Animators, graphic designers, and visual professionals who live for high performance laptops with stunning displays are experiencing game-changing benefits with the Apple M1/M2 chip. The M1/M2 is Apple Inc.’s second System on a Chip (Soc), developed solely for use in Macs, and it marks its transition away from the Intel® chips that had been used in Macs for over 15 years. If you’ve made the investment in a newer 14” or 16” MacBook Pro with an M1/M2 Pro or M1/M2 Max chip or have jumped up to the Mac Studio with the M1 Ultra chip, you’re already experiencing the impressive speed and efficiency of a single chip—and are probably ready to take advantage of the stunning external display capabilities available to you. While M1/M2 and M2 MacBooks natively support just one monitor, there are options for multiple displays.
Where Should You Start when Connecting Multiple Displays to Your MacBook Pro or Mac Studio?
While the M1/M2 chips vary in terms of graphics, with the M1/M2 Pro providing up to 16 GPU, the M1/M2 Max providing up to 32 cores, and the M1 Ultra providing up to 64, each of them provides the opportunity for multiple high-resolution screens and enhanced visual productivity.
A Thunderbolt™ 4 docking station is an excellent place to start if you want to maximize the display capabilities of your MacBook Pro or Mac Studio since it can bypass the chipset power and transfer the display to multiple high resolution monitors. Thunderbolt 4 docks support Dual 6K @ 60Hz, Quad 4K @ 60Hz—and up to five external displays if you’re using one with a Mac Studio with M1 Ultra.
How Do I Set Up Multiple Monitors on a MacBook Pro with M1/M2 Pro?
A MacBook Pro with M1/M2 Pro can accommodate up to two external displays using either a Thunderbolt™ 4 docking station or by connecting the monitors directly to the MacBook Pro using the Thunderbolt 4 and HDMI® ports. The M1/M2 Pro chip will support up to two external displays with up to 6K resolution @ 60Hz.
How Can I Set Up Four Monitors on a MacBook Pro with M1/M2 Max?
A MacBook Pro with M1/M2 Max can support up to four external 4K displays @ 60Hz—yes, Quad 4K @ 60Hz. This setup uses a Thunderbolt™ 4 docking station, such as the SD5700T or SD5780T, for two of the displays, plus two direct connections via the Thunderbolt 4 (USB-C®) and HDMI® ports on your MacBook Pro. As usual, Apple keeps the connection process simple.
What Else Should I Know About Setting up Dual 6K or Quad 4K with my MacBook Pro?
It’s important to keep a few details in mind when evaluating your display setup:
- The display setups mentioned here are for MacBook Pro’s using M1/M2 Pro or M1/M2 Max chips.
- Both the monitor, the Thunderbolt™ 4 docking station, and the MacBook Pro must support DSC 1.2 and DP 1.4 HBR3.
- A common issue is that the MacBook Pro and Thunderbolt 4 docking station will support DSC 1.2 and DP 1.4 HBR3, but the monitors only support DSC 1.1 or older. This will cause a reduction in resolution from 6K to 4K. For example, the LG UltraFine™ 5K does not support DSC, so even with two of these monitors they are not capable of Dual 4K display. Therefore, the LG UltraFine 5K will work best as a single 5K display.
- When choosing monitors, look for support of DSC 1.2 and DP 1.4 HBR3. Then you can make sure your MacBook Pro, docking station, and monitor(s) all have the same DSC 1.2 and DP 1.4 HBR3 version to deliver dual 6K @ 60 Hz.
- If you need multiple monitor support for your M1/M2 or M2 MacBook that only supports a single display, you can overcome these limitations with docking stations and video adapters that enable you to set up multiple displays. Kensington has you covered with a range of industry-leading solutions for two monitor displays in extended mode.
How Can I Set Up Multiple Monitors on a Mac Studio with M1 Ultra?
The Mac Studio with M1 Ultra can support up to five external displays. Technically, you can direct connect all five monitors to the Mac Studio. However, if you use a Thunderbolt™ 4 docking station, such as the SD5780T, to handle two of the five, you’ll have access to more DisplayPort monitor ports from the front of your desk. The SD5780 comes with 11 ports of connectivity, including 3 Thunderbolt 4 ports, four USB-A 3.2 Gen2 (10Gbps) ports (one 5V/1.5A charging port on the front), one HDMI® 2.1 port, one 2.5Gbps Ethernet port; one audio combo jack, and one UHS-II SD 4.0 card reader.
If you have a MacBook Pro with an M1/M2 Pro or M1/M2 Max chip or a Mac Studio with the M1 Ultra chip, a Thunderbolt™ 4 docking station is an excellent accessory for helping you get the most from your Mac. From extending your display capabilities to providing transfer speeds up to 40Gbps to providing high-res audio for Thunderbolt 4 host devices, they are impressive productivity enhancers for professionals who want speed and next-gen visuals. It will also help you maintain a tidier desktop—for that clean and simple Apple appeal.
As new technology emerges, Kensington will continue to innovate and provide solutions that help professionals get the most from their workspace investments.
Learn more about Kensington’s Thunderbolt™ 4 docking stations