If you have an M1-based Mac, Apple says you’re limited to a single external monitor. But Anker, which makes power banks, chargers, docking stations and other accessories, released a docking station this week that it says will increase the maximum number of monitors on your M1 Mac to three.
The $250 Anker 563 USB-C Dock, spotted by MacRumors, connects to a USB-C port on your computer (which doesn’t to have be a Mac) and can also charge a laptop at up to 100W. Of course, you’ll also need to plug in the docking station’s 180W AC adapter. Once connected, the dock adds the following ports to your configuration:
- 2x HDMI (unspecified version)
- 1x USB-C (3.1 Gen 1): charges devices up to 30W
- 1x USB-A (3.1 Gen 1): charges devices up to 7.5W
- 2x USB-A (2.0)
- 1x 3.5mm headphone jack
- 1x Ethernet
You’ll need both HDMI and DisplayPort ports to add three monitors to a MacBook M1. There are, however, some notable limitations.
If you were hoping to use a trio of 4K displays, you’re out of luck. The docking station can only support one 4K monitor at a time, and output will be limited to a 30Hz refresh rate. can reach up to 360 Hz. 4K monitors will even reach 240 Hz this year. Running 4K at 30Hz might be fine for watching movies, but for fast-paced action things might not look as smooth to keen eyes used at 60Hz and beyond.
If you add a second external monitor via the Anker 563, a 4K display will still run at 30Hz over HDMI, while DisplayPort will support up to 2560×1440 resolution at 60Hz.
There are more disappointing caveats when looking at a three-monitor setup. The 4K monitor will run at 30Hz, but you will no longer be able to use another monitor at 2560×1440. Instead, the two additional monitors are limited to 2048×1152 resolution and 60Hz refresh rates. If the display doesn’t support 2048×1152, Anker says the monitor will default to 1920×1080.
You also need to download the DisplayLink software and you need to be running macOS10.14 or Windows 7 or later.
Apple claims that “using docking stations or daisy-chaining devices doesn’t increase the number of displays you can connect” to a Mac M1, so don’t be surprised if there are any hiccups during the working.
Anker isn’t alone in trying to do what Apple says it can’t, as noted by The Verge. Hyper, for example, offers options for adding two 4K monitors to a MacBook M1, one at 30Hz and one at 60Hz. This listing includes a $200 hub with a selection of ports similar to the Anker 563 and a warranty. two-year limited (Anker dock gives 18 months). It works via DisplayPort Alt mode, so you don’t need a DisplayLink driver, but it still requires the super pesky app.
Plugable has docking solutions that claim to work with M1 Macs for a similar price to the Anker docking station, and they also limit 4K to 30Hz.
However, some docks have even more limitations when it comes to the M1. CalDigit notes that for its docking station, “users cannot extend their desktop across two displays and will be limited to two ‘mirrored’ displays or 1 external display depending on the docking station.”
Alternatively, and for several hundred dollars more, you can buy a new MacBook and upgrade to an M1 Pro, M1 Max, or M1 Ultra processor. Depending on the device, these chips can support two to five external displays, according to Apple.
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