Early Black Friday deals on Thunderbolt docks have begun, allowing you to buy discounted docking stations to expand the ports on your laptop.
We’re busy scanning retailer sites, looking for the best early Black Friday deals on Thunderbolt docks in advance of Black Friday. We’ve listed each Thunderbolt dock deal below, followed by an explanation of why we picked them. For more context, scroll down to our FAQ, where we explain how much you should pay for a Black Friday Thunderbolt docking station deal, what features to consider, and more.
Pay attention to the Belkin Thunderbolt Dock 3 Plus deal — the price is excellent, but some customers have complained that one of the DisplayPort ports doesn’t function properly. (We haven’t tested this dock ourselves.) Just make sure to test this dock within the return window to make sure you don’t have a bad unit. The Belkin Core, however, I continue to really like — but it’s not powered, so you’ll have to use a USB-C charger with it. Your laptop’s should work.
As for the Monoprice — well, Monoprice makes basic hardware, and it continues to do the job.
As always, remember that Thunderbolt docks don’t play well with some Macs — and Mac buyers tend to downvote products because of that.
When is Black Friday?
Officially, Black Friday takes place on Friday, Nov. 24, 2023. Cyber Monday is the following Monday, or Nov. 27, 2023.
When do early Black Friday deals on Thunderbolt docks begin?
Early Black Friday sales have already begun at several retailers, though sales should ramp up as Black Friday nears. Retailers haven’t been shy about adding early sales to unload inventory before the Black Friday craziness begins.
What should you pay for a Black Friday deal on a Thunderbolt dock?
In 2023, you benefit from one key trend: Thunderbolt 3 and Thunderbolt 4 are roughly the same in terms of throughput and features. But retailers hate keeping old hardware on the shelves. It’s likely that you’ll still see substantial sales on older Thunderbolt 3 hardware, with lesser discounts applied to Thunderbolt 4 docking stations.
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 the 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 the difference 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 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.
Some of these docks have had bad reviews on shopping sites. What gives?
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 story was updated at 1:57 PM with an updated price for HP’s deal.