Valve’s official solution for docking their console is an excellent piece of hardware, we already agreed on that in our Steam Deck Dock review, but its high price makes it a sort of a premium. Luckily, the gap left by the postponed release of the official solution was quickly filled with a number of quality Steam Deck Dock alternatives that not only offer virtually the same specs, but are also sold at prices that are much easier to manage.
So, to complement the story, we decided to write down our own list of the best Steam Deck Dock alternatives, including USB-C docks and hubs, both of which can do the same job of cradling your deck and connecting it to a monitor or various peripherals.
Choosing the Best Steam Deck Dock USB-C Alternative
The official Steam Deck Dock from Valve packs three USB-A 5Gbps ports, one USB-C port with power delivery, one HDMI 2.0 port, one DisplayPort 1.4 connector, and a gigabit ethernet (RJ-45) port. You’re also getting a 45W charger, the same one that comes with the Deck.
And since we’re looking for the best possible alternative to the Steam Deck Dock, that option should either match its specifications or offer an even better solution. The only exception to the rule is the DisplayPort – since the Steam Deck isn’t powerful enough to run games in tripple-digit frame rates, we decided that an HDMI 2.0 port is completely fine. In case you do need it for some reason, we recommend that you get the official docking solution from Valve.
Other features we focused on during our selection process include the following:
- At Least Three USB Ports on top of the USB-C PD (power delivery) port – Your regular Steam Deck docked setup includes a mouse, a keyboard, and potentially an external storage drive, in addition to a single USB-C port used for powering the Deck. In other words, we focused on alternatives sporting at least three USB data ports. That doesn’t mean we automatically disqualified docks and hubs with less than three USB data ports. If we’re talking about a budget solution, two USB data ports are fine; the same can be said about our outlier pick that comes with an M.2 SSD slot, removing the requirement for the third USB data port since you’ve got the storage slot built into the dock itself.
- One USB-C Port With 60W or Higher Power Delivery – The Steam Deck is capped at 15V@3A of power, which equals 45W. Add 10W-15W for the dock itself (which most of them ask for), and we arrive at a 60W PD baseline. More is better, of course, but 60W was the minimum.
- One HDMI 2.0 Port – While a DisplayPort connector isn’t required, a single HDMI 2.0 port is a must. Most TVs and monitors these days have 4K resolution, and we’re sure you don’t want the subpar 4K@30Hz experience when you connect your Deck to your TV. HDMI 2.0 also supports 1440p@144Hz, so you’re covered if you have a high-refresh-rate 1080p or 1440p monitor. Regarding 4K resolution, you’re limited to 4K@60Hz on 4K high refresh rate monitors when connected via HDMI because even the official dock comes with an HDMI 2.0 port, which tops out at 4K@60Hz.
- DisplayPort – As we said above, we didn’t make the presence of a DisplayPort output mandatory. Our USB-C hub pick does have one, but there aren’t many third-party docks for Steam Deck that come with a DisplayPort connector. And those that do feature DisplayPort 1.2 connectors, top out at 4K@60Hz. If you want a 4K high refresh rate DisplayPort experience when docked, you’re limited to the official Steam Deck Dock from Valve, which comes with a DisplayPort 1.4 connector. If you’re only looking for multi-monitor support, you’ve got our USB-C hub pick as well as one third-party dock option that features DisplayPort, which we listed as an alternative to our convenient pick.
- RJ-45 (Ethernet) Port – If there’s a single feature on the Steam Deck we hate, it’s the quality of the Wi-Fi connection. It often has issues when downloading games, with bandwidth staying way below 500Mbps. The fastest we saw was about 40MBps or about 320Mbps, which is far from perfect. This is why we decided that even the budget pick needs to come with a gigabit ethernet port.
- FreeSync Support – At the moment of writing, even the official Steam Deck Dock doesn’t support FreeSync over HDMI, only via DisplayPort. In other words, FreeSync support wasn’t a requirement.
- Price – Since we’re talking about the best Steam Deck Dock alternatives, it’s only natural to try finding the options that are more affordable than the official solution. However, if an alternative offers a unique feature not found on the official docking station, such as an M.2 SSD slot, it’s fine if it is priced at a similar or higher level.
