Docking stations are one of the best solutions if you want to expand your laptop's screen and functionality without investing in a full-fledged desktop. These small devices let you connect your laptop to monitors and other peripherals with ease. And as we mentioned earlier, they expand the functionality of your laptop by several folds.
If you want to add multiple screens to your setup, investing in a docking station that supports multiple monitors should be the next thing on your buying list. Not only does the extra screen space make you more productive, but the extra ports for peripherals add a range of functions, be it an SD card reader or a high-speed flash drive.
Besides, docking stations for laptops reduce the chaos in your desk by eliminating wires and adapters. You need to connect your laptop to the dock, and that's about it.
So if you are looking for a docking station that supports a multi-monitor rig, here are our top recommendations. But first,
Plugable's USB 3.0 docking station is probably one of the least expensive docks out there. However, don't let the low price tag fool you because this dock is capable of so much. For one, it can support dual monitors at 1920x1200 resolution at 60Hz. So even if you plan to keep your expenses down, you can invest in a couple of budget monitors for your desktop setup.
Also, if you want to push things, you can drive a single display up to 2560x1440 @ 50Hz through the HDMI port. There are quite a few ports to connect your keyboard or mouse. And yes, the AUX connection lets you rope in a few traditional speakers as well. Plus, the USB 2.0 USB ports ensure that you can connect everything—from your printer to a wired scanner. Cool, we'd say.
For the price, the Plugable's USB 3.0 docking station does a pretty good job. So far, it has amassed a handsome number of positive reviews. A few of the users have gone ahead and said that they could connect dual displays to their MacBook with an M1 chip. If you must know, the M1 chip doesn't traditionally support dual displays.
That said, it has some limitations. The USB ports do not have Power Delivery, which means you'll have to charge your laptop separately. It is a limitation. However, the low price tag makes up for it.
2. Dell USB 3.0 4K Triple Display Docking Station
Ports: 1 x DisplayPort, 2 x HDMI, 2 x USB 2.0, 3 x Superspeed USB 3.0 , 3.5 Audio, Ethernet port
The Dell docking station is one of the few docks which can connect your laptop to three monitors. Woah, right? The best part is that this dock is small and compact and doesn't occupy much space. Like its counterpart above, it lets you connect your laptop to several peripherals.
It's a simple plug-and-play device and doesn't need any extra drivers to work. But the feature that has won the hearts of many users is the space between the various ports. So even if you have a rugged or braided HDMI cable, this dock will be able to accommodate them easily.
Even if it's a compact device, the number of ports is sufficient. Dell has thrown in a bunch of USB 3.0 USB-A ports as well. It also ships with an HDMI to DVI adapter if on the odd chance that you have an older monitor.
There's a slight catch. If you have 4K monitors, only one can stream in 4K, and the other two will stream at Full HD.
But at the end of the day, this Dell dock is compatible with a few selected models from Acer, Dell, Lenovo, HP. Do make sure to check the compatibility before you hit the Buy button.
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3. Tobenone Store USB C Docking Station
Ports: 2 x HDMI, 4 x USB 3.0, 1 x USB-C, 1 x USB C PD 3.0, 2 x USB 2.0, 1 x 3.5mm Audio, 1 x SD card reader and 1 x Gigabit Ethernet port
Tobenone Store's docking station brings more than a dozen ports to the table. It bundles around 16 ports, and unlike the ones above, it bundles dual HDMI ports. And hey, there's an SD card reader as well. More importantly, the USB-C port supports Power Delivery and can deliver up to 87W of power to connected laptops.
The Tobenone Store's docking station can drive two 4K monitors @ 60Hz. If you recollect, this was a major limitation with the Dell dock. Even though it supports Apple Mac laptops, it can't drive dual-displays on MacBook running the M1 chip.
Other than that, it works as expected. It's a plug-and-play device and doesn't need any additional drivers. At the same time, the instruction manual is clear and easy to understand.
The form factor is a little different from the ones from the one above. It has a vertical form factor, but the good news is that the device is small and compact and doesn't occupy much space.
4. Belkin USB-C Dual Display Dock
Ports: : 2 x HDMI, 2 x USB-A 3.1 Gen1, 1 x USB-A 3.1, 1 x USB-C, 1 x Gigabit Ethernet, 1 x 3.5mm Audio
If you want a known brand product, the Belkin USB-C dock is a good pick. It supports a 1080P dual-display on dual monitors. One of the features which separate it from the rest of the docks is its compact form factor. The ports are arranged cleverly and let you go about your job with ease.
There aren't as many ports as the Tobenone Store's dock, but it gets the basic work down. But, you might miss the bunch of USB ports that are available in other docks.
It works as advertised, and several people have backed this as part of their reviews. All you need to do is plug the dock into a power source and the laptop, and then plug in the monitors, and that's about it. It's a well-made product and is durable. The aluminum casing ensures that it lasts a long time.
One of the flaws of this dock is its HDMI placement. They are stacked on top of the other, and if you have braided cables with thick strain reliefs, you may have some issues plugging them.
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5. Anker PowerExpand Elite 13-in-1 Thunderbolt 3 Dock
The Anker PowerExpand Elite is a good pick if you want to drive a dual-display through your Thunderbolt laptop. It can handle both MacBook and Windows laptops. As is the rule with newer Mac laptops, only a single display will work for the M1 MacBooks.
That said, it brings a whooping 13 ports to the table. It packs two Thunderbolt ports and USB-C ports. Plus, it has quite a few power options up its sleeves. Apart from the 85W Power Delivery, it also 15W Thunderbolt port.
All the fancy features mean that the Anker PowerElite is expensive compared to its counterpart. If only you want something premium, then this is the right buy. Else, the Belkin dock or the one by Pluggable will fit your requirements better.
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Not too long ago, a dual-monitor or a multi-monitor rig gave the impression of some heavy work in progress. Thankfully, now things have changed, and multiple monitors are a common scene now.
Once you get the dock, do make sure to buy a quality monitor arm so that the displays do not crowd your desk.
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A #USB-C docking station with a #DisplayPort connection may just be what you need if you want to enjoy high-resolution content. Take a look at this article to discover the best laptop docks with #USB-C and DisplayPort connections.