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Apple’s new Mac Mini, MacBook Air, and MacBook Pro 13″, the first Macs to feature the Apple-designed M1 CPU, are showing a lot of potential across the board in comparison to their Intel-based counterparts. But there is one thing that caught our eye: a reduction in the number of external displays you can connect.

Per the specifications, the Mac Mini will natively support up to two external monitors (One via the HDMI port and a second via USB-C), while the MacBook Air and MacBook Pro 13″ only support one external display. Naturally, we wanted to see how accurate that was.

Sure enough, out of the box, these new computers work as described: one external screen on the MacBook Pro and Air when connected to our Thunderbolt docking stations that support 2 displays on Intel-based Macs. But when have we ever been satisfied with what it says on the box?

We found the trick for connecting multiple displays to your M1 powered Mac is a Plugable DisplayLink docking station.

In our initial testing, we used the Plugable USB-C Triple Display Dock (UD-3900PDZ). On both of our computers, M1 powered MacBook Pro and MacBook Air, we successfully extended our video output to three external displays running at 1920×1080.

We were able to repeat the results on the Plugable USB-C Triple 4K Display Dock (UD-ULTC4K) across DisplayPort and HDMI ports.

Note: These multi-display docks use a combination of USB-C Alternate Mode (native “Alt Mode” video output) and DisplayLink technology (requiring a driver to be installed). This combination of technologies serves as a workaround to the M1 platform only supporting a single external display via USB-C. For additional information about DisplayLink and macOS, please see our post here.

Questions on connections, or comments about anything else? Please let us know in the comments, we’d be happy to help.


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