Three external displays connected to an M1 MacBook Pro?

I currently own a TBT3-UDZ, and two monitors. I’m going to be buying a new 14" M1 (Pro) MacBook Pro, and I realize the Pro chip only supports two external monitors. However, here’s my ideal setup:

  • My two existing external monitors, running 4k@60hz
  • A third external monitor, also running 4k@60hz
  • My MacBook Pro’s screen acting as the fourth monitor

I’ve read that a display adapter like Plugable’s UGA-4KDP could be connected to my TBT3-UDZ, and drive a third monitor. However, it looks like most (or all?) of these solutions only drive the monitor at 30hz when running at 4k resolution.

The DisplayLink DL-6950 chipset looks like it can drive dual 4k displays at 60hz, though, and since adapters like the USB3-6950-DP use this chip, is it feasible to assume that I could run a connection such as the following to achieve what I want?

Monitor 1 and Monitor 2 → TBT3-UDZ (via DisplayPort)
Monitor 3 → USB3-6950-DP → TBT3-UDZ (via USB-A)
TBT3-UDZ → MacBook Pro (via USB-C)

If that configuration won’t work, are there any other suggestions you have that might?

Hello Adam,

Thank you for contacting Plugable support! I’d be more than happy to assist you.

Your proposed configuration below:

“Monitor 1 and Monitor 2 → TBT3-UDZ (via DisplayPort)
Monitor 3 → USB3-6950-DP → TBT3-UDZ (via USB-A)
TBT3-UDZ → MacBook Pro (via USB-C)”

Would indeed be valid to enable three (our four) displays with your M1 Pro model MacBook Pro. The system will natively support two displays through Thunderbolt 3, and then of course the DisplayLink DL-6950 based adapter will allow 1 or 2 additional displays over USB-A once the DisplayLink drivers have been installed and the macOS permissions set: https://kb.plugable.com/questions/799275

One important mention is when using DisplayLink on Mac it will disable HDCP support (copyright protection), so watching online streaming videos (Netflix, Hulu, etc) or other protected content will not work until the DisplayLink adapter is removed. So depending on your intended use case this may be problematic. (Unfortunately at this time this HDCP limitation with DisplayLink technology on Mac has no known time frame for a fix/workaround.)

Please don’t hesitate to let us know of other questions.

Thanks again for contacting Plugable support and best wishes!

Joshua Henry
Senior Engineer | Product Owner
Plugable Technologies

Very interesting, I had no idea about the HDCP limitation, but I’m glad to know the proposal should work otherwise. Thanks for the quick response!

You’re most welcome! If you encounter any issues at all if you end up going this route don’t hesitate to let us know, we’ll be happy to help.

Best wishes!
Josh