Laptop docks can be expensive, and so you should think twice about what to buy. There are many types of laptop docks on the market, each with different features. However, don’t just choose a dock depending on the number of ports available. So how do you choose a laptop stand?
This article outlines the five most important factors to consider when buying a docking station for a laptop.
1. Available ports
One of the main reasons to buy a laptop dock is to add more ports to your device. However, that won’t happen if the docking station for the laptop you receive doesn’t have a wide range of ports available. Thankfully, you don’t have to worry much about this, as docking stations typically include multiple types of ports. The best laptop docks include 17 ports, such as the Baseus 17-in-1 USB C Dock.
The most common ports available include USB-C (with or without Power Delivery support), USB Type-A, Gigabit Ethernet, 3.5mm headphone jack, Thunderbolt 3 or 4, DisplayPort, and HDMI 2.0 or 3.0 . You’ll also find an SD and microSD card reader.
But don’t just look at the number of ports available. It is equally important to consider whether they are right for your specific needs.
For example, if you need to connect your laptop to an external display, look for a dock with a port that’s compatible with it (if it has DisplayPort, look for one with DisplayPort). Otherwise, you might buy a dock with as many ports as possible, only to find that many of them don’t work with your current devices.
There are many laptop manufacturers as well as dock manufacturers. Indeed, not everything is created the same way. Compatibility is an important factor to consider when purchasing a laptop dock. After all, if the dock isn’t compatible with your laptop, it’s useless.
To solve compatibility issues, most laptop manufacturers also make their own docks. However, you will notice that exclusive options tend to be more expensive when shopping for docking stations. And it’s for a good reason; they are not only guaranteed to be compatible with the manufacturer’s laptop line, but also provide a comprehensive experience.
However, you don’t necessarily have to buy from your laptop’s manufacturer. Universal laptop docks work with a variety of laptops and support a number of different platforms. The only limitation is that some features may not work on some platforms. For example, while Razer’s Thunderbolt 4 Dock supports macOS and Windows, you can’t customize the RGB flash on the former, which is annoying.
So while choosing a suitable docking station, pay attention to the description before detaching. This will give you all the information you need to know regarding compatibility. Never ignore this information, even if you are buying from your laptop manufacturer. For example, Microsoft’s Surface Dock 2 doesn’t support the original Surface Pro 3, Pro 4, or Surface Book despite coming from the same manufacturer.
How light do you want your laptop socket to be? Well, there are two common form factors, fixed and portable. The significant difference between the two is that the fixed docking stations have a power supply. In other words, they don’t draw power from your laptop to connect to peripherals.
They power both your laptop and your peripherals in the form of pass-through charging. Cell phones, on the other hand, don’t have a power source. Instead, they draw power from your laptop, which is used to power your connected peripherals.
Stationary docking stations tend to be more powerful and therefore offer more ports to connect your peripherals. However, depending on your needs, you may want a permanent dock for your work when setting up at home and a portable one to take with you on the go.
But don’t think that fixed docking stations are heavy. Some weigh around a pound or so, which means you can still use them on the go as long as you have access to a wall outlet. If working on the go is your forte, you might also consider a USB hub. Here’s an in-depth explanation of what a USB hub is and why you might need one.
4. Output power
Another common thing to look out for is power output. Different docking stations will have different output power. If you have a laptop that supports fast charging, like the 96W MacBook Pro M1 Max, you should look for a dock with the same or higher output power as StarTech’s USB C docking station. . Otherwise, you won’t experience the fast charging speeds you get when using a standard laptop adapter.
The good news is that it’s easier to tell the maximum power output of any docking station because manufacturers often include power output in the specifications. If a dock with a higher output power is expensive (most are), you can still buy a dock with a lower output power and continue using a regular laptop adapter mine.
Of course, we assume your laptop has at least two USB-C ports, one for charging and the other for docking.
5. Video output
There are several video ports you can use to connect your laptop to an external display. You can use DVI, VGA, USB-C, Thunderbolt, HDMI, DisplayPort, or Mini DisplayPort. The important thing to consider is your laptop’s native screen resolution and refresh rate. Your best bet is to buy a dock that can output the same resolution and refresh rate. So, assuming your laptop has a 4K display with a 60Hz refresh rate, look for a dock with a video output that supports the same specs.
One thing to note about external monitors is that a dock can support different resolutions and refresh rates depending on how many external monitors are connected. So please pay attention to the description of the item. If not, you can also ask the seller if that information is not in the spec sheet.
Choose the right dock for your laptop
Laptop docks are handy for a number of reasons. Among them is the ability to expand the number of ports that connect peripherals to your laptop. Choosing the right laptop dock requires you to consider the available ports, compatibility with your laptop model, portability, power output, and video output.
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