These are the best docking stations for the MacBook Pro in 2021
For a few years, Apple sold most of its MacBook laptops without any ports aside from Thunderbolt and a headphone jack. While some might have considered that a push forward, it was undeniable that a lot of users still missed the classic ports they were used to. Because of that, using a docking station became almost mandatory for anyone with a MacBook Pro, and thankfully, tons of solutions arose.
With the recently-announced MacBook Pro 2021 models, Apple has finally brought back a decent supply of classic ports. Out of the box, you get HDMI, an SD card reader, and a MagSafe charger that’s going to be much safer than a simple USB Type-C connector. But if you have one of the previous MacBook Pro models, and even if you have a newer one, you might still want a docking station to take the capabilities of the MacBook Pro even further.
Now, docks can simply be powered by a USB Type-C/Thunderbolt port, but one thing that’s been constant with MacBooks is specially designed docks that fit with the whole design of the original chassis. Because we don’t yet have docks designed for the new 2021 MacBook Pros, we’re going to save those kinds of tailor-made docks for the end of this list. For now, let’s take a look at the docking stations you can use with any modern MacBook Pro.
- If you want a powerful dock that looks the part, the Anker Apex is a great choice. With a Thunderbolt 4 connection, it can charge your laptop at up to 90W and it gives you 12 ports including Gigabit Ethernet, multiple USB ports, HDMI outputs, and Thunderbolt daisy chaining.
- The Brydge Stone Pro gives you the power of a Thunderbolt 3 docking station, with 11 ports and 87W charging, in a compact chassis that's very elegant. Plus, you can also use it to raise your laptop to be even more discreet or a more comfortable typing experience.
- This USB Type-C docking station gives you tons of ports to connect peripherals, displays, Ethernet, 100W charging, and SD cards, and it also serves as a riser for your laptop, so you can get better airflow or get a more comfortable angle for typing. It's not Thunderbolt, so it has more limited bandwidth, but it's much more affordable.
- This Kensington dock gives you similar connection options to the Razer one we just looked at, but comes in a much more professional design and adds a USB Type-A port and includes Kensington lock slots, so you can make sure it doesn't get stolen easily.
- This is another docking station you can use as a riser for your MacBook Pro, and it's a great one. This gives you a ton of USB ports, an SD card reader, Ethernet, and various display outputs. It's not Thunderbolt, but it's still very versatile and pretty affordable.
- This Plugable Thunderbolt 3 dock gives you a solid selection of ports, including fast USB Type-A and Type-C ports, HDMI, DisplayPort, GIgabit Ethernet, and 96W charging, all in a compact chassis. It's also one of the more affordable Thunderbolt docks out there, so it's a great option.
- If you just need a simple and portable hub for some extra peripherals, this WAVLINK adapter should do the trick. It can charge your laptop at up to 100W and includes HDMI, USB Type-A ports, Ethernet, and SD card readers to cover most basic needs you may have, and it's super affordable.
And those are the docks you can use with just about any MacBook Pro that has a USB Type-C port, which should cover most of the modern models (from around 2016 onward). But for some models, specifically those released since 2016 and before the new 2021 MacBook Pro, you can get some specialty docks that are built around the design of the laptop. These can be interesting options, too, so let’s take a look at a few.
- Unlike most USB hubs out there, this Anker hub is designed to fit right on the side of the MacBook Pro. It uses two USB Type-C ports and it fits right in with the design, so it looks like an extension of the laptop itself. It includes a few ports like USB Type-A, Type-C, HDMI, and an SD card reader.
- This small docking station looks sturdy and professional, while also giving you way more ports than you'd expect for its size. It uses two USB Type-C ports (it doesn't support Thunderbolt speeds), and it gives you HDMI, USB Type-A, Type-C, Ehternet, and even VGA.
Some of these may actually work with the new 2021 models, because what makes them unique is that they use two USB Type-C ports next to each other. The new MacBook Pro 2021 models still have two Thunderbolt ports side-by-side, but we can’t assure yet that they’re at the same distance from each other to work with these docks. However, we’d recommend looking at the first set of options if you’re not sure. One other thing that’s worth noting with all of these options is that the M1-based MacBook Pro 12-inch will always only support one display output, no matter which dock you get. This isn’t the case for the M1 Pro (which supports two) and M1 Max (which supports up to four).
Looking for other accessories for your MacBook Pro? Check out our list of the best MacBook Pro cases you can buy. And if you’re looking to upgrade, you can buy the new MacBook Pro below – it’s one the best Macs Apple has made in a while.