value device, as it offers a great number of ports at a very reasonable price. This includes 85W power delivery via a USB-C port, USB-C to host, two HDMI ports, two USB-A and two USB-C ports, an SD and microSD card reader, Gigabit Ethernet, and a 3.5 Audio I/O.

The dock is encased in metal. The only downside is the lack of a proprietary charger, which means that users would have to use their own third-party power supply.

Pros:Cons:
12 PortsLimited for Mac users
Three DisplayPorts
LENTION USB C Docking Station with 100W PD, 4K HDMI/DisplayPort, VGA, Ethernet, Card Reader, USB 3.0/2.0&Aux Adapter for 2016-2022 MacBook Pro, New Mac Air/Surface/Steam Deck, More(CB-C95, Space G...
$119.99
  • Up To Three Extend Displays- Lention C95 docking station provides 2 USB 3.0, 1 USB 2.0, SD/Micro SD Card Reader, Gigabit Ethernet, 100W PD pass though, 3.5mm Aux & 3 Video Output (HDMI + DisplayPort +...
  • Up To 4K Resolution - HDMI + DisplayPort support up to [email protected] resolutions. VGA + HDMI (or VGA + DisplayPort) support up to [email protected] resolutions. When using VGA + HDMI + DisplayPort: at...
  • Ingenious Riser Design - The USB C docking station makes laptop screen height-raising which enables you to type in a much more comfortable and healthy way. When you put the laptop on the docking, it...
  • More Powerful Than A Hub - Compatible with Apple 2016 2017 2018 2019 2020 2021 2022 2023 MacBook Pro 13/14/15/16, 2018-2023 New MacBook Air, MacBook 12, Steam Deck, Surface Pro 7/Book 2/Go,...
  • Stable Driver 3.0 Certified - LENTION published the advanced Stable Driver 3.0 standard to help customers buy with confidence. The standard included 3 main features: Non-Interference between connected...
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02/03/2023 04:42 pm GMT

The Lention USB-C docking station is another space-preserving dock designed to sit under your laptop. It has three USB-A ports, one of which is 2.0, as well as a spare USB-C for attaching the wall charger. This is because the device doesn’t have a power supply of its own, and thus, can’t be used to connect with a different USB-C device.

But what makes this device special is the variety of video options, including HDMI, DisplayPort, and VGA, which allows Windows PCs to connect to up to three external monitors at the same time. Unfortunately, this variety of video outputs isn’t really recommended for Mac users.

Pros:Cons:
Great DesignNot for Mac
3x DisplayPort
100W pass-through power

How To Pick The Best USB-C Docking Station

When selecting the best USB-C docking station, it’s important to consider the following features and functions provided by the device.

Best USB-C Hubs
USB Type C adapter or hub with various accessories – pendrives, hdmi, ethernet, memory card, cables.

©willi Lumintang/Shutterstock.com

The Number and Type of Ports

Docking stations provide a wide variety of connectivity options and ports, and some can even be used to charge your device while they’re plugged. The number and type of ports, as well as power delivery, are entirely dependent on personal preference. Obviously, more is better, but that’s not entirely true if you’re constricted with a tight space.

Size and Design

The same rules apply to the size and design of the device. Some devices feature a smaller form factor for increased portability at the expense of connectivity options, while others go in the opposite direction. This is also a personal preference, and the price of these devices is usually determined by the build quality and the number of ports.

Price

Last but not least, you’ll have to factor in the budget, since higher quality products with more ports naturally have a heftier price tag. Choosing the right device mostly falls down to your application of the device and which features you’re willing to give up in exchange for a more accessible price.

What To Know Before Buying the Best USB-C Docking Station

While we’re discussing USB-C docking stations, it’s important to remember that Apple’s Thunderbolt 3 and Thunderbolt 4 standards are compatible with USB-C. This means that most of the devices listed in this guide can be used by both Windows and Mac users. With that in mind, there are some discrepancies between USB-C and Thunderbolt standards, and while compatible, Thunderbolt connections will usually run at a reduced bandwidth.

Additionally, the quality of the overall connection between devices and the computer through the dock depends on several factors as well. This includes the quality of the cable used to connect the dock to the computer since low-quality cables can’t actually transfer data at high speed. Instead, make sure that you’re using the appropriate USB-C cable to enable your device to operate at peak performance.

Using the Best USB-C Docking Station: What It’s Like

We tested the devices from this list by transferring data between a computer and a smartphone, as well as the computer and a USB flash drive, to establish their performance. Each performed as well as advertised, and most of them operate as plug-and-play devices, making them exceptionally easy to set up and use.

With that said, some devices have additional capabilities that require a software update. Windows operating system takes care of that, and in most cases, it installs the software automatically. Additionally, many power users are now turning towards gaming laptops due to their power/portability capabilities, which makes charging a bit tricky, considering that most gaming laptops require a 130W power supply at minimum, and most products listed here have a sub-100W power delivery.

Up Next…

The 6 Best USB-C Docking Stations FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions) 

Is it worth buying a USB-C docking station?

Yes, especially if you’re using a laptop or a tablet. You can also use a docking station with your desktop PC to avoid having to reach for the back-panel connectors. This way, you can have them all on your desk in front of you.

Are USB-C and Thunderbolt 4 the same?

These are universal ports, but they’re not entirely the same. Apple made their Thunderbolt 3 and 4 standards compatible with USB-C devices and cables, but their technology still offers several features that make them stand out from USB-C ports.

Why are USB-C docks so expensive?

USB-C docks are pricier than USB-C hubs, because they can handle more data faster and deliver more power to various devices. Additionally, they tend to be equipped with newer technologies.

Can I use any USB-C docking station?

Yes, as long as it has the ports and features you need necessary for your application. A docking station can work on any USB-C device, without any adapters or drivers necessary.

Are USB-C hubs the same as docking stations?

They’re similar, but not the same. Docking stations are larger and more professionally-oriented devices that can allow connections of up to three external monitors.

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