Top Docking Stations: What Docking Station Should You Get?

Ainsley McKay By Ainsley McKay - updated August 31st, 2023
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Docking stations are a key element in maximising the potential of your laptop. They expand your laptops capability by providing extra ports for connections, transforming them into a desktop-like powerhouse. Serving as a central hub, they allow you to connect all kinds of peripherals such as monitors, printers, keyboards, mice and more, all using just a single connection to your laptop.

In this article, we'll take a closer look at some of the top docking stations available at PB Tech. Whether you're a professional seeking to boost productivity, a student wanting a more versatile setup, or a casual user needing more port options, this guide aims to help you find the perfect docking station for your Windows laptop.

Why Use a Docking Station?

A docking station offers a convenient solution to using a laptop with the level of flexibility and utility generally associated with desktop PCs. When you use a docking station, you essentially create a bridge between the portability of a laptop and the productivity of a desktop. Here are some key benefits of using a docking station.

Enhanced Connectivity - One of the most significant advantages of a docking station is the expanded range of ports it provides. This will be especially handy if your laptop has a limited number of built-in ports. This enhanced connectivity allows you to plug in several peripherals such as a keyboard, mouse, printer, or speakers, all of which can boost productivity.

Easy Access to Multiple Displays - Docking stations enable you to connect your laptop to one or more external monitors. This provision for multiple displays opens up a new level of multitasking. A multi-monitor setup can significantly improve efficiency and productivity.

Streamlined Workspace - A docking station can help you achieve a clutter-free workspace by centralising all connections to a single hub. Instead of juggling multiple cables attached directly to your laptop, a docking station requires only one cable to connect your laptop to all your peripherals.

Comfort and Ergonomics - When you pair a docking station with an external monitor, keyboard, and mouse, you can create a more ergonomic workspace. You can adjust the height and angle of your monitor to a comfortable viewing level, reducing strain on your neck and eyes. An external keyboard and mouse can also offer better positioning than a laptop's built-in keyboard and touchpad, reducing the risk of discomfort or injury from long periods of use.

Whether you're a professional needing a more efficient workflow or a casual user desiring a more flexible setup, a docking station can transform your laptop into a powerful, desktop-like hub. It's an investment that can fundamentally redefine your computing experience.

What to Look for in a Docking Station?

When buying a docking station, various factors determine if it's the right fit for your needs. Here are some key aspects you should consider:

Port Selection - First and foremost, evaluate your requirements for connectivity. A basic docking station typically offers extra USB ports, an Ethernet connection, and audio out. However, some may provide more specific connections like HDMI, VGA, or DisplayPort for external displays, or USB-C and Thunderbolt for high-speed data transfer.

Power Delivery - If you prefer a clean setup with minimal cables, consider a docking station that can charge your laptop as well. Some docking stations offer Power Delivery (PD) which can power up your laptop over the same cable used for data transfer.

Display Support - If you plan on using multiple external displays, ensure the docking station supports this. You'll not only want to check for the necessary ports but also the maximum resolution and refresh rate it can support, particularly important for high-definition or 4k displays.

Compatibility - Ensure the docking station is fully compatible with your laptop. Some docking stations work exclusively with certain platforms or specific models. Always check the manufacturer's specifications to confirm compatibility with your laptop's operating system and connections.

Price - Docking stations come in a range of prices, with more expensive models typically offering more connections or advanced features. Ensuring the docking station meets your needs whilst staying within your budget is essential.

Now, let's get onto our Top Docking Stations!

Top Docking Stations

Dell HD22Q USB-C Dual Charge Dock

Most of the docking stations on the list are ultimately fairly similar when it comes to functionality. There’s something unique about the Dell HD22Q USB-C Dual Charge Dock though that makes it a standout docking station. This compact yet power-packed dock also features a wireless charging stand for Qi-enabled smartphones or earbuds. This grants you a convenient spot to charge and display your smartphone (or earbuds) while you work, making it easier to keep an eye on notifications and calls. Because it’s wireless, you can place your phone in either portrait or landscape mode - whatever suits you best.

It will also connect to multiple other devices with ease, featuring 4x USB-A and 1x USB-C ports. Additionally, it supports up to two 4K monitors at once with a DisplayPort 1.4 and HDMI 2.1 port (the HDMI port can support up to a 4K HDR 120Hz monitor). This dock will deliver up to 90W of power delivery to your laptop. On select Dell commercial laptops, you can receive an even faster charge via ExpressChargei. The Dell HD22Q is compatible with Windows 10, Windows 11, Ubuntu 20.04 or later.

HP Thunderbolt Dock 120W G4

The HP Thunderbolt Dock 120W G4 is a practical docking station that boosts your security, productivity and connectivity. Central to its appeal is the high value of 120 watts, capable of adequately charging even the most power-intensive laptops. Another one of its major draws is the ability to support up to four 4K displays - a huge advantage for those managing intricate or expansive tasks.

Flexibility is incorporated through its diverse gamut of ports, with 1x USB-C, 1x Thunderbolt 4, 2x USB 3.2, 2x DisplayPort, 1x HDMI, 1x AC adaptor, and an Ethernet port, catering to a wide array of peripherals. This dock works seamlessly with most notebooks and operating systems. Whether you use Windows, Mac, or Chrome OS—rigorous testing and certifications ensure that one USB-C cable will connect your device and peripherals without issue.

