Order now and save BIG on the new Samsung foldables!
Best Thunderbolt accessories for your laptop in 2022: Docks, eGPUs, and more

Best Thunderbolt accessories for your laptop in 2022: Docks, eGPUs, and more

In recent years Thunderbolt has become an essential part of many laptops and PCs. Developed by Intel, the Thunderbolt protocol uses USB Type-C ports to deliver very high bandwidths — up to 40Gbps, as of Thunderbolt 4 — which can be used to connect all kinds of peripherals. Many of the best laptops you can buy today come with Thunderbolt ports, and the accessories you can use with them range from docking stations to external GPUs, which can greatly expand the capabilities of your laptop.

Being proprietary Intel technology does mean Thunderbolt isn’t available on almost any AMD laptop. It’s also somewhat expensive to license, so you won’t find it in many cheap laptops, even if they have Intel processors. If you want to make sure your laptop supports Thunderbolt, look for the Thunderbolt logo next to your USB Type-C ports. You’ll also find Thunderbolt support in the latest MacBook Pro 14-inch and 16-inch, even though they don’t have the Thunderbolt logo next to their ports.

XDA VIDEO OF THE DAY

But if you have a Thunderbolt port, how do you make the most of it? We’re here to help, and we’ve rounded up a ton of the best Thunderbolt accessories you can buy that make use of this high bandwidth. As we’ve mentioned, there are docking stations and external GPUs, but some monitors and storage devices also use Thunderbolt. And of course, you might need Thunderbolt cables, so we have some of those as well.

Navigate this article:

Best Thunderbolt docks

Starting with some of the best and most popular Thunderbolt accessories, we have docking stations. Thunderbolt docks can be used to add more ports to your laptop, whether that’s USB Type-A, display outputs, Ethernet, or even more Thunderbolt ports if you want to daisy-chain. There are lots of ports out there with different designs, ports, and prices, so here are a few great ones you can get:

    Extra Thunderbolt

    If you want to add more Thunderbolt ports to your laptop, the Anker PowerExpand 5-in-1 adds three of them, plus a USB Type-A port for peripherals. It supports 85W charging for your laptop.

    RGB flair

    In addition to adding more Thunderbolt ports, USB Type-A, Ethernet, and an SD card reader, this Razer dock lights up with Chroma RGB to give your setup some flair. It can also charge your laptop.

    Rugged look

    This Kensington dock has a tough-looking metal shell and gives you plenty of ports including more Thunderbolt, USB Type-A, an SD card reader, Ethernet, and a headphone jack, plus 90W charging for your laptop.

    All metal

    The CalDigit TS3 is a vertical Thunderbolt dock with an aluminum chassis and plenty of USB Type-A ports, DisplayPort, Ethernet, and even S/PDIF audio. It charges at up to 87W.

    Sleek and versatile

    This sleek-looking Elgato dock offers USB and audio connections on the front, plus extra Thunderbolt, USB, DisplayPort, and Ethernet on the back. It also has 85W charging for your laptop.

    Vertical docking station

    If you prefer a dock that's meant to be vertical, this Plugable model gives you a solid selection of ports, including plenty of USB, Ethermet, and DisplayPort. Plus, it can charge your laptop at up to 60W.

    For HDMI users

    If you want a dock that has an HDMI output built in, the Dell WD19TB is a solid option, It still includes DispllayPort, too, plus USB ports and Ethernet. It charges at 90W for non-Dell laptops or up to 130W for Dell devices.

    Compact expansion

    If you want something small capable, the Element Hub gives you four USB ports plus extra Thunderbolt ports for daisy-chaining, all in a tiny package. It also deliver s60W of power.

    Cheap Thunderbolt dock

    This Amazon Basics Thunderbolt dock is affordable and it still features ports including USB Type-A, Thunderbolt daisy-chaining, DisplayPort, Ethernet, (micro)SD card readers and a headphone jack. It charges at 60W, too, so it covers all the basics.

External GPU enclosures

One of the best (and coolest) Thunderbolt accessories is an external GPU you can connect to your laptop using a single cable. Many of us want a lightweight laptop that’s easy to carry, but also want the power of a gaming PC at home, and external GPUs can let you do exactly that. While eGPUs were a thing before Thunderbolt, it’s a lot easier to use them now, and there are plenty of choices for GPU enclosures depending on your taste and needs.

One thing to note here is that Apple Silicon Macs do not support external GPUs, so you won’t be able to use these with those laptops. And on Intel-based MacBooks, only some AMD Radeon GPUs are supported.

    Powerful and subdued

    This Sonnet GPU enclosure comes with a stylish design that looks modern, but it has a powerful 750W PSU, capable of providing up to 475W to your GPU during peak loads (375W continuous), plus 100W to your laptop. It won't fit a GeForce RTX 3090, though.

    Laptop stand and storage bay

    If you have a keyboard and mouse at your desk, you might want to store your laptop. This GPU enclosure includes a laptop stand and even a bay for a SATA drive if you need more storage. It can fit most GPUs and it has a 550W PSU, with 60W power delivery to your laptop.

    Power and extra ports

    The Mantiz Saturn Pro II is a high-power eGPU with a 750W CPU, 550W of which powers the GPU and with up to 100W of power for your laptop. It fits just about any GPU, plus it has USB ports, Ethernet, and an SD card reader, plus a storage bay for a SATA drive.

    Carry it with you

    The AKiTiO Node Titan features a 650W PSU that can deliver up to 500W to your GPU, plus up to 85W to your laptop for charging, and it can fit most modern GPUs. It has a tool-less design and even includes a handle to make it easier to take wherever you want.

