Mac vs. PC docking stations

Mac Docking Stations

If you have clicked on this article, you are most probably familiar with the uses of docking stations in general and are looking to find out how they are different for Mac and PC users*. You are also probably looking for the best dock for your MacBook Pro, or maybe the best docking station for your windows laptop.

In this article, we will tackle the differences between Mac and PC docking stations and also discuss the “universality” of docking stations. Then, we will go over who might benefit the most from docking stations by introducing some relevant scenarios under which these devices would be beneficial, arguably even essential. We understand that Macs are also technically Personal Computers as well; but over the years, the term PC has been almost exclusively used to refer to Windows computers, and that is also what we are referring to when we use the term PC.

best docking station for your windows laptop

The difference between Mac and PC docking stations

Short answer: Not much! The difference typically boils down to the different standards of ports utilized in different docking stations and how popular they are with the platform they are mainly designed for.

Long answer: Docking stations are really just a selection of ports to expand the functionality of your laptop; nothing less and nothing more. No port is exclusive at this point to either platform, hence, docking stations are rarely exclusive to any platform, unless they are designed for a specific model or lineup of laptops based on their physical shape (like the j5create JCD389 that is exclusively designed for MacBook’s).

On rare occasions docking stations might also use a proprietary connector that can only connect to a certain model of laptop (like the older Surface docking stations), but they are rather obsolete nowadays thanks to the universality of USB-C. So, whether you are looking for the best Windows docking station or the best dock for your MacBook Pro, chances are you may be looking at the same product.

Note to MacBook users

If you are looking for the best Mac docking station, you need to be a bit wearier, especially when your main goal is expanding your monitor setup beyond a single external monitor. Apple Silicon Macs running the M1 and M2 chips are rather limited when it comes to display extensions; they only support one external monitor. That can be very limiting for users who are used to working with three displays or more. So, looking for a dual monitor docking station for your laptop will become a slightly more complicated challenge.

But one company, Targus, has found a workaround to this issue. Targus docks, such as the DOCK710, use display virtualization techniques to work around this issue. These docks use DisplayLink––a display virtualization protocol––to enable dual display outs on any laptop/desktop connected to it, even Apple Silicone devices that have inherent constraints. The only extra step the user needs to take is installing the DisplayLink driver on their laptop.

The next time you look for a dual monitor docking station for your Apple laptop, you need to consider Targus docks as a safe option that will prevent you from running into compatibility issues.

I think you should address brand-specific docks as well. For instance, HP and Dell make docks specifically for their laptops. I am not sure if they are compatible with other devices and to what extent (esp. Mac), but it would be worth it for you to look into as it could be a point for Targus docks

Mac Docking Stations


What are “universal” docking stations?

There are only a handful of docking stations that are designed for specific devices or lineups. The rest of docking stations are “universal” in nature. This means that they can be used with any computer, regardless of whether they are running macOS or Windows.

Universal docking stations can offer a wide variety of ports that can be used on any device, making them really versatile options for anyone who wants to turn their laptop into a much more powerful workstation. If you are looking for the best docking station for your Windows laptop, you may find that the device you have your eyes set on might as well be the best dock for a Macbook Pro as well.

How accurate is this? Being universal is a really big “selling point” for Targus, so I want to make sure that if we are stating this, then we can actually support the contention that being universal isn’t special at this point.


Who are docking stations for?

Different docking stations have their uses for all sorts of different types of users. We will now examine some demographics that could benefit the most from a docking station.

College students

For many college students, laptops are a must. Because they are constantly taking their laptop on the go, portability becomes very important, so a lot of students who don’t require workhorse laptops decide to go with ultra-portables. While ultra-portables are lightweight and are great at being portable and getting things done on the go, as soon as you want to connect a couple of hard drives or extra peripherals to them, their flaw becomes apparent. By getting a docking station, you can drastically expand the functionality of your ultra-portable at any time.

Of course, it is fitting for an ultra-portable laptop to be accompanied by a portable docking station as well. So, we recommend going with portable docking stations that don’t require their own power supply.

Remote workers

Depending on the type of work you do remotely, you may need a different number of peripherals to be connected to your laptop at any given time. For example, if you are a photographer, you are probably working with several hard drives, flash drives, and SD cards; if you are an artist, a pen tablet or a couple of other interface devices; if you are a music producer, several different MIDI inputs. And of course, for all these professions, you may benefit a lot from having one or two additional displays. A docking station allows you to connect all of these devices to your laptop by connecting a single USB-C cable.

Day traders

The image that we have of a day trader’s setup is typically a triple or a quad monitor with red and green candle-bars on the screen. Multi-tasking is the name of the game for day traders and that can be much more easily achieved by adding a few extra monitors. What better way to add these extra monitors than by using a docking station?


Gamers can very quickly run out of ports. From wired mice and mechanical keyboards to USB microphones and headsets or the addition of a Stream Deck, gamers are as powerful as power-users become. Naturally, they could benefit a lot from having a few heavy-duty ports added to their setup. Of course, the addition of extra display outs doesn’t hurt if you want to add more than one display to your laptops because gaming laptops typically don’t come with any more than a single display out.

