There are a lot of advantages to buying a laptop. They don’t take up much space, they come with a screen, keyboard, and trackpad in one package, and (best of all) they’re portable. You can work at your desk, play Monster Hunter in a café, or watch Netflix in bed. That portability comes at a price, though. Laptops are limited to the I/O they come with — unless you buy a docking station.

Laptop docking stations are external devices that allow you to expand your computer’s functionality by increasing the number of connective ports. They can add USB, ethernet, and even video ports. More ports mean more possibilities for connecting to other devices.

That’s why we’ve decided to help you get the most out of your portable PC by finding the best-rated laptop docking stations!

When Would You Use a Docking Station?

Now you know what a docking station is, when would you actually use it?

The short answer: anytime you want to connect to something your laptop doesn’t have the ports to connect to by itself. 

Say you already have a laptop and want to create a multi-monitor setup without buying a whole separate computer. A docking station can provide you with the video, ethernet, and USB ports you need to power a stationary setup wherever you go. When you’re done, you can simply unplug it to have your mobile device back.

Maybe you’re setting up a home entertainment system in your living room. A docking station gives you ports for your television, ethernet, and audio, connecting them all back to your laptop.

Or maybe you just need to link an external hard drive. If your games library is too large for your laptop’s built-in storage, a docking station could be the solution you’re looking for!

Zoom In: The 6 Best Laptop Docking Stations

Ready to see the best gaming laptop docking stations? Let’s take a look!

1. Plugable Thunderbolt 3 and USB-C Dual Display Dock

Plugable Thunderbolt 3 and USB-C Dual Display Dock

The best laptop docking station overall

Manufacturer: Plugable | Connection: Type-C and Thunderbolt 3 | Video Port(s): 2x HDMI, 2x DisplayPort | USB Ports: 5x USB 3.0, 1x USB 3.2, 1x USB Type-C, Micro SD/SD | Ethernet: Gigabit | Price: 💰💰💰

The Plugable Thunderbolt 3 and USB-C Dual Display Dock is our choice for the best laptop docking station overall for a few reasons. The biggest reason is that it connects to your laptop via either USB Type-C or Thunderbolt 3, ensuring that you will be utilizing the fastest connectivity that your device is capable of having. This is essential if you want to make sure that you have one of the best laptop docking stations for graphics. Slow connections make for laggy visuals.

Fast connection to your laptop allows for faster connection to the peripherals you use with the dock as well. That’s why it’s so great that this comes with five USB 3.0 ports, a USB 3.2 port, and a USB Type-C port. The high-speed connectivity of Thunderbolt 3 allows for faster upload/download times to external drives and more responsive connections to a mouse and keyboard — both are essential to gaming.

It also allows you to connect up to two additional displays. You have the option of using either DisplayPort or HDMI for each. According to their website, these ports can “drive up to two 4k 60Hz displays via Thunderbolt 3 or two 1080p 60Hz displays via USB-C.” As an added bonus, the connective port also has 96W laptop charging (though gaming laptops will probably still need to be plugged in).

There’s no denying it’s expensive, but we like the Plugable Thunderbolt 3 and USB-C Dual Display Dock for its versatility and hyper-fast connectivity. If you’re looking for the best laptop docking station for gaming, this is it!

  • USERS LIKE
  • Expansive I/O
  • Fast connectivity
  • 2×2 video ports options
  • USERS DISLIKE
  • Expensive
  • Limited to 60Hz refresh
  • Insufficient power for gaming laptops

2. Seagate Firecuda Gaming Dock

Seagate Firecuda Gaming Dock

The best premium laptop docking station

Manufacturer: Seagate | Connection: Thunderbolt 3 | Video Port(s): DisplayPort | USB Ports: 5x USB 3.0 | Ethernet: RJ45 | Price: 💰💰💰💰

The Seagate Firecuda Gaming Dock is unique from all the other laptop docking stations on this list because it’s the only one made specifically for gamers.

It’s the only docking station that comes with built-in storage. Seagate’s Gaming Dock includes a 4TB HDD and has an M.2 port for you to add SSD storage as well. Combine this with Thunderbolt 3, and you’ve got lightning-fast connectivity, expanded I/O, and enough storage to hold a pretty respectable gaming library.