- Availability – It wouldn’t be very helpful for potential buyers if our picks weren’t readily available for purchase. That’s why we only considered docks and USB-C hubs that are currently in stock on Amazon.
Now that we shared our requirements during our selection process, let’s list our picks.
The Best Steam Deck Dock Alternative: JSAUX 6-in-1 Docking Station
The JSAUX 6-in-1 Steam Deck Docking Station is by far the most popular Steam Deck Dock alternative, and for good reason. It’s much more affordable, selling at $44.99, while offering the same level of connectivity aside from the DisplayPort video output. It features three USB-A 5Gbps ports, a single USB-C port with 100W PD –overkill since the Deck tops out at 45W– one HDMI 2.0 port, a gigabit Ethernet port, and a USB-C cable for connecting your Deck to the dock. The build quality is excellent, and the dock is also compatible with smartphones and tablets. You can also use a laptop, but you’re getting a glorified USB-C hub in that case, since you can’t cradle a laptop inside the dock. While we’re at it, the dock’s not wide enough to house a Deck with a protective case.
If you need a multi-monitor solution, JSAUX also sells a version of the dock with a DisplayPort 1.2 output. It’s $10 pricier than the base version, so we don’t recommend it unless you require multi-monitor support.
The Affordable USB-C Docking Station: NUXOA 6-in-1
For the price concious buyers, the NUXOA 6-in-1 Steam Deck Docking Station is an excellent budget dock for your Steam Deck. It features the same level of connectivity as the JSAUX 6-in-1 solution while being much more affordable with a price of $30. You’ve got three USB-A 5Gbps ports, one USB-C port with 100W PD, an HDMI 2.0 port, a gigabit Ethernet port, and a USB-C cable for connecting the Deck. The build quality looks pretty good; just note that the finishing touches aren’t as high quality as on the JSAUX dock. Check the edges of the cradle since some users reported they’re pretty sharp, leading to scratching their Decks when put down into the cradle. On the other hand, we like the slightly elevated base, which allows users to tuck away the cables and reduce the overall clutter when using the dock. The cradle is also sufficiently wide to accommodate a Deck covered in most protective cases.
Check the iVoler 5-in-1 Docking Station for Steam Deck if you need something even more affordable. You can often find it for less than $30 when on sale, with its only major downside being the lack of an Ethernet port. Feel free to get it if you’re somehow satisfied with your Deck’s wireless performance.
The Outlier: JSAUX M.2 Steam Deck Docking Station
The JSAUX M.2 Steam Deck Docking Station is a perfect solution for everyone looking to expand their Deck’s storage with an external SSD. With this docking station, you can install an M.2 SSD right into the device and then have the extra storage available when docked. Other connectivity options include two USB-A 5Gbps ports, a USB-C port with 100W PD, an HDMI 2.0 port, gigabit Ethernet, and a USB-C cable for connecting your Deck. Only two USB data ports isn’t perfect, but hey, you don’t need the third port for attaching external storage anyway, so it’s fine. The M.2 SSD slot on this model is limited to a bandwidth of 10Gbps, resulting in a maximum real-world performance slightly below 900MBps. Not perfect, but more than good enough for the Steam Deck. Another positive is support for both SATA and NVMe SSDs with a capacity of up to 4TB. Overall, these are excellent specs, and while the dock is selling for more than $100, at least you’re getting a bundled 65W charger.
If you aren’t ready to mess around with Konsole and use Steam Deck’s Desktop mode, we recommend skipping this model and getting something like the LISEN Steam Deck Dock that features an SD card slot. Just mind the fans; they’re ungodly loud.
The Best Steam Deck USB-C Hub: Anker PowerExpand 11-in-1
If you’re looking for a USB-C hub instead of a dock, which you can use with your other devices, the Anker PowerExpand 11-in-1 is the ultimate USB-C hub you can get for your Steam Deck. This hub offers more connectivity than every single dock featured on this list: you’ve got four USB data ports –three USB-A and one USB-C, two of which are 5Gbps with two USB-A 2.0 ports– a USB-C port with 100W PD, an HDMI 2.0, a DisplayPort 1.2, both a microSD and a regular SD card reader, gigabit Ethernet, even a 3.5mm audio jack. There’s also a USB-C cable for connecting the hub to your Steam Deck. Overall, an impressive amount of connectivity options. That said, the price is also impressive, but not in a good way. The Anker PowerExpand 11-in-1 sells for $80, which is pretty darn steep.
