Best USB-C docks for laptops 2019
Transform your laptop computer into a desktop setup with one of these top USB-C docking stations
Laptops are so a lot greater handy than computer computer systems for the very apparent motive of portability – you can’t (or truly shouldn’t) lug a computing device PC between your home and office or on excursion with you.
The laptop’s limitation, though, is display size and frequently a lack of ports to plug devices into. Some laptops have just one or two ports protected as standard, and you want one of those for charging.
And there are masses of human beings who pick a mouse to the laptop’s trackpad, and even a good-sized keyboard to faucet away on – of course, there are Bluetooth keyboards and mice that don’t require a aspect port on the laptop.
The perfect setup would be a laptop for flexibility, plus one or greater larger external displays, some USB ports for including challenging drives or a printer, and an Ethernet port so you can enjoy wired Internet get admission to alternatively than flaky Wi-Fi.
The solution is a dock or docking station that includes all these ports, and lets you connect your laptop to it with one cable.
In this evaluation roundup, we’ll seem at the first-class docks for USB-C laptops. Some laptops – fantastically Apple’s MacBook range – consist of a quicker variant of USB-C known as Thunderbolt 3 (T3). Such laptops can use USB-C docks, however the T3’s greater bandwidth (40Gbps vs USB-C’s 5-10Gbps) will be misplaced if now not using a devoted T3 dock.
If you do not desire a full docking station, simply a accessible USB-C adapter or dongle, test out our Best USB-C hub roundup.
USB-C laptops won’t work with most Thunderbolt three docks, though there are a couple reviewed right here (from Caldigit and StarTech.com) that will work with both. That makes them a great desire for hot-desking and combined workflow environments. Office IT would not have to buy extraordinary docks for specific use cases – one dock can work on anything, and besides adapters or drivers.
T3 laptops can use any of the USB-C docks reviewed here, but will lose some of their bandwidth benefit on the lower-spec docks.
Owners of Thunderbolt three laptops – such as Apple MacBooks (12in, Air, and 13in and 15in Pro) – should also study Macworld’s roundup of the fantastic Thunderbolt 3 docking stations. It’s aimed at MacBooks but the docks on the whole work with any T3 laptops unless specified.
Useful ports on the dock
USB-C: First, you need to connect your USB-C laptop to the dock, which takes up one of the dock’s USB-C ports, unless the dock has its personal attached cable.
Some docks characteristic extra USB-C ports to attach compatible units or join to a USB-C display. You can also purchase a USB-C to HDMI or USB-C to DisplayPort adapter to use this greater port to add an external display; see below.
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Also seem to be for docks with USB PD, which stands for Power Delivery – this is a key function on a full docking station. And then healthy that with the wattage your laptop desires to cost at full power. Most Windows laptops require 60W, however some larger laptops are begging for as a good deal as 85W. Docks that can take care of that lots charging energy can be extra pricey as they need a larger strength supply.
If the dock doesn’t have PD, then it will be drawing strength from your laptop computer to run the other devices. The equal will take place with PDs with a lower wattage than the laptop. An 87W laptop can be charged with the aid of a 60W USB PD, but at a slower pace.
(Windows PC users must take a look at if their USB-C port is capable of laptop charging as not all PC manufacturers have delivered this performance to their USB-C ports, limiting them to facts or show only.)
Standalone charging: This skill the dock can charge devices, such as a smartphone or tablet, even when the laptop computer is disconnected.
USB-A: This is the ‘old’ USB standard that’s nonetheless used through many devices, such as tough drives, reminiscence sticks, and printers. Work out how many of these you need when deciding on the right dock for you.
Display: You’ll want to hook your laptop up to an external display for greater display space. Why now not increase that 13in laptop display screen to a 32in 4K monitor? Some external displays use USB-C, so you can join by a laptop’s spare port or through one on the dock. Most docks, however, consist of both DisplayPort or HDMI ports, or a mix of both. And you can connect USB-C to HDMI or USB-C to DisplayPort adapters, too.
Most dual-monitor setups permit for two shows at 1080p HD resolution, but the fine high-resolution shows are 4K. 4K at 60Hz is the quality for gaming and high-graphics performance, whilst 4K at 30Hz is correct ample for more productivity-based tasks – but now not as high-quality as at that higher rate.
Natively, USB-C struggles to deal with 4K at 60Hz, so falls lower back to 30Hz as its maximum. Some organizations have received around this by way of the use of DisplayLink driver, however this does imply you want to install greater software. For laptops that have only a 5Gbps USB-C port, 4K at 60Hz is out of the question. So check your laptop specs. (Thunderbolt three laptops have no problem getting 4K at 60Hz.)
Most mid- to high-end shows now have DisplayPort and HDMI built into the monitor, allowing customers to pick out the connector they choose to use. The resolution is the same on HDMI and DisplayPort, however DisplayPort can be more stable and capable in positive situations. Read extra on HDMI vs DisplayPort.
Gigabit Ethernet: With an Ethernet port on the dock you can connect to wired Internet, which is typically plenty faster than Wi-Fi.
SD or Micro SD Card Reader: We usually suppose of these as camera memory/storage cards, and one of these reader ports will allow you to quickly slip in your photo-laden card for instantaneous get admission to from your laptop. However, extra usefully, SD or Micro SD Cards are also an pretty cheaper way of including portable storage to your laptop. Take a seem to be on Amazon for less expensive SD and Micro SD Cards (Amazon UK or Amazon US), the place you can buy 256GB for around £30 or $40.Adding that amount of storage to a laptop would typically value you round £150.
- 1. CalDigit USB-C Pro Dock
- USB-C and Thunderbolt 3 laptop computer compatible
- 85W PD charging, plus standalone charging
- USB-C (and 40Gbps Thunderbolt 3) to the host
- 2 x DisplayPort 1.2 (dual 4K at 60Hz to T3 laptops; or twin 1080p or a single 4K at 30Hz show to a USB-C laptop)
- 3 x USB-A (5Gbps); 1 x USB-C (10Gbps)
- SD Card Reader
- Gigabit Ethernet
- 3.5mm Analog Audio In & Out
While it is referred to as a “USB-C” dock, Caldigit’s USB-C Pro Dock hides a secret in its “Pro” title.
This present day docking station makes use of the modern-day Thunderbolt 3 chipset called “Titan Ridge”, which lets in the dock to work on each Thunderbolt 3 and USB-C. Normally USB-C laptops can not use Thunderbolt 3 docks. T3 laptops can use USB-C docks however at a reduced bandwidth – USB-C runs at 5-10Gbps, but T3 at 40Gbps.
This flexibility capacity that Thunderbolt three laptops get to use all their bandwidth while USB-C laptop computer proprietors can use the same dock, and not have to buy a plain USB-C docking station. And considering it works with USB-C, it can turn an iPad Pro into a full pc ride given that it can charge the iPad Pro, connect a 4K monitor, keyboard, mouse and challenging drives.
The USB-C Pro Dock has two built-in DisplayPort connectors for without delay including twin 4K (at 60Hz if using a Thunderbolt 3 laptop) monitors to your laptop computer except the want for any USB-C Video Adapters. USB-C laptops can run dual displays at HD (1080p) or a single 4K reveal at 30Hz.
If you want to join a non-DisplayPort display, such as HDMI, you will need an Active DisplayPort to HDMI cable.
Unlike most USB-C docks, it also expenses at 85W, ample for most larger laptops. Standalone charging functionality lets in the dock to cost USB devices, such as a phone, tablet or smartwatch, at up to 7.5W except the laptop computer connected.
For even more ports, Caldigit’s TS3 Plus is some other outstanding Thunderbolt 3-only option.