Best docking station for Macbook Pro

I’m starting a new job where I will use a Macbook Pro as my main machine, but will have at least one external monitor, keyboard, mouse and power. I’d rather use a good docking station that does full charging than having to plug in everything when I get back to my desk.

I’m thinking the CalDigit TS3 Plus would fit the bill. Does anyone have any experience with that dock or any other similar ones?

Thanks!

I looked at a bunch of docking stations and tried a few. In the end, I liked this low cost solution the best:

VAVA USB C Hub 8-in-1 Adapter with PD Power Delivery, 4K USB C to HDMI, 3 USB 3.0 Ports, 1Gbps Ethernet Port, SD/TF Cards Reader for MacBook/Pro/Air(2018) and Type C Windows Laptops

Does everything I need. Just one plug and I have my HDMI, Network and power and the capability to plug in a few standard USB-A. At work I don’t have any high speed external devices so I also included a USB-C extension cable so I could hide the dock.

1 Like

The VAVA USB-C hub is excellent, I bought one as a tester and ended up buying 2 more (home office and for mobile use), after I heard @RosemaryOrchard mention it in one of the MPU podcasts.

A welcome surprise was that display mirroring works with the iPad Pro 12.9 (USC-C model).

It will not charge devices connected to the USB-A ports, at least with my devices it didn’t work. It has a tendency to get a little hot but appears that it is in the design specs for it to get hot.

Gives the same bang for the buck compares to devices that are approximately twice as costly.

I’d say get this USB extension cable, it’s helpful if you have your MBP on a Stan’s, as the connection from the USB-C hub to the MBP is quite short.

1 Like

I have two solutions. For my home office, I use my Apple Thunderbolt Display as a docking station and have been very happy with it. That’s essentially the same as @Wolfie’s suggestion. At the office, I use an Elgato and have been quite happy with that, too.

(Note: I’m rocking a 2015 MBP, so mine is the Thunderbolt 2 version.)

The difference in set up at my office is because I am using displays provided to me by the firm.

That monitor was just reviewed by The Verge:

1 Like

It charges mine, may be the amount of power you supply it. In my case 65 watts

I use the Apple standard 61W adapter. It doesn’t work with me unfortunately. It may be specific to my set up.

I use Belkin Thunderbolt 3 docks at home and at work for my 2017 15" MBP. I have two monitors connected to them at each location (one 4K and one not 4K), and they work very well. I can’t comment on how they compare to other docks, but I’m happy with them.

1 Like

I have a Caldigit T3 Plus at work. Love it. If I update my home office to a mac with thunderbolt 3 I’ll get another one.

One thing the Caldigit has that other docks don’t, to my knowledge, is S/PDIF (digital audio out.) I like to stream my music to an external DAC, and while old MacBook Pros had digital out via the headphone jack Apple removed this feature :roll_eyes: – must have been too heavy.

I use a Kensington SD5000T Thunderbolt 3 dock. I picked it because it has a DisplayPort connection that drives my 4K monitor at 60 Hz. I use a USB-C to DisplayPort cable in the second Thunderbolt 3 port to drive my second 4K monitor at 60 Hz. I also connect to external speakers, Ethernet, and some USB devices. It charges my 13" Macbook Pro just fine.

A word of caution about Kensington’s software utility that you can download: I started having weird network issues after I installed it that were solved by uninstalling it. I initially installed it because it can disable Wi-Fi automatically when I plug into the dock, but the other problems were not worth it.

Now I just leave Wi-Fi on and set the service order in Network Preferences to prefer Ethernet.

May be overkill for your needs, but I have & :heart::heart::heart: my OWC Thunderbolt 3 Dock. I have 2, one for my Mac mini and one for my daughter’s MacBook Air. (https://www.owcdigital.com/products/thunderbolt-3-dock-14-port)

I have the CalDigits dock. It works really well.
I’d only offer 2 notes. Neither of them were dealbreakers for me, but thought I should mention them.

  1. It runs sort of warm … after a few hours running, its very warm to the touch. It helps to keep it well ventilated.
  2. I have it running 2x 27" ViewSonic monitors. Both have DVI inputs. I usually connect my 2016 15" MBP in clamshell mode. In order to get the monitors to wake properly, I had to get special “active” cables. I ended up purchasing this USB-C to DVI cable and this Displayport to DVI cable. Once those were installed, everything worked as expected.

I’ve used a Henge vertical doc for the last two years and am very satisfied. It’s been flawless.

Thanks everyone! A tough decision with all this feedback - much appreciated. More research now into the suggestions

Would love to hear how this was resolved and/or more recent thoughts. I’m thinking of replacing my 2010 iMac with a dock & external monitor for my 2016 MBP.

Would also love to hear ideas re: the monitor (under $1500 or so).

It gets mixed reviews, but I love having a LG 5K connected to a MacBookPro with one TB3 cable. I then have both screens open, MBPr on a stand, and a wireless keyboard / mouse. The LG 5K is a good fit (in terms of color, pixel pitch and brightness) for the native MBPr screen.

The 24” LG Ultrafine (4K) is also worth a look, for similar reasons. The monitor itself ends up serving as a kind of docking station for me. For the sake of preserving very limited desk space, I usually use my MBP in clamshell mode when connected to the monitor.

1 Like

Hello all, the saga continues!

When I looked harder at the Dell widescreen monitor I got, I found out it could both power the laptop and provide the USB connections that I needed which gave me a win with just a single cable to plug into the laptop. I do sometimes have to unplug and replug it in since the monitor doesn’t seem to wake up the USB connection all the time.

I’ve been using the laptop screen as my second monitor and am thinking of getting a second monitor to put in portrait mode. That re-introduces the need for a second cable and possibly a hub of some sort that can also charge. Since I won’t need access to the laptop screen, it would look like the Henge vertical dock would be good enough to deliver the experience and functionality I’m looking for.

Thanks for all the ideas - I certainly learned more about docks!

In 2015, my 2008 MacBook Pro was in a Henge vertical dock loading a macOS update overnight when it died. I’ve always wondered if reduced ventilation played a part in its death.

Hmmm, that’s interesting - a number of people in the office do use the Henge vertical so I will check with them too

1 Like