The Brydge MacBook Vertical Dock is the latest incarnation of what used to be Henge Docks. Brydge acquired the company back in 2019 and has continued to develop new models since then.

The concept of a laptop dock has been around for decades now. The basic idea is that you use the laptop as a standalone machine when mobile, then snap it into a dock when you return to your desk, to effectively turn it into a desktop computer. There are, though, two different takes on the idea …

Two different types of dock

The first, which we tried way back in 2015, is a way to add ports to a MacBook.

If you’re mainly using a MacBook Pro with Retina Display for your setup, this tough dock will provide 13 ports of connectivity […] you’ll find two TRS audio jacks, an SD card reader, HDMI output, six USB 3.0 ports, Ethernet, and two Thunderbolt 2 ports.

If it’s extra ports you want, Brydge still has you covered today, in the form of a purely external dock. The Stone Pro, for example, gets you 11 ports.

This is for those who don’t need extra ports

But one of the things I love most about USB-C is that it enables a single-cable connection between my 16-inch MacBook Pro and everything I need to connect to on my desk. A single USB-C cable from my monitor carries power, video, and data. All my external drives are connected to the monitor, so connect one cable, and I’m done.

Until, that is, we got Gigabit broadband. Just, you know, because it was available. That genuinely does deliver gigabit speeds, but needs a wired Ethernet connection, so that meant a second USB-C cable with an Ethernet adapter.

So the Brydge MacBook Vertical Dock is a different type of dock. It doesn’t offer any extra ports; instead, it offers you an instant, neat, and desk-space saving way to instantly connect your MacBook to your monitor. Just slide the MacBook down into the dock, and you’re connected.

Look and feel

As you’d expect from a Brydge product, it looks great. The color is somewhere between Apple’s silver and Space Gray, so should look good with MacBooks of either color. It has a rough textured finish. The solid metal chassis means that it remains firmly in place on your desk, and the base provides something you can press down on when lifting your MacBook out of the dock.

The dock also looks equally good whether you orientate it side-on or end-on. Side-on, there’s a fairly subtle Brydge logo; end-on, an even more subtle Y.

Insertion is painless, the internal sleeve protecting against scratches while guiding it precisely onto place to mate with the USB-C plugs at the bottom of the dock. The company also provides a transparent self-adhesive port protector you can attach if you’re concerned about marks.

In use

There are two USB-C pass-through ports, with corresponding plugs in the base of the dock. I just plugged my monitor and Ethernet cables into the base of the dock, and now all I do is slide in my Mac and I’m instantly hooked up. Both dock ports support full 40Gbps speeds, so anything you connect to the dock will work exactly as it would when directly connected to the MacBook.

Prior to that, I was using a dumb wooden stand, and manually plugging in the two cables each time I returned the Mac to my desk. Admittedly the few seconds it took to do this is not very high up anyone’s list of First World Problems, but I must confess that I do still love the slickness of just inserting the MacBook and being done.

Setup is simple: just attach the base to the dock with two screws using the supplied screwdriver.

The dock is designed with purely passive air intake and exhaust ports that are designed to allow the MacBook fans to do their thing. If you are currently using your Mac flat on your desk, that will definitely leave it cooler than it is at present. In my case, I was using a passive stand, and it actually gets slightly warmer in the dock – but not notably so, even when video editing or running X-Plane on a 49-inch monitor.

Brydge MacBook Vertical Dock: Pricing and conclusions

The dock is available for four models and is compatible with several generations of each:

  • 13-inch MacBook Air (2018, 2019, 2020, M1 2020)
  • 13-inch MacBook Pro (2016, 2017, 2018, 2019, 2020, M1 2020)
  • 15-inch MacBook Pro (2016, 2017, 2018, 2019)
  • 16-inch MacBook Pro (2019)

I tested it with my 16-inch MacBook Pro.

The dock costs $170. Given that it adds no ports or functionality to your Mac, and simply saves you the trouble of manually plugging in one or two cables, that definitely puts it into the “luxury purchase” category. But if you don’t already have a stand, it does also enable you to recover some desk space.

If your MacBook sees unusually heavy use, and you want to eke out every single iota of performance, my experience suggests you’ll be better off with the passive horizontal stand that exposes the full surface area of the MacBook, for optimum cooling. But for my use, even when editing 4K video in Final Cut Pro, there was no issue.

Only you can decide whether it’s worth the money, but I do have to say that it’s a very slick experience. For me, it’s been the last component of my near-perfect desktop setup.

The Brydge MacBook Vertical Dock is available from the company’s Amazon Store.

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About the Author

Ben Lovejoy

Ben Lovejoy is a British technology writer and EU Editor for 9to5Mac. He’s known for his op-eds and diary pieces, exploring his experience of Apple products over time, for a more rounded review. He also writes fiction, with two technothriller novels, a couple of SF shorts and a rom-com!

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