PC/Technology/Audio Thread

Does anyone here understand docking stations? I thought they were quite simple - boxes with a bunch of USB holes on the side. Apparently not!

There’s thunderbolt 3 and 4, port replicators, docking stations, multi display, single display, different bandwidth usb hubs. WTF! And they range from like 50/60 quid to over 300.

I don’t want to spend too much money, but it needs to actually do the job.

I need to hook my laptop (Dell business one of some sort) to my monitor, whilst also having space for mouse, keyboard, headset and webcam. All the accessories are USB-A and i’m currently running the display via HDMI.

What are the mins that i need? What’s the difference between a replicator and a dock? Is there much of a reliable market for refurbed models (think @JibberJim pointed out a good site previously when looking at laptops)?


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I have a recent Mac Mini, can wholeheartedly recommend it.

I use it with a dock and connect several drives to it, it all run seamlessly and runs a big 32 inch monitor with ease.

I have it blue-toothed to a couple of Amazon Alexa speaker to provide a stereo pair, works great.

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I had similar frustrations. I wanted to be able to connect two laptops to the dual monitors and switch between them. So a dual KVM. Couldnt find one that did what I wanted with the right connectors.

I ended up with this. Just means you only have one usb to plug in to the laptop. Then just plug the HDMI. Not perfect but it cost very little.

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What are you plugging into on the laptop? Old Dells had a bespoke docking connector, but most recent ones use USB-C. Assuming USB-C then you have many options to pick up a 3rd party connection with all the ports you need, but you will also need to buy a power adapter, that supplies at least 65W, possibly more, through USB. I suspect the more expensive options you are seeing have the power supply built in.

Doc + Power

or Combined

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So newer Dell with USB-C charging etc. Has 2 x C docks, one of which has the thunderbolt sign (which i had no idea about until today!). Then it has HDMI and 2 x USB A ports, which is where the problem arises as i have to keep unplugging my keyboard to take a call with the headset etc. And now i’ve just bought a webcam (to allow me to just shut the laptop on the side of the desk)it’ll be even worse.

I have my laptop power adaptor - can i plug that into the dock, and then it charge the dock and the laptop? Or would i need 2 x power sources in that instance? Never thought it would be so confusing!!

Depends how permanent you want your docking set-up. The dock doesn’t need power, it is just passing through to the laptop, so you can use your existing power pack. Sounds like all you really want is a hub for more ports, which most options should be OK for.


Bingo - that’s what i was looking for, because i was struggling to make any sense out of the myriad options!

If i can get away with putting the hub in the little basket thing Mrs GB has just installed under the back of the desk so you don’t see so many wires, then i will be the hero of the house for a few mins, which would be a bonus! :rofl:

The dock to laptop connection is very short on all the options I see. Don’t know if adding an extension is a problem given the amount of power and data that is being transferred.

‘should’ be ok, as the laptop is right on the edge of the desk, and we’ve got a clip on basket that sits just under the desk if that makes sense. So it only needs to be a few cms. Even if the hub has to sit on the top and the other wires disappear tidily off the back of the desk, she’ll be happy!

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I use a Dell Displaylink with a USB extension so that it’s sited under the desk in a cable tray. No issues at all.

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Oh I didn’t even think about this. I have an echo dot (a few years old) in the same room and that’d be ideal. Great suggestion. I’ve just tried it with my current old iMac and it works. This is good as new speakers was going to be on my list but I’d not even considered the echo dot. Thank you.

this’ll do…

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Seriously though, (although that probbably would be fine, depending on quality of the actual product.) You should get a second power supply, so you can just leave it connected always, and keep your main supply in your bag for when you go to the office. Assuming your dell is 65w, then something like this https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B091N7FVDL will do your phone and laptop at the same time which makes sense from a cabling perspective.

The docking station, the question really is will you ever go for a second monitor, if so you’ll want two screen outputs and it’s where the thunderbolt might become relevant. If you don’t, then it possibly is just some piece of crap off of aliexpress - 'cos there’s not much too it, and all the non dell stuff will just be those products anyway. So it is just how many and what ports you want.



Realistically won’t need a 2nd screen. I have one wide monitor that’s fine for 90% of what i do. Occasionally i could do with a 2nd screen, but i can always go into the office if that’s the case.

We have spare power adaptors, so the one in the office is there permanently anyway (and i have my spare one in my laptop bag) - so should be covered on that front. Mrs has a Dell too, so we just share the office power adaptor.

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I have an Anker adaptor, single monitor, power and some USBs. Tried the cheaper ones and found them flakey but this was only £25 so not the mega $$$ some are.


Only ever had one Anker thing turn out shit, they are generally pretty good, and actually seem to care about delivering competent stuff.


I bought an Anker hub for the new Mac as it only has USB C / Thunderbolt on it and everything in want to plug into it is old school USB.
Got a 9-1 adapter that includes a card reader and HDMI. Great piece of kit.


Anker customer service has been good. A cable broke, they replaced it.

The fly by night Chinese brands on Amazon etc
have none of that.

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always rated Anker kit

Mesh wifi sets… yay or nay?

Current set up;
Router downstairs
2 power lines - 1 to garage for zwift PC; 1 to kids rooms PC
Garage also has a wifi booster for Wifes PC and phone wifi stuff.

Just moved “office” into spare bedroom furthest point in the house from the router.

Could add another powerline but did consider if a mesh set up was better to give us better all round coverage (kid constantly moaning wifi in his room is pants).

So worth getting; if so how many units; any recommendations.


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