If you’re tired of constantly switching dongles and relying on Bluetooth to connect, you should try using a USB-C hub or docking station. There are multiport adapters or powered USB hubs on the market that are so much more than an extra USB port. They transform a single USB-C connection on your laptop or desktop into a convenient hub to connect your† † and ethernet. In addition, you can use them to read and write memory cards or external hard drives.
Narrowing your options and finding the best USB-C hub comes down to knowing how portable you need it to be, your preferred data transfer speed, and exactly what connections you need. Here are some of our favorite USB-C docking stations we tested. We’ll keep updating this list as we find new USB hub models that we can recommend. And if you’re lookingwe tested.
This USB-C hub has all the essentials for office or home use at a reasonable price, especially if your laptop is limited to USB-C ports only. There are three USB-A ports, including one with power delivery, microSD and SD card slots, and an HDMI output that supports resolutions up to 4K at 30Hz. At the end is a Gigabit Ethernet connection with an activity LED (something other hubs of this size usually omit). But what sets it apart from others in this format are the handy labels printed on top of the anodized aluminum housing.
There is a 100 watt USB-C pass-through for power supply, using 15 watts to power the hub. The hub is lightweight, making it ideal for travel, but it also means that cords you plug into it can cause it to slide across your desk – a common problem with hubs of this size. But if you’re looking for a single hub to cover everything from an external display and wired internet access to charging your phone, you’ve come to the right place.
The PowerExpand Elite is part USB-C dock and part charging station. On the back are Thunderbolt 3 ports of 85 and 15 watts, and on the front is a USB-C port for 18 watts of power. A Thunderbolt 3 port supports a display with a resolution of up to 5K at 60 Hz, while the HDMI 2.0 port supports a display up to a resolution of 4K at 60 Hz. Or you can use a dual USB-C to HDMI splitter and connect two 4K displays at 30Hz, allowing you to use up to three monitors between the HDMI port and Thunderbolt 3 ports.
You also have four USB-A ports, a Gigabit Ethernet connection and a MicroSD and SD card reader. A 3.5mm combo jack provides audio output and input.
However, to provide enough power to run everything, the PowerExpand Elite has a large 180-watt power adapter. The fanless design also means the case is one large heat sink, so it can get hot when fully loaded. You can place it vertically to keep it cooler.
As the name implies, this device combines a USB-C hub with a foldable laptop stand, allowing you to create a more ergonomic work experience almost anywhere. The lightweight aluminum stand is set up in seconds. The laptop mounts can be adjusted to five different angles from 15 to 36 degrees, making it good for increasing airflow, providing a more comfortable typing angle, or raising the screen for better viewing. The stand supports up to a 17-inch laptop, but the larger the laptop, the more difficult it is to use the ports, especially the SD card slots.
Built-in on the left is a 5Gbps USB-C port along with two USB 3.0 ports (also up to 5Gbps), a full-size HDMI output that supports resolutions up to 4K at 30Hz and SD and microSD card slots . Just plug the included USB-C cable into a USB-C port on your laptop and you’re done. The cord can be conveniently stored on the underside of the stand when you are traveling or not using the hub. It draws power from your laptop when plugged in, but there’s a USB-C power outlet on the left foot for a power supply of up to 100 watts.
Most small USB-C hubs have short attached cables. That’s fine if your laptop is on a desk and not on a laptop stand and that desk has a lot of space right next to your laptop’s USB-C port. For those who could use some extra cable reach, the Lention C37 is ideal.
The USB device is still compact and lightweight, but has a 1-meter (3.3-foot) cable. It has dual USB-C ports with 60 watts of power, two USB-A ports, microSD and SD card slots, and a 3.5mm headphone jack. At the end is an HDMI output that supports 4K at 30Hz or lower resolutions at 60Hz. This is also a great option for desktops kept on the floor.
A remarkably compact docking station that shows what can be done with one Thunderbolt 4 port. Simply connect the SD5700T to your Windows 10 laptop with Thunderbolt 4 (or a Thunderbolt 3 MacBook with MacOS 11 or later) using the included cable and you get 11 ports for super-fast data, video and audio.
For data, it can handle transfer rates of up to 40 Gbps – perfect for working with large files such as photos and video. The dock also has a Gigabit Ethernet connection and a UHS-II SD 4.0 card slot. For monitors, you can connect two 4K at 60Hz displays, a single display at 5K at 60Hz, or one at 8K at 30Hz. There are also four USB-A ports: three on the back that are USB 3.2 Gen 2 (for speeds up to 10Gbps) and one USB 2.0 on the front for fast charging devices. You’ll also find a combo headset jack on the front.
