Best Products Computer Components The 8 Best Thunderbolt 3 and 2 Docks of 2020 Your gateway to a world of connectivity by Emmeline Kaser Writer Emmeline Kaser is a tech writer and former editor for Lifewire. She writes and edits commerce content about consumer technology for Lifewire. our editorial process Emmeline Kaser Updated on October 22, 2020 Computer Components Monitors Keyboards Mice Cards CPU USB/USB-C Storage Laptop Bags & Backpacks Printers View More Tweet Share Email Our editors independently research, test, and recommend the best products; you can learn more about our review process here. We may receive commissions on purchases made from our chosen links. The Rundown Best Overall: Belkin Thunderbolt 3 Dock Pro at Amazon "This lives up to its name, delivering professional performance with lightning-fast data speeds." Runner up, Best Overall: CalDigit CalDigit TS3 Plus at Amazon "A great choice for anyone who needs to create a workstation with high-quality displays." Best for Mac: CalDigit USB-C Pro Dock at Amazon "Though this dock is best for Macbooks with USB-C ports, it has surprisingly wide compatibility." Best for Windows: Cable Matters Thunderbolt 3 Dock at Amazon "The Cable Matters dock is compatible with multiple Dell, Acer, Intel and Macbook models." Best Connectivity: OWC Thunderbolt 3 Dock at Amazon "It’s a high-powered device with 11 different kinds of ports to support just about any peripheral device you can think of." Best Cross-Platform: Plugable Thunderbolt 3 at Amazon "Compatible with both Windows and Mac computers and offers a solid array of port options." Best for Multiple Monitors: Plugable USB-C Triple Display at Amazon "This Thunderbolt 3 dock supports up to three displays so you can create a truly immersive setup." Best Portability: CalDigit Thunderbolt 3 Mini Dock at Amazon "This weighs less than a pound, making it the smallest and lightest device on our list." All Mac computers and several models of Dell, Acer, and Intel laptops feature a Thunderbolt port. Once upon a time, laptops featured multiple ports directly on the device. But as ultralight, ultrathin machines have become more popular, the number of built-in connection options has dwindled. That’s where the Thunderbolt port comes in. It allows you to connect multiple peripherals to your computer via a single cable, delivering ultra-fast data transfers to your other devices. A Thunderbolt dock is the hub that contains all these ports, allowing you to set up monitors, connect an Ethernet cable, and even charge your computer and phone straight from the device. When shopping for a Thunderbolt dock, the primary concern is compatibility. Make sure the dock will work with your computer’s operating system (both the type and version) and its version of Thunderbolt. If you have existing peripherals like a display or audio setup, you’ll also want to make sure the dock has the right kind of ports available. Some feature HDMI connections, others feature DisplayPort, DVI/VGA connections, or a combination of the three. Others have multiple audio options. It’s important to read the dock’s specifications carefully before you buy. Read on for our list of the best Thunderbolt docks available for different kinds of computers and workstation setups. Best Overall: Belkin Thunderbolt 3 Dock Pro Buy on Amazon Buy on Apple Buy on Belkin.com What We Like Windows and Mac compatibility Supports dual 4K displays at 60Hz Laptop charging What We Don't Like Expensive Not the best design for cable management If you have a high-powered workstation with multiple monitors and peripherals, you’re going to need an equally high-powered dock. The Belkin Thunderbolt 3 Dock Pro lives up to its name, delivering professional performance with lightning-fast data speeds. It is compatible with both Mac and Windows computers and features a USB-C port, five USB-A ports, two Thunderbolt 3 connections (one for your laptop and one for peripherals), an SD card reader, audio jack, DisplayPort, Ethernet connection, and a port for the internal power supply unit. It also comes with a Thunderbolt 3 cable in the box. This model from Belkin isn’t just a dock. It also has a built-in 170W power supply unit that you can use to charge your laptop directly from the dock. It can support two 4K displays at 60Hz and 40Gbps transfer speedings, making it a great option for those who have complex workstations for video and audio editing, graphic design, 3D rendering, and more. The only downside is the port arrangement — some may not like that there are ports on multiple sides of the device because it can make cable management a little less streamlined. Runner up, Best Overall: CalDigit Thunderbolt Station 3 Dock Buy on Amazon Buy on B&H Photo Video Buy on Apple What We Like Windows and