Best USB-C travel docks for Mac or iPad
Small USB-C docks are essential because they expand the capabilities of modern laptops without costing hundreds of dollars. Here are some of the best lower-cost ones.
Large Thunderbolt docks run $300 or more depending on the brand, and the average model costs users well over $200. With costs that high, users who travel or aren't looking for massive products will love that these small USB-C docks are affordable, compact, and capable.
These select few docks prove that not all small docks are underpowered. Instead, they rival many larger docks, offering outstanding performance at an affordable price point.
Here are some of the favorites that we've used in travel or even on our desks.
OWC USB-C Travel Dock E
To kick our best USB-C small dock list off is the OWC USB-C Travel Dock E. This palm-sized dock has an aluminum case and matches the elegant look of the MacBook Pro.
The OWC Travel Dock E has USB-C passthrough capability at up to 100W, meaning you can keep power to your laptop without sacrificing accessory functionality. Along with one USB-C port, the Travel Dock E also has two USB-A ports.
Photo and video editors will love the SD card reader with up to 312MB/s transfer speeds. The single HDMI port carries 4K capability with a 60Hz refresh rate for high-quality video or game graphics.
Rounding out the ports on the Travel Dock E is a standard Gigabit Ethernet port for high-speed internet connections. The package comes in at $65, placing it in the middle of the pack in price.
Genki Covert Dock
The Genki Covert Dock is popular with Nintendo Switch gamers because of the USB-C to HDMI display option, giving many an alternative to the traditional console dock.
The Genki Covert Dock is a stealthy dock and charger sporting only three ports, but it proves that small can pack a big punch for a wide range of devices. It's so compact it's 22% smaller than the original Nintendo Switch charger.
The Covert Dock's three ports are an HDMI display port, a standard USB-A port, and a USB-C port with a 30W gallium nitride Super Charger for quick charging.
Genki's Covert Dock comes in a standard edition or Global Edition, with power adapters to fit plugs in more than 150 countries. The Global Edition costs $75 and is only $5 more than the standard version, so it just makes sense to take the upgrade.
Plugable 7-in-1 USB-C Hub
Plugable's 7-in-1 USB-C Hub proves that USB-C is an adequate bridge to the Thunderbolt platform. Its universal compatibility makes it a must-have for working professionals who hop between laptop operating systems.
As the name implies, Plugable's 7-in-1 USB-C Hub has 7 ports with a passthrough capability of 87W. It stands apart from other small docks because of its three USB-A ports, a number that stands above the competition, and each one supports up to 5 GB/s data transfer speeds.
Another excellent feature of the 7-in-1 Hub is the simultaneous port functionality. Where other small docks can only use one port at a time, Plugable's solution allows you to access multiple ports at a time.
Multiple available ports are handy for the 4K HDMI video out port with support for up to 30Hz refresh rate. Its compact size is another excellent selling point, but at $30, the Plugable 7-in-1 USB-C Hub sells itself.
IOGear Dock Pro 6-in-1 4K Dock Stand
IOGear sells a unique small dock that holds your laptop yet collapses into a compact package for easy transportation.
The IOGear Dock Pro 6-in-1 4K Dock Stand is a sturdy platform with a built-in dock with six ports. It supports two USB-A and two USB-C ports with up to 5GB/s transfer speeds. After powering the dock, the 100W passthrough power drops to 88W for any remaining accessories.
IOGear's Dock Stand is adjustable with five locking gears ranging from 15 to 36 degrees to find the perfect viewing angle. Plus, when you're not using the dock, a cable wrapping system hides the cord.
The dock also supports a 4K HDMI port with a 30Hz refresh rate and a Gigabit Ethernet port for high-speed internet. IOGear's Dock Stand is a bit more expensive at $60, but with the bells and whistles, we think it's worth it.
Kensington G1000P USB-C Mini Dock
Sleek and compact are the perfect words to describe this palm-sized mini dock from Kensington. The G1000P Mini Dock supports universal compatibility, including Chromebook, making it an attractive option for multi-device users.
The G1000P USB-C Mini Dock puts its five ports to good use with two USB-A ports and one USB-C port that supports 85W passthrough power. You can boost the passthrough power to 100W with an optional adapter.
In addition to the Gigabit Ethernet port, the Kensington Mini Dock supports a 4K HDMI display with up to 60Hz refresh rate. Kensington sells the G1000P for $80, making it a bit pricey, but you're really paying for the name.
Targus USB-C Dual HDMI 4K Docking Station
Hardcore video editors and gamers tend to shy away from the small docks because of the lack of HDMI support. Targus breaks that trend with its Dual HDMI 4K Docking Station.
Targus's USB-C Dual HDMI 4K Docking Station has eight ports to power even the most extreme users. The Dual HDMI 4K references the twin display ports that support 60Hz refresh rates instead of the standard single port.
It supports passthrough power of up to 100W, 92W after the dock takes its power, yet more than enough for any accessories. It also sports two USB-A ports, one acting as a 1.5A fast charging outlet.
Targus wasn't content with two display ports to make its dock a powerhouse and added an SD and MicroSD card slot for video editors. All the other features overshadow the USB-C and Gigabit Ethernet ports that round out the capabilities.
Although the Targus Docking Station is the most expensive, selling for $105, the jam-packed features rival more extensive docking solutions.
Kensington SD1600P USB-C Mobile Dock
Kensington's second offering, the SD1600P USB-C Mobile Dock, features a unique video output setup— one 4K HMDI port and one VGA Full HD port.
The SD1600P also offers users two USB-A and one USB-C port. It allows you to disconnect from your computer and act as a low-power USB charging station so you can ditch the extra chargers.
The USB-C allows 60W passthrough charging. While 60W is enough for most demands, it won't be enough for a MacBook Pro 16-inch or equivalent PC. And like other small docks, the SD1600P supports Gigabit Ethernet cables.
Kensington makes the SD1600P compact and easy to transport with an 8-inch hideaway cable system that makes the package easy to manage. The SD1600P is more expensive than the G1000P at $105, but with the VGA port and cable management, it's worth the price bump.