To answer, what is a laptop docking station? I will first explain how a docking station works, and then explain why you would need a docking station. Finally, I will recommend the best docking station for gaming laptops.
Focusing on the difference between a docking station and a USB hub is. Because this day and age, we have so many choices to make, deciding what will suit and what will help us sometimes is not easy.
So, understanding what you are buying and what is best for you is so important. If you are anything like me, who uses a laptop for work and the same laptop for gaming. You will understand when I say, give me anything that will help to make things easier.
Anything apart from cheating, or hacking, I think is what they call it, either way, it is still cheating.
So if you genuinely want to get better, be more organized and become competitive, then you need the best gaming laptop accessories.
Becoming a better gamer will not happen over-night, it takes time, dedication, hard work, but if you can make the journey a little easier, why not consider what a docking station can do for you?
Now having said all that, shall we continue?
What does a docking station do?
A docking station provides an easier way for you to attach your peripherals to your laptop. Like a gaming mouse, a wired headset, an external keyboard, and a monitor, all at the same time.
This helps to free up desk space and save you precious time when you move from one place to another. Most laptops will only have one USB port or maybe two if you are lucky. And you may have many external devices and peripherals you need to use for gaming or to work on your laptop.
Using one device, without another, is just no good and you can make your life a whole lot easier, by expanding your laptops existing ports.
Instead of having to plug in and then unplug each device one by one, and untangle the wires, every time you need to change your device.
A nightmare scenario and especially for gaming where you need to use several devices together to enjoy the ultimate gaming experience.
A docking station would resolve these issues, not only that, but it will help keep your desk area nice and tidy and clutter-free. And when you need to go out, you can leave your devices plugged in ready for you to jump in when you return.
Furthermore, a USB-C docking station is small enough to fit nicely into your backpack if you decide to take it with you. These are only a few reasons of many, why a docking station will make an essential laptop accessory.
Docking Station and USB Hub Ports and what they are used for.
- SD Card Reader: Allows files, photos, and documents to be read on a memory card. Useful if you need to transfer large files and games from one device to another.
- Ethernet – RJ-45: A port for ethernet communications. And will give you a stable connection to the internet.
- USB 2.0: An older type and classed high-speed at the time, with transfer speeds of 60Mb/s. Although newer devices use USB 3.0, you can still use a USB 2.0 device with a USB 3.0 connection.
- USB 3.0: Allow transfer speeds up to 5Gbps, at the time of release in 2013 was referred to as a super speed connection.
- USB C: Is the latest standard for charging and transferring files across your devices. A docking station with USB C is a must.
- VGA: Is used to connect a standard monitor or a projector to your device. Not ideal for gaming, not if you enjoy big bright colours on screen.
- HDMI: A standard for connecting high definition monitors. And will support 4K monitors.
- Display Port: Will connect to almost any monitor and support multiple displays.
- Thunderbolt 3: Developed by Intel, and supports high-speed data and video. And will support many devices and peripherals, and is the fastest port available.
What is the difference between a USB-C docking station and a USB hub?
I once thought a docking station and a USB hub were both one of the same things, there not the same but remarkably similar.
A docking station can help to increase the number of peripherals or external devices you can use simultaneously with your laptop.
Whatever connection they require.
The hub, on the other hand, will do a similar job for you but will only work with a USB device.
You must know when you plug a USB hub into your laptop the bandwidth from the laptop USB port gets shared between the ports on the USB hub.
Therefore, you cannot expect to plug a 1Tb hard drive, the latest optical gaming keyboard, and a gaming mouse with RGB lighting effects into a standard USB hub.
And expect these devices to be all singing and dancing.
You would struggle to get enough power to run power-hungry devices like a massive hard drive or an optical gaming mouse alongside the latest external keyboards.
However, if you only use less powerful devices like a traditional keyboard, a mouse, flash drive, or a gaming controller.
A standard non powered USB hub will do fine.
So, if more USB ports are what you need, then a USB hub would be great for your gaming laptop.
I would recommend the UGREEN USB-C Hub, (Below) a superb hub if all you want to do is connect your peripherals.
When I am working on my laptop and using a standard mouse and keyboard, I will use a non-powered USB hub, and my hardware runs fine.
But don’t expect to charge a device with a USB 3.0 hub or reach the stated data port power output.
USB hubs are designed to sync data and not run high power-consumption devices.
Top quality non powered USB hubs
Can a self-powered USB hub run your powerful USB devices?
A self-powered USB hub is a different kettle of fish.
Unlike a standard USB hub which is powered by your laptop.
A self-powered hubs take power from an external power supply.
Therefore, a self-powered USB hub will provide full power into each USB port you use.
