The MacBook Pro and MacBook Air combine portability and productivity in a way that makes them one of the best options for people who work online, but they fall short in one key area: USB ports. The options are severely limited and the mandatory USB Lighting-to-USB protection makes it much more difficult to plug in external accessories, much less than an HDMI cable.
A docking station offers a better solution. Docking stations allow users to combine multiple ports into a single device. If you have a workstation at home, you can plug a monitor, keyboard, mouse, and other accessories into the dock and just unplug the laptop. Next time you join, everything is ready. Here are the best options for a MacBook Pro dock and a MacBook Air dock.
MacBook Air and MacBook Pro Docking Station
Whether you’re looking for style, functionality, or something in between, these docks are the best choice for MacBook users.
Brydge Vertical Dock – $130
The Brydge Vertical Dock is one of the more stylish options on the market. The dock itself allows you to place your MacBook in the stand vertically – ideal for desktop areas that don’t have a lot of free space. Note, this only works with MacBook with Touch Bar.
The downside is that the dock only includes two Thunderbolt 2 ports, but each has a full 40 Gbps throughput. Anything you can plug into your MacBook, you can also plug into the Brydge Vertical Dock, but you’ll need to use an adapter for non-Lightning accessories.
The included dock improves airflow and cooling for intensive workloads, as well as a one-handed mounting mechanism that makes it easy to slide your MacBook in and out of the dock with a single motion.
CalDigit TS3 – $250
The CalDigit TS3 stand is the ultimate stand for the power user. It offers 15 different connectivity ports, as well as a charging capacity of up to 87W. It is compatible with the latest generation of MacBooks thanks to its compatibility with Thunderbolt 3.
The CalDigit TS3 includes two Thunderbolt 3 ports, a DisplayPort 1.2 connection, five USB-A ports, two USB-C ports, and gigabit ethernet. It also offers a UHS-II SD card slot, optical audio and 3.5mm audio input and output. You can place the dock in both landscape and portrait positions.
What’s more impressive is that the CalDigit TS3 can support dual 4K displays via DisplayPort and Thunderbolt – perfect for anyone working with photo or video editing.
This dock is a bit overkill for the casual user, but if you’re someone who runs a lot of high-end devices and you need power, then the CalDigit TS3 is a great choice.
Twelve south of StayGo – 75 dollars
If you’re looking for a slightly more budget-friendly pier, Twelve South StayGo is a solid choice. For just $75, it packs six ports into a more compact, portable chassis. This is a great dock for anyone who needs more ports and wants to get the most out of their MacBook’s portability.
Twelve South StayGo includes one 4K HDMI port, two USB A 3.0 ports, one dual-function USB A port, one gigabit Ethernet port, and one SD/Micro SD port. Finally, it has a USB C 3.1 port with 85W charging. Note that the latest MacBook models charge at 87W. While users report no issues, the device can charge a bit slower.
The base also includes a one-meter cable for your desktop, as well as a 4.75-inch travel cable when you’re on the go. If you don’t need all the power that the more expensive base types provide, this base should suffice for almost any situation you’ll encounter.
Kensington Thunderbolt 3 . Station – 200 dollars
Kensington Thunderbolt 3 is a mid-range dock that offers serious power and resolution. While it supports dual 4K displays, it can also support a single 5K display. However, you should note that the dock is not compatible with Thunderbolt 3 displays.
The Thunderbolt 3 dock has five different ports: one USB C port, two USB 3.0 ports, one gigabit Ethernet port, 3.5mm headphone and microphone jacks, and a Kensington Lock slot. The Dock boasts extended functionality thanks to its compatibility with both macOS and Windows machines. If you use two different laptops and need to swap between them, the Kensington Thunderbolt 3 can handle it.
This stand delivers up to 85W of power and will automatically adjust based on your laptop’s needs. However, it can also charge 87W devices like the newer MacBook Pro and MacBook Air. It will need a certified Thunderbolt 3 cable to do this.
G-Technology 8TB Raid Dock – 600 dollars
The G-Technology Thunderbolt 3 Dock is the power of a device that does more than just act as a dock. It’s also an 8TB external hard drive with a removable dual-drive storage system. If you work with a lot of high-quality video files, you need more storage space – and this dock can act as your command center.
The dock has one HDMI port, dual Thunderbolt 3 ports, and a single USB-C port. While it’s not as notable in the ports department as others on this list, it does allow you to connect up to five additional devices via Thunderbolt 3 ports, including additional displays, drives, and more. and more.
High-speed data transfer means you don’t need to store raw footage on your MacBook to edit it; instead, you can edit directly from the drives in the dock. What it lacks in looks more than makes up for in terms of utility – the downside, of course, is the staggering $600 price tag.
A MacBook dock is more than just a useful tool. It can help transform your workspace into a command center. Few things kill productivity as quickly as plugging in and unplugging any time you need to move, so do it smart: Invest in a MacBook dock and plug in everything (except the computer) your carry-on).