Amazon Prime Day deals on Thunderbolt docks, USB-C hubs, and dongles move to Day 2 of Prime Day 2023, all offering ways to expand your PC. We’ve rounded up the best deals, based upon our own hands-on reviews and knowledge of the industry.
Below you’ll find our curated list of the best Prime Day bargains on Thunderbolt docks and USB-C hubs from Amazon as well as other retailers. We’ll also explain why we chose these deals, and offer additional advice on what to buy and why. Thunderbolt docks rarely go on sale, so these sales are both overdue and welcome. Check out our top picks for the best Thunderbolt docks and the best USB-C hubs for additional context and information.
- Belkin Thunderbolt 3 Dock Core, 60W charging, $99.99 (50% off at Amazon)
- Plugable TBT3-UDZ Thunderbolt Dock, 96W charging, $199.96 (23% off at Amazon)
- Anker 777 Apex Docking Station, 90W charging, $199.99 (33% off at Amazon)
- Anker 577 Docking Station, 85W charging, $195.99 (35% off at Amazon)
- Kensington SD2500T Thunderbolt 3 Docking Station, 60W charging, $163.67 (26% off on Amazon)
- Kensington SD5700T Thunderbolt 4 Docking Station, 90W charging, $251.21 (13% off on Amazon)
- OWC Thunderbolt Dock, 96W charging, $200 (20% off with coupon on Amazon)
- Belkin Thunderbolt 3 Dock, 60W charging, $168.99 (32% off at Best Buy)
- HP Thunderbolt 4 Docking Station, 100W charging, $259.99 (21% off at Best Buy)
- Monoprice Thunderbolt 3 Dual Display Dock, 60W charging, $129.99 (42% off at Target)
Amazon is limiting its best deals to Prime members, so consider signing up for the free 30-day trial. None of Amazon’s Thunderbolt deals are at their yearly lows, but they’re close.
We have three top deals to recommend. Grab that HP Thunderbolt 4 deal now — the discounted HP 4J0A2AA is an Editor’s Choice award-winning dock at a solid discount. The other standout deal also won an Editor’s Choice award: Our review of the Belkin Thunderbolt Dock Core reveals it to be an excellent little portable Thunderbolt dock at a massive discount. The Belkin Thunderbolt Dock deal is for a slightly bulkier dock, and probably should be considered a secondary option. Finally, our third recommended deal is the “Cadillac of Thunderbolt docks,” the Plugable TBT3-UDZ.
The Kensington SD2500T is the cheaper little brother of the Kensington SD5500T, a much-loved dock which offers more ports. We haven’t reviewed the Monoprice dock, unfortunately, but the price is right.
We’re not huge fans of the SD5700T deal or the OWC Thunderbolt Dock, because of the lack of display ports. You’ll need to invest in an intermediary cable like this USB-C to HDMI cable, at $17 per cable on Amazon. Here’s our review of OWC’s Thunderbolt Go Dock, a more robust option. The Anker 777 Apex won a middling score in our review, but its features are top-notch and the price is just about at its yearly low.
Prime Day deals on USB-C hubs, docks, and dongles
We haven’t reviewed the Wavlink docking station, but it supplies the capabilities of Thunderbolt via DisplayLink, a compression technology we’ve been impressed with. The Anker and Plugable docks also use the same technology. Anker’s price is a little high, but it does include laptop charging. Wavlink’s deal meets the price we’ve hoped these devices would achieve, though.
We’ve used the Hiearcool dongle before, and it’s solid. We haven’t used the Acasis or Acodot hubs, but the price is right.
What to look for when buying a Thunderbolt dock or USB-C hub
Though we consider a Thunderbolt dock and a USB-C hub to be two separate product categories, they share similarities. Both use a USB-C output from your laptop. The difference is that some laptops use this port as a generic USB-C port, and others route the high-speed Thunderbolt 3 or 4 protocol through the USB-C socket. The former allows for typically 10Gbps of throughput, useful for USB keys, external storage, and perhaps an external display.
Thunderbolt (either Thunderbolt 3 or Thunderbolt 4) allows for 40Gbps of throughput, designed for high-speed external SSDs and multiple displays. Our roundups of the best USB-C hubs and the best Thunderbolt docks explain further in much greater detail. Thunderbolt 3 and Thunderbolt 4 are close enough that you can save money by buying the older technology that retailers are trying to get rid of.
