An easy way to connect your system to many devices.
After upgrading my MacBook Pro a couple of years ago to a 2016 model, I’ve constantly struggled with how to connect to non-USB-C devices. Since the only native ports available on my laptop are USB-C/Thunderbolt 3, I have had to supplement with hubs and various connectors. When I’m in my home office, I simply connect to a stationary dock like the Kensington Thunderbolt 3 Universal Dual 4K Docking Station (SD5200T). It allows me to use an external monitor, speakers, and other peripherals by connecting to that dock with one Thunderbolt 3 cable.
The Thunderbolt 3 Universal Dual 4K Docking Station from Kensington works for both Windows and macOS platforms. It features Thunderbolt 3 technology with transfer speeds of up 40Gbps. With this particular docking station, you can also connect up to two 4K displays in addition to supplying power to your host computer (up to 85W). If you would prefer, you can connect one 5K display instead of two 4K displays (using the DisplayPort and a Thunderbolt 3 port using a USB-C to HDMI adapter – sold separately). The dock also includes one USB-C port, two USB 3.0 ports (one is a 2.1A charging port), one DisplayPort, one Gigabit Ethernet port, and a 3.5mm headphone and microphone jacks. Like some other docks, you can also daisy-chain up to 5 Thunderbolt 3 devices together using the dual Thunderbolt 3 ports as in/out ports. Because it’s a Kensington product, the classic Kensington Security Slot is built-in to help you protect your technology investment.
- Best For: Thunderbolt 3 Laptops & Ultrabooks and Monitors that support up to 4K
- Connection Technology: Thunderbolt 3 (Cross-platform compatibility)
- USB-C Power Delivery: Supports USB-C PD 2.0 (85W of laptop charging)
- Compatibility: macOS 10.12 or above, Windows 10
- # of Monitors Supported: 2
- Video Ports: 1 x DisplayPort v1.2++ and 1 x Thunderbolt 3 Port
- Maximum Resolution Supported: Single monitor: 5K (5120 x 2880 @ 60Hz) and Dual monitors: 4K (4096 x 2160 @ 60 Hz)
- Plug & Play installation without the need for drivers or downloads
- System Requirements: Only compatible with laptops equipped with Thunderbolt 3 ports; not backward compatible with Thunderbolt 1 or Thunderbolt 2. For Windows-based devices, ensure your laptop supports Power Delivery.
- Warranty: 3 Years
My primary computer is a 2016 13-inch MacBook Pro so I do struggle a lot with how best to connect to my computer. I’ve used a lot of various connectors and when I’m stationary, I much prefer to have my computer docked. The Kensington Thunderbolt 3 Universal Dual 4K Docking Station has been a really nice option for me and I’ve really enjoyed using it. It’s very compact. It’s about 3 inches shorter than my laptop and has a very low profile. This is perfect for someone like me who has a mobile-style workstation. I’m a big fan of the fact that the dock has so many ports to use. I do wish it had more USB-A ports as it’s hard to get all my peripherals connected with only two available USB-A ports. I’m also a bit disappointed that this dock only features a DisplayPort option. I do like that this dock supports dual 4K displays through the use of the DisplayPort and Thunderbolt 3 connections.
I didn’t have any issues with the dock providing power to my 13-inch MacBook, which only requires 61W for charging and I did plug a 15-inch MacBook Pro into the dock to test the 85W power delivery option since that laptop needs 87W for charging. The dock did provide enough power for that laptop, too. Along those lines, I do wish that Kensington could find a better way to provide power to the dock other than the gigantic power brick that ships with it. It’s an AC Adapter by Liteon and I’m actually quite familiar with it since many docks ship with a similar power adapter. As efficient as this adapter is for providing power, it would be really nice if a single cord could do the job instead.
I didn’t have any issues using the dock for a variety of connections including Ethernet, headphones/speakers, external hard drives, and external monitors (using DisplayPort). The dock provided a solid connection to all devices and I didn’t notice any issues with speed loss (with external hard drive data transfer). To test this out, I connected an external hard drive I frequently use for this type of testing (WD My Passport Ultra) and ran a Blackmagic Speed Test on it. I just recently tested the same drive with a different style of dock and got the following results. As you will notice, the results are nearly identical.
The Kensington Thunderbolt 3 Universal Dual 4K Docking Station (SD5200T) is a very capable docking station that can be used for a variety of uses. If you are looking to connect several USB-A driven devices, you might want to explore other options for a dock since this model only had two (one in the front and one in the back) ports for USB-A connections. In spite of having only two USB-A ports, the 5200T dock has a wide variety of other connections including Ethernet, DisplayPort, and Thunderbolt 3. While it’s quite an investment ($330 MSRP), the Kensington dock provides safe, reliable connections to USB-C/Thunderbolt 3 computers.