Mac compatibility Analog and digital audio options Orient horizontally or vertically What We Don't Like Not compatible with Retina Display Macbooks The CalDigit Thunderbolt Station 3 Dock features a plethora of port options including a DisplayPort, seven USB ports (five Type A and two Type C), an SD card reader, an Ethernet connection, two Thunderbolt 3 ports, and three different audio connections (both analog and digital). The high-speed USB-C connection facilitates quick data transfer between your laptop and your peripherals, and it can serve as a power supply to provide up to 87W of charge to your devices. The CalDigit can support dual 4K monitors at 60Hz or a single 5K monitor, making it a great choice for anyone who needs to create a workstation with high-quality displays. This dock can be oriented vertically or horizontally to fit seamlessly into your setup. The aluminum body is both lightweight and durable, and most of the ports are on the back of the device for easier cable management. It’s compatible with Windows and most Mac laptops, but will not work with Macbooks that have Retina Displays. Best for Mac: CalDigit USB-C Pro Dock Buy on Amazon Buy on B&H Photo Video What We Like Supports dual 4K displays at 60Hz Also compatible with Windows Ultrabooks What We Don't Like No downstream Thunderbolt 3 port No 5K display support If your workstation revolves around a Macbook or an iPad, this USB-C Pro Dock from CalDigit will allow you to seamlessly connect your peripherals from one compact device. The dock features three USB-A ports, two DisplayPorts, a USB-C port, an SD card reader, an Ethernet port, a 3.5mm audio jack, and a Thunderbolt 3 dock that’s compatible with USB-C. That port also provides up to 85W of power to charge your laptop. The dock comes with a 28-inch Thunderbolt cable in the box. Though this dock is best for Macbooks with USB-C ports, it has surprisingly wide compatibility with other kinds of devices — even if your computer only has USB-A ports, you can still connect to the dock with some limitations on functionality. It also works with tablets. This makes the CalDigit USB-C Pro Dock the best option for Macs and a very solid option if you have a mix of devices to connect to your peripherals. The 7 Best USB-C Hubs of 2020 Best for Windows: Cable Matters Aluminum Thunderbolt 3 Dock Buy on Amazon Buy on Walmart What We Like Includes HDMI port Fast data transfer Also compatible with most Macbooks What We Don't Like Lower-powered charging port This Thunderbolt 3 dock from Cable Matters is a great option for Windows users, offering 40Gbps data transfer speeds and up to 60W of charging power for the host computer and 10W for mobile devices. This dock can support dual 4K monitors at 60Hz and has the extra bonus of an HDMI port, a less common feature for these kinds of docks that expands your connection options even more. The hub also has five USB ports, an SD card slot, an Ethernet port, a Thunderbolt 3 port and a headphone/microphone port. It comes with a 1.5-foot Thunderbolt 3 cable. The Cable Matters dock is compatible with multiple Dell, Acer, Intel and Macbook models. If you use your workstation with multiple devices, this dock’s flexibility is a big plus. It’s also quite small at 8.8 x 3.1 x 1.1 inches and weighs about three pounds, making it a portable option for taking your workstation on the go. Best Connectivity: OWC 14-Port Thunderbolt 3 Dock Buy on Amazon Buy on B&H Photo Video What We Like Wide array of port options 85W of laptop charging power Supports up to 5 Thunderbolt devices What We Don't Like Expensive Reported issues with MacBook Pros If you have a complex workstation with a variety of different connections, check out the OWC 14-Port Thunderbolt 3 Dock. It’s a high-powered device with 11 different kinds of ports to support just about any peripheral device you can think of. Connection options include both USB-A and USB-C ports, SD and microSD card readers, a microphone jack, a digital audio connection, and more. It can support dual 4K monitors or a single 5K monitor, making it a great choice for people with high-resolution displays. If you’re a photographer or videographer, the multiple SD card slots options are also a big plus (and cut down on the number of dongles on your desk). Like many of the other docks on this list, the OWC also doubles as a charger, delivering up to 85W of power to your laptop and up to 7.5W to your other devices. If you have a MacBook Pro, it’s worth noting that there have been reported issues with connected displays not functioning correctly when the laptop is closed (in “clamshell mode”). Best Cross-Platform: Plugable Thunderbolt 3 Buy on Amazon What We Like Wide compatibility Affordable Fast transfer speeds What We Don't Like No charging capabilities