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The Best Thunderbolt Docking Station

Last updated on November 21, 2019

We looked at the top 10 Thunderbolt Docking Stations and dug through the reviews from 55 of the most popular review sites including Laptop Magazine, Prestbest, EZ Reviews, Review Finch, Nerd Tech, One Giant Store and more. The result is a ranking of the best Thunderbolt Docking Stations.

Best Thunderbolt Docking Station

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Our Picks For The Top Thunderbolt Docking Stations

Show Contents
Our Take
Experts Included
Pros
Cons
  The Best Overall

CalDigit

TS3 Plus Thunderbolt Dock

Overall Take

Wide Range of CompatibilityYou won't have to worry about running out of ports with the CalDigit TS3 Plus Thunderbolt Dock, which has plenty of USB ports.

Experts Included
DWYM Beauty and Personal Care Experts plus Windows Central, New York Times Wirecutter, FabatHome, Tech Radar, Tweak Town, Mac Rumors and 10 more. Along with user reviews from Amazon.
Pros
" The dock has a small footprint — it can stand up vertically or sit horizontally — and weighs in at just over one pound. The aluminum case is built strong, and there's lifetime support and a one-year warranty in case..."
Cons
"For everything else, you will likely need an adapter too, especially as there are no HDMI ports (as this would require another converter on the circuit board)."

gofanco

Mini DisplayPort

Overall Take

Lightweight DesignTransporting your docking station from home to work and back is easy, thanks to the lightweight build of the gofanco Mini DisplayPort.

Experts Included
DWYM Beauty and Personal Care Experts plus Atoya Reviews, Education 4 Sustainability. Along with user reviews from Amazon.
Pros
" A perfect companion for Apple Macbooks, Microsoft Surface Windows tablets, Ultrabooks, and laptops."

StarTech

Monitor Thunderbolt 3 Dock

Overall Take

Lifetime SupportA three-year warranty and free lifetime tech support make the StarTech Monitor Thunderbolt 3 Dock a perfect pick if you're concerned about durability.

Experts Included
DWYM Beauty and Personal Care Experts plus BestReviews, Tweak Town, Tech Radar. Along with user reviews from Amazon.
Pros
" 85W power delivery offers plenty of juice for most laptops and computer accessories. Compatible with most PC and Apple laptops. Can output video to 2 monitors."
Cons
"Performance is subpar on the two USB 3.1 G1 Type-C ports. I was able to reach 359 MB/s read and 325 MB/s write in testing and while that is average for most solutions like these, StarTech can do better. Moving..."
  The Best Value

Plugable

Triple Display Docking Station

Overall Take

Useful StationSupport for up to two monitors at 4K resolution makes the Plugable Triple Display Docking Station a standout choice.

Experts Included
DWYM Beauty and Personal Care Experts plus Laptop Magazine, Salisbest, Plugable and 1 more. Along with user reviews from Amazon and Walmart.
Pros
" The Plugable USB-C Triple Display Docking Station is the futureproof dock that you have been waiting for. Between its support for both charging and video over USB Type-C, along with its ability to output at 4K, you won't need to..."
Cons
"The instruction manual has many mistakes."
Don't just take for granted what one reviewer says. Along with our own experts, DWYM analyzes the top expert reviews of the leading products and generates a score you can actually trust.
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We identified the majority of the thunderbolt docking stations available to purchase.
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55

Expert Reviews Included

In addition to our expert reviews, we also incorporate feedback and analysis of some of the most respected sources including: Laptop Magazine, Prestbest, EZ Reviews, Review Finch, Nerd Tech.

23,363

User Opinions Analyzed

We also incorporate user reviews from the leading retailers including Amazon, Walmart, Best Buy and 5 others.

Our experts reviewed the top 10 Thunderbolt Docking Stations and also dug through the reviews from 55 of the most popular review sites including Laptop Magazine, Prestbest, EZ Reviews, Review Finch, Nerd Tech, One Giant Store and more. The result is a ranking of the best of the best Thunderbolt Docking Stations.

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The Best Overall

CalDigit TS3 Plus Thunderbolt Dock

Our Expert Score
9.7
16 expert reviews
User Summarized Score
8.2
410 user reviews
Our Take

For the widest range of device compatibility, trust the CalDigit TS3 Plus Thunderbolt Dock, which has more ports than most competitors. You'll get plenty of USB hookups, as well as connections for all your peripherals and a high-speed SD card reader. You can connect up to two monitors and retain reasonably good screen resolution.

