It can be difficult to find an inexpensive Thunderbolt dock, but this Black Friday offers two that we think are worth buying: the $216 Cable Matters 14-in-1 Thunderbolt Dock and the $159 Plugable 13-in-1 USB-C Docking Station.
Technically, the latter Plugable 13-in-1 USB-C dock uses the DisplayLink protocol, a USB-C dock that uses compression to approximate the performance of a Thunderbolt dock. But we’ve been impressed with the performance of DisplayLink docks across a variety of products, including Plugable’s own products. We haven’t yet reviewed the Plugable 13-in-1 USB-C docking station, but we’re confident that it should live up to the standards that have helped Plugable products reach the top of our list of the best Thunderbolt docks. Unfortunately, many of those are priced well north of $300, and even close to $400.
What we like most about both the Plugable as well as the Cable Matters Hybrid 14-in-1 Dock is that both manufacturers believe in a variety of display ports. HDMI? DisplayPort? No problem. Both docks include options for both display ports, and for both monitors. That’s terrific flexibility, and even better news if you’re buying these docks as a gift — whoever receives it won’t have to buy an additional dongle or worry about which cable goes where.
Both of these docks offers substantial charging options, too. The Cable Matters dock supplies a rated 96W, and the Plugable dock provides 100W. That’s more than enough for most USB-C powered laptops, though some recent gaming laptops may be an exception. Otherwise, you’ll find a vast variety of ports that should accommodate legacy devices. Both docks are 36 percent off. Great prices, great docks: a solid Black Friday deal.