It has a sleek and modern design accented with RGB, which you can control with downloadable software.

The downside? It’s very expensive. The addition of a ~$100 4TB hard drive helps make that cost a little more understandable, but it’s still a hefty price tag. It’s also limited to a single DisplayPort for video output, so you won’t be able to run a multi-monitor setup unless you can configure it to use the laptop’s built-in screen as well.

But if you want to expand your storage, need only one monitor, and can tolerate the price tag, this is the best gaming laptop docking station on the market!

  • USERS LIKE
  • RGB
  • M.2 Expansion
  • Fast connectivity
  • USERS DISLIKE
  • Expensive
  • Hard to replace HDD
  • No laptop charging support

3. Plugable USB 3.0 and USB-C Universal Laptop Docking Station

Plugable USB 3.0 and USB-C Universal Laptop Docking Station

The best USB 3.0 laptop docking station

Manufacturer: Plugable | Connection: USB 3.0 and USB Type-C | Video Port(s): 2x USB 3.0, 4x USB 2.0 | USB Ports: 2x HDMI | Ethernet: Gigabit | Price: 💰💰

Not every laptop has Thunderbolt 3 — USB 3.0 may be some people’s only option. 5Gbps isn’t really fast enough to support modern AAA gaming through a dock. That said, you might be able to manage some older games or some lighter indie titles. You might also be fine gaming on your PC monitor and just using your dock for internet browsing and broadcasting media.

The Plugable USB 3.0 and USB-C Universal Laptop Docking Station is a great choice if you’re limited to using USB 3.0. It has dual-HDMI video ports, six USB ports, and is capable of running USB Type-C should you upgrade laptops in the future.

There’s also the fact that it costs less than half as much as the more advanced versions. We don’t all have $200+ to burn on a laptop docking station. This will give your laptop a home and add some options for USB connectivity without breaking the bank.

  • USERS LIKE
  • Affordable
  • Dual-display
  • USB 3.0 compatible
  • USERS DISLIKE
  • Short power cord
  • Doesn’t support Mac OS
  • Doesn’t support gaming

4. uni USB HUB 4K

uni USB HUB 4K

The best portable laptop docking station

Manufacturer: uni | Connection: Thunderbolt 3 and USB Type-C | Video Port(s): HDMI | USB Ports: 2x USB 3.0, Micro SD/SD | Ethernet: NA | Price: 💰

Sometimes you need to set up on the go. Maybe you need a docking station to connect a projector for a presentation, maybe you need to hook your laptop up to some musical equipment at a gig, or maybe you’re meeting at a friend’s house for an old school LAN party. The Uni USB HUB 4K is great for anyone looking to create a versatile workstation wherever they go.

This little guy is about the size of a deck of cards but still manages to match speeds of much larger and more expensive units. They even supply a silicone travel case to keep it safe. Its HDMI port can process a refresh rate of up to 30Hz at 4K and 60Hz at 1080p. The two USB 3.0 ports aren’t game-changing, but it’s enough that you can add a mouse and keyboard without using up what precious USB space comes with your laptop. The uni USB HUB 4K supports up to 100W of charge for your devices as well.

You probably wouldn’t want to use this for your home setup, but it’s a surprisingly powerful little unit that can expand your laptops capabilities at an unbeatable price — plus, it fits in your pocket!

  • USERS LIKE
  • Portable design
  • Rubber travel case
  • Fast USB Type-C connectivity
  • USERS DISLIKE
  • Runs warm
  • Only two USB ports
  • Issues working with iPads

5. VAVA USB-C Docking Station

VAVA USB-C Docking Station

The best slim design laptop docking station

Manufacturer: VIVA | Connection: USB Type-C | Video Port(s): 2x HDMI | USB Ports: 2x USB 3.0, 2x USB 2.0, TF, SD | Ethernet: RJ45 | Price: 💰💰

Looking for a docking station that doesn’t look like a giant brick on your desk? The VAVA USB-C Docking Station has a slim design that will make it a discreet addition to any workspace.

It connects via USB Type-C, which gives it enough juice to power both of its 4K capable HDMI ports. It also adds two USB 2.0 and two USB 3.0 ports to give you a few peripheral options. It even has 65W of charging that you can use on your laptop or phone!

