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Just like any piece of popular technology, Apple’s MacBook Pro is not without flaws. One of the primary complaints voiced by early adopters was the surprising lack of port functionality, due to Apple’s decision to forgo the familiar USB and Thunderbolt ports for largely unfamiliar USB-C ports.
While these new ports indeed provide more power and speed, they’re also largely incompatible with many of our devices, cables, and adapters—making things exceedingly difficult for those of us who need to connect several external devices simultaneously. Of course you have the option of investing in several expensive and cumbersome adaptors in order to bridge this gap, but that will inevitably take a toll on both your wallet and the weight of your backpack when you’re on the go.
A far more reasonable move is to invest in one of the many docking stations or hubs that have been developed since the release of the newest MacBook Pro. These stations offer the convenience of being able to connect all of your peripheral devices directly to your laptop through a single USB-C connection, and many of them offer the added convenience of allowing you to keep your MacBook in a vertical position, which frees up precious desk space. Don’t let your new computer’s lack of familiar ports hold you back from connecting all of your go-to devices. Here are some of the best docking stations and external hubs money can buy.
We’re always wary of kicking off these lists with items that may be slightly pricer than most, even if their quality is superior. The truth is that there are plenty of great docks and external hubs that can inevitably get the job done for most people at a lower cost, but this dock is so supremely cool and useful that we had to award it our number-one spot.
The moment this gadget was released it shot to the top to Amazon’s Best Seller list with little publicity. Simply through word of mouth, gadget enthusiasts were quickly able to understand that this was the dock they had been waiting for, and with good reason.
Available for every iteration of the latest MacBook Pro series (including the 13-inch version with no touch bar), this stylish and minimalist dock offers seamless integration with all of your go-to external devices, along with a number of other helpful features that allow it to confidently stand out from the crowd.
You’ll be able to connect everything from external hard drives to external displays with a hub that connects to the second USB-C port, and this dock’s precision alignment means that you can quickly and easily dock and undock your computer using one hand without having to worry about scraping the sides on the dock’s interior.
An added benefit of this dock is that it offers specialized cooling technology that utilizes intake and exhaust vents in order to ensure that your MacBook’s cooling system is never compromised—regardless of how many pro-level apps you’re running at once.
As cool as the Henge Docks unit at out number-one spot is, nothing beats a more traditional external hub when it comes to port functionality. Even the most port-heavy MacBook Pros in history have been no match for these portable add-ons, which offer unparalleled connectivity without sacrificing speed.
This USB-C hub is just as cool as it looks, thanks to the fact that it allows you to connect your new MacBook Pro (or any USB-C device) with virtually any external peripheral you could imagine.
Loaded with an Ethernet port, SD card reader, 3 USB ports, a VGA connection, an HDMI input and more, this hub allows you to connect your laptop to two monitors simultaneously while utilizing everything from printers and external drives to USB devices and SD cards.
There’s a headphone and microphone connection for added convenience, and you’ll be able to transfer data at standard USB 3 speeds even if all the ports are being utilized at once. There’s even a helpful nine-level LED light that shows you when each port is being used.
And although this hub is admittedly a bit larger than some of its less-functional competitors, it’s still small and lightweight enough to toss in your bag and take with you on the go with very little hassle.
One could easily think of this external dock as something of a combination between our number-one and runner-up selections—due to its medium-level port connectivity along with the fact that it politely takes up less desk room by standing vertically.
There are plenty of reasons to be excited about this hub, despite the fact that it carries a slightly elevated price tag. It provides 60W of charging power to the host computer regardless of how many devices you have plugged in at once, allows you to connect an external display via an integrated DisplayPort output or an HDMI connection, and delivers a massive 40Gbps of bandwidth that will allow you to run all of your external devices at full speed.
And for those of us who rely on a seemingly endless stream of USB devices to get through the day, this port comes packed with no less than four USB 3 ports—meaning you’ll never have to worry about plugging in yet another external USB hub in order to connect all of your devices simultaneously.
And of course this system doesn’t only work flawlessly with the latest MacBook Pro models. It’s also perfectly compatible with a wide range of USB-C devices, including some of the latest Dell Latitude and Precision models.
We understand that not everyone requires a whopping four USB ports alongside a slew of other connections in order to get through the day. In fact, even some of the most MacBook-reliant professionals only need a couple USB ports and perhaps an HDMI output in order to get their work done.
If this sounds familiar, then this ultra-compact and refreshingly minimalist port may be for you. Offering two USB ports, both a micro SD and SD card reader, and an HDMI port that can be used to connect most external monitors, this hub is ideal for anyone who wants to bring back the port functionality of the earlier MacBook Pros without having to carry around a cumbersome hub with ports you don’t need or want.
The only thing to consider is that these types of ports don’t work very well with most laptop covers, and unless the port is fully connected (meaning there’s no visible gap between it and your laptop) it won’t work properly. Sill, if you keep your laptop primarily at your desk and don’t require an external case, we highly recommend this streamlined and well-priced port.
If you don’t see an app that should be here, let us know what it is