What other experts liked
The dock has a small footprint — it can stand up vertically or sit horizontally — and weighs in at just over one pound. The aluminum case is built strong, and there's lifetime support and a one-year warranty in case...
- Windows Central
August 19, 2019 | Full review
The most USB-A ports, plus USB-C ports and an SD card slot; it can charge a 15-inch MacBook Pro at full speed.
- New York Times Wirecutter
January 23, 2019 | Full review
If you have a power-hungry laptop, you might be pleased to find out that this unit provides an impressive 85W of power. You can use it as a charging station assuming it’s compatible with the host system.
- FabatHome
The TS3 Plus is one of the very few TB3 docks that can provide 85W of power to the host computer, meaning that it is powerful enough for mobile workstations like the 15-inch Apple MacBook Pro or the Dell Precision...
- Tech Radar
January 14, 2019 | Full review
CalDigit has done a remarkable job over the past four years pulling in the best technologies and putting it into their Thunderbolt Station lineup. With this latest solution, the TS3 Plus, I'm not sure they can make it any better.
- Tweak Town
Of all the Thunderbolt 3 docks I've tested so far, CalDigit's TS3 Plus is my new favorite. It has all of the features I'm looking for in a dock, including a plethora of USB ports with both Type-A and Type-C...
- Mac Rumors
September 5, 2018 | Full review
I like how compact it is and that it works in different orientations. On my desk, horizontal space is at a premium, which makes vertical mode perfect for me.
- I Download Blog
January 30, 2018 | Full review
The Ultra highspeed II SD card slot provides further transfer choices, making it a great alternative for those who use mobile storage solutions each day and also find themselves in more of a hurry than many.
- Tech Zimo
June 6, 2019 | Full review
The front of the TS3 Plus contains the ports you are most likely to interact with often including Headphone out, Line in, both Type-A and Type-C USB 3.1 Gen 1 ports, as well as a UHS-II SD Card reader.
- PC Perspective
March 12, 2018 | Full review
The driver-free dock works perfectly from a basic functionality standpoint both in macOS and in a Bootcamp installation of Windows 10. Mass storage devices, input devices, and output devices all work perfectly, just like they were natively plugged into the...
- Apple Insider
February 25, 2017 | Full review
The second factor that you should consider is the inclusion of an SD Card reader. That in and of itself is a separating factor, as a lot of docks lack an SD Card slot for whatever reason. But the fact...
- 9to5Mac
February 8, 2018 | Full review
One of the nice features of the TS3 Plus is the built-in UHS-II SD card reader. Many of us are spending more and more time on sets and late at night in hotel rooms offloading data-heavy camera original footage from...
- Studio Daily
March 1, 2018 | Full review
Personally, I also love the addition of a S/PDIF port, but not many video editors will want to drive an external amplifier with optical input from a computer.
- Visuals Producer
February 8, 2018 | Full review
Thankfully, the unit now has a SD 4.0 UHS-II port. That means your fast cards will perform the way they should. I am getting sustained read speeds of approximately 140 MB/s with my Sandisk UHS-II cards. I get slightly higher...
- Fstoppers
February 3, 2018 | Full review
A real boon, in my opinion, is the addition of the high-speed card reader. It does require you to use an SD adapter and it needs to be a UHS-II type to get the fastest possible offloading performance, but offloading...
- KelbyOne Insider
July 7, 2018 | Full review
What other experts didn't like
Cheaper options are available
- Windows Central
August 19, 2019 | Full review
For everything else, you will likely need an adapter too, especially as there are no HDMI ports (as this would require another converter on the circuit board).
- Tech Radar
January 14, 2019 | Full review
The only drawback is the loss of the dual eSATA ports, which is fairly understandable as I am probably one of the few people who continue to use them every so often.
- I Download Blog
January 30, 2018 | Full review
While the price is a bit steep at $250
- PC Perspective
March 12, 2018 | Full review
It should be noted that the CalDigit TS3 Plus, while small, isn’t as portable as it may appear.
- 9to5Mac
February 8, 2018 | Full review
Another challenge has to do with the fact that Thunderbolt 3 uses the USB-C connector type. With so many devices utilizing the newer USB-C connection, the demand for USB-C ports is high.
- 9th Avenue Studio
May 25, 2018 | Full review

The Best Bang For Your Buck

Plugable Triple Display Docking Station

Our Expert Score
7.5
4 expert reviews
User Summarized Score
7.9
122 user reviews
Our Take

For those who like to connect multiple monitors, the Plugable Triple Display Docking Station is a clear winner. You'll get 5K resolution with one connected monitor, degrading to only 4K resolution once two are connected, provided your monitors support that. Five USB ports and a one-year warranty with free technical support top off this docking station's benefits.

