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Best Thunderbolt and USB-C Docking Station for iPad Pro

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Ever since Apple launched its new iPad Pro (5th Gen) with the all-new powerful M1 processor, breathtaking XDR display, and the Thunderbolt port, it has turned into something more than just a simple tablet to almost replacing the need for a laptop.

But still, the iPad Pro has only one port which becomes a huge problem when it comes to using it as your main workspace due to not being able to charge your iPad while using an external hard drive or connecting your iPad with an external display and so on.

Well, now you don’t have to worry anymore about these problems, as you can do all those things with just a simple dock.  

Here is our list of the best Thunderbolt docks and USB-C docking stations for iPad Pro:

Top USB-C docking stations for iPad Pro

1) Kensington Studio Dock 

Pricing – $379

Want your iPad to look more like a Mac or a desktop computer?

Say no more as we give you the most sophisticated charging dock out there that was made just for the Apple iPad pro. The Kensington Studio dock is not just your average dock but offers you a variety of features. You can use it to charge your iPad and your iPhone, AirPods, and even your Apple watch.

It also acts as a stand and has a solid magnetic base to attach your iPad Pro. The hinges are also quite firm and can be rotated from horizontal to vertical view or up and down to adjust your iPad for a more comfortable viewing angle. Here is the list of ports that are available in the Kensington Studio dock:

  • 1 USB Type-C and 3 USB Type-A port
  • 1 Gigabit Ethernet port
  • 1 built-in SD card reader
  • 3.5mm audio headphone jack
  • 1 HDMI 2.0 port capable of outputting 4K video

Note: The Kensington Studio dock does not support the iPad Pro (5th Gen), but it is still the best iPad dock if you want to convert your workspace to the next level.

Key Features:

Clear Images: 4K support over HDMI 2.0 helps you connect to all newer displays at the native resolution for better and sharper-looking images.

Wireless Charging: The Kensington Studio dock also supports Qi Wireless Charging for all your iPhones and AirPods for easier management.

Universal Compatibility: The standard USB-A, USB-C, and SD card ports help make it universally compatible with many devices, from a keyboard to an old iPod; everything works great.

Check Kensington Studio Dock on Amazon

2) Kanex 6-in-1 Multiport USB-C Docking Station  

Pricing – $99

If you own an iPad, you would know for sure the struggles of having a dongle that sticks out of your iPad. But this is where the Kanex 6-in-1 Multiport USB-C Docking station comes to your rescue, as it is a simple dock that you can attach to your iPad and turn into a portable workstation.

One of the cool features is that you can attach this dock even with or without the Apple Smart Folio Keyboard as it seamlessly slides and fits perfectly on the corner of your iPad. Here is the list of ports that are available in the Kanex 6-in-1 Multiport USB-C Docking station:

  • 1 USB 3.1 Type-C port that supports charging up to 60W
  • 1 USB 3.1 Type-A port that allows up to 5Gbps transfer speed
  • 1 built-in SD and micro SD card reader
  • 3.5mm audio headphone jack
  • 1 HDMI 2.0 port capable of outputting 2K at 60Hz video

Note: The Kanex 6-in-1 Multiport USB-C Docking station only supports iPad Pro (3rd Gen) 12.9 and the 11-inch model and is a perfect choice if you are looking for a dock that is power-packed and slides onto your iPad in style.

Key Features:

Superfast Charging: The USB-C port on this dock can deliver power up to 60W, which is powerful enough to charge laptops, making it the perfect fast charger for your iPad.

Portability: The dock is also perfect for travel as it is compact and can easily fit in your backpack. Hence, if you need an on-the-go device, then this would be an ideal choice.

Quick access to SD cards: It is also great for photographers and videographers as they can quickly use their camera’s SD cards to read and edit photos and videos with minimal waiting times.

