Laptops are more portable and convenient than desktop computers so it’s no wonder that many people prefer them. Although the smaller size adds a lot of convenience in your life and it helps with the ease-of-use, sometimes you can face some problems. If you have a keyboard, a mouse, a monitor or other external devices that you need to connect to your laptop things might get a little tricky. You might also be interested in our articles about the best liquid CPU coolers and the best hard drive docking stations.
Firstly, the number of USB ports found on a laptop is not exceptionally high so they are often not enough to connect more necessary devices. Secondly, the ports can often break down if you use them often, or they may start acting weird. A desktop PC can be used much more comfortably but if you wish to get that same convenience and to extend the performance capabilities of your laptop, now you can by getting your hands on a docking station for a laptop.
If you want to get more out of your laptop and purchase a laptop docking station, there are a few things you should keep in mind to buy the right device for you.
Some laptop docking stations are intended for models made by specific manufacturers and so they only offer a special port for connecting your device. There are also those that fit well all users as they can be connected to a USB port. Getting one that’s universally compatible is usually the better option as it provides more flexibility. Pay attention to the supported operating system too. Many docking stations don’t work with Macs or Linux computers.
2. Screen expansion
Some people want to mesh productivity with entertainment and so they want to use more displays with a docking stations. If this is an important thing for you, be sure to check the supported resolutions because some only offer HD resolutions while others can accept up to 2K or more.
3. Extra features
When comparing products, it can be handy to look for some extra features which can be useful for your particular needs. Some models come with integrated fast charging ports, card readers and more.
Now that you have a rough idea of what it takes to buy the ideal laptop docking station, let’s look at the best products on the market right now. As cost-effectiveness was the most important criteria for this selection, you are almost guaranteed to find a capable docking station suitable for your budget and specific needs.
Best Universal Docking Station
Upgrading your laptop is a breeze if you have the product with the right tools and the Plugable UD-3900 seems like the best choice for that. It’s a universal laptop docking station that only works with Windows systems but is loaded with various ports like the HDMI and the DVI-I port with VGA adapter or the Gigabit Ethernet port and plenty of USB ports. At this price, you get a very solid set of features that anyone looking for a quality laptop docking station should benefit from.
With this device, you can connect two additional monitors and nine accessories by using only a single USB cable. Compatibility is guaranteed with Windows 10 and earlier versions thanks to the latest drivers and firmware updates. USB 2.0 ports work well too. If you have a Mac or Linux-based system you have to look elsewhere as this Plugable doesn’t offer support for them.
It features an HDMI port and a DVI-I port complete with VGA adapter. You can use these ports for mirroring or extending your Windows desktop to external monitors. On HDMI it can accommodate screens at a maximum resolution of 2560×1440 (one screen only) while on DVI/VGA it only accepts resolutions of up to 1920×1200.
A Gigabit Ethernet network port is provided as well as an external headphone/speaker output jack. There are in total six extra USB ports, two of which use the USB 3.0 standard for high-speed. There’s no special charging functionality for charging smart devices as this unit works just as a USB hub.
Working great for a wide range of applications, the Plugable UD-3900 is an excellent docking station for a laptop all things considered. It has everything most users need to conveniently expand the devices attached to a laptop and turn their system into one that functions more similarly to a desktop. To top it all off, Plugable’s customer service is top-notch which is one more thing for which this device is highly recommended.
- SuperSpeed USB 3.0
- Support only for Windows & legacy XP systems
- 2560 X 1440 maximum resolution
- Recommended for web and productivity software, not gaming
- Up to 1000Mbps speeds through the Ethernet port
The DS-RICA from Sabrent is another capable docking station that offers universal compatibility and comes with a handy stand for tablets and laptops. It works with both Windows and Mac operating systems and delivers a smooth experience for everyone who wants to connect multiple monitors, for more productive multitasking.
Connecting all your favorite accessories and peripherals by using a single USB cord is possible without any issues. You can gain access to a maximum of two full HD displays using the available HDMI and DVI-I ports. This is a solid solution for mirroring or extending your laptop to external monitors.
