Hands-on: OLED Nintendo Switch R. Kelly convicted Amazon launch event Tuesday Biden gets COVID-19 booster Trailers from Netflix's Tudum Google Doodle celebrates... Google

A USB-C hub or docking station can save you from constantly swapping dongles and relying on Bluetooth. With a single USB-C connection to your laptop or desktop and a USB-C hub, you can hook up a monitorkeyboard, mouse and Ethernet as well as read and write to memory cards or other external drives.

Narrowing down your many options and finding the best USB-C hub comes down to knowing how portable you need it to be and exactly what connections you need. Here are some of our favorite USB-C docking stations that we've tested. We'll continue to update this list as we find new models to recommend. And if you're looking to charge your USB-C devices, here are the best options we've tested. 

Also see: The best USB-C PD chargers of 2021

Is a USB-C port the same as a USB port?

The USB port most are familiar with is USB Type-A. Sometimes called a standard or regular USB port, it is rectangular and requires you to plug in your cable with the right side up so tabs inside the connectors are properly aligned. The newer USB-C port is a small oval that uses a reversible connector so that you don't need to flip it around to get the correct position. However, while the port might appear the same from device to device, not all USB-C ports are the same. For instance, Thunderbolt 3 or 4 devices will only be fully supported by a computer with the corresponding Thunderbolt USB-C port. Unfortunately, you can't just look at the port and know exactly what you have. Check with your computer manufacturer for what your laptop (or desktop) model supports before you buy a USB-C dock or adapter. 

It's worth noting that Aukey, which makes two of our top picks, has been booted from Amazon because it was one of several vendors reported to have solicited positive user reviews for gift cards. But since our experience with the quality and value of Aukey accessories has been positive, we continue to recommend their hardware.

Josh Goldman/CNET

This little USB Type-C hub is perfect for a small home office setup and travel (it even comes with a storage pouch). On one side you have SD and microSD card slots and two USB 3.1 ports, all with transfer speeds up to 5Gbps. On the other side is a USB 2.0 port -- great for a wireless mouse or keyboard receiver -- and 4K HDMI port out supporting a 4K display at 30Hz refresh rate. There's also a 100-watt USB-C Power Delivery charging port letting you charge your laptop through the hub with 87-watt output. Topping things off is a Gigabit Ethernet jack in the front. Its short cable means you won't be able to place this too far from your laptop and it is lightweight, so depending on how many cables you run from it (and how stiff or straight they are), you may have trouble keeping it flat on your desk. Still, it's a great option for home, office and travel and relatively inexpensive for the connection assortment and performance. 

Josh Goldman/CNET

The PowerExpand Elite is part USB-C dock and part charging station. In back are 85- and 15-watt Thunderbolt 3 ports and in front is an 18-watt USB-C power delivery port. A Thunderbolt 3 port supports up to a 5K-resolution display at 60Hz while its HDMI 2.0 port can support a display up to 4K resolution at 60Hz. Or you can run a USB-C-to-HDMI dual splitter and connect two 4K displays at 30Hz so you can run up to three monitors between the HDMI port and Thunderbolt 3 ports. 

You'll also have four USB-A ports, a Gigabit Ethernet jack and MicroSD and SD card slots. A 3.5mm combo jack handles audio output and input. 

To provide enough juice to run everything, though, the PowerExpand Elite has a large 180-watt power adapter. Also, the fanless design means the body is one big heat sink so it can get hot when it's fully loaded. You can stand it vertically to help keep it cooler. The Thunderbolt 3 port supports 5K at 60Hz while the HDMI port supports a resolution of 4K at 60Hz

Josh Goldman/CNET

Most small USB-C hubs have short attached cables. That's fine if your laptop is on a desk and not on a laptop stand and that desk has plenty of space directly next to your laptop's USB-C port. For those who could use some extra cable reach, though, the Lention C37 is ideal.

The C37 is still compact and lightweight but has a 1-meter cable (3.3 feet). It has dual USB-C ports with 60-watt power delivery, two USB-A ports, microSD and SD card slots and a 3.5mm headphone jack. On the end is an HDMI output that supports 4K at 30Hz or lower resolutions at 60Hz. 

Josh Goldman/CNET

A remarkable compact docking station that shows off what's possible with a single Thunderbolt 4 port. Just connect the SD5700T with the included cable to your Windows 10 laptop with Thunderbolt 4 (or a Thunderbolt 3 MacBook running MacOS 11 or later) and you get 11 ports for high-speed data, video and audio. 

For data, it can handle transfer speeds up to 40Gbps -- perfect for working with large files such as photos and video. The dock also has a Gigabit Ethernet jack and a UHS-II SD 4.0 card slot. For monitors, you can connect dual 4K at 60Hz displays, a single display at 5K at 60Hz or one at 8K at 30Hz. There are also four USB-A ports: Three in the back that are USB 3.2 Gen 2 (for speeds up to 10Gbps) and one USB 2.0 in front for fast-charging devices. You'll find a combo headset jack in front, too. 