If you want something much more affordable but still with a decent selection of ports, the SABRENT Multi-Port USB C Hub costs only $25. The hub comes with a single USB-A 5Gbps port, two USB-A 2.0 ports –good enough for a keyboard+mouse— a single HDMI 1.4 port that supports 4K@30Hz and 1080p@60Hz modes, and a USB-C port with 60W PD. HDMI 1.4 isn’t great, but for $25, you can’t ask for more.
What Is the Difference Between a Dock and a Hub?
In the list above we mentioned both dock and hub solutions, and in case you’re not familiar with the differences, below you can find a TL;DR of their functionality:
- A dock is an accessory that cradles your device, preventing it from moving when hooking up cables or using the device while it’s docked. In a way, you don’t connect the dock to your device –in this case, the Steam Deck– but you hook the device instead; you dock it.
- A USB-C hub doesn’t house your device, it rather connects to it and dangles around. This setup can be a bit janky, but at its core, a USB hub provides virtually the same benefits as a dock, and they come in two flavours – with or without power delivery.
Both a dock and a USB hub should work with other devices, such as laptops or tablets, but in some cases, a dock works only with one specific device, like in the case of the Nintendo Switch.
Can a Dock Alternative Damage my Steam Deck?
In general, no – an alternative can’t damage your device, but if not used properly you might see faster battery drain. Remember to first plug-in the Dock alternative in to the power outlet, and then cradle the Steam Deck on it. Failing to do so will result in the Deck powering the dock instead of the other way around, making your Deck’s battery empty pretty darn fast. In case you’re worried about display scratches with some of them, you can always get a Steam Deck Screen Protector.
Can I Plug in My Dock in to an Extension Cord?
Yes, without any issues, just make sure that it’s a good quality cable. In case you’re looking to upgrade, do check our our article on the Best Extension Cord for PC.
Don’t Pull the Trigger On Docks With Zero User Reviews
Never buy a dock or a USB hub with zero user reviews, especially if the price looks too good to be true. Most Steam Deck Dock alternatives are made by Chinese-based manufacturers that don’t use the highest quality components. We recommend only considering products with a fair number of user reviews. If you can find multiple professional reviews on top of a good number of user reviews, even better.
Will a Dock Affect Performance?
No, docking your Steam Deck will not affect the performance in a negative way. Although, arguably, it does improve gameplay by letting gamers use a full-sized keyboard and mouse.
However, unlike the Nintendo Switch, the graphical and overall performance of the Steam Deck is not altered in any way when you connect it to a docking station or a USB-C hub.
Can You Connect External Storage to a Dock?
A major benefit to using a dock with the Steam Deck is that it enables an easy way to expand storage. By connecting an external SSD or SD card, you can expand your console’s storage capacity without needing to physically alter the internal SSD that’s built into the unit. This way, you can move your game library to an external storage device and take it with you on the go.
If you would like to check our recommendations, take a look at the articles below:
- Best Steam Deck SSD – An article in which we’re going through some of the best solutions on how to expand your storage through an external SSD. Just note that adding an external SSD to your Steam Deck isn’t a plug-and-play procedure. You have to tweak some stuff in Desktop Mode, which includes using Konsole and a fair share of typing.
- Best Steam Deck MicroSD Card – Similar to the above article, here we’re looking at a more affordable way on how to expand your storage, with an easy plug&play solution.
Can You Use Devices Other Than The Steam Deck With a Dock?
In most cases, you can use any device with a USB-C port. That said, if the USB-C port of the device in question doesn’t support DisplayPort Alt mode, you may encounter issues with video outputs. Also, if you plan on using the dock with devices other than your Deck, ensure the dock you’re eyeing supports other devices before pulling the trigger.