Thunderbolt 3 docks or docking stations are small hubs that give you the power to extend the number of ports in your laptop for fast speed connectivity of external devices like display monitors, external drives and speakers. It is capable of handling two 4K monitors, in addition to providing power for charging, unlike USB-C that can handle only one display monitor. In this article, we shall discuss about the best Thunderbolt 3 docks.
Let us start by explaining what a Thunderbolt 3 dock is.
What is a Thunderbolt 3 Dock?
A Thunderbolt TM 3 dock enables you to harness the full potential of USB-C by providing ports for connection of extra devices. To achieve this, you must plug the Thunderbolt 3 dock into a Thunderbolt 3 socket in your notebook or laptop, thus giving it additional functionality.
Docks have been around for years. So has been the desire to have a device capable of linking a laptop to a variety of peripherals and systems.
4K Display monitors, NAS storage, printers and audio devices can all be connected at once to a laptop via a dock or docking station.
The coming of Thunderbolt 3 (TB3) has led to an upsurge in the design and manufacture of user-friendly docks that are easy to install and comfortable to use.
TB3 provides faster transfer rates than standard USB-C, up to 40 Gbps. Generally, a laptop using TB3 can transfer data 2 to 4 times faster than a laptop with USB-C. However, to achieve this, the attached device must support the technology.
Also, TB3 has the bandwidth to handle two 4K monitors at 60 Hz.
To differentiate TB3 from a standard USB-C port, look for the little lightning bolt symbol somewhere near the port.
Do Thunderbolt 3 docking stations work with all laptops?
The coming of thin and light laptops, which are also referred to as Ultrabooks portended that legacy ports like USB-A, VGA and even HDMI would be removed to make way for USB-C and TB3 ports.
These sleek and stylish laptops do not have ports that take up space, ports that are not adaptable, and are slow in data transfer.
Thus, TB3 docking stations work only with laptops that have the required ports – TB3 ports.
Let’s now look at the best selection of Thunderbolt 3 docks available in the market.
Best Selection of Thunderbolt 3 Docks
The top of the pack docks you will find in the market are as follows:
- CalDigit TS3 Plus Thunderbolt 3 Dock – Best overall dock
- Lenovo USA ThinkPad Thunderbolt 3 Dock – 2nd Best overall dock
- CalDigit Thunderbolt 3 Pro Dock – Best dock for price
- CableMatters Aluminum Thunderbolt 3 Dock – Best dock with HDMI
- Plugable Thunderbolt 3 Dock – Lightest dock
- Targus Thunderbolt 3 Dock
- WAVLINK 8K Thunderbolt 3 Dock
- WAVLINK Thunderbolt 3 Dock
- Anker 13-in-1 Thunderbolt 3 Dock
- HP Thunderbolt Dock
Let’s look closer at these docks, and check out the good features that make them the choicest in the market.
Best Thunderbolt 3 Docks
1. CalDigit TS3 Plus Thunderbolt 3 Dock- Best Overall Dock
Suppose you use a TB3-enabled Laptop or Mac, and you need to connect several devices like SD card readers, USB storage, dual monitors, digital audio, and printers to your system. In that case, you should consider buying CalDigit TS3 Plus.
This is the best dock in our review.
When you connect to this dock, the TB3 port of your laptop will translate to 15 separate ports in the dock, providing a staggering array of connectivity options for your mobile office. And it can charge your laptop as well.
This dock has five USB-A 3.0 ports and two USB-C ports. It has both front and back USB ports. There is a USB 3.1 Gen 2 port at the back (10 Gbps) which allows you to connect your SSD drives for fast speed data transmission.
A very effective dock, the CalDigit TS3 Plus’ SD card reader can read SD, SDHC, and SDXC cards at 312 Mbps.
The digital audio port allows connection to amplifiers, home theatres and speakers, retaining your exact audio signals and maintaining you sound’s pure quality.
The charging system can handle both Mac and PC with 87W of power.