Two of the included USB ports are offering SuperSpeed USB 3.0 bi-directional throughput, two provide USB 2.0 inputs great for connecting printers, a mouse, and keyboard or other such devices. Additionally, Sabrent included two more USB ports for charging. These 2.4A ports offer enough current to power up smart devices at full speed. It provides a Gigabit Ethernet port for downloading large files or streaming movies more quicker.
In terms of compatibility, this unit accepts Apple devices, Windows laptops, and ultrabooks as well as various tablets. Linux users are out of luck unfortunately but anyone else can take advantage of the strong capabilities of this device. The stand of this docking station is robust enough to hold a tablet upright and provides an extra display to increase your productivity. Generally, there’s no need to install anything when you first connect the docking station to your laptop, but driver updates are released regularly and have to be downloaded from the manufacturer’s website.
With no drops in resolution, even for three Full HD connected displays, the Sabrent DS-RICA offers a flawless experience for the price. It’s a well-built docking station and has the potential to be an ideal companion for any laptop or tablet. The stand works as intended without the worries of your devices sliding out so all in all, this is a strongly recommended docking station.
- Works with HDMI and DVI Displays at the same time
- Two USB 3.0 and Two USB 2.0 Ports
- Up to 1000 Gigabit Ethernet Port
- Two 2.4 A Fast Charging Ports
- Compatible With Windows and Mac
With the help of a capable docking station, you are able to unlock workstation efficiency for any laptop or ultrabook. Having more HD monitors, USB 3.0 storage devices and lots of peripherals like printers or scanners is possible over just a single high-speed USB connection by owning a laptop docking station like the TRENDnet TU3-DS2. This one offers a maximum of 2048 x 1536 resolution support via HDMI for additional monitors and many more interesting features at a reasonable price.
Building your ideal workstation is a breeze if you have the right docking station. It allows for quick and efficient docking as you can connect two additional full HD displays using the HDMI and DVI ports. Your laptop is set in extend mode for upgrading your productivity in the office or at home.
A great aspect about this model is the full 5.1 audio channel support when you have a connected HDMI display. There are also analog audio headphone ports placed on the front panel of the docking station which can override the audio from the HDMI display. A total of six USB ports are included for this unit, two of them accepting USB 3.0 devices for fast file transfer speeds and the others are good for those extra peripherals like printers, scanners, or a keyboard and mouse. Connecting to the network can be done via the high-performance Gigabit port.
The design is sleek and geared towards maximum space-saving. The vertical space design can connect all your favorite peripherals and only uses a very small desktop footprint. This universal docking station works well with pretty much every laptop with a USB port and is fully compatible with Windows and Mac OS 10.9. In the package for this little helpful device, you will discover, besides the quick installation guide and the CD-ROM containing drivers, a VGA to DVI adapter and a USB 3.0 cable.
Defining exactly what makes a great docking station for a laptop is not an easy thing to do but TRENDnet managed something that gets pretty close. Their model, the TU3-DS2 is an excellent combination of workspace visual extension and an elegant design that fits nicely in any environment without taking too much space. With such a solid price, this represents a good investment if you need a reliable universal docking station for your laptop.
- Monitor HDMI 2048 x 1536 maximum resolution
- Gigabit wired network connection
- Two-way audio support
- Windows and Mac (OS 10.9 only) compatible
- Space Saving Design
Best Buy Laptop Docking Station
Anker’s AK-68ANDOCKS-BA is geared towards those who want something more premium in terms of both design and performance. The smooth black design is very stylish but this docking station’s true strength lays in its powerful features. It comes with many improvements for the stability of your connections including a smart optimizing chip for the best bandwidth usage.
This device allows you to bring many of your favorite devices together including routers, printers, monitors, speakers and much more and the only thing that you need to worry about is one cable. Your laptop easily becomes the command center and after the productivity session is over you just safely unplug and you regain instant portability.
It is a very convenient docking station for multitaskers who want to add more monitors and expand their control over active applications. Both HDMI and DVI screens can be connected to change the way you stream video and surf the web. There are lots of applications and this could be perfect for traders, business professionals but also for dedicated gamers.