The single Thunderbolt 4 port on the front supports power delivery up to 90 watts, so I was able to hook up the latest Dell XPS 13 2-in-1 and keep it charged up while I ran an UltraSharp PremierColor monitor at 4K at 60Hz from one of the dock's three downstream Thunderbolt 4 ports on the rear. I also connected a second USB-C-powered display at full-HD resolution at 60Hz to another downstream port. The Ethernet port let me take advantage of my wired Gigabit connection. The USB ports handled a 4K webcam, an external storage drive and the wireless receiver for my mouse and keyboard, which can be used to wake the PC. And again, all of this with just a single cable to the laptop. 

The SD5700T is a forward-looking docking station, though, so you won't find any older DisplayPort or HDMI connections on it. It requires quite a bit of power to handle everything you connect to it, too, so the dock itself has a large 180-watt power supply. Still, the SD5700T is surprisingly compact and light compared to Thunderbolt 3 stations I've tested with similar features, such as the Anker on this list. The SD5700T can even attach to a monitor with an optional mount and there are two lock slots you can use to secure it to your desk. 

You won't need any drivers or other software to get it working. However, Kensington's included DockWorks software is a nice extra that will automatically switch from Wi-Fi to Ethernet when you connect to the dock to give you the fastest connection speeds possible. 

The docking station might be pricey at $320, but it guarantees you'll be taking full advantage of your Thunderbolt 4 connection well into the future. 

Accell's simple, low-profile design won't tip over like vertical docks and it's easier to blindly plug into its connections. If you've got limited desk space, it might actually fit on the base of your monitor. Plus, the slim, lightweight body and its small power adapter slip easily into your bag if you need to travel with it. 

In back you'll find three USB 3.1 Gen 2 type-A ports, two HDMI ports (one 4K, one 1080p), an Ethernet port and jacks for mic input and headphone output. A single USB-C port is on the right side. Accell includes USB-C-to-USB-C and USB-C-to-USB-A cables to connect to your laptop. 

True to its name, you can connect it to your laptop and it will near-instantly start mirroring your display without needing a driver installed first. However, if you want to extend displays, you'll need to download a driver for MacOS or Windows; Accell conveniently stores them onboard; a screen appears when you connect to the dock that gives you the option to install it. 

It also works with Chromebooks. You'll have to move to the Chrome OS beta channel to use it at the moment, but that's as simple as toggling it on in Chrome's settings, updating the OS and rebooting. Also, if you have an Android phone or tablet you can download the free Accell app and then connect to the dock to mirror your device's display to a single 1080p-resolution monitor and use a keyboard and mouse if you want, too. I tested it with my Galaxy S9 and while there was a slight lag, it otherwise worked fine. 

Lori Grunin/CNET

Our top pick for creatives, this CalDigit can handle up to two 4K at 60Hz (4,096x2,160 pixels with 30-bit color) monitors with its full-size DisplayPort and Thunderbolt 3 port. Or you can connect a single 5K at 60Hz display with Thunderbolt 3 port. You also get five USB-A ports, Gigabit Ethernet, headphone and mic jacks, optical audio out and an SD card slot that supports speeds up to 312MB per second. 

Josh Goldman/CNET

A good deal for those looking to mirror or extend to multiple displays, this hub has two HDMI outs as well as a VGA out. With a Windows PC, you'll be able to extend your screen to three external displays or a laptop display and two external displays at up to 1080p at 60Hz or you can connect to one 4K display at 30Hz. For Mac users, you can mirror your laptop's display to up to three additional displays. Or you can display one thing on your MacBook's display and mirror another screen across the three external displays. 

Basically, if you need to mirror three external displays or extend to two, this hub lets you do it in a compact design that doesn't require an external power supply. Note, though, that your computer's USB-C port will need to support DisplayPort Alternate Mode for video output and USB Power Delivery. 

Of course, you get a bunch of other connection options, too: Two USB 2.0, two USB 3.0, Gigabit Ethernet and SD and microSD card slots. And it supports 100-watt Power Delivery so you can keep your laptop charged while you use the hub. 

Sarah Tew/CNET

If you want to expand your laptop's port options as well as dock your Nintendo Switch, the $65 Dock Pro 60 is all you need. The slim, small, lightweight dock has two USB-C ports, one of which supports power input. Connect your laptop (or Switch) to the other USB-C port and use the dock's HDMI port to connect to a TV or external (resolutions up to 4K UHD at 30Hz will work) and you're all ready to start work or playing with friends and family on a bigger screen. There are also two USB-A ports.

Bonus for Samsung Galaxy device users: The Dock Pro 60 supports Samsung DeX so you can use your phone or tablet with an external display and a desktop-style experience.