In recent years Thunderbolt has become an essential part of many laptops and PCs. Developed by Intel, the Thunderbolt protocol uses USB Type-C ports to deliver very high bandwidths — up to 40Gbps, as of Thunderbolt 4 — which can be used to connect all kinds of peripherals. Many of the best laptops you can buy today come with Thunderbolt ports, and the accessories you can use with them range from docking stations to external GPUs, which can greatly expand the capabilities of your laptop.
Being proprietary Intel technology does mean Thunderbolt isn’t available on almost any AMD laptop. It’s also somewhat expensive to license, so you won’t find it in many cheap laptops, even if they have Intel processors. If you want to make sure your laptop supports Thunderbolt, look for the Thunderbolt logo next to your USB Type-C ports. You’ll also find Thunderbolt support in the latest MacBook Pro 14-inch and 16-inch, even though they don’t have the Thunderbolt logo next to their ports.
But if you have a Thunderbolt port, how do you make the most of it? We’re here to help, and we’ve rounded up a ton of the best Thunderbolt accessories you can buy that make use of this high bandwidth. As we’ve mentioned, there are docking stations and external GPUs, but some monitors and storage devices also use Thunderbolt. And of course, you might need Thunderbolt cables, so we have some of those as well.
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Best Thunderbolt docks
Starting with some of the best and most popular Thunderbolt accessories, we have docking stations. Thunderbolt docks can be used to add more ports to your laptop, whether that’s USB Type-A, display outputs, Ethernet, or even more Thunderbolt ports if you want to daisy-chain. There are lots of ports out there with different designs, ports, and prices, so here are a few great ones you can get:
- If you want to add more Thunderbolt ports to your laptop, the Anker PowerExpand 5-in-1 adds three of them, plus a USB Type-A port for peripherals. It supports 85W charging for your laptop.
- In addition to adding more Thunderbolt ports, USB Type-A, Ethernet, and an SD card reader, this Razer dock lights up with Chroma RGB to give your setup some flair. It can also charge your laptop.
- This Kensington dock has a tough-looking metal shell and gives you plenty of ports including more Thunderbolt, USB Type-A, an SD card reader, Ethernet, and a headphone jack, plus 90W charging for your laptop.
- The CalDigit TS3 is a vertical Thunderbolt dock with an aluminum chassis and plenty of USB Type-A ports, DisplayPort, Ethernet, and even S/PDIF audio. It charges at up to 87W.
- This sleek-looking Elgato dock offers USB and audio connections on the front, plus extra Thunderbolt, USB, DisplayPort, and Ethernet on the back. It also has 85W charging for your laptop.
- If you prefer a dock that’s meant to be vertical, this Plugable model gives you a solid selection of ports, including plenty of USB, Ethermet, and DisplayPort. Plus, it can charge your …….