Only supports one display If you’re looking for something that’s both versatile and affordable, the Plugable Thunderbolt 3 dock is compatible with both Windows and Mac computers and offers a solid array of port options. It isn’t quite as high-powered as the more expensive models, but it’s great for creating a basic setup with a single monitor, a router, and a mix of other peripherals like microphones, headphones, or a phone charger. The single DisplayPort can support a 4K monitor at 60Hz, so you don’t have to compromise on display quality. There is a 20-inch Thunderbolt 40Gbps cable and DisplayPort to HDMI adapter in the box. One more concession for the cheaper price: the Plugable Thunderbolt 3 dock does not have host charging capabilities. That means you’ll need to use your laptop battery or keep a power adapter connected to your machine along with the dock. The 6 Best USB Hubs of 2020 Best for Multiple Monitors: Plugable USB-C Triple Display Docking Station Buy on Amazon Buy on B&H Photo Video Buy on Walmart What We Like Supports 3 displays HDMI and DVI/VGA ports Vertical orientation with small footprint What We Don't Like Does not support Chrome OS or Linux Only supports macOS 10.10 to 10.13.3 If you need a lot of screen real estate, the Plugable USB-C Triple Display dock has you covered. This Thunderbolt 3 dock supports up to three displays so you can create a truly immersive setup with side-by-side monitors. The dock features two HDMI ports (2K and 4K), a DVI/VGA connection, four USB ports, a USB-C port, an Ethernet connection, and connections for headphones and a microphone. It also provides up to 60W of charging power for the host device. Most of the devices on this list have horizontal footprints that take up a decent amount of space on your desk, but the Plugable has a vertical design that some may find more convenient. The Plugable Triple Display dock is mainly a Windows device. It isn’t compatible with Chromebooks or Linux machines, and it can only support macOS 10.10 to 10.13.3 (that’s two versions behind as of the time of this writing). But if you have a Windows 10, 8.x or 7 device you’re good to go. Best Portability: CalDigit Thunderbolt 3 Mini Dock Buy on Amazon Buy on B&H Photo Video Buy on Apple What We Like Supports dual 4K displays at 60Hz Small and lightweight What We Don't Like Has only HDMI or DisplayPort No charging capabilities If you want a super compact option, either to take on the go or to just save space on your desk, the CalDigit Thunderbolt3 Mini Dock is the way to go. It measures 4.9 x 2.6 x 0.7 inches and weighs less than a pound, making it the smallest and lightest device on our list. The CalDigit Mini Dock is available in two different models, one with a pair of HDMI ports and one with a pair of DisplayPorts that can support dual 4K displays at 60Hz. Both models also include a USB 3.0 port for charging another device (like your phone) and an Ethernet connection. It cannot charge your computer. The 8 Best USB-C Adapters of 2020 Final Verdict The Belkin Thunderbolt 3 Dock Pro is our top pic because it offers a plethora of ports, a compact design, and a hefty 170W internal power supply to keep your laptop charged. The CalDigit Thunderbolt Station 3 Dock is a close second, featuring the same kind of wide compatibility, port options, and a versatile design that can be oriented either horizontally or vertically to best fit your workspace. About Our Trusted Experts Emmeline Kaser is a former editor of Lifewire’s product round-ups and reviews. She has several years of experience researching and writing about consumer tech. What to Look for in Thunderbolt 3 and 2 Docks Thunderbolt 2 vs. 3 - What kind of ports does your laptop have? If you’re working on a late 2016 MacBook Pro or newer, you’ll need a Thunderbolt 3 (or USB-C) dock. If your machine is an earlier model, then you should pick up a Thunderbolt 2 dock.Windows vs. Mac - While the term “Thunderbolt” immediately brings to mind Macs, many of these docks are compatible with Windows machines as well. If you need a dock that works with both Mac and Windows, then you should take that into account. If you’re looking for just a Windows dock, though, you may want to look at a USB 3.0 model instead of a Thunderbolt.Ports and size - Do you need to be able to stick your dock in a bag and travel with it? If so, you’ll likely be looking for more of a dongle than what is traditionally thought of as a dock. These are powerful little docks, but they have a limited number of ports. If your dock will remain at a desk, you may want to look at a larger model that will give you options for dual monitors, an Ethernet port, an SD card slot, and more. However, these are often more pricey, so it’s important to balance what you need with the cost.