Docking Station Test

07/2020

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3
products tested
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37.5
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19
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Docking Stations

Our test winner is the DIGITUS 14'' Universal Notebook Docking Station: This docking station combines a slim, functional design with a good selection of ports. Our favourite with a test score of 8.9/10!

We tested 3 docking stations and paid special attention to the choice and number of ports as well as compatibility.

With Docking Stations you can easily turn your PC or laptop into a network with many connection possibilities. Whether you need additional screens or just hard drives, SD cards or USB sticks for more memory: the variety of possibilities is open to you.

We test independently. Askgeorge.com uses affiliate links. For a purchase via a link marked with a or our price comparison, we may receive a small commission.

last modified: 21.09.2020, 9:40
Winner
Best price winner
Our winner: DIGITUS 14'' Universal Notebook Docking Station Lenovo USB-C Mini Dock Review XYSTEC USB-C Dockingstation	 Review

DIGITUS 14'' Universal Notebook Docking Station

Lenovo USB-C Mini Dock

XYSTEC USB-C Dockingstation

Test seal: DIGITUS 14'' Universal Notebook Docking Station, Rating 1.75
Test seal: Lenovo USB-C Mini Dock, Rating 2
Test seal: XYSTEC USB-C Dockingstation	, Rating 2.5
  • Power button
  • Anti-Lost-Lock
  • Laptop rechargeable when connected
  • Automatic driver installation
  • Laptop can be set up for it
  • Small and compact
  • Laptop rechargeable when connected
  • Automatic driver installation
  • Power button
  • Compact
  • Laptop rechargeable when connected
  • Only SST mode for MacOS
  • Only with Windows and MacOS fully compatible
  • Few connections
  • Must be connected to a power source
  • Software necessary
  • Must be connected to a power source
  • Power cable relatively short
  • Limited choice of connections

A compact docking station on which the laptop can be placed so that the connections are always within reach.

A small compact docking station. Ideal for on the road.

Compact and mainly serves to expand your computer with two additional screens.

Connection selection
Overall impression
Commissioning
Compatibility
Connection to PC USB-C USB-C USB-C oder USB-A
Ports 14 7 13
Monitors for simultaneous use 3 1 2
Compatible operating systems Windows, MacOS Windows, MacOS Windows, MacOS
Security connection (Kensington Lock) Yes - -
Scope of delivery Docking station incl. USB-C cable, user manual Docking station, power supply unit, operating instructions Docking station, USB cable type C to C (1m), USB cable type A to C (1m), power supply, driver CD, operating instructions
Height 1.9 cm 1.6 cm 2.8 cm
Width 35.1 cm 18 cm 22.5 cm
Depth 7.5 cm 5.3 cm 8.3 cm
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*All prices include VAT (if applicable, extra charge for delivery. Check the particular online shop to find information about the availability. Changes of indicated prices since the last update remain reserved.

Tested products

1st place: DIGITUS 14'' Universal Notebook Docking Station

Test seal: DIGITUS 14'' Universal Notebook Docking Station, Rating good

All in all, the DIGITUS 14'' Universal Notebook Docking Station makes a good impression. It offers a good number and selection of ports. Because the laptop can be placed on it, the connections are always within reach. It is easy to set up and can be used with many operating systems, but only with Windows and MacOS all connections and functions can be used.

read review
Lenovo USB-C Mini Dock - thumbnail Test seal: Lenovo USB-C Mini Dock, Rating good

2nd place: Lenovo USB-C Mini Dock

Overall, the USB-C Mini Dock by Lenovo makes a good impression. Due to its light weight and size, it can be taken along to business meetings, for example. However, it has few connections and only covers the most necessary needs. It also has to be connected to a power source in order to use it.

read review
XYSTEC USB-C Dockingstation	 - thumbnail Test seal: XYSTEC USB-C Dockingstation	, Rating satisfactory

3rd place: XYSTEC USB-C Dockingstation

Altogether the Xystec USB-C Docking Station makes a good impression. Its offering of connectors is not very diverse, which is because it is mainly intended to connect additional monitors. In addition, it offers 6 USB 3.0 ports. On the negative side, it requires a software and only works with a power connection.

read review

DIGITUS - 14'' Universal Notebook Docking Station

Winner: read review

What do I need to consider when buying a docking station?

In addition to the connectors and the optics, obviously, Docking Stations also differ in terms of maximum resolution, the supporting operating system and the USB charging function. These three criteria are decisive for the purchase of a Docking Station and must, therefore, be taken into account when making your purchase decision.

Maximum resolution

The maximum resolution indicates the maximum image quality that can be sent to the monitor. Very few docking stations are capable of delivering high-quality images to 4K monitors. However, a FullHD resolution is usually always possible. For multimedia use, a maximum resolution of 1,920 x 1,080 pixels is basically completely sufficient.