- Brand: CalDigit
- Model: TS3 Plus Thunderbolt 3 Dock
- Weight: 1.04 pounds
- Product Dimensions: 5.15 x 1.57 x 3.87 inches
- Date Released: December 13, 2017
- Two Thunderbolt 3
- One DisplayPort 1.2
- Five USB 3.1 Type-A
- Two USB 3.1 Type-C
- One SD Card Reader
- One Digital Optical Audio
- One Gigabit Ethernet
- One Analog Audio In (Stereo) | 1 x Analog Audio Out (Stereo)
2. Lenovo USA ThinkPad Thunderbolt 3 Dock – 2nd Best Overall Dock
Lenovo USA’s well-crafted ThinkPad Thunderbolt 3 Dock (Gen 2) of 135W is a docking station that has a lot of what you need to actualize your creativity and efficiency, using several devices connected to a single system.
This is the second-best dock in our review.
You can easily connect multiple 4K displays for extended multitasking, and transfer any data at high speed (Thunderbolt 3 Gen 2 speed). This dock also allows you to charge your smaller devices using the always-on USB 3.0 port.
Stretch your imagination and productivity to a maximum with the multiple connectivity options available on this strong, smart and reliable dock. This dock supports Windows 7 and 10. The key features and port options are listed below.
- Brand: Lenovo USA
- Model: ThinkPad Thunderbolt 3 Dock
- Weight: 2 pounds
- Product Dimensions: 8.66 x 3.15 x 1.18 inches
- Date Released: January 3, 2019
- Two HDMI
- Two DisplayPort
- One Thunderbolt 3 Gen 2
- One USB-C – Thunderbolt 3 compatible
- Four USB 3.1 Gen 2
- One USB 3.1 Gen 2 (with Always-on charging)
- One RJ-45 Ethernet
- One Audio Connector (3. 5mm)
- One Security-lock slot (the lock is sold separately)
3. CalDigit Thunderbolt 3 USB-C Pro Dock – Best dock for price
The CalDigit USB-C Pro Dock is a sleek, neat dock with plenty of power to connect up to 13 devices at the same time. And the price is unbeatable!
This dock is compatible with both macOS 10.14.5 or later, and Windows 10 or later operating systems. If your Windows PC’s USB-C port is capable of handling laptop charging, you will enjoy using this dock.
The USB-C Pro Dock can directly connect to two 4K 60Hz monitors, using the two built-in DisplayPort connectors. It would not need USB-C video adapters.
If you need to connect a monitor that uses an HDMI instead of a DisplayPort, simply connect with an adapter. This dock also provides a card reader for fast data transfer to and from your SD card.
The CalDigit USB-C Pro Dock has an auto-off feature that makes it go off automatically when it’s not in use. The dock charges complete 85W with all its ports occupied. You can finally use one cable to connect everything. It has a 0.7-meter cable included in the pack.
- Brand: CalDigit
- Model: USBCProDock-US07-SG
- Weight: 2.3 pounds
- Product Dimensions: 0.9 x 8.43 x 3.15 inches
- Date Released: September 24, 2019
- One Thunderbolt 3 port with backwards compatible with standard USB-C
- Two DisplayPort 1.2
- Three USB 3.2 Gen 1 Type-A (5 Gbps)
- One USB-C 3.2 Gen 2 Type-C (10 Gbps)
- One Gigabit Ethernet
- One UHS-II SD Card Slot (SD 4.0)
- One 3.5mm Analog Audio In & Out
4. Cable Matters Aluminum – Best dock with HDMI
The Cable Matters Aluminum Thunderbolt 3 Dock with HDMI 2.0 is a certified TB3 dock with 60W laptop charging capabilities.
This dock supports 40 Gbps bandwidth, making it an ideal TB3 dock. It shows a green LED light when AC power is connected, and a blue LED light when a TB3 host is detected.
The Cable Matters Aluminium TB3 dock can read an SD, SDHC, and SDXC memory card. It is capable of transferring files to a phone or charging a phone over USB. Cable Matters can also handle a mouse, keyboard, flash drive, USB printer, and scanner. It is designed for Windows PC and MacBook Pro. Cable Matters does not work with a USB-C host computer that does not have the TB3 logo on it. It comes with a 1.5 meters TB3 cable.
- Brand: Cable Matters
- Model: 107014
- Weight: 3.31 pounds
- Product Dimensions: 8.8 x 3.1 x 1.1 inches
- Date Released: December 19, 2016
- UHS-I Card reader
- Three USB 3.0 ports
- One Gigabit Ethernet
- Two TB3 ports – One for computer with 60W charging power
- One HDMI
- Power in
- One audio port
5. Plugable Thunderbolt 3 Dock – Lightest dock
The Plugable Thunderbolt 3 dock is a fast multifunctional dock with several desirable features, though not as comprehensive as more expensive models.
