One Dongle to Connect Them All
The Best USB-C Docks to Boost Your Laptop’s Ports and Productivity
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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 and MacBook Air, 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.
Aukey USB-C Hub
This is the best cheap adapter. It costs less than $15 and effectively turns one USB-C port on a laptop into four USB-A ports, all of which support data transfer rates up to 5Gbps. It’s an ideal adapter for those who just want to connect a few of their old accessories, like a keyboard, mouse or flash drive, to their new USB-C laptop.
Charge laptop?: No
Ports: USB-A (4x)
Vava USB-C Hub
Think of this as the upgrade to the previous pick. In addition to adding three USB-A ports, it also adds both SD and micro-SD card readers for photographers, and an HDMI port in case you want to connect your laptop to an external monitor or TV. Finally, there’s a USB-C port that allows for passthrough charging.
Charge laptop?: No, but it supports passthrough charging
Ports: USB-A (3x), USB-C, HDMI, micro-SD card, SD card
Satechi Slim Aluminum Type-C Multi-Port Adapter
This is a little more elegant (and expensive) solution to the previous USB-C dock. It has an HDMI port that supports 4K video output, and it has two USB-A ports and a USB-C port that supports pass-through charging. Satachi specializes in accessories that work with Apple devices, which is why this dock comes in several colors (space grey, rose gold, silver and gold) — you can match it to your MacBook Air or Pro.
Charge laptop?: No, but supports pass-through charging
Ports: USB-C, USB-A (2x), HDMI
Plugable USB-C Dock
This is a more permanent solution for anybody using a MacBook or a USB-C laptop in a home office. It takes up one USB-C port on your laptop and adds three USB-A (3.0) ports, two USB-A (2.0) ports, an HDMI port and an Ethernet port. It also adds jacks for a headphone and a microphone. The two standout features of Plugable’s USB-C dock is that it can be connected to 4K external monitor (it supports 4K at 30Hz), and it supports 60-watts of passthrough charging.
Charge laptop?: Yes
Ports: USB 3.0 (3x), USB 2.0 (2x), HDMI, Ethernet, headphone jack, microphone jack
Dell D6000 Universal Dock
Dell’s Universal Dock is a beast. It’s designed for somebody working out of a home office and wants to connect to a lot. It can connect your laptop to up to three 4K monitors or one 5K monitor. It supports up to 65-watts of passthrough charging, so it’ll charge your laptop faster than pretty much any other USB-C dock out there. It’s compatible with both Mac and Windows laptops.
Charge laptop?: COPY
Ports: USB-A (4x), USB-C, HDMI, DisplayPort (2x), Ethernet, headphone jack
Elgato Thunderbolt 3 Dock
The Elgato Thunderbolt 3 Dock is a pretty sleek-looking device. 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.
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
This is actually a unique 3-in-1 gadget that works as a docking station, a portable power bank and an external hard drive. Even more unique, it’s designed to look like and fit directly under your 13-inch or 15-inch MacBook (it comes in different sizes so that it fits symmetrically under the laptop). As a docking station, the Linedock adds nine ports to your MacBook: three USB-C, three USB 3.0, an SD card reader, HDMI and MiniDisplay ports. It can also connect your laptop to a 4K monitor. As a portable battery, it has a capacity of 20,000 mAh, which is enough to charge your laptop about once over. When connected to power, it can disperse 100-watts to a number of gadgets, allowing it to simultaneously charge other gadgets (like your smartphone and camera) in addition to your laptop. Finally, depending on how much you want to spend, you can purchase the Linedock with 0GB, 256GB or 1TB of external storage.
Charge laptop?: Yes
Ports: USB-C (3x), USB 3.0 (3x), SD card reader, HDMI, MiniDisplay with 4K output.
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