These are the best docks and dongles for the M1 Apple iMac 2021: CalDigit, Plugable, and more
Apple’s new M1-powered iMac is here. Previously, Apple Silicon was limited to the MacBook Pro, MacBook Air, and Mac mini. Like all of Apple’s laptops these days, the new iMac only has USB Type-C ports, so you’ll need some dongles and docks.
You know what that means: you’re going to need some dongles and docks. Luckily, all you really need with this product are more ports. Apple’s M1 is missing some key features that you’ll find on its Intel products, such as multi-monitor support and external GPU support. Right out of the gate, that takes away a lot of the benefits of Thunderbolt. And since this is a desktop, you don’t even have to worry about power delivery.
The 24-inch iMac comes with two Thunderbolt 3 / USB 4 ports, which support up to 40Gbps speeds, HDMI, DVI, VGA, DisplayPort, and more. If you get the higher end model, there are an additional two USB 3.2 Gen 2 Type-C ports, which are good for 5Gbps speeds.
We can break this down into dongles, Thunderbolt docks, and non-Thunderbolt USB Type-C docks. There isn’t much difference for most users between Thunderbolt and regular USB Type-C docks for this device, since you can’t use dual external monitors or an external GPU. Still, you might want Thunderbolt for the additional bandwidth or if you have another Thunderbolt device around.
Dongles for the 24-inch iMac with Apple M1
Thunderbolt docks for the 24-inch iMac with Apple M1
This one is actually made for MacBooks to sit on top of it, but it works for an iMac too. It has 11 ports, including two Thunderbolt 3, one DisplayPort, three USB 3.2 Gen 1 Type-A, one USB 3.2 Gen 2 Type-C, one SD card slot, one 3.5mm audio jack, and gigabit Ethernet. It offers 87W power delivery.
If you're into Corsair, this one is for you. It has two USB 3.2 Gen 2 Type-C ports, two USB 3.2 Gen 1 Type-A ports, gigabit Ethernet, dual HDMI 2.0 ports, Thunderbolt 3, a Kensington lock, an SD card reader, and a 3.5mm audio jack. It offers 85W power delivery.
Plugable has some of the highest ratings of the docks we checked out. This one comes with 14 ports, including two HDMI, two DisplayPort, five USB 3.2 Gen 1 Type-A, one USB 3.2 Gen 2 Type-C, one USB 3.2 Gen 2 Type-A, gigabit Ethernet, 3.5mm audio in/out, and SD card reader.
Non-Thunderbolt USB Type-C docks for the 24-inch iMac with Apple M1
This model comes with six USB Type-A ports, two of which are USB 3.2 Gen 1 and four of which are USB 2.0. You'd use the latter for simple things like a keyboard and mouse. There's also HDMI, DVI, and Ethernet. It comes with USB Type-C and USB Type-A adapters so you can use it with a variety of devices.
This one is a bit more expensive than the one above from Plugable, but it has six USB 3.2 Gen 1 Type-A ports. It also has dual DisplayPort and HDMI ports, although only one of each can be used. It also has gigabit Ethernet.
When deciding which one to buy, the key thing to remember is that the Apple M1 doesn’t support multiple external monitors, doesn’t support external GPUs, and won’t make use of power delivery. That means that when selecting the dock for your iMac, all you really need is ports.
However, docks are plug-and-play solutions. You can easily disconnect from the 24-inch iMac and connect a laptop that you might be using. If it’s an Intel-powered laptop, you’d definitely be able to do a lot more with Thunderbolt there, and you’d be better off with a proper Thunderbolt dock.