This dock works with Windows or MacOS, and it is most suitable for Mac or Dell systems. It is capable of connecting a single display up to 4k at 60Hz.
Please note that this dock cannot charge the host system. You will have to use a separate power adapter to connect your system to the power supply.
It supports connection to wired networks like gigabit Ethernet. It has provision for audio input and output lines.
This dock supports only one additional display, except with an additional USB-C to video adapter which you have to buy separately.
- Brand: Plugable
- Model: TBT3-UD1-83
- Weight: 0.96 pounds
- Product Dimensions: 8.75 x 3.10 x 1.00 inches
- Date Released: May 11, 2017
- One Gigabit Ethernet (network connection)
- Two USB 3.0 (USB Peripherals)
- Mic line in
- Headphone /speaker line out
- Two Thunderbolt 3 USB-C 3.1 Gen2
- One DisplayPort++ with 4k support
- One USB 3.1 Gen1
6. Targus Thunderbolt 3 Dock
With 35 years of innovation and creativity in the field of computer accessories behind them, Targus is well equipped to produce a high performing docking station, the Targus Thunderbolt 3 Dock,
This dock is most suitable for intensive design work involving high graphics, video editing, animations, photography, and regular CAD and CAM users. It can work with most laptop brands, guaranteeing the connection to dual 4K monitors at 60hz.
It can also accommodate a mouse and a keyboard, using USB-C. In fact, it has three USB ports.
Targus Thunderbolt 3 dock has a compact design, with an aluminum casing and good finishing. Underneath, it is rubber-padded to shield your desk from scratches, and provide a strong grip on the desk.
This dock is compatible with most operating system platforms like macOS, Windows, and Linux.
- Brand: Targus
- Model: Thunderbolt 3 Dock
- Weight: 1.44 pounds
- Product Dimensions: 5.0 x 3.2 x 1.6 inches
- Date Released: November 21, 2017
- One DisplayPort 1.2a
- Two USB-A (5Gbps; BC 1.2) ports (2 fast charging)
- One USB-C (5Gbps, 5V /1.5A) port
- Two 3.5mm audio and video jacksRich
7. WAVLINK 8K
A good accessory for the home or office, the Wavlink 8K Thunderbolt 3 dock allows you to connect two external monitors to your laptop, simplifying connectivity and giving you a clean desk.
It allows 60W PD charge (maximum) to your host laptop. Connecting USB expansion devices like hard disk, thumb drive, mouse, keyboard, USB Mini fan, and smartphone is quite simple.
Data transmission after connectivity is quite fast, one of the best in the market. But then, that is what Thunderbolt 3 is all about – speed of up to 40 Gbps. This is eight times more bandwidth than what USB 3.0 offers for video and data.
You can enjoy beautiful music with your headset inserted into the two-in-one audio-out and mic-in port. With two DisplayPort support, you can easily stream videos, do your graphic designs, play games, and share your screen during conference meetings effectively.
This dock works well with Windows or MacOSX.
- Windows 10 or later
- MacOS 10.X or above
- Computer with Thunderbolt 3 port
- Brand: WAVLINK
- Model: 8K Thunderbolt 3 Dock
- Weight: 2.59 pounds
- Product Dimensions: 10.31 x 7.76 x 3.27 inches
- Date Released: June 20, 2019
- Two DisplayPort 1.4 of 40 Gbps
- One Thunderbolt 3 Port of 40 Gbps (Data and Upstream Charging)
- One USB C 3.1 of 10 Gbps
- Two USB-A 3.1 of 10 Gbps
- Two USB-A 3.0 of 5 Gbps
- One Gigabit Ethernet (RJ45)
- One DC Jack
- One Phone Jack
8. WAVLINK Thunderbolt 3 Dock
From a single Thunderbolt 3 port in your laptop, you can use the WAVLINK Thunderbolt 3 Dock to extend to several useful devices through a rich array made up of 13 ports.
Ideal for power users, it has both front and back USB ports, as well as TB3 40Gbps port, SD card reader, gigabit Intel Ethernet, audio input and output as well as four USB 3.0 ports.
