Adapter/dock to connect Surface Pro 4 to monitor, keyboard, mouse
February 24, 2021 7:53 AM   Subscribe

I am temporarily using a Surface Pro 4 laptop which has one mini display portand one USB-A port. I'd like to connect an external monitor, keyboard, mouse and hard drive. What's the best thing to buy? Searches for this are full of USB-C docks, which don't help me.

Could I buy one doohicky that attaches to the USB-A port and can connect to an external monitor (via HDMI or display port) and add a few more USB ports for the keyboard, mouse, and hard drive? Or am I better off with a mini display port to display port adapter, and a separate USB multiplier?

This is a temporary thing so I don't want to spend a lot of money.
posted by medusa to Technology (5 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Best answer: You want to use the Microsoft Surface Dock or Surface Dock 2: or . They connect to your Pro via the multipurpose connector on the righthand side of the surface that provides power to the system. Apparently the dock 2 is not claimed to be compatible with the 4, but if you believe this reddit thread, it is (caveat emptor):
posted by scolbath at 9:18 AM on February 24, 2021

Best answer: So basically, you're looking for sorta "docking station"?

Can't go wrong with the true Microsoft Surface Dock, which is compatible with the Pro 4. (The Surface Dock 2 is not). However, it's also quite expensive at MSRP of $200.

So here's one off Amazon of an unknown brand for less than half at $85, with more features.
posted by kschang at 9:25 AM on February 24, 2021 [1 favorite]

Best answer: The cheapest route is, indeed, to get a cheap USB hub and the mini-DP to DP adapter. A basic mini-DP to DP adapter is $8 and a cheap USB 3 hub is about $13, both from Amazon. The official dock's a lot nicer, since it uses the funky magnetic connector that the power adapter slots into (and thus also provides power and a lot more ports), but it is a lot more expensive. (That said, it's also an extra power adapter too.)
posted by mrg at 9:45 AM on February 24, 2021 [1 favorite]

Best answer: DisplayPort is going to be a better experience than trying to shoehorn graphics over USB 3.0. There can be some lag depending on various factors. That said, my Dell D6000 dock, while native USB-C, comes with an A adaptor and I just popped it onto a laptop and at 1080p and (while not straining the system) there might be a tiny bit of lag but it wouldn't be enough to bother me for business use based on a couple minutes of playing with it. So if needing to dock the Surface is a temporary need but you have a reasonable chance of being able to need a USB C dock in the future, you could look for one with USB-A compatibility.

On the other hand, the price for the D6000 went up last spring. The similar D3100 is cheaper (though not cheap) and USB A only, but I've never used it. And is approaching the cost of just getting the official dock. The 3rd party one specifically designed for the Surface that kschang linked to is probably a better fit than a completely generic one.

If I were you and cost was a factor and it was only going to be for a few months, I'd just hook the monitor up to the DisplayPort and get a cheap USB hub for the peripherals. If you really like the idea of having a single connection to make for peripherals, power, and video, I'd personally get the official MS dock and plan on flipping it on eBay when it was no longer needed.
posted by Candleman at 2:00 PM on February 24, 2021

Best answer: You can also get Mini DisplayPort to DisplayPort (or HDMI) cables, which I find to be a better experience. They're a similar sort of price to the adapter above.
posted by How much is that froggie in the window at 12:36 AM on February 25, 2021

« Older Is it possible to compost, from start to finish...   |   Regaining iCloud Access Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.