The Apple Mac Mini with M1 chip shares a similar look with all the older Mac Minis. However, this time, Apple has reduced the number of connectivity options on the Mac Mini M1. Compared to the 2018 Mini (which had 4 Thunderbolt ports), the new variant has only 2 Thunderbolt ports and you can't swap the SSD or add more RAM.
You can plug an external drive but that takes up one of the ports. That's when docking stations can be helpful.
These docking stations not only increase the number of connectivity options, but also has dedicated enclosures for a SATA-based SSD or an HDD. This ensures that you can keep get the most of the storage minus any cable clutter.
So if you have a new Apple Mac Mini M1 (or plan to buy one), here are the best docking stations that you can buy for your Mac Mini M1.
The Elecife docking stand is a low-profile dock that brings a host of ports to the table. All the ports are at the front for easy access. There is a couple of USB 2.0, USB 3.0 ports, and a duo of card readers.
It's an affordable dock and doesn't come with fancy features like Thunderbolt and audio ports. As noted earlier, you can fit a SATA-based hard drive up to 5TB.
You get decent speed from the USB 2.0 and USB 3.0 ports along with the SATA interface.
The Elecife docking stand connects via USB-C cable to the Mac Mini. This dock has received decent reviews from its user base and most of them praise its storage capacity and connectivity options.
However, if you plan to connect several hard drives all at once, then you might want to skip this one.
The Hagibis Type-C docking station is another affordable dock for the Mac Mini M1 that comes in handy if you are looking for a couple of extra ports. The highlight of this device is its compact shape and the front-facing ports, which makes connecting the dock a walk in the park.
Like the one above, the Higibis docking station includes a 2.5 inch SATA interface, two USB 3.0 and USB 2.0 ports each, and slots for Micro SD and SD cards. The SATA interface supports up to 5TB.
The Agptek USB-C docking station is a small and affordable dock that lets you extend the use of the Mac Mini. It shares quite a few features with its counterparts above, whether it's the shape or the number of ports.
One of the advantages of this dock is that the USB-C port supports secondary monitors, and you can run up to 4K displays on this one. Howevere, it would be best to use the Thunderbolt or the HDMI ports on the Mac Mini.
At the same time, it has an enclosure underneath that supports up to 2.5-inch SATA-based hard drives and SSDs. The company claims that it can support up to 5GB; however, check the size and dimensions of your drive before hitting the buy button.
Again, the dock has a slippery and shiny surface. While it's great to look at, the same dilemma applies here—your dock has a small chance of slipping.
Satechi is known for its quality accessories, and the dock for the Mac Mini M1 is no different. This is a bit expensive than the products above. But the good news is that it packs a few minor but important features. For one, the dock has a slight indentation that allows your Mini and the dock to stack up properly. At the same time, the Satechi dock packs an audio jack, something which is missing in all the docks above.
The best part of this dock is the design. Apart from the indentation, it comes with air vents that keep the Mini cool. Plus, the LED indicator aligns with the light of the Mac Mini and helps to give it a uniform look.
The type of ports is more or less similar to the ones above. Apart from the audio jack, there are three USB-A ports, a single USB-C port, and slots for a Micro SD card and an SD card. And yes, there's a dedicated cavity for a hard drive.
This dock works as advertised. So far, users have connected peripherals like printers, monitors, and speakers without any issues. However, if you have high-speed cards like CF and XQD cards, you may want to use a USB-C card reader to make the most out of them.
The Satechi dock for the Mac Mini is popular on Amazon. Users have praised its design, easy-to-use nature, and its solid build.
The OWC Thunderbolt 3 Mini Dock is a good pick because it brings the Thunderbolt advantage. Naturally, an extra Thunderbolt port gives you the benefit of speedy transfers.
The OWC Thunderbolt 3 Mini makes for a good buy if you tend to switch between using the Thunderbolt port on the dock and the Mac Mini. The dock already has two HDMI ports. You will not find much use for them if you use the dock primarily for your Mac Mini.
However, if you can't compromise on speed and want a third Thunderbolt port (apart from the usual USB ports), then the OWC Thunderbolt dock is worth buying.
Alternatively, you can also check out the Belkin Thunderbolt Mini dock. It shares a similar design with the OWC dock, although the build quality is better in this one.
A dock is one of the simplest ways to add more connectivity options to the humble Mac Mini with an M1 chip. Because at the end of the day, the two Thunderbolt ports and the single HDMI port do not suffice.
The USB-C docks mentioned above should be enough for your needs if you want to connect many USB-A peripherals, and transfer speed is not your top-most priority. And if on some days, you need really fast transfer speed, the secondary Thunderbolt port on the Mac Mini should be enough to quench the thirst. But if not, you can always spend a few bucks more and get a Thunderbolt dock.
The above article may contain affiliate links which help support Guiding Tech. However, it does not affect our editorial integrity. The content remains unbiased and authentic.