Besides consolidating your devices, Anker integrated a smart chip to manage their performance. With its help, the bandwidth usage is smartly prioritized so that even when you run lots of devices and the docking station works at full capacity you can still enjoy smooth and stable connections. The sturdy, zinc-alloy base stand was designed for a firm placement in any environment in an upright position. If necessary, you can always take the stand away to put it in horizontal placement for tighter fitting.
Something to keep in mind regarding the compatibility is the fact that the DisplayLink driver doesn’t work with Mac products. As a consequence, DVI, HDMI, and Ethernet ports cannot function for them, although the USB connection should still work normally. Windows users shouldn’t have these issues.
Although it’s a bit expensive than other docking stations in this list, the superior build quality and the performance optimizations can still make this device worth it. Anker is known for their quality products and the AK-68ANDOCKS-BA is no exception. Easy to use and offering impressive functionality, this universal docking station can be the perfect match for your laptop.
- Supports simultaneous HDMI and DVI displays
- Automatic bandwidth prioritization
- Two USB 3.0 ports, 4 X 2.0 ports
- Detachable base stand
Boasting a full range of connections including HDMI, VGA, audio, and Ethernet and USB ports, the UNITEK Y-3704NEW is a solid universal docking station. It works well with any Windows or Mac laptop and has a very sturdy design. Complete with a very affordable price, this represents a good option that shouldn’t be missed.
Multitasking is made easier if you have more HD displays and UNITEK seems to agree. This device is equipped with both HDMI and VGA ports to transform the way you work and extend your entertainment possibilities. Any traders, stockbrokers or other business professionals can benefit from more monitors but students and gamers can also take advantage of this feature.
Regarding the compatibility, it works well with any Windows-based computer and given the fact that it’s a universal docking station, it allows for different brands of laptops to connect with multiple devices. It can work with Mac products too with the right adapter. The dynamic design is emphasized by the use of a removable stand. You can place the device according to the way your surroundings permit it either upright or horizontally. Besides the audio jacks for headphones and mic, there’s an 1000 Gigabit port and two USB 3.0 ports. USB over-current protection is supported as well.
Offering more than your money’s worth, this model is highly recommended if you are in the market for getting a capable laptop docking station. Even if you aren’t good at dealing with electronic devices, this product is very simple to use and overall does a solid job of extending the number of peripherals you can use with a laptop.
- Maximum 1080P resolution with HDMI output
- 5.1-channel sound with HDMI output
- 1000Mbps Gigabit Ethernet Port
- Two USB 3.0 ports
Liztek is not a very well known manufacturer of various electronic products but it makes solid quality devices without inflated costs. The UD-3800 is a docking station that packs quite a punch despite its low price. It comes with support for a total of six additional USB display units and accepts a display resolution of up to 2048 x 1152/1920 x 1200. It doesn’t particularly stand out in the market for laptop docking stations but it earns a spot on this list as it represents a very cost-effective solution to get more out of your laptop.
This docking station makes use of a DisplayLink chipset and is fully capable of managing audio output, dual graphics, and Gigabit Ethernet functions. On a Windows laptop, you can get drivers updates automatically installed when you get Windows updates as long as you keep an internet connection when you connect the docking station.
Thanks to this technology, mirroring or even extending your desktop with an additional monitor is very much possible. It offers HDMI and VGA/DVI monitor ports allowing a maximum display resolution of 2048 x 1152. For audio, you get a headset and microphone input and 5.1 Channel surround sound via the DMI interface.
Four USB 2.0 ports fulfill the role of connecting devices such as digital cameras, printers, scanners, and other similar peripherals while the two USB 3.0 ports are intended for storage devices which need fast data transfer speeds. One of the USB 3.0 ports acts as a fast-charging port for any smartphones and tablets considering the charging current of up to 1.5A.
Taking into account all the features and balancing them with the fair price, the final result is a highly positive one. The Liztek UD-3800 is great docking station and is especially recommended for those on a budget. If you’re tired of ending up with unreliable products that are often way too overpriced maybe getting a device like this one could be a nice change of pace.