What other experts liked
The external displays are connected via a single HDMI and two DisplayPort connections, with extra functionality offered by four USB 3.0 ports, a single Type-C input port, gigabit Ethernet, and headphone and microphone jacks.
- Review Geek
May 15, 2018 | Full review
The Plugable USB-C Triple Display Docking Station is the futureproof dock that you have been waiting for. Between its support for both charging and video over USB Type-C, along with its ability to output at 4K, you won't need to replace this peripheral for a long time.
- Laptop Magazine
March 18, 2016 | Full review
Provides compatible windows thunderbolt 3 and usb-c systems with up to three additional displays via 1x hdmi 1.4 & 2x displayport++ ports, and up to 60w of charging power.
- Salisbest
A one-stop upgrade for your Windows laptop or desktop the Plugable UD-6950 USB 3.0 Dual 4K Docking Station allows you to connect up to two additional monitors and up to eight accessories through a single USB cable.
- Plugable
What other experts didn't like
Strangely, the UD-ULTCDL model doesn't have as many ports as its cheaper sibling, the UD-3900, which features an extra USB port on the back.
- Laptop Magazine
March 18, 2016 | Full review
The instruction manual has many mistakes.
- Salisbest
Cannot be mixed with non-DisplayLink USB graphics adapters and drivers (e.g. MCT, j5, or SMSC).
- Plugable

Overall Product Rankings

1. CalDigit TS3 Plus Thunderbolt Dock

Overall Score: 9.4
Reviews Included: 19

2. gofanco Mini DisplayPort

Overall Score: 9.2
Reviews Included: 3

3. StarTech Monitor Thunderbolt 3 Dock

Overall Score: 9.1
Reviews Included: 6

4. Plugable Thunderbolt Charging DisplayPort

Overall Score: 9.1
Reviews Included: 10

5. Hiearcool Laptop Docking Station

Overall Score: 9.0
Reviews Included: 3

6. Plugable Universal Laptop Docking Station

Overall Score: 9.0
Reviews Included: 18

7. SIIG Dual 4K Docking Station

Overall Score: 8.9
Reviews Included: 4

8. Dell Triple Display Docking Station

Overall Score: 7.9
Reviews Included: 10

Overall Score: 7.8
Reviews Included: 3

10. Plugable Triple Display Docking Station

Overall Score: 7.6
Reviews Included: 6

Our Findings

CalDigit TS3 Plus Thunderbolt Dock

What We Liked: For the widest range of device compatibility, trust the CalDigit TS3 Plus Thunderbolt Dock, which has more ports than most competitors. You’ll get plenty of USB hookups, as well as connections for all your peripherals and a high-speed SD card reader. You can connect up to two monitors and retain reasonably good screen resolution.

gofanco Mini DisplayPort

What We Liked: At only 6.4 ounces, the gofanco Mini DisplayPort is highly portable, making it easy to take from work to home and beyond. This is also one of the most affordable docking stations on the market, making it a win for any budget. You’ll also get a much smaller form factor, which means it will easily blend with the items on your desk.

StarTech Monitor Thunderbolt 3 Dock

What We Liked: With a three-year warranty and lifetime support at no charge, you can’t go wrong with the StarTech Monitor Thunderbolt 3 Dock. The sleek design of this model makes it one of the most attractive you’ll find, plus you’ll get support for up to two monitors. The 85 watts of power will ensure you can charge even a full laptop.

Plugable Triple Display Docking Station

What We Liked: For those who like to connect multiple monitors, the Plugable Triple Display Docking Station is a clear winner. You’ll get 5K resolution with one connected monitor, degrading to only 4K resolution once two are connected, provided your monitors support that. Five USB ports and a one-year warranty with free technical support top off this docking station’s benefits.