Its thin strip-like design keeps its footprint on your desktop small. You can face the ports away from you on your desk, making it easy to hide those messy cables and giving you a little more elbow room. 

  • USERS LIKE
  • Slim design
  • Easy cable management
  • Fast USB Type-C connectivity
  • USERS DISLIKE
  • Limited USB ports
  • Big power adaptor
  • Some difficulty with dual monitors

6. Dell 452-BCYT D6000 Universal Dock

Dell 452-BCYT D6000 Universal Dock

The best triple display laptop docking station

Manufacturer: Dell | Connection: USB Type-C and USB 3.0 | Video Port(s): 2x HDMI, 1x DisplayPort | USB Ports: 1x USB Type-C, 4x USB 3.0 | Ethernet: Gigabit | Price: 💰💰💰

Dell is well known for making quality products. The Dell 452-BCYT D6000 Universal Dock has some of the best display options of anything on this list. It can either connect to three 4K monitors or a single 5K display.

We generally consider connection speed over image quality when it comes to gaming since even the most beautiful images can look terrible when lag comes into play. The USB Type-C connection is fast, but not fast enough to run modern AAA titles at these resolutions. You can always run your games at 1080p and still enjoy the ultra-HD connections for web browsing and streaming TV shows and movies.

Dell’s Universal Dock features four USB 3.0 ports and a USB Type-C port for super quick connectivity with all of your peripherals. It has a minimalist design that would look good on any desk. It also comes with an adapter, making it another great choice for someone looking for one of the best laptop docking stations USB 3.0 can connect to.

It’s a bit pricey, but the Dell 452-BCYT D6000 Universal Dock is hard to beat if you want three gorgeous 4k displays to run off a single laptop.

  • USERS LIKE
  • Universal
  • Easy to use
  • Triple-4K video ports
  • USERS DISLIKE
  • Expensive
  • Heavy CPU usage
  • No Thunderbolt 3

Buyer’s Guide: Best Laptop Docking Stations

One of the Best Laptop Docks Plugged In
Karolina Grabowska / Pexels

Here are a few things to keep in mind when shopping for a laptop docking station:

1. Connectivity: USB 3.0 vs. USB Type-C vs. Thunderbolt 3

Are you looking to connect your laptop to a stationary gaming setup, do you need it for travel, or do you simply want to be able to use more peripherals with your laptop while using its built-in screen?

Whatever your need may be, you’re going to have a lot of information traveling from your laptop to your docking station and back. All of this happens via a single connection, so your connection speed is incredibly important. You’re going to want to make sure that you get the fastest one available for your laptop to keep things moving seamlessly.

There are currently three kinds of connection to choose from, each offering varying speeds:

  • USB 3.0 — 5Gbps
  • USB Type-C — 20Gbps
  • Thunderbolt 3 — 40Gbps

As you can see, there is a massive leap between the connection speeds of these three different kinds of ports. Thunderbolt 3 is the fastest, followed by USB Type-C, with USB 3.0 as the slowest. 

Thunderbolt 3 uses the same kind of port as USB Type-C. That means you can plug a Thunderbolt 3 cable into any USB Type-C port, but the information will only travel as fast as the slowest port allows.

Make sure the device you get is certified to receive the fastest speed your laptop can output!

2. I/O Options

Need lots of USB? Count out the number of peripherals you plan to use and choose a model that has a few extra. Check to make sure the dock’s video ports match any monitors, projectors, or televisions you plan to use with it.

3. Price

What’s your budget? Keep in mind that there’s no point in saving money by buying a dock that isn’t fast enough to do what you need. Conversely, you also want to make sure you aren’t overpaying if cheaper models fit all your needs.

4. Size

Look at the dimensions of the docking station and pick out space for it ahead of time. It should be easily accessible but not intrusive. If space is tight, consider a smaller docking station.

Our Process

For this guide on the best laptop docking stations, our writers spent 10 hours researching the most popular docks from 30 brands and manufacturers big and small. After comparing this data we then read over 200 user reviews (both positive and negative) and narrowed our list down to the top 6 laptop docking stations on the market. All of this research adds up to recommendations you can trust.

We hope you’ve found the perfect model for your setup.

Happy gaming! 

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