What’s the Difference Between a Hub and a Docking Station?

If you’re finally fed up of your laptop’s lack of ports and have decided to do something about it, you’ve almost certainly come across the terms hub and docking station.

But if you’re not sure what the difference is, or why they have such a big price gap, keep reading to find out more.

These are some of the key differences between USB-C hubs and docking stations:

Charging and Power Supply

1. USB-C hubs

Many hubs on the market don’t support charging at all. In fact, they draw power from the laptop they’re connected to.

A certain percentage of USB-C hubs come with a USB-C Power Delivery input port. This port allows you to connect your laptop’s charger to the hub while the hub is connected to your laptop. This is called pass-through charging, and means you can charge your laptop while you’re using the hub.

However, while doing this, the USB-C hub will still use a certain amount of power, which means the power which reaches your laptop will be lower than if you were just using your charger normally.

2. Docking stations

Docking station usually come with an included AC/DC power adapter. The docking stations plugs into the wall, and then you can connect your laptop to the docking station to get a powerful charge that’s generally equivalent to or even greater than the power that your laptop’s charger can provide.

Compared with USB-C hubs, the charging speed is much faster, it’s all-in-one, and you can even charge your phone or other mobile device at the same time using the other ports.

Where You Use Them

1. USB-C hubs are smaller and can be thrown in your bag for use on the go.

If you use the same laptop at home and at work, then a hub a might be the best option. They’re small and lightweight enough to be carried around in your bag, or kept in a drawer ready to be used whenever, or wherever you need.

One example is 9-in-1 USB Type-C to HDMI docking. It’s small and light, and it clips directly onto your MacBook to save space and offer easy portability.

2. Docking stations are larger and more suitable for professionals.

Unlike USB-C hubs, docking stations can support connection to up to 3 external monitors, and can even support a maximum 8K resolution to a single screen. They also generally feature more ports than USB-C hubs.

However, docking stations are usually heavier and larger, and they come with a fairly hefty power brick which means it isn’t really practical to carry one around with you.

The best way to use a docking station will be in a fixed place like in your home office or on your desk at work. You can still unplug your laptop if you need to move around, and then go back to the docking station when you need to use it.

In terms of price, docking stations will also be more expensive than ordinary USB-C hubs because they feature higher specs.

So if you’re someone who requires a multiple-monitor setup, transfers large files regularly, and spends most of your time working at a desk, then a docking station is probably the best choice for you.

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