A self-powered USB hub will support and charge higher-powered devices and peripherals. Like an iPad, a small electrical fan, digital cameras, and many other laptop peripherals.
Self-powered hubs plug directly into your mains, to give you all the power you would need to satisfy your power-hungry devices.
So, if more ports are what you need and use higher-powered USB devices and peripherals.
A self-powered USB hub would be the hub for you.
Ideally, you want to look for a dynamic self-powered hub. They can switch from self-powered to bus-powered as and when required.
A great option because you may not always have access to a power outlet.
The added benefit from using a powered USB hub with your laptop is huge. A device for less than £30 with so many uses is worth considering in my book.
RSHTECH is a top brand who produce USB hub with external power supply, check out the best picks below.
Best 4, 7 and 10 port USB hubs with external power supply
What is USB and why USB-C is best?
USB is an industry-standard and was started in the ’90s by a handful of well-known tech companies.
Designed to help standardize the connection to your peripherals, power supply and devices.
USB replaced older serial ports and parallel ports, and most external devices and peripherals will now use the USB standard.
The latest standard is USB 4 but is not yet widely available.
But when it does you could be getting ultra-fast transfer speeds of up to 40 Gbps (Gigabytes Per Second).
Twice as fast as the current USB 3.2 standard of 20 Gbps.
So why is USB-C best?
The latest USB-C standard is far more flexible than any previous type giving your connections the licence to carry your data at incredibly high speeds.
Speeds of up to 40Gbps.
USB-C standard will transfer files, photos, and documents in the blink of an eye, transferring more types of data than ever before.
And that is why choosing a docking station with USB-C connection is best.
Why a USB-C docking station, is necessary for your laptop?
Now we know what the difference is between a docking station and a USB hub.
Let us touch on why a docking station is necessary for your laptop.
And why you need a USB-C dock for your gaming.
USB-C is the latest standard in USB ports and connections and is far more flexible than older USB standards.
Ideal for parring many different devices.
A USB-C dock will allow your laptop to connect to a power supply, a printer, external hard drives, scanners, and they can also carry network traffic.
You can connect and charge headphones and connect monitors.
And to enjoy the best gaming performance, it requires you to use a gaming headset, an optical gaming mouse and an external keyboard.
All these devices require a port of some kind.
And if you prefer to play your games using a bigger monitor, you will need a port for that also.
I understand a monitor does not require a USB port, but you will need another port all the same.
You may also use an external hard drive or a flash drive to store games and files.
Again, another port is required.
So, instead of having to unplug each device, you can use a USB type C docking station to conveniently attach all your devices to your laptop.
Trust me a docking station will make your life a whole lot easier.
And if you use your laptop for work a good quality docking station will make your workflow seem a lot more professional and smoother.
I know it helped me because I find I can concentrate when my desk is all neat and tidy.
And just like the image above, you can see how everything can be compact and you know exactly where you are.
Best USB 3.0 Universal Docking Station[wptb id=805]
What USB-C docking station is best for my laptop?
If you start by looking at the devices that you use most often.
And purchase a USB-C docking station that will turn your many ports into one port.
So, for gaming, you would need your dock to have at least 4 USB ports.
One for your mouse, your keyboard and maybe your headset
And then a spare slot for a flash drive, or hard disk drive or which ever storage device you use.
You may find your laptop screen a little too small for some game titles so the use of a gaming monitor may work for you.
So, make sure your docking station offers an HDMI port, or display port.
And what would we do without the net?
You will need an ethernet port for a wired connection to give you a faster, and more stable internet.
And finally, would you need a docking station that can also power your laptop?
Although a docking station capable of charging a laptop will be more expensive, a dock capable of charging a laptop and any other device you connect is worth a look in my book.
Now, can you see how adding the best self-powered docking station to your laptop accessories would add so much value?
And help improve your gaming and your workflow.
I like to think I have given you an insight into, what is a docking station, and why a USB C dock is best.
Remember, your choice between a USB hub, or a docking station would be a choice based on what you need.
Do not go and buy yourself an all singing and all dancing LED indicating universal docking station if extra USB ports are all you need.
Because, either a USB hub or a self-powered hub would do just fine.
However, if you have plans in the future, to grab your self a shiny new monitor because you are getting sick of peering at your tiny laptop screen.
A docking station would be worth the investment.
It is most definitely worth investing in a dock like the Wavlink universal docking station, above.
Finally, the most important thing to remember is to ensure you dock has, the USB C standard and three or four USB ports, an ethernet port and HDMI, and or display port.
And, offers you the ultra-fast data transfer speeds.
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Happy Gaming! Oh, and Work.