Surface Pro 3 (and Surface Pro 2) are from Microsoft – not true! Although the Surface is a tablet, there are still several options available for various docking stations, both produced my Microsoft and not.
In this post, I will concentrate on the review of three main types of docking stations for the Surface: Microsoft docking stations, USB 3.0 docking stations (without power charging), and portable docking stations.
Let’s look at one in each category in the above order…
How much: $114 – $209.99
Where: Amazon and Microsoft
Works with: versions available for Surface Pro 2/Pro and Surface Pro 3
Surface Pro 3 Model:
- Ports: 3 USB 3.0 ports, 2 USB 2.0 ports, Gigabit Ethernet port, 3.5mm audio input/output connection, Mini DisplayPort
- Designed to leave the Mini DisplayPort and USB 3.0 port on your device available for use when docked
- No HDMI
- Allows a full-size keyboard, printer and more, while charging your Surface Pro 3
- Connect to your HD monitors, wired network, audio system, Security lock slot
Surface Pro 2 model:
- Ports: Power supply input • 1 USB 3.0 Port • 3 USB 2.0 Ports • Ethernet port (10/100 Ethernet RJ-45) • 3.5 mm audio input/output connections • 1 mini DisplayPort
- Charge multiple accessories, transfer large files to an external drive or plug into the Ethernet port for a reliable wired network connection
- Charges the Surface while you work
- Supported Platforms: Surface Pro and Surface Pro 2
- Charges the Surface
- Optimized for Surface
- Ethernet port
- No HDMI
- Highest Price
USB 3.0 Docking Station:
Plugable UD-3900 Universal Dock
How much: $109
Works with: Surface Pro 2 and Surface Pro 3 (same model)
- USB 3.0 (5Gbps) link from PC to dual video, gigabit Ethernet, audio input/output, and two USB 3.0 ports. Hot-swappable
- HDMI port supports resolutions up to 2560×1440* and DVI/VGA port supports display resolutions up to 2048×1152 / 1920×1200
- Wired Ethernet port supports 10/100/1000Mbps speeds
- NOT a USB charging station
- *2560×1440 output only available when using a single HDMI display connected through the dock. If dual displays are connected, each will be limited to a maximum resolution of 1920×1200.
- Universal – works for both Surface Pro/2 and Surface Pro 3
- Ethernet port
- Hot swappable
- Lower Price
- No Charging Station
- Video via USB 3.0 is slightly slower – not great for gaming
- Highest resolution only achieved with 1 monitor.
Portable Docking Station:
3 in1 Mini Display Port To HDMI/DVI/DP
How much: $14.90
Works with: Surface Pro 2 and Surface Pro 3
- Support Mini DisplayPort 1.1a input and DVI/HDMI/DisplayPort output.
- Support DisplayPort highest video resolution 1920*1200
- Support HDMI/DVI highest video resolution 1920*1080p
- Powered from Mini DisplayPort source
AmazonBasics 4 Port USB 3.0 Hub for $18.99 from Amazon
- Easily portable
- Great for interfacing with projectors
- Low price
- Lower resolution
- Doesn’t include USB ports, you need a USB hub
I know what you’re thinking: So, which one of those docking stations is best?
Well, that’s like asking “which is the best ice cream flavor?” – the answer is always in a form of a question: “what do you like/want/need?”
If you’re looking for a charging station or maybe you are a heavy gamer then you should probably go with the Microsoft option; if you want something for travel – choose a portable dock. And if you’re looking for something right in the middle, with a mid-price yet several ports, then choose the Plugable.
Check out my Home Office Setup with Surface Pro 3 and Plugable dock.
Do you use a docking station with your Surface? Which one and how do you like it?
Joanna is a former IT Director for a major public university, who gave up a high paying career to blog full time. She is proud to be a professional geek. Joanna loves all things technology and Surface tablets are her passion. She and Tim created LoveMySurface.net to help others be more productive using these awesome tablets.