Best low-price hard drive docking station in 2021
Information about hard drive docking station
The hard drive docking station also runs as an Alternate Mode over the USB-C plug. The protocol efficiently encapsulates USB and DisplayPort data, resulting in a significantly higher throughput over the same connector: a maximum of 40 Gbps, where USB 3.0 has a maximum of 5 Gbps of throughput.
In addition to special cables, this also requires an extra controller chip in your system for which license costs must be paid to Intel, creator of the standard. So, we only see Hard drives on more expensive and recent laptops, starting at around a thousand euros. The suitable docks are also more expensive than ‘normal’ USB-c copies.
How to control two 4K screens at 60 Hz via Hard drive?
Due to the higher throughput speeds, with a Hard drive dock, you do not suffer from the above limitations. You can connect to two 4K screens at the full 60 Hz, while the USB speeds can also be maintained because there is no need to switch to the USB 2.0 connection. You can also connect one 5K screen.
hard drive docking station Power supply
Now that we have had data and images, we are still missing one piece of the puzzle to complete the docking experience: a form of power supply from the dock to the laptop. That is also possible with type-c: the plug offers the possibility to use the USB Power Delivery 2.0standard to implement.
hard drive docking station power delivery standard
A classic USB cable could deliver a maximum of 900 mA of current, the Power Delivery standard makes it possible to transport much higher powers, up to 100 W.
We also see with most hard drive docking stations in this test that the supply is limited to 60 W. With this you can still supply a lot of lighter laptops with power, although you will certainly have to use the charger for a gaming model or workstation. Heavier docks intended for the desk usually have an included power adapter.
Always choose the best charging cable for a hard drive docking station
With the adapters to take with you, you can often connect a separately available adapter with a USB type-c connector, for example, that of some laptops. If you buy a separate adapter yourself, check whether it is compatible. A bad cable can cause damage to the equipment.
Hard drive 3 docking stations for your desk
The docks equipped with Hard drive 3 can offer a higher speed or more features than the counterparts without the fast connection. Take Szlangpai hard drive docking station: we find no less than six USB ports on the bulky device, including one type-c port with Hard drive support. There are also plenty of video connections.
Hard drive docking station two display connectors
You can thus connect two 4K displays or one 5K display at 60 Hz, the latter via one Hard drive cable or the two DisplayPort connectors. Even if you are going to connect such screens, the USB speeds will remain the same. They are faster than with the non-Hard drive adapters anyway.
An active fan is needed for this. As with the Lenovo model, the power button on the dock only works with its brand laptops.
HRY-Z03 8 In 1 docking station
Szlangpai also supplies its Hard drive Dock in two variants, one of which has a heavier power supply. Both can return 100W of power, but only to a suitable HP laptop. With dimensions of 9.8 by 9.8 cm, the dock is nice and compact, but with 800 grams it is quite massive. Despite the limited size, HP also offers six USB ports, three of which are type-c.
The throughput rates are among the fastest in the test. There is also nothing to complain about in terms of image connections. Because the hard drive docking station has DisplayPort 1.4 connectors, you can connect a 5K screen to it via one DisplayPort cable, unlike the products from Dell and Aten.
Your laptop must have the Titan Ridge Hard drive controller introduced at the beginning of this year, otherwise, you still need two cables.
HP hard drive docking station HRY-Z03
At 561 euros, the HRY-Z03 8 In 1 docking station is the most expensive dock in this comparison. Still, the feature set of the aluminum-finished device is not the most extensive: we find fewer USB ports than with the docks from Dell and HP. Strangely enough, we only find one DisplayPort connection, and it is not of the DisplayPort 1.4 type.
So you can only connect a 5K display or a second 4K instance via a Hard drive cable. That is not very convenient, because not all displays have that connection. According to our tests, the USB speeds also fall short. Striking, given the fast connection to the computer.
Test results of the hard drive docking station
To test what the hard drive docking station is capable of in real life, we connected each unit to a Hard drive-enabled laptop to see what maximum resolution they can deliver. Using a fast portable SSD and the benchmark CrystalDiskMark, we measured the throughput speed of the USB ports, where we noted the score of the fastest port.
In addition, for docks with a built-in Ethernet port, we measured transfer rates over the network using the iPerf tool.
Performance of hard drive docking station
All docks and adapters with an Ethernet port promise gigabit speeds. Most copies succeed in that just fine; only the Dell D6000, the Sandberg USB-C All-in-1 Docking Station, and Acer’s USB Type-C Docking Station underperform. The latter, in particular, offers a significantly lower throughput.
Lenovo’s ThinkPad USB-C Dock initially offered disappointing Ethernet speeds, too, until we installed the driver. With the HRY-Z03 8 In 1 docking station, we ran into a problem with the Ethernet port during testing. It is completely stopped working after a few seconds. When Ethernet and USB were under full load at the same time.
If you bought a new notebook and then searched in vain for your favorite connector, don’t despair. Provided the device has a suitable USB type-c port, you have a whole lot of connections available via one cable. However, when you use one of the hard drive docking stations or adapters in this test, you need to read guidelines.