These are the best docks and dongles for the M1 Apple iMac 2021: CalDigit, Plugable, and more

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

    Apple USB-C Digital AV Multiport Adapter

    Quick way to add a few ports

    The USB-C digital AV multiport adapter lets you connect your USB-C enabled Mac or iPad Pro to an HDMI display, while also connecting a standard USB device and a USB-C charging cable.
    Apple MJ1M2AM/A USB-C to USB Adapter

    Quick way to convert a port

    This is a quick and cheap way to turn a USB Type-C port into a USB Type-A port. If you're looking for something simple, this is it.
    Apple USB-C to SD Card Reader

    Quick way to add an SD card reader

    The USB-C to SD Card Reader transfers high-resolution photos and videos at UHS-II speeds to your Mac or iPad Pro.

Thunderbolt docks for the 24-inch iMac with Apple M1

    CalDigit TS3 Plus Thunderbolt 3 Docking Station

    CalDigit's best dock

    Includes 15 ports: two Thunderbolt 3, DisplayPort 1.2, five USB Type-A, one USB 3.2 Gen 1, one USB 3.2 Gen 2, gigabit Ethernet, UHS-II SD card slot, optical audio, and 3.5mm audio in and out. Also has 87W power delivery if you need it.
    CalDigit Thunderbolt 3 Mini Dock

    CalDigit, but smol

    It's a mini dock, so it's small, and it comes with dual HDMI 2.0 ports, two USB Type-A ports, and gigabit Ethernet. This one does not have power delivery.
    Brydge Stone Pro Docking Station

    Made for MacBooks

    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.
    Corsair TBT100 Thunderbolt 3 Dock

    The Corsair option

    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 14-in-1 USB-C and Thunderbolt 3 Dock

    96W of power and more

    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.
    Plugable Thunderbolt 3 Dock

    An inexpensive Plugable solution

    It's a bit smaller and a bit cheaper. This one comes with two Thunderbolt 3 ports, a USB 3.2 Gen 1 Type-C port, two USB 3.2 Gen 1 Type-A ports, DisplayPort, gigabit Ethernet, and 3.5mm audio in and out ports. It does not have power delivery.
    Kensington Thunderbolt 3 Docking Station

    Everything you need

    This Kensington solution obviously has a Kensington lock port, but it's also got five USB 3.2 Gen 1 Type-A ports, two Thunderbolt 3 ports, HDMI 2.0, 3.5mm combo audio, and an SD card reader.

Non-Thunderbolt USB Type-C docks for the 24-inch iMac with Apple M1

    Belkin USB-C Hub with Tethered USB-C Cable

    The necessities

    Belkin's USB Type-C solution has one USB 3.2 Gen 1 Type-A port, one USB 2.0 Type-A port, one USB Type-C port, HDMI (4K 30Hz), an SD card reader, and Gigabit Ethernet
    IOGEAR Dock Pro 100 USB-C 4K Ultra-Slim Station

    The necessities with more legacy

    IOGear's solution has three USB 3.2 Gen 1 Type-A ports, an SD card slot, HDMI, DisplayPort, VGA, and gigabit Ethernet
    Plugable USB 3.0 Universal Laptop Docking Station

    Lots of ports without Thunderbolt

    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.
    Plugable USB 3.0 and USB-C Dual 4K Display Docking Station

    Better ports, but more expensive

    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.

If you’re looking for iMac accessories aside from docks, make sure to check out our guide on the best keyboards and best mice and trackpads.

    24-inch iMac with 4.5K display
    Apple's new all-in-one has a 4.5K display, an M1 chipset, and comes in pretty colors

About author

Rich Woods
Rich Woods

Managing Editor for XDA Computing. I've been covering tech from smartphones to PCs since 2013. If you see me at a trade show, come say hi and let me ask you weird questions about why you use the tech you use.