Are you a power user who can’t live without two monitors? Looking to upgrade laptops and wondering if the MacBook Air M1 can run two monitors?
The MacBook Air M1 is one of Apple’s best value MacBooks, it’s not only relatively cheap but also delivers incredible performance.
For the average user who only needs one screen, it’s a great deal. But what about the rest of us?
The downside to the MacBook Air M1 is the limited ports. There are only two USB-C Thunderbolt ports, one of which is used for charging the device.
It doesn’t have a dedicated HDMI port or any regular USB ports, so hubs and dongles are required.
Can MacBook Air M1 Run Two Monitors?
The MacBook Air M1 can only natively run one monitor at a time via a USB-C to HDMI dongle. However, there are off-brand docking stations you can use to run two monitors in extended mode on a MacBook Air M1 using DisplayLink.
Looking for some good monitors? Take a look at my best monitors for Macs!
Here’s the thing:
The performance with DisplayLink docks can be unreliable because it’s not officially supported by Apple. On that note, Apple can release updates that make the software obsolete, so there’s no guarantee it will work forever.
For most users, a DisplayLink dock is an acceptable workaround to get two monitors on a MacBook Air M1.
With this method, you can also use your laptop in clamshell mode, in a vertical stand, to save more desk space.
The new M1 Pro and M1 Mac MacBook Pros have a dedicated HDMI port, making it easier to connect multiple displays. Still, while those devices are great, they’re overkill and too expensive for the average user.
Most tech experts agree the MacBook Air M1 is the best general choice laptop out there at the moment.
An alternative is to buy the M1 Mac Mini, which natively supports two monitors, has an HDMI port, and is cheaper than the Air.
How to Run Two Monitors on MacBook Air M1 With Docking Stations:
To run two monitors on a Macbook Air M1 you will need a docking station, preferably one with two HDMI ports. Once you have a docking station you will need to install the appropriate drivers and software.
I’ll walk you through the steps below.
Buy a DisplayLink Docking Station:
There are a number of docking stations that work, I like this WAVLINK Dual 4K USB-C Docking Station.
Note: Pay attention to the video ports your monitors’ support. Not all monitors use HDMI.
Setup the Docking Station:
Connect the docking station to DC power with the included power cable and then connect it to one of your MacBook Air’s Thunderbolt ports.
Next, connect your monitors to the HDMI ports on the docking station. Your MacBook will likely only detect one of them. To enable the other one, you will need to install the Display Link software.
Head over to the DisplayLink website and download DisplayLink Manager Graphics Connectivity and install it.
Once the software is installed, the second display should trigger, and you will be able to use two monitors with your MacBook Air M1.
The problem with docking stations, especially ones that support DisplayLink, is they can be quite expensive. I’ve seen products that cost $300 or more, but most are in the $100 to $200 range.
However, since a docking station includes multiple additional ports, such as USB-A ports, it’s worth the cost. I recommend looking for a docking station that supports power pass through.
For a cheaper alternative, you could buy a basic USB-C with a 4K HDMI hub and then a USB-A to DisplayLink adapter.
The problem with that method is you will have multiple dongles connected to one another, making a mess of things. For most people, one dedicated docking station is a more convenient option.
Buy MacBook Air M1:
2020 Apple MacBook Air M1 Amazon
While the MacBook Air M1 is an amazing laptop, I really don’t like that it only has two thunderbolt ports, and only officially supports one external monitor. It forces people to buy expensive docking stations and dongles, for a very basic function.
Nevertheless, now you know that it is possible to run two monitors on a MacBook Air M1. While inconvenient, it does work, and you’ll have plenty of screen real estate for your work. What do you think?
Drop a comment with your thoughts below.