Check Kanex 6-in-1 Multiport USB-C Docking Station on Amazon

3) Satechi Aluminium Stand 6-in-1 Hub Foldable Stand 

Pricing – $99

The Satechi Aluminum Stand 6-in-1 Hub Foldable Stand is just your budget-friendly Kensington Studio dock as it comes with almost the same features for only a hundred bucks. The exciting part of this dock is that it is foldable, making it much easier to carry around and perfect if you travel a lot. Here is the list of ports that are available in the Satechi Aluminum Stand 6-in-1 Hub Foldable Stand:

  • 1 Type-C PD port that supports charging up to 60W
  • 1 USB 3.1 Type-A port that allows up to 5Gbps transfer speed
  • 1 built-in SD and micro SD card reader
  • 3.5mm audio headphone jack
  • 1 HDMI port capable of outputting 4K at 60Hz video

Note: One stand-out feature is that the Satechi Aluminum Stand 6-in-1 Hub Foldable Stand supports even the latest iPad Pro 2021 model and other previous models. If you are looking for the perfect dock for your work-life, whether at home or on your travels, then the Satechi 6-in-1 Hub Foldable Stand is the dock that you should go for.

Key Features:

4K video support: The Satechi Aluminum Stand supports 4K resolution at 60Hz, making it awesome to watch movies and shows.

Superfast Power delivery: It also supports 60W fast charging through the PD USB-C port, making it the ideal choice for iPad Pro users.

Compatible with legacy devices: It also has USB-C and USB-A ports that helps it connect with all newer and older legacy devices with no issues.

Check Satechi Aluminium Stand 6-in-1 Hub Foldable Stand on Amazon

4) BYEASY USB-C Docking Station  

Pricing – $49

Looking for a way to make your iPad Pro more suitable for your work on a budget while still not wanting to compromise on the quality or features, we introduce you to the BYEASY USB-C dock. After so many innovations, the BYEASY USB-C dock features the perfect design as it is a stand that comes with a removable USB-C docking adapter and is the first 7-in-1 docking station available for your iPad Pro. Here is the list of ports that are available in the BYEASY USB-C Docking station:

  • 1 Type-C PD port that supports charging up to 60W
  • 2 USB 3.0 Type-C port that allows up to 5Gbps transfer speed
  • 1 built-in SD and TF card reader
  • 3.5mm audio headphone jack
  • 1 HDMI port capable of outputting 4K at 30Hz video

Note: The stand comes in separate pieces and is something that you have to put together by yourself. It only supports the iPad Pro (3rd Gen) but still offers quite a lot for the price range.

Key Features:

Silicone Attachment: As the stand attaches to your iPad with a non-slip silicone pad, it allows you to use your iPad with both the portrait and landscape modes making it easy to work on.

60W PD port: It also has a 60W power delivery USB-C port, which allows it to charge your iPad faster than the standard charger.

Thunderbolt support: The BYEASY stand also has built-in Thunderbolt 3 support, making it perfect for large data transfers and excellent compatibility with newer devices.

Check BYEASY USB-C Docking Station on Amazon

Top thunderbolt docks for iPad Pro

1) CalDigit TS3 Plus Thunderbolt Dock 

Pricing – $304.99

Having a dock that can offer you more ports than you can connect is always a dream, right? Well, not anymore, as the CalDigit TS3 Plus Thunderbolt Dock offers you 15 ports for all your needs. Whether you need multiple USB ports or dual 4K displays, the CalDigit TS3 Plus Thunderbolt has got you covered. Here is the list of ports that are available in the CalDigit TS3 Plus Thunderbolt Dock:

  • 2 Thunderbolt 3 ports
  • 5 USB 3.1 Type-A port that allows up to 5Gbps transfer speed
  • 1 Gigabit Ethernet port
  • 1 Digital Optical Audio out
  • 1 built-in SD card reader
  • 3.5mm audio headphone jack out and speaker out
  • 1 HDMI port capable of connecting two 4K displays or one 5K display
  • 1 USB-C 3.1 Gen 2 Type- that offers 10Gbps
  • 1 USB-C 3.1 Gen 2 Type- that offers 5Gbps

Note: The stand-out feature is that it supports Apple’s SuperDrive CD/DVD player, which most docks don’t offer. In addition to that, It also allows users to connect either a single 5K 60Hz monitor or connect dual extended 4k 60Hz monitors. It is indeed the best Thunderbolt dock in the market that is compatible with iPads and Macs and is perfect for users who need to connect to many devices while not worrying about running out of ports.

