Best docking stations for MacBook Pro in 2021: Belkin, Brydge, CalDigit, and more
Apple stripped down the I/O on its MacBook Pro range to just Thunderbolt ports and a 3.5mm headphone jack combo back in 2016. While that was an inconvenience to users, the only solution to add more ports was to buy dongles or invest in a good docking station. Today Thunderbolt offers a wide bandwidth of up to 40Gbps which means you can add a whole lot of I/O ports to your MacBook.
However, with the introduction of Apple’s M1 chipset, there’s a limitation on the multi-monitor setup via the Thunderbolt ports. The M1-based MacBook Pro 13 (and the MacBook Air) can only support one external display with up to 6K resolution and a 60Hz refresh rate. But if you own any of the Intel-based MacBook Pro models, you can still hook up to two 4K monitors.
To achieve that, or just add some extra ports, we recommend investing in a reliable docking station rather than investing in multiple dongles. Here are some of the best docking stations for the MacBook Pro:
- This is a fully-loaded docking station for your MacBook Pro that can help in quickly transitioning from mobile to a workstation experience. It features all sorts of ports including USB-A ports, dual-HDMI, VGA, Ethernet, and more. Depending on what MacBook Pro model you own, the Multi-Stream Transport (MST) or Single Stream Transfer (SST) functionalities may differ.
- This one is specifically for owners of the MacBook Pro 15 model launched between the years 2016-2019 as it requires connection via all four of the Thunderbolt 3 ports. In return you get a total of 18 ports, which means you're basically covered with every single I/O connectivity.
- Like the Brydge Stone Pro, Belkin offers a similar docking station for the MacBook Pro with an array of ports and an angled design that lets you place your notebook on top. Notably, this is a regular USB-C dock and not Thunderbolt, but definitely one of the best ones you can get.
These are some of the best docking stations available today for the MacBook Pro. Our recommendation would be the Thunderbolt 4 docking solution by Anker, as it supports the latest Thunderbolt 4 connectivity, which is backward-compatible with Thunderbolt 3. Essentially, this means it should support every MacBook Pro launched since 2016, while at the same time it’s future-proof as it will support any upcoming models, should you plan to upgrade.
Speaking of which, it’s speculated Apple is going to launch new MacBook Pro models including a refresh for the 16-inch and a new 14-inch model later this year. Like the late 2020 MacBook Pro 13 and the MacBook Air, these upcoming models are also expected to be powered by an ARM chipset, possibly a more powerful, updated version of the M1 with more cores and higher clock speeds.
Check out our roundup of some of the best cases for the MacBook Pro. If you’re new to the Mac ecosystem, we also have some useful guides like how to force quit an app, or how to completely uninstall an app on MacOS.