How to extend Macbook Pro to external monitor?

Hey there, tech enthusiasts! Ever found yourself in a situation where you wanted to extend your Macbook Pro to an external monitor, and somehow ended up pulling your hair out? Well, guess what? You’re not alone, and you’ve certainly come to the right place! Sit back, grab a cup of coffee, and let me guide you on this journey. No need for too much techno babble, let’s keep it real and straightforward.

Let’s first address the big question – why can this be so tricky? When it comes to connecting to external displays with USB-C DP Alt mode, there are two game players in town: Single Stream Transport (SST) and Multi Stream Transport (MST). The real deal is that MacOS supports only SST, unlike Windows which caters to both. This tiny difference is why non-displaylink enabled docks with multiple video ports have a tough time fully cooperating with our beloved Macs.

But don’t you worry! Our shiny, Thunderbolt-enabled Macbooks have a knack for getting around this issue. It’s thanks to a neat little quirk of how Thunderbolt works, where daisy-chained devices can each receive their own separate SST video stream, right up to the monitor limit.

Now, I’m not a betting man, but I’ll wager that you’re curious about how Intel units, like say the 2019 16″ MBP, handle this. Well, my friend, it’s a bit different – they officially support 1x 5k display or 2x4k displays. But rumor has it, they’ll manage 3 or more if the resolutions are kept on the down-low. I can’t confirm this personally, though, as my own gear doesn’t stretch that far.

With M-Series processors, it’s a bit more cut-and-dry. They focus solely on the actual unit counts, without bothering about whether all of the displays are at max resolution or not. To give you a clear picture, the external display counts are as follows:

– M1/M2: 1 External Display
– Pro: 2 External Displays
– Max: 4 External Displays

That said, each of these types will happily work with multiple displays (including your laptop one). But beware! If you’re driving multiple displays off 1 dock, you’ll probably encounter the same problem we’ve been talking about.

A simple solution that worked for me – try plugging your HDMI monitor directly into the HDMI port on your MacBook Pro, instead of using the dock for both screens. For some odd reason, Macs seem to prefer it that way. I know, it’s quirky, but hey, it works!

Caldigit dock

CalDigit TS3 Plus Thunderbolt 3 Dock - 87W Charging, 7X USB 3.1 Ports, USB-C Gen 2, DisplayPort, UHS-II SD Card Slot, Gigabit Ethernet for Mac & PC, Thunderbolt 4 Compatible (0.8m/2.62ft Cable)

Now let’s talk about the Caldigit dock, a trusty companion in my own digital adventures. I managed to make it work like a charm by using a USB-C to HDMI cable for one monitor, and a DP for the other. Easy-peasy, right?

So there you go, my tech-savvy comrades! A little patience, a dash of ingenuity, and you’ve got yourself a setup to conquer the digital world. Remember, it’s all about taking it step by step and keeping it real. Happy tech tinkering!

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Since the age of 16, Prayas has been enthralled with all things tech. As a result, he’s developed an extensive skillset that has allowed him to help people with their computer and smartphone problems. When he’s not at his PC, you can find him riding his motorbike.

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