Our universal docking station recommendations

Lindy DST-Mini XT: a portable powerhouse

Lindy DST-Mini XT: a portable powerhouse

Docking stations such as the Lindy DST-Mini XT can be seen as a good baseline for what you can expect out of a very portable docking station that has all the ports you will need, and then some. This is regardless of whether you are looking for the best Mac docking station or the best Windows docking station. Although far from the biggest docking station on the market, it offers a DisplayPort and an HDMI for video out, two USB-A ports as well as one USB-C port capable of charging your laptop supporting PD standard of up to 100W, a Gigabit Ethernet port, SD card slot, and an audio combo jack.

There is not much else to ask of a docking station. And this Lindy dock manages to do all of that without needing its own separate power source, making it very portable. The DST-Mini XT is a truly universal docking station that can be a great option as a Windows laptop docking station just as much as it is for Macs.

Logi Dock: a universal docking station with a very specific purpose

Logi Dock

There are other types of docking stations that may be focused on particular use-case scenarios, such as the Logi Dock by Logitech. This universal docking station is made with the focus being put on video conferencing and remote work. On top of all the display ports and USB ports, the Logi Dock also acts as a not-so-portable speaker and microphone to enhance your video conferencing experience. It pairs via Bluetooth to your laptop (or even your phone or tablet) and gives you much better audio quality, volume and gives the people on the other end of the call much better clarity hearing your voice.

The Logi Dock even comes with an array of relevant buttons to control the sound going in and coming out of as well as a button to instantly toggle the video on or off. Of course, the dual 55mm neodymium audio drivers with passive bass radiators can surely be used to add some oomph to your music during your workday.

With its sleek, stylish design, the Logi Dock can be seen as a unique option that feels at home with the Apple aesthetic. Aesthetically and functionally, it is one of the best Docks for MacBook Pros and Airs, as well as being just as great of an option as a Windows laptop docking station. While there may be better options for everyday use without this focus on sound, the Logi Dock is an exceptional choice for remote/hybrid workers who deal with a lot of conference calls on their laptop.

Something here about this dock being great for hybrid or remote workers would be great

Targus DOCK710: all you will ever needed


While it is not written anywhere on the product page, we believe this is a docking station made for Windows workstations through and through. The aesthetic is industrial, and the ports are heavy duty. It even comes with a Kensington lock to further solidify its status as an industrial, business-focused option.  DOCK710 even has VESA mounting options to allow for space-saving mounting options. The ports are of the highest quality and allow you to add up to two more displays to your setup.

The Targus DOCK710 is as complete as docking stations can ever hope to become. But it comes with a premium price-tag and a power adapter, making it a stationary option. It is the best docking station for Windows laptops if portability is not a priority on your list.

A MacBook exclusive by j5create


The j5create JCD389, as already mentioned above, is a mini docking station designed exclusively for MacBooks. It’s not that the ports are using a specific standard, but rather the physical shape is designed in such a way that it fits MacBooks like a glove. When connected, the JCD389 sits flush with the body and blends in with the design as it uses the same silver used in the coating of MacBooks. There is also no dangling cable to speak of.

The ace up the sleeve of the JCD389 is its unique magnetic extensions. There are a variety of ports that you can connect to the base to give you the exact port that you need at any given moment and leave the ones you don’t need behind. As a bonus, the ensemble comes in a very stylish hard shell to make carrying this portable mini dock that much easier.

Hands down, the JCD389 is the best Dock for MacBook Pro/Air that we have had our hands on. It is not the most “universal” docking station, but it does what it does in the most stylishly functional ways possible.

An aside with Mac users

The fact of the matter is that Mac users are far more likely to require a docking station. For the longest time, MacBooks have only come with a couple of USB-C ports and nothing else. While in a few years we may reach a point where most peripherals connect to computers via USB-C, we are still far from it. So, MacBook users are typically the quickest to go looking for docking stations because they don’t even get a single USB-A port, let alone a display out. For them, getting a docking station is almost like they are adding features to the laptop that it should have had in the first place.

As MacBook users, you need to know your workflow well, down to the exact number and type of ports you will need to be able to get the most out of your laptop. Options like the JCD389 by j5create or the Lindy DST-Mini XT could be on your shortlist as soon as you have bought the laptop. These options allow you to nullify the leg-up that many Windows laptops have always had over MacBooks; more ports.

dual monitor docking station for your laptop

Final words

If you know your workflow, you know just how many peripherals and displays you need to connect to your computer at any given time. For example, if you are looking to add two displays, obviously you should be looking for a dual monitor docking station for your laptop and nothing with more or less display ports. By knowing that information, you will know whether or not you need a docking station, and just how heavy duty that docking station needs to be. Once you have figured out the type and number of ports you want to add to your device, you can start looking for models that give you exactly what you need.

Above we mentioned a few high-quality models on Newcom’s lineup of products. We have the best collection of universal docking stations, for those of you who are looking for the best Mac docking stations or the best Windows docking station. If you feel like you didn’t find the exact model you are looking for, feel free to click here to check out our full list of docking stations on our website. We are confident you will find a model that will suit your exact needs


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