Docking stations are super handy for having at home or at the office if your primary computer is a laptop or ultrabook. They allow you to save yourself the hassle of plugging in and then unplugging multiple devices from your laptop, and actually allow you to use more simultaneously via the extra USB ports.
With a docking station, you can plug in and use more than one monitor with your laptop, while also having things like an external hard drive, external keyboard, and optical mouse all plugged in. Some models support 4K output and don’t reduce or interfere with the quality of the display being transmitted from the laptop, through the dock, and into the monitors. But for gamers, make sure to check on the refresh rate that your docking station is capable of.
Brand Specific vs Universal Docking Stations
Many docking devices are brand specific, so be sure that your notebook is compatible with the one you’ve picked out before buying it. There are plenty of universal options, so when in doubt, stick with one of those. As long as their specs match, their functionality should be the same.
Docking stations usually include a software disc, but don’t worry if your laptop doesn’t have a disc drive. You should be able to download the necessary software from the manufacturer’s website for free by inputting the model number on the bottom of your dock or on the packaging.
The following are the top 5 docking stations for laptops and ultrabooks based on features offered and value for the money. Pick up one of these and you’ll be able to transform your notebook computer into a fully functioning desktop replacement.
Plugable USB 3.0 Universal Laptop Docking Station for Windows
As one of the most popular options out there, the Pulgable universal docking station features 6 USB 3.0 ports, dual video HDMI, VGA, gigabit Ethernet and mic and audio jack ports. All can function simultaneously without so much as a hiccup. It offers a 50 Hz refresh rate for 2560×1440 resolution. For those who don’t need full 4K compatibility, why pay for it? This affordable option can handle everything else. Check Current Price on Amazon
StarTech.com KVM Docking Station for Two Laptops
This StarTech dock supports two laptops at the same time allowing monitors and more to be shared. It works similar to a KVM switch, and allows users to change device priority at will. It’s compatible with Mac and Windows, and supports 4K video. With all of the usual connections including 5 USB ports. This docking station has everything you need. Check Current Price on Amazon
Sabrent USB 3.0 Universal Docking Station with Stand
This dock supports both Mac and Windows, and comes with 2 USB 3.0 ports and 2 USB 2.0 ports. It also includes Ethernet, VGA, HDMI, and mic and audio jack support. For the price, the Sabrent docking station definitely delivers. Check Current Price on Amazon
Unitek USB 3.0 Multi-in 1 Dual Display Universal Docking Station
Also compatible with Mac and Windows, Unitek’s docking device includes 2 USB 3.0 ports, an Ethernet port, headphone and mic support, VGA, and HDMI with 2048×1152 output. If your laptop doesn’t have a USB 3.0 port, you’ll appreciate having one of these, especially while using two monitors with it. Check Current Price on Amazon
TRENDnet USB 3.0 Universal Docking Station with Dual Video Outputs for Windows 10, 8.1, 7, & XP
For Windows users, this docking station is a solid choice. You can have your external HDD hooked up to one of the 2 USB 3.0 slots while using your keyboard or any other device in one of the 4 USB 2.0 ports. As with all of the above, it supports two monitors, Ethernet, mic and headphones, VGA and HDMI. Check Current Price on Amazon