    Light up your setup

    For fans of RGB lighting, the Razer Core X Chroma can add a sprinkle of life to your desk setup. It also has a 700W PSU with 500W of power for the GPU and 100W charging for your laptop, and support for up to 3-slot GPUs like the RTx 3090.

    GPU included

    Unlike most GPU enclosures, the Aorus Gaming Box comes with a GPU preinstalled, in this case an RTX 3080. Plus, it has lots of venting and plenty of ports at the back. However, like most GPUs, it's hard to find in stock.

Best Thunderbolt accessories: Monitors

If you want a direct connection to your monitor without any adapters, there are a few display options out there that support Thunderbolt connections. These are usually fairly high-end monitors, since cheaper alternatives usually come with HDMI, DisplayPort, or a standard USB Type-C connection. In addition to being high-end display, some of the best Thunderbolt monitors let you connect other accessories, serving as a sort of docking station, too. Here are some great options:

    4K monitor with Ethernet

    This Samsung monitor gives you a large 32-inch panel with 4K resolution and HDR10 support, but it also leverages Thunderbolt to give you a couple of USB ports and even Ethernet connectivity. Plus, it charges your laptop at 90W.

    Color accurate

    Designed for color-sensitive work, this ASUS ProArt monitor comes in Quad HD resolution and covers 100% of Adobe RGB and Rec. 709, making it great for creative professionals. The color accuracy is rated with a Delta E < 2.

    Professional 4K monitor

    If you want an ultra-sharp professional monitor, the BenQ PD3220U comes with a 4K display that covers 100% of sRGB and Rec. 709, plus color accuracy of Delta E < 3 validated by Pantone. It can connect to two computers and switch between them easily, too.

    Ultrawide QLED

    Ultrawide monitors are great for productivity, and this one is a solid starting point. It's sharp, it has a 100Hz refresh rate, and it adds extra ports, including Thunderbolt daisy-chaining. Plus, it's relatively affordable.

    Ultra-sharp 5K2K monitor

    The LG 34BK95U-W comes in a super-sharp 5K2K (5120 x 2160) resolution and it overs 98% of DCI-P3, allowing for realistic color reproduction. It also supports HDR and it can charge your laptop at up to 85W.

    Ultrawide gaming (and more)

    If you want a gaming monitor that uses Thunderbolt, this is one of your best options. It's an ultrawide display with QHD+ resolution, 144Hz refresh rate, and NVIDIA G-Sync support. It also supports HDR 600 and covers 98% of DCI-P3.

Best Thunderbolt accessories: Storage

They’re not very common, but if you want super-fast external storage for your laptop, Thunderbolt SSDs are one of the best accessories you can get. There are a few options out there from different companies, and while they can be a bit pricy, you definitely get your money’s worth if you care about speed. Here are some great options:

    Ultraportable storage

    This compact SSD from Sabrent comes in capacities from 500GB to 8TB, and it's a very compact portable SSD with read speeds up to 2700MB/s. There's a 16TB model, but it's bigger.

    Stylish design

    The Samsung X5 is another ultra-fast portable SSD, but with a red and black design that almost seems inspired by sports cars. If that's your style, this is a great choice.

    Built-in cable

    If you don't want to worry about carrying cables, this Plugable SSD has it built-in. It comes in sizes up to 2TB and has max speeds up to 2,400MB/s.

    Durable storage

    The rugged design of this LaCie SSD gives it dust, water, drop, and shock resistance so you can take it anywhere. But it still has speeds up to 2,400MB/s in a compact form factor.

    Tough shell

    This professional SD is made to withstand drops up to 3 meters and crushing force up to 1000lbs, so you don't have to worry about durability. It has read speeds up to 2,800MB/s, too.

    Massive storage

    Is one SSD not enough? This rugged enclosure comes with up to 32TB of SSD storage with hardware RAID, and it even supports daisy-chaining for more accessories (or storage).

Thunderbolt cables

In the midst of all these accessories, it’s best not to forget they require specific Thunderbolt cables. While most will usually include those cables in the box, you might lose them or they might get damaged. If you need a replacement, here are a few options for you:

    Fully featured

    This Anker cable gives you the full functionality of Thunderbolt 4, including 40Gbps bandwith and 100W of power. it's 2.2ft long, which is enough for most uses.

    Braided (and long)

    For extra durability, this Maxonar cable is completely wrapped in nylon. It supports all the Thunderbolt 4 features, and it comes in lengths up to 6.6ft.

    For white setups

    If your desk setup is mostly white, Apple's Thunderbolt 3 cable is a good way to complement it. It supports the same features as a Thunderbolt 4 cable.

When it comes to buying any accessory, it’s always up to your personal needs, so you may or may not find value in all of these categories. Either way, Thunderbolt accessories have capabilities that far exceed the best USB devices, whether it’s giving you ultra-fast external SSDs, allowing you to play high-end games on a lightweight laptop, or powering your whole desk setup with just one port. For all of those needs, the accessories on this list will serve you very well and you have options to choose from.

If you’re still looking for a laptop that can make full use of these accessories, we do have a list of the best Thundeerbolt 4 laptops you can buy today. Those will all support the accessories on this list.

About author

João Carrasqueira
João Carrasqueira

Editor at XDA Computing. I've been covering the world of technology since 2018, but I've loved the field for a lot longer. And I have a weird affinity for Nintendo videogames, which I'm always happy to talk about.

We are reader supported. External links may earn us a commission.