A sound and efficient dock, it provides support for DisplayPort 1.2 with 4K 60Hz display or one HDMI display with DisplayPort to HDMI adapter. It provides up to 85W maximum upstream charging power to the host computer and uses 180W power adapter to power all other peripherals attached.
This WAVLINK Thunderbolt 3 Dock is ideal for the home or office as it can sustain multiple video channels and data.
It works well with the following operating systems: MacBook Pro 2016+, iMac Pro 2017+ and Windows 8 or 10.
One 28-inch Intel Certified TB3 cable is included in the pack.
- Brand: WAVLINK
- Model: AMZWL-UTD01-US
- Weight: 3.16 pounds
- Product Dimensions: 10.59 x 4.06 x 2.05 inches
- Date Released: January 28, 2019
- Two Thunderbolt 3 up to 40Gb/s
- One Displayport 1.2
- Four USB-A 3.0 (5Gb/s)
- One Gigabit Ethernet
- One SD/Micro SD Card Reader
- One Phone Jack
- One 180 Watt DC Power Adapter (with 85W for laptop Charging)
9. Anker 13-in-1 Thunderbolt 3 Dock
The Anker Docking Station, PowerExpand Elite 13-in-1 Thunderbolt 3 Dock is a product that is well-appreciated by users.
This dock is pretty fast, giving you the ability to transfer a 20GB file in just 6 seconds. And it has a high-definition media display capability, with support for multiple monitors through TB3.
The SD card and microSD card slots recognize virtually all SD card formats, giving you unlimited access to all your media files and storage volumes.
This dock, with its 13 vital ports is full of interesting features. It provides 85W high-speed charging for your laptop, 18W charging for your phone, a 4K HDMI port, an Ethernet port, audio facilities, and other features.
This dock is compatible with macOS 10.12, Windows 8 and 10, iPadOS and Linux OS,
- Brand: Anker
- Model: A8396 (PowerExpand Elite 13-in-1)
- Weight: 1.10 pounds
- Product Dimensions: 4.96 x 3.50 x 1.65 inches
- Date Released: April 12, 2020
- One TB3 downstream port (40 Gbps, 15W)
- One TB3 upstream port (40 Gbps, 85W)
- One USB 3.1 Gen 1 USB-A (5 Gbps, 5V/1.5A)
- USB 3.1 Gen 1 USB-A (5 Gbps, 5V /0.9A)
- One USB 3.1 Gen 2 USB-C (10 Gbps, 5V /0.9A)
- One USB 3.1 Gen 2 USB-C with Power Delivery (10 Gbps, 5V /3A or 9V /2A)
- One HDMI 2.0
- One audio in and out
- SD and micro SD card reader
- One gigabit Ethernet
- DC-in (20V /9A)
10. HP Thunderbolt Dock
The HP Thunderbolt Dock 120W G2 Docking Station is small but quite sophisticated. Designed to help you manage your office space, this dock is most suitable for USB-C device connection and appropriate as an integrated audio solution.
Like other TB3 docks, it handles dual external 4K displays, and it does so with ease. You can multitask without worrying about speed.
This dock has an attractive design, but the entire top is a sleep button that users can accidentally press anytime they want to plug in something.
The HP Thunderbolt Dock 120W G2 Docking Station works well with both HP and non-HP systems. It is compatible with Windows 7; Windows 10, Chrome, and iOS.
- Brand: HP
- Model: 2UK37UT#ABA
- Weight: 1.76 pounds
- Product Dimensions: 3.90 x 2.70 x 3.90 inches
- Date Released: June 27, 2018
- One USB-C port with data and power out
- One USB-C cable for host system (0.7 meters)
- One powered USB 3.0 port
- One combo Audio Jack
- One Kensington lock slot
- 1 Thunderbolt port
- One USB-C DisplayPort – data and power out
- Two DisplayPort ports
- One VGA port
- Two USB 3.0 ports
- One RJ45 port
- One AC Adapter connector
The best dock overall is the CalDigit TS3 Plus Thunderbolt 3 dock. With this dock, the TB3 port of your laptop translates to 15 separate ports in the dock, providing you with a staggering array of connectivity options. It also works according to specified speed and functionality for TB3.