- Support for up to 6 additional USB display units
- 2 USB 3.0 ports for super transfer speed up to 5 Gbps
- Gigabit Ethernet network port
- Fast charging port
- Extended Desktop Mode, Mirrored Desktop Mode, and Primary Mode
Having a laptop docking station can be a very valuable investment especially if you do a lot of work and you wish to be more productive. If you choose the right device, you can enjoy a level of convenience that you never dreamed it could be possible. A good example is this one that delivers great compatibility, excellent connectivity options, and a simple but efficient design.
It provides multiple connectivities for various peripherals through a single cable. This versatile docking station comes with three external monitor outputs which can be used in combinations like either HDMI and DVI-D or HDMI and VGA to expand or mirror your desktop and bring increased productivity to the table. It has dual independent HD video outputs, each supporting up to 2048×1152 resolution.
Expanding connectivity is important but not only for monitors. With this docking station, you get an all-in-one mobile solution as it combines a USB 3.0 hub with a Gigabit Ethernet port and audio connectors for headphones and microphones. Managing multiple devices at home or in the office has just become much easier as you can boost the connectivity of any laptop.
The only aspect that leaves things to be desired is the installation process which can be a bit complicated as the drivers for this unit can sometimes encounter difficulties when installing. Although StarTech ensures compatibility with virtually all USB 3.0 laptops and all the operating systems, Windows 10 might have some issues. It’s nothing worrying, this device still works great most of the time, you just need to be aware of possible problems.
Ideal for a vast range of applications, the StarTech can transform your basic laptop into a powerful workstation in no time. The connections are very convenient and the fact that it works with pretty much all laptop models is a great feature, unlike some proprietary docking stations. Definitely some great potential in this device.
- HDMI and DVI/VGA Dual-Monitor
- Dual-video HDMI + DVI-D or HDMI + VGA
- Universal compatibility
- Up to 1000 Mbps compatible RJ45 Ethernet port
- Three USB 3.0 ports
- Speaker and Microphone support through 3.5mm stereo jacks
Another good docking station for laptops or ultrabooks, the Wavlink WL-UG39DK1 delivers some powerful features for a slightly higher price but it’s definitely worth the extra cost considering the overall quality. It has dual screen support thanks to its HDMI and DVI/VGA ports, the former capable of accepting display resolutions of up to 2560×1440 which is pretty impressive.
It enables simple and efficient multi-monitor productivity as you can make use of the HDMI and DVI/VGA outputs to expand your visual horizons. The HDMI output supports resolutions up to 2048 x 1152, while the DVI output accepts a maximum of 1920 x 1080 resolutions.
To get a VGA output, you need to use the included converter and there’s support only for resolutions up to 1280 x 1024. A 2560 x 1440 output is possible too if there’s only a single display used. When dual screens are connected, each monitor will be limited to a resolution of 1920 x 1200.
Other ports included in this Wavlink docking station are the Gigabit Ethernet one, which represents a good solution for accessing the Ethernet networking field, and the USB data and fast charging ports. Two USB 3.0 ports ensure fast file transfer speeds of up to 5Gbps of which one offers support for Fast Charging (1.5A). Four USB 2.0 ports are included for all the other peripherals that you need to connect to the laptop.
It is compatible with most Windows and Mac systems but 64-bit editions of Windows XP are not supported. Setting it up is also a breeze as the connection to your laptop takes only a few seconds. All ports seem to work well out of the box and the only slight issue you can experience with this docking station is the occasional mouse lag if you are using legacy hardware, but that’s almost to be expected in this situation.
An ideal device for getting stuff done more productively, the Wavlink WL-UG39DK1 is a fast and reliable docking station, the cost being perfectly justified when you evaluate the strong level of quality more closely. All the ports work well and connections are smooth and stable and so overall there are no major complaints as this is a very nice companion for any laptop.
- Dual screen support HDMI and DVI ports
- 2560 X 1440 max resolution for the HDMI port
- Gigabit Ethernet RJ-45 port up to 1000Mbps
- 2 x USB 3.0 ports, 4 x USB 2.0 ports