Please note, however, that the maximum resolution only applies to one monitor. If you want to connect two monitors, the quality usually drops considerably. If you want to achieve a good picture, an additional graphics card should be installed in the docking station. But you should not expect too much from it, because even these cards are usually only designed for normal applications. Mostly only special gaming docking stations are equipped with a high-end graphics card. Alternatively, you can use a USB graphics card.

Supported operating system

Especially if you already own a notebook and want to upgrade a docking station, you have to pay attention to the supported operating system. The stations usually have no problems with the Windows operating system. However, it looks much more difficult with a Macbook, because Apple devices cannot always be combined with the docking stations. Often the necessary drivers are consistently rejected by the operating system. Together with Intel, Apple has developed its own interface technology known as Thunderbolt. In many cases, the Macbook can only connect to certain Thunderbolt monitors from Apple. However, the in-house technology also has advantages, as there is no loss of performance when the docking station is connected.

USB charging function

A USB charging function proves to be extremely practical in many cases. But only in a few cases, the laptop can be charged with it, as the station is not meant for the power supply but as a port replicator. However, some of the USB ports can be connected to those devices that get new juice from a USB charger. So you can connect or charge hard drives, external CD drives and other peripherals in addition to your smartphone.

 

In the run-up to the test, we defined practical requirements and established the following test criteria:

  • Connection selection
  • Commissioning
  • Compatibility
  • Overall impression

To be able to evaluate these criteria, we have defined several tests for the docking stations. First of all, we look at exactly how many and which connections the docking stations have. Next, the use of the docking stations is assessed. This involves checking how well they can be connected, whether connection cables are included, whether additional software needs to be installed and whether a power supply is required.

During the handling of the docking station, attention is then paid mainly to the functions offered by the individual connections of the docking station and to which operating systems the docking station is compatible with.

Menu navigation of the app
The menu navigation of the corresponding apps is also evaluated in the test

In order to exclude errors and to ensure that the test is not affected by everyday use, each test is carried out in several runs.

The test criteria are given percentages depending on their importance. The final mark is finally calculated objectively from the test criteria using an algorithm.

Product selection

Our product selection is based on the observation of the current market. In addition to popular brand products, we also include insider tips in our selection. Criteria such as price and range of functions are an important factor for us. The test field is also determined by analysis and evaluation of customer reviews and external tests (e.g. Stiftung Warentest).

The devices are purchased anonymously or borrowed from the manufacturer. Dealers and manufacturers have no influence on the tests and our evaluation.

As soon as new relevant products are introduced to the market, they are added to our test field. The new products undergo the same tests as already tested devices.

Classic desktop PCs are almost obsolete, as more and more private individuals prefer to work with handy notebooks or laptops rather than with a complex PC system. The same applies to companies, of course. However, the flat notebooks do not always provide the user with good peripheral options. For example, the slimming mania of the laptop industry means that there are fewer and fewer connection options for USB devices and monitors. Not only is a CD drive regularly dispensed with, but many devices also offer fewer and fewer connection options for monitors and USB devices.

A docking station allows you to connect your laptop to a wide range of monitors and devices without leaving an unsightly mess of cables on your desk. In the following lines, we'll explain what a Docking Station can do, how it works, and what you need to consider when buying it.

The notebooks and laptops available in stores are becoming increasingly slimmer. Unfortunately, this is often at the expense of peripheral connectivity and built-in ports, so many devices do not have a VGA or HDMI port and a DVD or CD drive. Often, the small devices are also only equipped with a maximum of two USB ports.

If you like to work on a larger monitor, want to connect an ergonomic USB keyboard or simply want to expand the number of USB ports, you should consider buying a docking station. Especially if you often have to switch between stationary and mobile use, you can save yourself the hassle of constantly having to change cables. Thanks to the Docking Station, only one cable connects the laptop to numerous other devices. If necessary, you can simply unplug your laptop and take it with you, while the Docking Station with all its cables can remain on your desk.

Usually, a docking station is placed on your desk and makes sure that you can connect all your peripherals to your laptop. You can also use the docking station to provide power. If you want to work with your notebook at your desk at home, all you have to do is connect your notebook to the docking station so that all connected peripherals are available to you without restriction. With a docking station, you can cleverly combine the mobility of a notebook with the advantages of a stationary PC.

Docking stations differ primarily in the integrated connection options. Depending on the manufacturer and model, not all connections are always available, so you need to consider in advance which connection types are important for your project. To find this out, you should first look at the functions of the individual connections. Then you can decide which connection options your docking station should have.

