Surface Pro 3 Docking Station review, options and accessories.

Surface Pro 3 Docking Station header image.

To Dock Or Not To Dock

When Microsoft released its Surface Pro 3, it promised that it can replace a laptop. By now we can see that even the lower end models fulfilled this promise, with some power to spare. Now, can the Surface Pro 3 replace your desktop computer as well? Microsoft seems to suggest just that, by offering the Microsoft Surface Pro 3 Docking Station. If you are tempted to try it, keep reading and we will do our best to show you, how this can be done, how much it can cost and what options and accessories are available to make it a reality. Some of the peripherals like a monitor (including dual monitor configuration) or a printer are common for a standard PC or a Surface used as a desktop. But there are a few pieces that you will need only for a Surface configuration, we will try to list them and evaluate the extra expense associated with Surface PC.

While considering a purchase of a docking station for a Surface Pro 3 we should also weight in the productivity benefits. Connecting a full-size keyboard and a mouse, instantly improves our productivity and efficiency. However, the Surface Pro 3 docking station dual monitor setup takes our productivity to a new level. If you ever worked with a dual monitor setup, you probably know that it is a real game changer and we don't need to do much convincing to opt for such a configuration. The Microsoft Surface Pro 3 Docking Station makes multiplying the monitors very easy by providing the Mini DisplayPort connection on both the docking station and the Surface tablet. At the minimum you can have a dual monitor setup with an external monitor and the Surface's own screen, and if you wish to expand your screen real estate, you have multiple options available to do so.

Surface Pro 3 as a desktop - Is it worth it?

So how much extra do you need to spend before you can have a "Surface PC". Let's start with the Microsoft Surface Pro 3 docking station, the current price on $140.99. Next, because a standard PC comes with a keyboard and mouse, we will need those as well, Logitech Desktop MK120 Mouse and keyboard Combo, $18.17 on Amazon. To match a standard PC's storage capacity, we will also add an extra hard drive, a WD My Passport Ultra Portable External USB 3.0 Hard Drive, 1TB, $59.00 on Amazon. And our total comes to just under $220.00.

Depending on your Surface Pro 3 model, the price of a matching PC will vary. For an entry level i3 model a match PC from a reputable source would cost around $300. Therefore, our Surface Pro 3 desktop comes at about 20% discount, compared to a standard desktop box. Because the price of the extras stays constant, regardless of a Surface tablet model, the higher the model of your Surface Pro 3, the bigger the savings. For the top i7 Surface model your savings could be as much as $500. The savings can be used for dual monitor setup to increase our productivity.

If the price is the only criterion, the Surface Pro 3 docking station solution is more economical and an overall better option, unless you have a compelling reason to maintain a dedicated desktop PC. In our calculations we completely ignored the software considerations. If the applications that you use require a license for each installation, using a single device as a tablet, a laptop and a desktop, will also save you some licensing fees.

Surface Pro 3 desktop PC - How it all fits together.

Although Microsoft Surface Pro 3 docking station is the simplest solution, it is not the only way to make a Surface Pro 3 desktop PC, not by a long shot. In theory you could connect a monitor to Surface's Mini DisplayPort, get a Bluetooth mouse and keyboard, a wireless printer, a USB external hard drive and you have a fully functional desktop PC. There are also other options, with a universal docking station/port replicator you can create a setup that nearly matches the one with Microsoft's docking station (See our list of docking alternatives at the bottom of this page). Furthermore, even the simplest configuration can support a dual monitor setup, thanks to the Mini DisplayPort. So why use the Surface Pro 3 Docking Station? The main reason is a convenience, connecting and disconnecting your tablet is as easy as closing or opening the locking brackets that hold the Surface in the frame. Another compelling reason is the ability to charge your tablet while working in the desktop configuration.

When using Surface Pro 3 Docking station, you get five USB ports (three USB 3.0 and two USB 2.0), an Ethernet port (10/100/1000/Gigabit) and an audio port (3.5 input/output jack). For video you get an additional Mini DisplayPort, the Surface's build-in port is still available (above the docking station frame). This gives you plenty of options for connecting your favorite peripherals like, full-size keyboard, mouse, printer etc. The docking station comes with its own power adapter that provides power to the ports as well as charging capability for the Surface.

Surface Pro 3 docking station dual monitor setup with Mini DisplayPort.

