Your laptop never enough ports – especially if it’s a Macbook Air, this guide was written on. That forces you to carry around a bunch of dongles so you can plug everything in. Fortunately, there is a better way. The USB hub can expand the number and types of ports available, and the USB dock allows you to turn your laptop into a perfect workstation with just one plug. After testing several different USB outlets and ports, here are the best we’ve found for different needs.
Update June 2022: We’ve added a pluggable USB-C Triple Display dock, pricing updated throughout.
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Do you need a Hub or a Dock?
There’s a gray area between the USB hubs and the dock, because they’re (mostly) the same thing: add more ports and connections to your computer. However, there are some minor differences and you should learn them before you buy.
USB hub are smaller, cheaper dongles that can add an additional USB port, an SD card reader, a monitor output, or a headphone jack. These devices typically don’t provide extra power, which means you may not be able to charge devices plugged into them. They’re also portable enough to slip into your laptop bag so you can use them at home and on the go.
USB docking station are usually larger, more expensive, and designed to spend most of your time at your desk. They usually come with their own power supply, so they can charge other devices, and have multiple display outputs and Ethernet connections. If you frequently use your laptop at your desk, a dock can let you quickly connect it to a keyboard, mouse, monitor, and any other peripherals you need. simultaneous.