Best Docking Stations for MacBook Pro iMore 2019

Docking stations are like power strips for your laptop. They have a variety of ports and usually their own power source so they can handle high-speed data transfer and multiple display connections. They are also usually able to charge your laptop and mobile devices while they work. If you connect lots of devices and peripherals and need high-speed data transfer, these are the best docking stations for MacBook Pro.

A proper docking station will turn your MacBook Pro into a powerhouse that will not only allow you to plug plenty of accessories into your laptop, but it can also power devices that need more power. We expect that at least some of the docking stations listed below will go on sale this Black Friday, but there may be other great alternatives as well, and as our deals team finds them, they will post them right here.

Dual 4K support: Elgato Thunderbolt 3 Docking Station

Staff pick

With up to 85 watts of charging power, this is one of the few docking stations that can power up the 15-inch MacBook Pro and drive two 4K displays at the same time. With a Gigabit Ethernet port, your laptop is hardwired to the internet. Separate microphone and headphone ports mean you don't have to use a splitter or special USB microphone.

$270 at Amazon

Ultimate versatility: Diamond Thunderbolt 3 Docking Station

With 3 USB-A ports and a USB 2.1 charging port, two Thunderbolt 3 ports, an HDMI port, an SD card reader, and a headphone jack, there's not much else left for you to want out of a docking station here. The Thunderbolt 3 ports offer fast data transfer with PD charging or direct connection to a Thunderbolt 3 4K display.

$230 at Amazon

Extremely powerful: CalDigit TS3 Plus Docking Station

Not only does this diminutive box power up to 85 watts of charge, but it's also got two Thunderbolt 3 ports with 40Gbps of data transfer. You also get DisplayPort support, USB-C, Digital Optical Audio, three USB-A ports, one of which supports 15 wats of device charging, a separate headphone, and a microphone jack, and an SD card reader. It's the workhorse of multi-port docking stations.

$280 at Amazon

Vertical Expandability: Plugable Thunderbolt 3 Dock

Plugable's reliable docking station provides 60 watts of charging with five USB-A ports, one of which supports device charging. It also has two Thunderbolt 3 ports for fast data transfer and 4K display support. You can even daisy chain up to five Thunderbolt 3 devices to a single supported port. With the included base adapter, you can set this dock in a vertical or horizontal position for the ultimate in desktop customization.

$239 at Amazon

Space saver: Henge Docks Vertical Dock

Though this isn't actually a docking station (it doesn't have additional ports or its own power source), it's a neat little accessory that might be the perfect fit for your desktop. You slide your MacBook Pro into the dock, and your two USB-C ports are redirected to two ports on the side of the dock. So you don't lose the use of your USB-C ports, but you can still keep your laptop out of the way. It's a great way to work in Clamshell mode with an external monitor, keyboard, and mouse.

$150 at Amazon

5K support: StarTech Docking Station

StarTech's docking station has eight different ports, including Ethernet, USB-A 2.0, microphone, headphones, Thunderbolt 3, DisplayPort, USB-A 3.0 for fast charging, and HDMI. It is explicitly designed to let you connect a 5K display using the Thunderbolt 3 port, or two 4K Ultra HD monitors using the Thunderbolt 3 port and the DisplayPort port.

From $267 at Amazon

<!-- ###Security and flexibility: Kensington SD5000T Docking Station

Kensington's Thunderbolt 3 Dual 4K docking station gives you security and flexibility. Connect your two 4K monitors to the Thunderbolt 3 and DisplayPort ports for full Ultra HD support. Kensington also adds a bit of extra special security with a lock slot, so it doesn't "walk away" from your shared public space.

$239 at Amazon

Mounts to MacBook: LandingZone Docking Station

LandingZone makes a docking station that actually connects to the 15-inch MacBook Pro. It has 16 ports, including three USB-C 3.1 ports, two USB-A 3.1 ports, a USB-A charging port, an HDMI port, a mini DisplayPort port, an SD and microSD card slot, and a few more. It doesn't support 5K or dual 4K connections, but it does support multi-display connection if you have a few standard or 1080P monitors.

$299 at Amazon

Docking station, hub, or adapter: Which one is right for you?

Docking stations are designed for multi-display use with charging support. They usually have their own power supply and can charge your laptop and mobile devices while also providing fast data transfer and 4K or 5K display support. For the most part, they're meant to be stationary to give your desktop workflow more versatility and convenience. When it comes to docking stations, I personally use Elgato's Thunderbolt 3 docking station because of its 85W charging support and its dual 4K display option.

Hubs are very similar to docking stations; They always have a lot of ports but don't always have their own power source. They also tend to be more portable because they're lighter and smaller (and don't need their own wall plug). If the docking stations listed here seem like too much for you, you may need a hub instead.

Adapters are the simplest peripherals for port versatility. They are almost always a single-port changeover, like USB-C-to-USB-A or USB-to-Lightning, though sometimes they may have one or two additional ports, like HDMI. They're the least expensive but also the least versatile. You may not need 4K or 5K display support, high-speed data transfer, or 12 different things plugged into your MacBook Pro at the same time. A simple single-port adapter may be a better solution.

Power and functionality for Black Friday

If you're looking for a docking station, you'll want to make sure you know what ports and connections you need, and what power consumption your accessories — primarily your monitors. Its also important to keep in mind what resolution you need, because some docking stations aren't capable of supporting 5K or even 4K displays. Be sure you know what your monitors need so you can truly turn your MacBook Pro into a workhorse.

Black Friday gives you the perfect opportunity to pick up a docking station for your MacBook Pro and to find the best deals you can. Many of the brands listed above — Elgato, LandingZone, CalDigit — will slash their prices on products during the holiday weekend, meaning it the perfect time to upgrade your set up and to start using those monitors you bought to their full potential.

Don't forget to check back here often if you want to save some money on your new docking station because our deals team is on red alert looking for the best deals for Black Friday.

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