One of the most important benefits of using the Surface Pro 3 Docking Station is the ability to multiply your screen real estate with a dual monitor configuration. Microsoft's designers decided to include a Mini DisplayPort in both the tablet and the docking station. This design feature opens up a plethora of possibilities for the monitor configuration. Currently the DisplayPort (version 1.2) is the most advanced video interface standard that supports high screen resolutions, including 4K/60 fps video and a multi-stream technology. With the multi-stream technology we can daisy-chain multiple monitors from a single video port. With Surface Pro 3 and the docking station the number of possible multi-monitor configurations is too large to analyze them all here, the combinations can vary, depending on a particular Surface model (at the minimum the Surface Pro 3 dual monitor setup is an option for all models), available monitors and required screen resolutions. For more information on daisy-chaining multiple monitors over DisplayPort connection, please read Driving Multiple Displays from a Single DisplayPort Output on website. If you have any questions regarding your particular configuration, please post a comment at the end of this post and we will try to provide you with as much info as possible.

For a multi monitor configuration, with two Mini DisplayPort connection available, you are able setup at least two external monitors while retaining the tablet as your third monitor. For more external monitors you can either daisy-chain a certified DisplayPort 1.2 monitor or use a multi-stream DisplayPort hub. For a current list of VESA certified multi-stream monitors please visit DB Multi-Stream Monitors page on web site. To see a list of multi-stream capable monitors on Amazon please visit Daisy-Chainable Monitors on Amazon in the docking station accessories section.

One more video option - wireless display adapter

As a bonus there is one more way to output your video. With Miracast wireless technology you can wirelessly send signal to a compatible TV set or a monitor. Alternatively, if your monitor, TV set or projector doesn't support Miracast but has a USB and an HDMI port, you can use the Microsoft Wireless Display Adapter to send the video signal over the Wi-Fi link.

To find Miracast certified devices use the Wi-Fi Alliance Product Finder webpage.

Surface Pro 3 docking station accessories.

In the following sections we will list some of the most popular docking station accessories, that will help you maximize the productivity gains for your Surface Pro 3.

Surface Pro 3 Docking Station and alternatives.

Microsoft Surface Pro 3 Docking Station
BESTSELLER - Docking Station for Microsoft Surface Pro 3 - 3Q9-00001
Plugable® UD-3900 USB 3.0 SuperSpeed Universal Docking Station
Dual Video: HDMI up to 2560x1440* and DVI / VGA to 2048x1152 / 1920x1200, Gigabit Ethernet, Audio, 2 x USB 3.0 and 4 x USB 2.0
iClever® USB 3.0 Superspeed Universal Laptop Docking Station
Dual Video Outputs, Resolution up to 2048x1152, Gigabit Ethernet, Audio, 2 USB 3.0 Ports, 4 USB 2.0 Ports
Targus USB 3.0 SuperSpeed Dual Video Docking Station
PC/Mac/MS Surface (except RT)/Windows 8-Tablet/Netbook Compatible (ACP70USZ)
Etekcity® USB 3.0 Superspeed Universal Laptop Docking Station
Dual Video Outputs, Resolution up to 2048x1152, Gigabit Ethernet, Audio, 2 USB 3.0 Ports, 4 USB 2.0 Ports
HooToo HT-UD01 USB 3.0 Universal Docking Station
Dual Monitor: VGA, HDMI and DVI to 2048x1152; Gigabit Ethernet; 2 USB 3.0 Ports; 4 USB 2.0 Ports
Microsoft Surface PRO 3 Compatible Docking Station
Power adapter not included, no ehernet port.

Mouse, keyboard and input devices.