Key Features:

87W Power Delivery: This Thunderbolt dock can also deliver 87W of continuous power, making it a perfect companion for all your devices ranging from your Macbook to your iPhone.

Gigabit Internet connection: It also has support for Gigabit Ethernet, which helps you connect to the internet with a superfast wired connection for use with managing servers or other technical needs.

Small Form Factor: Finally, the CalDigit dock is compact in design and can seamlessly fit on your work desk without occupying a lot of space, making it perfect for the modern home.

Check CalDigit TS3 Plus Thunderbolt Dock on Amazon

2) OWC Thunderbolt Dock  

Pricing – $279

If you use many Thunderbolt-supported peripherals, then the OWC Thunderbolt 4 Dock is the perfect choice as it offers you up to four dedicated Thunderbolt ports. It supports 90W charging using one of the Thunderbolt ports. It also supports Daisy Chain, which means you can now connect all your external drives and devices using just a single port. Here is the list of ports that are available in the OWC Thunderbolt 4 Dock:

  • 3 Thunderbolt 4 ports
  • 1 Thunderbolt 4 port that offers up to 90W charging.
  • 3 USB 3 Type-A port that allows up to 5Gbps transfer speed
  • 1 Gigabit Ethernet port
  • 1 built-in SD card reader
  • 3.5mm audio headphone jack

Note: It also features a Kensington Security Slot and Nano Security slot for anti-theft cabling and is compatible with Mac and Windows.

Key Features:

Superfast data transfers: The OWC Thunderbolt dock has USB-C Gen 2 Thunderbolt ready ports that can reach data transfer speeds up to 40Gbps, which makes it excellent if you want to move a lot of data from your iPad Pro.

Excellent Compatibility: It also has support for all legacy devices, headphones, and other USB accessories with the help of the USB-A, USB-C, and the 3.5mm headphone port.

Gigabit Ethernet: The Gigabit Ethernet port also helps the dock connect your iPad with a wired connection which can help you connect to home media servers and automatically stream or download data at faster speeds.

Check OWC Thunderbolt Dock on Amaon

3) Belkin Thunderbolt 3 Dock Pro

Pricing – $336.25

The Belkin Thunderbolt 3 Dock Pro is a premium dock that offers multiple ports with fast transfer speeds. It is something to consider if you have a Mac and an iPad, as this device is mainly compatible with iMac devices. Here is the list of ports that are available in the Belkin Thunderbolt 3 Dock Pro:

  • 1 Thunderbolt 3 port
  • 1 Thunderbolt 3 Uplink port that offers up to 85W charging.
  • 5 USB 3.2 Gen 2 Type-A port that allows up to 5Gbps transfer speed
  • 1 USB-C Gen 2 port
  • 1 Gigabit Ethernet port
  • 1 built-in SD card reader
  • 3.5mm audio headphone jack
  • 1 HDMI port capable of supporting dual 4K displays at 60 Hz or one 8K display at 30 Hz

Note: The Belkin Thunderbolt 3 Dock Pro is a perfect choice for using in a shared workspace as it comes with a 2.6 ft. Thunderbolt 3 cable and supports multiple ports.

Key Features:

Premium Sturdy Build: Belkin is known for quality products, and this Thunderbolt dock is no different. It has a premium design and a metal body which makes it perfect for outdoor and indoor usage.

Excellent Compatibility: The dock also has many ports, notably the USB-A, USB-C, SD and 3.5mm headphone jack that can help it connect with all devices and accessories without a compatibility issue./p>

Superfast data transfer and charging: The Thunderbolt port also supports fast data transfers at 40Gbps. The PD port can deliver a total of 85W making it perfect for people with Macbooks and iPads.