The single Thunderbolt 4 port on the front supports power delivery of up to 90 watts, so I was able to plug in the latest Dell XPS 13 2-in-1 and keep it charged while running an UltraSharp PremierColor monitor at 4K at 60Hz from one of the three downstream. Thunderbolt 4 ports from the rear dock. I also have a second USB-C powered display with full HD resolution at 60Hz plugged into another downstream port. The Ethernet port allows me to take advantage of my wired Gigabit connection. The USB ports handled a 4K webcam, an external storage drive, and the wireless receiver for my mouse and keyboard, which can be used to wake the PC. And again, all this with just a single cable to the laptop.
However, the SD5700T is a forward-looking docking station, so you won’t find older DisplayPort or HDMI connections on it. It requires quite a bit of power to handle anything you plug into it, so the dock itself packs a big 180-watt power supply. Still, the SD5700T is surprisingly compact and light compared to Thunderbolt 3 drives I tested with similar features, like the Anker on this list. The SD5700T can even be mounted to a monitor with an optional holder and there are two lock slots that you can use to secure it to your desk.
You don’t need any drivers or other software to get it working. However, Kensington’s included DockWorks software is a nice extra that automatically switches from Wi-Fi to Ethernet when you connect to the dock to give you the fastest possible connection speeds.
The docking station may be pricey at $445, but it guarantees you’ll take full advantage of your Thunderbolt 4 connection well into the future.
Accell’s simple, unobtrusive design doesn’t tilt like vertical docks, and it’s easier to blindly plug into the connectors. If you’re short on desk space, it might fit on the base of your monitor. In addition, the slim, lightweight housing and small power adapter easily fit in your bag when you need to travel with it.
On the back you’ll find three USB 3.1 Gen 2 type-A ports, two HDMI ports (one 4K, one 1080p), an Ethernet port, and jacks for microphone input and headphone output. A single USB-C port is on the right. Accell comes with USB-C to USB-C and USB-C to USB-A cables to connect to your laptop.
True to its name, you can plug it into your laptop and it will mirror your screen almost instantly without the need to install a driver first. However, if you want to extend displays, you’ll need to download a driver for MacOS or Windows; Accell conveniently stores them on board; a screen will appear when you connect to the dock giving you the option to install it.
It also works with Chromebooks and if you have an Android phone or tablet you can download the free Accell app and then connect to the dock to mirror your device’s screen to a single monitor at 1080p resolution and optionally also use a keyboard and mouse. There is a slight delay, but otherwise it worked fine.
If you’re looking to expand your laptop’s port options and dock your Nintendo Switch, the $70 Dock Pro 60 is all you need. The sleek, small, lightweight dock has two USB-C ports, one of which supports power delivery. Plug your laptop (or switch) into the other USB-C port and use the dock’s HDMI port to connect to a TV or external (resolutions up to 4K UHD at 30Hz work) and you’re all set to go. start working or playing with friends and family on a bigger screen. There are also two USB-A ports.
Keep in mind, though, that this does require a USB-C 15-volt, 2.6-amp power supply if you’re using it as a Switch dock, like the dock that comes with the Switch. With a laptop, you can use a USB-C power adapter with the dock’s 60-watt pass-through power supply.
Bonus for Samsung Galaxy device users: The Dock Pro 60 supports Samsung DeX, so you can use your phone or tablet with an external display for a desktop-like experience.
Is a USB-C port the same as a USB port?
The most famous USB port is USB Type-A. Sometimes referred to as a standard or regular USB port, it is rectangular and requires you to plug in your cable right side up so that the tabs in the connectors align properly. The newer USB-C port is a small oval that uses a reversible connector so you don’t have to flip it over to get it in the right position.
Are all USB-C ports the same?
While USB-C ports may appear the same from device to device, they are not. Even USB-C ports on the same laptop can have different capabilities. For example, Thunderbolt 3 or 4 devices are only fully supported by a computer with the corresponding Thunderbolt USB-C port. Unfortunately, you can’t just look at the harbor and know exactly what you have. Check with your computer manufacturer to see what your laptop (or desktop) model supports before purchasing a USB-C dock or adapter.