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Should I use a hub or a dock for my MacBook Pro?

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Last Modified: 2020-06-02
I'd like to add a monitor, ethernet, and keyboard to my 2018 MacBook Pro. I currently also connect a mouse, Wacom tablet, and occasionally a XQD/SD card reader. I loathe the idea of a dongle for every occasion. Hubs seem to come fairly cheap compared to docks, which prompted me to fall down the rabbit hole of hub vs dock articles. I'm embarrassed to say I'm still confused!

I noticed docks involve power, which made me wonder, does the power need to match or exceed the 87w listed on my USB-C power Adapter? Is the dock to avoid plugging alternate displays into the wall? Can a laptop with a hub not handle the pressure of so many peripherals? I'm just not sure I understand the value of getting a dock over a hub with the same ports.
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Louis LIETAERSystem Infrastructure Architect
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Commented:
Hi Emily,

From my point of view there is no much differences between hub and dock, except the power supply for docks, that will keep powered you Mac book .

In fact it is more a question of organisation of your work place with all those wires.

Do you want to keep your Mac Book Open when working, to be able use the laptop screen ?
Would yours wireless technologies for keyboard, trackpad, and screens with an Apple TV for example ?

Try to imagine the final result on your desk, you will figure out more easily what are your needs.

Any way to help you in your choices, I like products provided by this company : https://www.brydge.com/products/vertical-dock

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DarinTCHSenior CyberSecurity Engineer
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Emily PhelanUX/UI Designer

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Commented:
First off, thank you all for breaking it down for me! It sounds like I should spring for a dock but that a hub would've been very beneficial in my more nomadic days (I may still get one for travel later).
Do you want to keep your Mac Book Open when working, to be able use the laptop screen ?
I hadn't considered this. I'd like to keep the laptop as a second smaller screen. Does having a dock vs a hub affect this?
DarinTCHSenior CyberSecurity Engineer
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Commented:
Well - it’s doesn’t matter for use - but i use mine like you stated - as a 2nd monitor
thay rules out the vertical style dock in the link
here
https://www.pcmag.com/products/the-best-macbook-docking-stations

ehh - they looked cool but I needed more usage - and liked the 2nd monitor
Louis LIETAERSystem Infrastructure Architect
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Emily PhelanUX/UI Designer

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Commented:
Some dock won't allow you to keep your laptop open.
Is there something specific I should look for in the features to know if a specific dock will allow it? Most product lists talk about power, ports/supports, and speed. Is it enough to see the product features with the laptop open and on like in these  Amazon product photos?
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Commented:
That's a USB-C dock, not as capable as a Thunderbolt dock.  Thunderbolt has more bandwidth than USB-C so you can have more video resolution and more ports on the dock.
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