Using a laptop with an external monitor can be fun until you want to plug in your peripherals. Undoubtedly, a docking station extends the functionality of a laptop. Right from extending the display to connecting keyboards (yes, one of my colleagues uses three keyboards), mouse, external storage, and more, without worrying about the lack of USB ports, can be a liberating experience. These nifty devices give you a lot of room to convert your humble portable laptop into a desktop PC.
And well, some docks even let you extend your humble laptop's screen into two displays, all thanks to the dual HDMI connectors. If you are looking to increase your productivity, here are some good laptop docking stations with 2 HDMI ports. But before you go,
If you have a laptop with Thunderbolt ports, the Belkin TB3 Mini can prove to be a good buy. It isn't very expensive and bundles a decent number of ports. Apart from the advantage of dual HDMI ports, you also get to 2 USB-A ports and an Ethernet port. When hooked to compatible HDMI cables, it can stream 4K at 60Hz. At the same time, you also get to harness the high-speed transfer speed of Thunderbolt 3.
One of the advantages of the Belkin TB3 Mini is its small and discrete build, meaning you get a clutter-free setup, which doesn't take up much space. All you need are some nifty cable ties and clips to keep them in place.
It's a simple plug and play device. Connect the main cable to a compatible Thunderbolt 3 port on your laptop, and then hook the rest of your peripherals, and you will be good to go.
Do note that if you connect heavy resource-heavy peripherals like high-res monitors and external hard drives all at the same time, you might see a drop in the performance and speed of the device.
The Belkin TB3 Mini can't supply power to the connected laptop. Neither are there any USB-C out ports.
2. Wavlink USB 3.0 Universal Laptop Docking Station
Ports: 6 x SuperSpeed USB 3.0, 2 x DisplayPort, 2 x HDMI, Ethernet, USB-C In, 3.5mm Audio
If the somewhat limited number of ports of the Belkin TB3 Mini doesn't impress you, then you can check out the Wavlink USB 3.0. This one has a whopping 6 USB 3.0 ports. Now, that's something. Apart from that, there are two pairs of HDMI and DisplayPort connections, and the company claims that you can take the display resolution to 5120 x 2880 @ 60Hz with a single display.
Nevertheless, the spec sheet is pretty cool. It bundles HDMI 2.0 and DisplayPort 1.2 connectors. For the unaware folks, HDMI 2.0 brings several features to the table. Apart from supporting high-resolution displays, it can push 18.0 Gbps of bandwidth. What's more, it can run two Full HD shows simultaneously on the same screen, i.e., if your system permits.
Though there is a duo of DisplayPort connectors, there are some limitations. This dock doesn't support MST or daisy chaining of multiple DisplayPort-compatible monitors.
There's no Power Delivery due to the lack of USB-C out ports. A USB 3.1 cable, that comes with the dock, provides the power.
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3. Dell USB 3.0 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
Maximum supported resolution: 1 x 4K display + 2 x Full HD displays.
The Dell docking station goes a step ahead of its peers and lets you hook three monitors to your laptop. The good thing is that it manages to pull off this stunt with a small and compact build. However, there's a slight catch—only one of the monitors can stream 4K content while the other two will be able to stream at Full HD.
The clever design ensures that all the ports and connections are fitted well in a small build. There is ample space between the ports to avoid overcrowding. And staying true to its name, the Dell USB 3.0 packs quite a few USB 3.0 USB-A ports.
The laptop connects via a short USB 3.0 cable. And yeah, they also pack an HDMI-to-DVI adapter should your monitor not have HDMI ports.
It's not a universal docking station and is not compatible with all the laptops. It only supports some models from Acer, Lenovo, HP, and of course, Dell. Thankfully, there's an easy way to check the compatibility with the laptop beforehand. All you need to do is enter the model name on the dropdown if you buy it from Amazon.
This dock doesn't supply power to charge your laptop and, you will need to have the power brick of your laptop handy.
4. Plugable UD-6950H Horizontal Docking Station
Ports: 2 x HDMI, 2 x DisplayPort, 6 x USB 3.0 ports, Ethernet, Audio in/out
Maximum supported resolution: 5K@60Hz (single monitor), 4K@60Hz (dual monitor)
Another docking station that won't break the bank is the one by Plugable. It sits horizontally on the table and boats of several connections, including six USB 3.0 ports. Besides supporting a single 5K monitor via DisplayPort, it can also support dual 4K displays @ 60Hz. All you need to do is hook up a compatible monitor with high-speed HDMI 2.0 cables.
Though there are two DisplayPorts and two HDMI ports, these are mutually exclusive, meaning only one port from each pair can be used at a time. Furthermore, the DisplayPort connections do not support MST to form a multi-monitor rig. All the outputs must be streamed via the dock.
Despite carrying a host of posts and connections, the Plugable UD-6950H doesn't deliver power to your laptop and that's the price you have to pay for the slightly affordable price tag.
Its versatility has made it quite popular among its user base. It has amassed an average rating of 4.5-stars out of 5. Most like the picture quality and easy-to-use nature. Fakespot estimates more than 60% of these reviews are reliable and can be trusted.
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Double the Power
Before you invest in a docking station, make sure to check the compatibility of your laptop's hardware with the dock. Plus, make sure to replace the HDMI cable with an HDMI 2.0 cable if the setup asks for it.
So, which one of these docking stations will you go for? The Plugable UD-6950H seems like a good option since it has the right blend of features for the price. What say?
A multi-monitor setup needn't be cluttered. Check out the next article to discover the best monitor arms for a clean and ergonomic desk setup.
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