Logitech USB Wired Keyboard K120
Simple wired USB connection - works with Windows-based PCs and Linux.
Logitech Desktop MK120 Mouse and keyboard Combo
Low profile keys that barely make a sound and standard layout with standard size F-keys and number pad. High-definition optical mouse.
Microsoft Wired Keyboard 200
USB wired keyboard with 6-foot cable, 10-Key pad.
Microsoft Natural Ergonomic Keyboard 4000 for Business
Breakthrough ergonomic keyboard design - Improved design promotes a more natural hand, wrist, and forearm position for greater comfort.
Kinesis KB500USB-BLK Advantage USB Contoured Keyboard Plus Kingston DataTraveler
Comes with: Kingston DataTraveler SE9 8GB USB 2.0 AND Plus Jestik Microfiber- VALUE BUNDLE.
Logitech Wireless Combo MK270 with Keyboard and Mouse
Reliable 2.4 GHz wireless connection: A tiny Logitech nano-receiver connects both the keyboard and mouse using USB port.
Logitech Wireless Wave Combo Mk550 With Keyboard and Laser Mouse
BESTSELLER Powerful 2.4 GHz wireless connection with one tiny Unifying receiver that stays in your device.
Logitech MK710 Wireless Desktop Mouse and Keyboard Combo
The MK710 contains the K700 keyboard with Unifying Technology and the wireless Marathon Mouse M705
Corsair Vengeance K70 Mechanical Gaming Keyboard
Key-by-Key Customizable Backlighting - Deep red LEDs with adjustable brightness and per key programmability to light up just the keys you need.
Microsoft Wireless Comfort Desktop 5000
Ergonomist-approved Comfort Curve design - Microsoft's Comfort Curve encourages natural wrist posture and is easy to use.
Microsoft Sculpt Ergonomic Keyboard for Business
Split keyset design helps to position wrists and forearms in a natural, relaxed position. Domed keyboard design positions wrists at a natural, relaxed angle.
Microsoft Trackball Explorer Optical
Index-finger-controlled precision trackball design. 5 buttons--including 2 programmable buttons.
Logitech M570 Wireless Trackball
Go for up to 18 months without changing the included AA battery. Amazon's BESTSELLER
Swiftpoint GT Wireless Ergonomic Mobile Mouse with Truly Natural Touch Gestures
Lightweight & compact design that is a perfect fit for your multi-device lifestyle.
TeckNet® BM306 Bluetooth Wireless Mouse
15 Month Battery Life - With Battery Indicator - 2000/1500/1000 DPI
Microsoft Wireless Mobile Mouse 4000
BlueTrack Technology - Works on virtually any surface including granite countertops, carpets, and wood tables
Microsoft Wireless Mouse 5000
Reliable Wireless - Microsoft 2.4 ghz wireless delivers a reliable connection with up to a 30-foot range.
Microsoft Wireless Mobile Mouse 4000 Special Edition - Ruby Pink
4-way Scrolling and 4 Customizable Buttons - Additional advanced features with included software.
Microsoft Arc Touch Mouse
Flexible Design - Curve for comfort, flatten to pack. Touch to Scroll - Click. Tap. Flick. Control.
Logitech Trackman Marble Mouse
Optical Sensor Technology, 300 DBI Sensor Resolution, Four Buttons.
Logitech G400s 910-003589 Optical Gaming Mouse
Exclusive 4000 DPI Delta Zero Optical Sensor: Built for consistent, high-accuracy targeting in FPS games.
Redragon Samsara M902 16400 DPI High Precision Programmable Laser Gaming Mouse.
13 Programmable Buttons, Weight Tuning Cartridge, 5 Programmable Side Buttons, 5 Programmable User Profiles, Omron Micro Switches
Logitech Wireless Mouse M325 with Designed-For-Web Scrolling
Micro-precise scrolling: New designed-for-Web scrolling makes searches, shopping and browsing easier
Wacom Intuos Pro Pen and Touch Medium Tablet (PTH651)
Wireless accessory kit included. 2048 levels of pen pressure sensitivity in both pen tip and eraser.
Wacom Intuos Pen Small Tablet (CTL480)
Small Compact size, 8.3-by-7.0 inches. Other sizes available: Manga Touch Small; Touch Medium; Touch Small.
Amzdeal® New USB Pen Graphics Tablet Pad Pen Drawing Art Design
Large Area 8.0 inch x 6.0 inch Ugee-M860. Also available in: 10 inch x 6.2 inch.

DisplayPort Multi-Stream certified monitors.

The following monitors had been certified by for Multi-Stream compatibility. For the current list of daisy-chainable monitors visit DisplayPort Product Database and search for DP Displays Multi-Stream.

Lenovo TS ThinkVision LT2934z 29 inch Monitor for Surface Pro 3
Max resolution: 2560x1080 Refresh rate: 7ms ( Multi-Stream certified).
ASUS PA279Q 27-Inch Screen LCD Monitor
Extensive connectivity with D-Sub (VGA), DVI-D, HDMI/MHL, DisplayPort and HDCP support ( Multi-Stream certified).
Dell Dell UltraSharp U2413 24" LED LCD Monitor - 16:10 - 6 ms
Resolution: 1920 x 1200. Contrast Ratio: 1,000:1
( Multi-Stream certified)
Dell UltraSharp U2414H 23.8 inch Widescreen IPS LCD Monitor
Ports: HDMI/DP/mini DP/USB
( Multi-Stream certified)
Dell U2713HM 27-Inch Screen LED-lit Monitor
2560 x 1440 resolution and over 3.6 million pixels. ( Multi-Stream certified)
Dell UltraSharp U2913WM 29-Inch Screen LED-Lit Monitor
Multitask on a panoramic 29" 21:9 display with Full HD 2560 x 1080 resolution
( Multi-Stream certified)
Dell UltraSharp U3014 30-Inch PremierColor Monitor
2560 x 1600 at 60Hz resolution (Max)
( Multi-Stream certified)

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