Computer accessories manufacturer Sonnet Tech has just announced two new, very useful adapters for owners of (original) M1 Macs as well as PCs without a Thunderbolt port. Both DisplayLink adapters – Display Port or HDMI – support two external 4K 60Hz displays, using just one USB-A port on the host computer. This is especially useful for M1 users since Apple officially supports only one external display.
I personally own a 2020 M1 MacBook Pro, so this announcement is good news! The ability to connect not one, but two external displays at 4K 60Hz (UHD 3840 x 2160 Pixel) is especially useful when 1) video editing/color grading or 2) researching and editing articles for CineD with many browser tabs open.
Unfortunately, Apple officially only supports one external display at up to 6K 60Hz (but only when the MacBook display is set to its native resolution, once you scale it, the external display drops to 30Hz). Other third-party adapters mostly only support one display or one at 60Hz and the second at 30Hz.
Sonnet Tech DisplayLink dual display adapters
These two new dual-display adapters aren’t the only ones Sonnet Tech has on offer. The company also sells native Thunderbolt 4 adapters with either two display ports or two HDMI ports and strongly recommends using them if you have a compatible Mac or PC (M1 Max, M1 Pro, TB 3, or 4-capable PCs). But if you have an original M1 Mac as I do, these two dedicated USB-A variants are just right for you.
Both dual-display adapters come with USB-A to USB-C adapters and are bus-powered, so there is no need for external power. If you’re short on ports, you can also connect these adapters to a Thunderbolt hub connected to your M1 machine.
Sonnet Tech states that playback of copy-protected content is possible, but only on PCs, for now. Perhaps support for Apple’s M1 machines will follow.
Of course, this is a bit of a workaround since Apple doesn’t support more than one external display on M1 machines, but if it works, it works, right? There are other ways to get around this limitation circulating on the Internet, but this neat solution is the most elegant one I’ve come across so far.
As it seems, you can even use two of these adapters to connect up to four(!) 4K 60Hz displays to your M1 Mac, for all the possible combinations and requirements, please refer to Sonnet Tech’s official specifications here (HDMI) and here (DP) at the bottom of the page.
Pricing and availability
Both new DisplayLink dual-display adapters are available now, as are their Thunderbolt counterparts. The USB-A variants (for M1) cost $149.99, which isn’t exactly cheap, but if you need two extra displays, it might be worth it. The Thunderbolt-to-dual HDMI variant is $109.99, and the Thunderbolt-to-dual DP variant is $89.99.
What I find a bit odd is that these purpose-built adapters for the M1 Macs come with a USB-A port, which said Macs (except the Mac Mini) don’t have. But it is what it is.
Link: Sonnet Tech
What do you think of it? Would this adapter be something you would consider for your workflow? Or would you rather upgrade to a newer M1 Pro / M1 Max model? Share your experiences in the comments below!