Put simply, USB-C hubs and dongles are relatively cheap, rarely climbing over $60. Prime Day is an opportunity to pick up a USB-C hub with inputs for USB expansion, Ethernet, SD cards, and more for very little — all ports that your laptop might lack. Just don’t go too crazy: All of the devices that the USB-C connects to will transfer data over the same 10Gbps port. That’s fine for a keyboard, mouse, and a hard drive which will power on, send data, and turn off. But sending a fire hose of simultaneous Ethernet, storage, and display data won’t work. You’ll need a Thunderbolt dock (and a laptop port) instead.
Thunderbolt docks require more care. Here, consider what you want to do: connect a pair of 4K displays with HDMI? Look for Thunderbolt docks with a pair of HDMI ports. DisplayPort connections will work, but you’ll need a cheap intermediary cable. Thunderbolt docks have historically been in short supply, so this is an opportunity to pick up a pricey accessory at a discount. However, they’re almost a must for a home office.
I have a USB-C port on my laptop. How do I know what to use with it?
Consult your laptop’s manual. A Thunderbolt port may be labeled with a small lightning-bolt logo, but that icon can sometimes be used to signal that that port can be used for charging, too. If nothing else, a USB-C dongle/hub will always work with a USB-C port.
I still don’t understand what the difference is between USB-C and Thunderbolt. How does it all work?
USB ports have been around for years. USB-C replaced USB-A (the square port) because USB-C was more versatile: the port connector was both reversible and allowed for higher speeds. USB-C ports can be rated for either 5Gbps or 10Gbps, just like a normal USB-A port. Some USB-C ports connect to a Thunderbolt chip inside your laptop, though, and this allows the port to run at a higher 40Gbps speed. Physically, the connector looks exactly the same. It’s just what it can do that’s different.
What’s the difference between a USB-C hub and a Thunderbolt dock?
Speed and features. A USB-C hub connects to a single 4K (or 1080p) display, and provides a mix of ports: USB-A, SD card slots, and so on. You can usually plug your laptop’s USB-C power cable (if it uses one) right into it.
A Thunderbolt dock supplies even more bandwidth for more ports. There are two key differences: It has enough bandwidth to drive a pair of 4K displays, and many docks come with their own power supply that can charge your laptop as well as your phone. All that occurs via the Thunderbolt cable that connects your laptop to the dock.
My laptop has USB4, not Thunderbolt. Can I use a Thunderbolt dock?
Yes and no. Thunderbolt 3, Thunderbolt 4, and USB4 all run at 40Gbps across the same connector. USB4 is identical to Thunderbolt 4. But if your laptop runs USB4, it won’t “understand” Thunderbolt 3 protocols.
USB4 laptops are still extremely rare, and have an AMD Ryzen chip inside.
Is Thunderbolt 4 better than Thunderbolt 3?
Physically, they use the same USB-C cable. Functionally, they’re almost the same. Thunderbolt 4 was released almost as a patch to Thunderbolt 3, ensuring that everything worked properly. If your laptop has Thunderbolt, you should probably be able to buy either a Thunderbolt 3 or Thunderbolt 4 dock without any problems. Since Thunderbolt 3 is being phased out, you’ll probably find more discounts on the older Thunderbolt 3 hardware. (For the gory details, see our roundup of the best Thunderbolt docks.)
I own a desktop PC. Do I need a Thunderbolt dock?
Possibly. Historically, the back of a desktop has been chock-full of I/O ports, especially DIY models that you build yourself. Desktops usually have extra room for internal SSDs, SD cards, and so on. However, if your desktop lacks these things, and includes an external Thunderbolt port, you can always add these additional components externally via Thunderbolt.
Read the user reviews closely. While Macs adopted Thunderbolt first, some of the Apple M1 silicon couldn’t keep up with Intel Thunderbolt controllers used by Windows PCs, and the Apple MacOS experience suffered as a result. If a Windows user complains, pay attention; otherwise, you can dismiss them.
This roundup was updated on July 12 with the latest Prime Day deals.