Our Expert Consultant

Molly Thornberg   
Technology and parenting blogger

Molly Thornberg is a professional writer, creative and mom to four kids, living her best life outside of Dallas, Texas. With a love for all things tech, she is passionate about helping parents raise kids in the digital age. She writes about technology, parenting and humor on her blog Digital Mom Blog.

Our Thunderbolt Docking Station Buying Guide

Workers are more mobile than ever. Whether you report to an office 40 hours a week or not, chances are you have a need to take your computer with you when you leave. Docking stations have long been a convenient way for workers to enjoy the mobility of a laptop while still having access to the screen, mouse and keyboard they prefer when they’re seated at a desk.

With a Thunderbolt, you get the benefits of speedy technology to charge compatible devices quickly. But as technology and parenting blogger Molly Thornberg explains, Thunderbolt docking stations come in a variety of options.

“Each Thunderbolt Docking Station has its own unique set of ports and features,” says Thornberg, the brains behind the Digital Mom Blog. “Research before buying a docking station to ensure that all of your needs are covered. Some commonly found ports and features include: additional Thunderbolt ports, USB-A ports, USB-C ports, computer charging, displays, a Gigabit Ethernet port, an SD reader and an audio port.”

But there are several things to consider before you choose a docking station. The first is compatibility with the devices you use every day. With some docking stations, you can plug in multiple electronic items, which means you can charge your mobile devices while using your laptop. You’ll need to check to make sure your docking station has ports that will work with the cables that connect to your devices.

When it comes to ports, advances in technology have made things a little complicated. You’ll see both USB-A and USB-C ports advertised, as well as the rating of USB 3 and USB 2. These are standards applied to data transfers, and both USB-C and USB 3 are newer. You’ll recognize USB-C by its smaller port size, as seen on newer computers and mobile devices. USB-A is the type you’ve seen for years, with a larger port on both the devices and the cables you plug into them.

When looking at ports, consider all the things you’ll need to plug in. If you prefer to have two monitors, make sure your docking station will support that and check how much the video quality will degrade when the signal is split between two monitors. Also keep in mind whether the ports are in the back or front of the docking station, as that will influence how far your cable will have to reach.

There are some cosmetic considerations, as well. You probably have limited space on your desk, so a docking station that sits vertically rather than horizontally can provide some relief. You should also take a look at the basic design of your docking station, as it will become an important part of your office aesthetic.

For many people, it may not matter, but for photographers and videographers, an SD card reader is essential. These professionals often need to quickly offload photos or videos to a memory card at the end of each day. If they’re in a rush, the process of transferring the data can be cumbersome. With a good SD card reader, you can get the high-speed transfer you need, allowing you to spend less time waiting and more time working.

DWYM Fun Fact

At one time, workers reported to an office and sat in a designated workstation all day. As remote work and mobile devices have become more popular, though, a trend called hotdesking has emerged. This setup involves allowing personnel to choose where they work each day. This type of environment is typically seen in an open-plan layout, where workstations aren’t sectioned off by walls and desks may be a combination of tables, benches, booths and sofas. Hotdesking makes it essential for workers to bring in their own electronic equipment every day, with each workstation typically equipped with power outlets and possibly even docking stations and peripherals.

The Thunderbolt Docking Station Tips and Advice

  • You likely already know what devices you want to dock. If you need your docking station to power a MacBook Pro or PC, you’ll want a unit with plenty of power. The CalDigit TS3 Plus Thunderbolt Dock, gofanco Mini DisplayPort, StarTech Monitor Thunderbolt 3 Dock and Plugable Triple Display Docking Station are all compatible with the Apple MacBook Pro, although the gofanco Mini DisplayPort won’t work with 2015 MacBooks.
  • The CalDigit TS3 Plus Thunderbolt Dock and StarTech Monitor Thunderbolt 3 Dock provide 85 watts of power, which is plenty to charge a 15-inch MacBook Pro at full speed.
  • An 85-watt docking station will also provide enough power for you to set up a compatible host to serve as a charging station.
  • For compatibility, you’ll need to make sure your chosen Thunderbolt will work with the devices you have.

“Using just one Thunderbolt port on your computer, a docking station expands that to however many ports your particular docking station offers,” Thornberg says. “These additional ports come in handy when your computer or laptop does not have the ports you need built-in, if you are out of ports or want additional functionality.”