Check Belkin Thunderbolt 3 Dock Pro on Amazon

4) Amazon Basics 10-in-1 Thunderbolt 3 Dock

Pricing – $179.99

The Amazon Basic 10-in-1 Thunderbolt 3 Dock is your answer if all you need is a budget-friendly Thunderbolt dock that comes with a lot of ports. It is equipped with Intel Titan Ridge technology which means that now you can connect the dock with either a Thunderbolt or a USB-C cable to your Mac or Windows. Here is the list of ports that are available in the Amazon Basic 10-in-1 Thunderbolt 3 Dock:

  • 1 Thunderbolt 3 port
  • 2 USB 3.2 Gen 2 Type-A port that allows up to 10Gbps transfer speed
  • 1 USB-C 3.2 Gen 2 port
  • 1 Gigabit Ethernet port
  • 1 built-in SD and micro SD card reader
  • 3.5mm audio headphone jack
  • 1 HDMI port capable of supporting high definition dual output

Note: The Amazon Basics 10-in-1 Thunderbolt 3 Dock can charge a Thunderbolt-compatible laptop up to 60 watts while still in use and comes with a 1.5 ft. Thunderbolt 3 cable.

Key Features:

Affordable cost: Thunderbolt docks are expensive, but this Amazon Basic dock comes at an affordable price tag with some minor cutdowns making it the perfect choice for anyone with a tight budget.

Dual Display Output: This Thunderbolt dock also supports dual display outputs meaning that you can use your iPad to connect with two displays simultaneously for extra workspace.

Fast Data transfers: Finally, if you also need fast data transfer speeds, this is also capable of delivering 40Gbps transfer speeds, making it perfect to reliable transfer large amounts of files.

Check Amazon Basics 10-in-1 Thunderbolt 3 Dock on Amazon

Final words

Suppose you have bought the latest generation iPad Pro and you are looking for a dock that can help you take your workspace to the next level. In that case, the Satechi Aluminum 6-in-1 Hub Foldable Stand is an excellent choice as it is the only dock that supports the Apple iPad Pro 2021 model.

However, If you are an Apple user who owns an Apple ecosystem and has a previous generation iPad model, we recommend buying the Kensington Studio dock. It takes full advantage of the Apple ecosystem and converts your iPad to your portable workstation.

FAQ

1) Is the Thunderbolt dock better than the USB-C Dock?

Having a dock that supports Thunderbolt means you can transfer files at 40GBps from your iPad Pro if the device you are connecting also supports Thunderbolt. This is twice as fast as the fastest USB port available in the market right now.

2) Can I use these docks to extend my screen as an external display?

Technically if your dock has an HDMI port, it is possible to extend your screen, but currently, you can only mirror your iPad screen using the HDMI port. We believe that Apple may support external displays in the future, and it is better to buy a dock with an HDMI port as it may come in handy if you use your iPad for video editing.

3) Do I need an Ethernet port in my dock?

If you need a good internet connection for your zoom meetings and Facetime calls, then all you need is an Ethernet port on your dock. Ethernet is the same as a wired internet connection which is much faster than your Wi-Fi and ensures a good internet connection on your device.

4) Can I use the Kensington Studio Dock to charge my Apple watch?

Yes, you can charge your Apple watch using the Kensington Studio Dock with the help of the optional Apple Watch Charger (K34032WW), which is sold separately and will be coming in mid-2021.  

5) Which is better? CalDigit TS3 Plus Thunderbolt Dock or OWC Thunderbolt Dock?

The CalDigit TS3 Plus Thunderbolt Dock has only two Thunderbolt ports, while the OWC Thunderbolt dock has 4. But the OWC Thunderbolt dock does not have a display port out or optimal audio out, which are both present in the CalDigit TS3 Plus Thunderbolt Dock.

Both of these docks are a perfect choice, but If you want a dock that has more Thunderbolt ports, then the OWC Thunderbolt Dock is a clear winner, while the CalDigit TS3 dock has an HDMI port which may come in handy if Apple supports an external display in the future.

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