USB 2.0

This is a normal USB port that has been standard for many years. HighSpeed USB ports provide a high data transfer rate and are sufficient for most accessory products such as external hard drives, webcams or WLAN sticks. Most laptops only have two USB ports, making it impossible to connect the external hard drive, printer, mouse and keyboard, and monitor all at once. With the Docking Station, however, you only use one USB port on your laptop, giving you the flexibility you need to work with your laptop.

USB 3.0

The successor to USB 2.0 is backward compatible, so you can connect today's 3.0 devices to a 2.0 USB port and vice versa. USB 3.0 achieves a data transfer rate of 5 Gbps, up to 10 times faster than its predecessor. However, most peripherals don't need this high data transfer rate, so a 2.0 port is usually sufficient when you want to connect two devices.

Headphone port

The 3.5 mm jack connector allows you to connect most computer boxes, headphones and similar devices with the necessary AUX connector. If you want to use a higher quality product, such as home cinema systems or hi-fi amplifiers, you should look out for a 6.35 mm jack plug. Alternatively, you can purchase a suitable adapter, which can convert a 3.5 mm connector into a higher quality port.

Microphone port

Visually, there is no difference between the microphone port and the headphone port. However, the impedance and levels of the microphone port are usually much lower. Most laptops and computers use unbalanced 3.5 mm jack connectors for this purpose, which are perfectly adequate for the private use of dictation machines, headsets and other microphones. Professional microphones, on the other hand, require XLR connectors or a 6.33 mm connector.

VGA interface

The VGA connection was used for decades for image transfer from the PC to other devices. However, it has long since been increasingly replaced by better connection options and will, therefore, be discontinued in the future. On laptops, the blue port is usually found next to the USB ports or near the power supply. You can recognize the so-called Sub-D connector by the 15 small pins in the inner part, which is flanked by a screw on the left and right. It is not always possible to guarantee a high-quality image transfer with this connection. Furthermore, VGA connections are only conditionally suitable for the transmission of image signals in high resolution. Therefore, most docking stations currently do without a separate VGA interface.

DVI port

The DVI port is also used to transfer analogue video signals from the computer to the monitor. It looks similar to the VGA port, but also transmits digital image signals in high resolution. The interfaces are divided into DVI-A (analogue ports), DVI-D (digital ports) and DVI-I (combined analogue and digital ports). The latter represent the standard.

HDMI port

The HDMI connector is a digital interface mainly used to transfer high-resolution and copy-protected audio and video files. It is the successor of the SCART connection and thus establishes a connection between playback and playback devices. So you can use an HDMI cable to connect game consoles, the TV receiver, Blu-ray players and laptops with TVs, speakers, beamers and monitors.

SD slot

SD cards are a further storage option alongside external hard drives and USB sticks. An SD card is a digital, particularly small and flat storage medium. It is mainly used in camcorders, digital cameras and MP3 players. The microSD card, which is only the size of a fingernail, is mainly used to expand the memory in tablets and smartphones.

The use of a docking station has the advantage that you can connect your notebook to various devices in no time without having to plug or unplug many cables. But you can also use the station as a so-called port replicator. Accordingly, you can connect USB sticks, the mouse, the printer or other devices directly to the docking station.

The disadvantage is that connecting a docking station is associated with a higher CPU load, which can lead to a loss of speed, making your notebook work slower.

Advantages:

  • The laptop can be used as a desktop PC
  • Numerous USB devices can be connected simultaneously
  • Cable tangle is prevented
  • Multiple monitors can be connected
  • Increases the flexibility of the notebook
  • Can serve as an external USB charger

Cons:

  • Requires a driver installation
  • Higher CPU load

How do we test at askgeorge.com?

Live and authentic: We get the devices into our Hamburg test laboratory. Here we take a close look at everything.

Each test is preceded by an extensive search:

  • Which suppliers are on the market?
  • What current products are there?
  • What are the comparison criteria?
  • What tests are we going to run?
  • What is the test procedure?

When everything's settled, we'll bring the devices to us. For each product the test procedure, the measured values and product properties are documented in detail. We create photos and videos. We evaluate the results for you, summarize everything in a test report and calculate the test grade.

Have fun!

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Questions

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2020-07-06
What is the best docking station?
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AskGeorge.com

Our test winner is the DIGITUS 14'' Universal Notebook Docking Station: This docking station combines a slim, functional design with a good selection of ports. Our favourite with a test score of 8.9/10!

We tested 3 docking stations and paid special attention to the choice and number of ports as well as compatibility.

With Docking Stations you can easily turn your PC or laptop into a network with many connection possibilities. Whether you need additional screens or just hard drives, SD cards or USB sticks for more memory: the variety of possibilities is open to you.

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