Lenovo ThinkPad Universal USB-C Dock

The Lenovo ThinkPad Universal USB-C Dock is a versatile docking station designed to take you into the realm of limitless potential. Engineered for performance, this dock will quickly pay for itself with increased productivity, enhanced dynamic power charging to Notebook, max 100W charging. With over 11 thoughtfully placed ports, it’ll deliver top-notch performance while decluttering your desk.

The dock boasts a commendable range of ports including 1x USB-C, 3x USB 3.1, 2x USB 2.0, 2x DisplayPort, 1x HDMI, 1x Combo Audio Jack, and 1x Ethernet Port, enabling seamless connection of various devices. Additionally, the station can handle dual 4K displays which greatly enhances your screen area for multitasking. While it might not be the most compact docking station, its performance outweighs its size. Offering reliable power supply, universal compatibility, and a diverse array of connections, the Lenovo ThinkPad USB-C Universal Dock is a dependable choice.

Microsoft Surface Thunderbolt 4 Dock

Picture of Microsoft Surface Thunderbolt 4 Dock
Picture of Microsoft Surface Thunderbolt 4 Dock

The Microsoft Surface Thunderbolt 4 Dock is a sleek and compact docking station specifically designed for the Surface lineup. Its standout feature is the integration of the Thunderbolt 4 standard, delivering ultra high-speed data transfers and the ability to connect multiple devices with minimal lag. With Thunderbolt 4, this dock can transfer data and files at up to 40 Gbps - four times faster than USB 3.0 with compatible devices. It also has ultra-fast charging meaning your laptop battery can go from low to full in about 2.5 hours!

This docking station sets itself apart with a robust selection of ports, including 3x USB-C with USB4 / Thunderbolt 4, 3x USB-A, 1x 3.5mm audio jack, and an Ethernet port. It also has the ability to connect up to two 4K monitors while powering your device. Despite its slim profile, the Microsoft Surface Thunderbolt 4 Dock doesn't compromise on functionality, making it a solid option for those looking to enhance their Surface experience and beyond.

Targus DOCK182 USB-C DV4K Dock

The Targus DOCK182 USB-C DV4K Dock is a universal docking station known for its expansive compatibility and performance. Compact and sleek, this patented dock is a sure fit for shrinking desktops and tight spaces, but that doesn’t mean it sacrifices on performance. It offers 100W of power delivery and is Thunderbolt 3 compatible. With just a single cable, you can create and power a dual-video workspace. This dock can connect two 4K displays to multiple hosts and peripherals for a dual ultra-high-definiton video experience.

Enjoy two DisplayPort or two HDMI ports (or a mix of the two) with your dual display and create a picture-perfect image at 4K Ultra HD. Add on its array of ports including USB-A, USB-C, Ethernet, and audio inputs, and you've got a station that caters to all your peripheral connection needs. Moreover, a quick-charge USB port has been thoughtfully included for rapidly powering up your devices. Through its high compatibility, impressive dual 4K support, and well-rounded range of ports, the Targus DOCK182 USB-C Dual 4K sets itself up as an excellent choice in universal docking stations.

These docking stations all offer speedy data transfer, multiple connectivity options, and significant power supply. Ultimately, your choice should align with your specific needs and existing technological setup. We recommend comparing these top contenders and determining which features are most crucial to your needs. Head over to our Docking Stations department to browse our entire range!

Frequently Asked Questions

How do I choose a docking station?

When choosing a docking station, consider the type of device you'll be using it with, whether it's a laptop, tablet, smartphone, or a combination of these. It's critical to ensure that the docking station is compatible with your device and its ports (like USB, HDMI, VGA, or Thunderbolt). Pay close attention to the number and type of outputs it provides, if it supports dual monitors, its charging capacity, and any additional features like an ethernet port or SD card reader. Refer to the beginning of this article for more features to take note of.

Do I need a specific docking station for my laptop?

Specific compatibility can be a factor when selecting a docking station for your laptop but there are plenty of universal docking stations available too. You'll need to verify that the docking station is compatible with your laptop's brand, model, and the available ports on your laptop. Some brands develop docking stations exclusively for their models. Universal docking stations can work with multiple brands but compatibility is still key, especially considering the type of connection, like USB-A, USB-C, or Thunderbolt.

Are docking stations worth it?

Yes, docking stations are worth it if you frequently connect your laptop or other devices to multiple peripherals. They simplify the process of connecting your device to things like external monitors, keyboards, mice, printers, and internet cables. Some also charge your laptop. They are particularly handy if you often move your laptop between home, office, or other setups, as you can leave all peripherals connected to the docking station and simply connect your laptop with a single cable.

What is the difference between a cheap and expensive docking station?

Cheap and expensive docking stations may differ in several aspects such as build quality, number and types of ports, compatibility with different devices, connection technology (USB 3.0, USB-C, Thunderbolt), and additional features. Expensive docking stations often support more display outputs for multi-monitor setup, offer faster data transfer rates, and may come with more advanced technologies like Thunderbolt 3. They can also provide power supply for more powerful laptops. Cheap docking stations might not offer these features but could be sufficient for basic needs like connecting a keyboard, mouse and a single monitor.

Are docking stations bad for laptop battery?

No, docking stations are not inherently bad for laptop batteries. They are designed to safely charge your laptop while it's docked. However, it's always a good practice to ensure you're using a docking station recommended by your laptop's manufacturer or a trusted third-party provider to avoid potential risks.

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Ainsley McKay

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