One Dongle to Connect Them All

The Best USB-C Docks to Boost Your Laptop’s Ports and Productivity

April 17, 2018 Buying Guides By Photo by Satechi

It’s common for people to use a laptop as their primary work computer. With the addition of a wireless keyboard and mouse and an external monitor (or two), it can be to made to feel almost exactly like a traditional desktop. One of the biggest obstacles to swapping a laptop for a traditional workstation, like a desktop computer, is a lack of ports. Most laptops are limited; Apple’s new MacBook Pro, for example, only has USB-C ports. Fortunately, you can buy an adapter or docking station accessory to add connectivity options, in case you want more USB-C or USB-A ports, or even an SD-card reader. It’s also a way of tidying up the cables on your desk.

Since most of today’s laptops charge via USB-C, we’ve rounded up the best USB-C docks and hub accessories, priced low to high. The more affordable options depend on your laptop for power, while the more expensive alternatives have more and more diverse ports, and, since they require a separate power source to work, can function as a USB hub for charging other gadgets even when your laptop isn’t nearby.

Anker Premium USB-C Hub

Anker’s USB-C dock is super portable. It comes with three “SuperSpeed” USB 3.0 ports, meaning it can transfer data at up to 5 Gbps from multiple devices at the same time. And it has one USB-C port with Power Delivery (PD) technology, so while it won’t directly charge you laptop, it supports pass-through charging if you plug your laptop’s charger directly into it. This is a simple USB-C dock that’s good for adding additional USB-A ports to your laptop, as well as a Gigabit Ethernet connection.

Key Specs

Charge laptop?: No, but supports pass-through charging
Ports: SuperSpeed USB 3.0 (2x), USB-C, Gigabit Ethernet

Satechi Slim Aluminum Type-C Multi-Port Adapter

This is a little different from the above Anker USB-C dock, mainly because it adds an HDMI port that supports 4K video output. If you’re looking for a dock to work with a higher resolution monitor, you want this. Additionally, it has two USB-A ports and a USB-C port that supports pass-through charging. This dock is also available in several colors: space grey, rose gold, silver and gold.

Key Specs

Charge laptop?: No, but supports pass-through charging
Ports: USB-C, USB-A (2x), HDMI

Griffin Universal USB-C Docking Station

Announced in March 2018, Griffin’s Universal USB-C Docking Station needs to be plugged into a wall outlet, but it can output 85W of power and charge your laptop. In addition to USB-C port, the dock has a number of ports: Gigabit Ethernet, HDMI, 4x USB-A 3.0 and a 3.5mm headphone jack. The HDMI port lets you mirror or extend your screen, and it supports up to 4K resolution in case you have really nice monitor. Notably, there’s no micro-SD card port.

Key Specs

Charge laptop?: Yes (up to 85W of power)
Ports: USB-A 3.0 (4x), HDMI, USB-C, Gigabit Ethernet, 3.5mm

Elgato Thunderbolt 3 Dock

The Elgato Thunderbolt 3 Dock is a beast. It has two Thunderbolt 3.0 USB-C ports and allows you to connect your laptop to two 4K displays or one 5k monitor. Since it requires a wall outlet, it can charge your MacBook Pro (up to 85 watts) and along with other devices, like an iPhone, even if your laptop isn’t nearby. Additionally, it has three USB-A ports and a pair of 3.5mm audio jacks, one a mono mic input and one an amplified analog stereo output. It’s a pretty sleek-looking device.

Key Specs

Charge laptop?: Yes (up to 85W of power)
Ports: USB-A 3.0 (3x), Thunderbolt 3.0 USB-C (2x), Gigabit Ethernet, 3.5mm audio input and output

OWC 13 Port Thunderbolt 3 Dock

Photographers will love its SD-card reader, but in addition to that, the OWC 13 Port Thunderbolt 3 Dock provides the most desktop functionality to your laptop. It has 13 total ports, including two USB-C (Thunderbolt 3.0), five USB-A (3.1), SD-card reader, Gigabit Ethernet, Expanded Analog Audio (for speakers or external mics), FireWire 800 and mini DisplayPort. Just like the above Elgato dock, this one also can run two 4K displays or one 5k monitor at full resolution. The only caveat is that it outputs 60 watts of power, so it won’t be able to charge larger laptops, like the 15-inch MacBook Pro, as quickly. But yes, it’ll still charge them.

Key Specs

Charge laptop?: Yes (up to 60W of power)
Ports: USB-C Thunderbolt 3.0 (2x), USB-A 3.1 (5x), SD-card reader, Gigabit Ethernet, Expanded Analog Audio, FireWire 800, mini DisplayPort

The Best Apple Desk Setups for Every Person

These are the best Apple desk setups for every type of worker, from the basic laptop user to the desktop power user. Read the Story