  • The CalDigit TS3 Plus Thunderbolt Dock, StarTech Monitor Thunderbolt 3 Dock and Plugable Triple Display Docking Station can connect to any Windows or Apple device that has a Thunderbolt 3 port on board. Thunderbolt 3 was released in 2015 and designed to provide fast connections to docks.
  • The CalDigit TS3 Plus Thunderbolt Dock promises to offer the most ports, and it doesn’t disappoint. You’ll get 5 USB-A ports, ideal for plugging in hard drives, mice and keyboards. You’ll also get two USB-C ports for devices that support that. The gofanco Mini DisplayPort has two USB-A ports, while the StarTech Monitor Thunderbolt 3 Dock has two USB-A ports and one USB-C port. The Plugable Triple Display Docking Station has four USB-A ports and one USB-C.
  • If you’re limited on desk space, look for a docking station with a smaller footprint. The CalDigit TS3 Plus Thunderbolt Dock and Plugable Triple Display Docking Station stand upright to minimize the real estate they consume.
  • Those who need to transport the dock from home to work and back again may want to look for a lightweight model. The gofanco Mini DisplayPort is the lightest at only 6.4 ounces, but both the StarTech Monitor Thunderbolt 3 Dock and CalDigit TS3 Plus Thunderbolt Dock measure around one pound. The Plugable Triple Display Docking Station is 3.25 pounds, making it best for those who plan to keep the docking station in one place for the duration.
  • Whether you’re regularly moving your docking station or not, you’ll likely want a unit that’s built to last. The CalDigit TS3 Plus Thunderbolt Dock has a strong aluminum case that should hold up against anything that might fall on it. It also comes with a one-year warranty for added peace of mind. The StarTech Monitor Thunderbolt 3 Dock comes with a three-year warranty, as well as lifetime technical support at no charge. You’ll get a one-year limited warranty and local tech support with the gofanco Mini DisplayPort and the Plugable Triple Display Docking Station.
  • As you’re looking at ports, pay close attention to which docking stations have easy-to-access connections on the front of the device. Since your docking station will most likely be on your desk, not having to reach around to plug in those often-used items will come in handy. Your keyboard and mouse may be fine to stay plugged in permanently, for instance, but you’ll be connecting and disconnecting items like your laptop and headphones on a daily basis.
  • Some consumers use mobile storage solutions regularly. If you’re a professional photographer or videographer, for instance, you may need to quickly download your footage for safekeeping when you return home at the end of each day’s work. The CalDigit TS3 Plus Thunderbolt Dock has an Ultra High Speed II (UHS-II) SD card reader to transfer your data at lightning-fast speeds.
  • If you prefer to use multiple monitors, consider the CalDigit TS3 Plus Thunderbolt Dock, StarTech Monitor Thunderbolt 3 Dock or Plugable Triple Display Docking Station. The Plugable Triple Display Docking Station supports up to three monitors, while the CalDigit TS3 Plus Thunderbolt Dock and StarTech Monitor Thunderbolt 3 Dock can handle up to two monitors along with the usual peripherals. However, if you’re going for the highest resolution possible, you may notice resolution starts to degrade once you’ve split the connection between multiple monitors.
  • For those on a budget, the gofanco Mini DisplayPort will be the most affordable choice, but beyond that extremely low cost, you’ll find most other options are similarly priced.
  • Resolution can be an important feature, especially if you’re a gamer or you watch video on your monitor. The CalDigit TS3 Plus Thunderbolt Dock and Plugable Triple Display Docking Station let you connect two 4K monitors or one 5K monitor. The StarTech Monitor Thunderbolt 3 Doc gives you 4K resolution on up to two monitors, and the gofanco Mini DisplayPort gives you 1080p resolution.
  • The overall design of your docking station may come into play, particularly since it will become a prominent part of your office environment. The CalDigit TS3 Plus Thunderbolt Dock looks similar to a router, but you’ll find the gofanco Mini DisplayPort has a much lower profile, coming in the form of a small box. The StarTech Monitor Thunderbolt 3 Dock is perhaps the most attractive of the options, with a horizontal design that can easily tuck behind other items on your desk.

About The Author

Avatar
Stephanie Faris 

Stephanie Faris is a novelist and professional writer. She enjoys writing about beauty, and has beeb featured on some popular beauty sites. She loves painting her nails using various decorative nail polish strips and following makeup tutorials on YouTube.