Do you need a new place to put your laptop? It’s not as easy as you might think, but we’ve made it easier with this help. What is the best? How much is it?
As time goes on, laptops keep getting better and better. High-end laptops from Razer and Gigabyte are now called “desktop replacements” by the companies that make them. Even the Steam Deck, which is a portable PC for gaming, has a dock that lets you play games on a bigger screen.
But it can be a little hard to use them without a dock. These “desktop replacements” can have a lot of trouble because they don’t have a lot of USB ports or HDMI or DisplayPort ports. Getting a dock should be easy, but it can raise a few questions.
The price is the main difference between many of these items. Do you spend all your money, but only have a few options? What about the fact that Amazon has a lot of different versions? The next question is whether or not Thunderbolt is worth it.
Even though they come in a lot of different shapes and sizes, we have a lot of experience finding the right ones. We’ve already found ours, but you might want to think about some of the choices below.
The Corsair TBT200 Thunderbolt 4 is the best dock for a laptop
We think that Corsair may be the best laptop docking station for what it has to offer. Even though it costs $340, everything is done in-house and under one roof. There are ten ports, and three of them are Thunderbolt 4 ports that can be used.
When you buy a laptop with Intel or a MacBook, you don’t just get the ports you’re used to. You will get three extra Thunderbolt ports to make up for the one you just gave up.
Since our review, we’ve used it every single day to charge our laptops and phone. The USB-C ports, a Switch, and Steam Deck were even slowly charged. It is probably one of the best things we’ve ever gotten.
Take the process of moving data from an SD card to a MacBook, for example. Multiple 4K files were taken off of a UHS-II 128GB SD card with big RAW files, and the transfer was done in minutes.
You get an HDMI to USB-C cable, a DisplayPort to USB-C cable, and a power brick that is a lot bigger than you might expect.
Even though it’s expensive and has a big power brick, it’s become an important part of the desk and is likely to stay there until Thunderbolt 6.
The most affordable USB-C laptop docking station
With so many options on Amazon, you might be surprised to learn that the one we suggest is incredibly cheap compared to the others. Even though this basic USB-C hub is neither the fastest nor the best on the market, you can’t beat what it has to offer.
We used this for a couple of years before we got to the Corsair dock. It costs about $27 and can provide up to 100W of power when linked to your favorite charger. It has an Ethernet port, a USB-A port, and an SD Card reader.
It won’t be the best hub, but there are a lot worse places out here. There’s nothing better than a sturdy piece of cheap equipment that can hold all your gadgets and charge your laptop while you work.
All-in-one docking station for laptops
You’ll need to buy a docking station for your laptop if you want to get the most out of it. When we show you something that costs $189.99, it’s not just anything we think you might like.
Docking stations are by far and away the most useful thing you can get to improve how you work from home or even how good you are at games. But if you’re familiar with how a PC works, you’ll know that there are never enough ports, no matter what you use.
The price of the Tobenone USB-C charging station is $190, but there is a $50 coupon you can use right now. It also has 18 ports that can be used.
It doesn’t have any very current ports, like USB-4 or 3 Gen 2.1, but it does have two DisplayPorts and an HDMI port. That should be more than enough to run the four-monitor setup you’ve always wanted, right?
It also has its own power source, so your poor laptop won’t have to provide any power for it.
What is Thunderbolt?
Thunderbolt is a system for connecting devices that were made by Apple and Intel. It was based on FireWire and had mini DisplayPort connections at first. It now comes in a USB-C case and can send data at speeds of up to 40GB/s.
Even though Thunderbolt 3 and 4 devices have the same connector, non-Thunderbolt connections won’t work with them.
But USB-4 now has a lot of the same features as TB3, and more are still being added. Devices that use Thunderbolt 3 should work with USB-4.
Thunderbolt not only gives you more ports to use, but it also lets you connect devices in a chain and use up to two 4K TVs on the same hub. If you connect up to six devices in a chain, they all share the same pool of resources on their own power supplies. This lets devices support a lot more than was planned at first.
Check out the LaCie 2Big Dock, which is now a little bit old, to get an idea of what Thunderbolt can really do. This device works with RAID storage and has links for DisplayPort, SD cards, and USB all in one.