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Experiences with 3 monitors for Macbook Pro 16

johjoh

New Member
Looking at a possible solution with 3 qhd / 4k monitors connected to Mac Pro 16.

Anyone with experience with such a setup ?

Which Thunderbolt and/or USB-C hub did you use ? (I would like to add at least one Thunderbolt 3 or USB-C hub)
DisplayPort / HDMI / USB-C as preferred connection ?

Looking forward to your experiences & suggestions !!
 
Looking at a possible solution with 3 qhd / 4k monitors connected to Mac Pro 16.

Anyone with experience with such a setup ?

Which Thunderbolt and/or USB-C hub did you use ? (I would like to add at least one Thunderbolt 3 or USB-C hub)
DisplayPort / HDMI / USB-C as preferred connection ?

Looking forward to your experiences & suggestions !!
Do you mean a 2016 Mac Pro, or a Macbook Pro 16-inch?
 

tonalexplorer

New Member
Yep, I've done this with a 2019 Mac Pro (and also with a 2015 MacBook Pro).

DisplayPort is generally better for running computer displays, HDMI for TVs (since they don't usually support DisplayPort). USB-C just uses the DisplayPort signal in its 'alternate mode'.

I use this Thunderbolt > Dual DisplayPort adapter for connecting 2 x 4K displays and then have another 4K USB-C display, and then I've a TV connected to the HDMI port on my Mac Pro graphics card. Works well. Very occasionally, the Dual DisplayPort adapter doesn't wake up quite right (only get 1 display going), but a quick plug out and plug back in fixes it.

With my MacBook Pro, I used the CalDigit TS3 Plus which is a solid bit of gear - it only has 1 DisplayPort output and 1 Thunderbolt 3 output though, so you'll need adapters for 3 displays (unless of them is a USB-C display). I successfully connected the aforementioned Dual DisplayPort adapter to the Thunderbolt port on the TS3 and ran 2 DisplayPort displays off it.

Tip: Note that you can access advanced display configuration options in Mac OS by Option-clicking the "Scaled" button in System Prefs > Displays. I was only getting 30Hz on one 4K display for ages and couldn't figure out how to change it until I discovered this so hopefully it'll save ya time!
 
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johjoh

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Yep, I've done this with a 2019 Mac Pro (and also with a 2015 MacBook Pro).

DisplayPort is generally better for running computer displays, HDMI for TVs (since they don't usually support DisplayPort). USB-C just uses the DisplayPort signal in its 'alternate mode'.

I use this Thunderbolt > Dual DisplayPort adapter for connecting 2 x 4K displays and then have another 4K USB-C display, and then I've a TV connected to the HDMI port on my Mac Pro graphics card. Works well. Very occasionally, the Dual DisplayPort adapter doesn't wake up quite right (only get 1 display going), but a quick plug out and plug back in fixes it.

With my MacBook Pro, I used the CalDigit TS3 Plus which is a solid bit of gear - it only has 1 DisplayPort output and 1 Thunderbolt 3 output though, so you'll need adapters for 3 displays (unless of them is a USB-C display). I successfully connected the aforementioned Dual DisplayPort adapter to the Thunderbolt port on the TS3 and ran 2 DisplayPort displays off it.

Tip: Note that you can access advanced display configuration options in Mac OS by Option-clicking the "Scaled" button in System Prefs > Displays. I was only getting 30Hz on one 4K display for ages and couldn't figure out how to change it until I discovered this so hopefully it'll save ya time!
Thx for the cablematters tip - definitely a serious candidate!
How was the performance (with the three displays) on the MacBook Pro ?
 
Even when running 1440x2550 displays?
It doesn't have the graphics power to run three 4k monitors, usually caps out at two. You can get away with this by getting an external GPU enclosure, putting a GPU in it, and connecting it via thunderbolt to your macbook to get the results (and the monitors to the external GPU). That and the thermals on the macbook are pretty bad, so it would cause the fan to ramp up to cool it down.

Fair warning: right now they don't work on the M1 chips, but that will likely change in the future.
 
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johjoh

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hmmm ... disappointing ...

If Apple states the MBPRO 16 can run 4 (!) 4k monitors (https://support.apple.com/en-us/HT210754) - you would expect it to be able to run 3 smaller-resolution displays without a hiccup ...

And there's this video : - demoing 4 monitors via their TBT3-UDZ thunderbolt hub + a TB3-dual video adapter.
 
hmmm ... disappointing ...

If Apple states the MBPRO 16 can run 4 (!) 4k monitors (https://support.apple.com/en-us/HT210754) - you would expect it to be able to run 3 smaller-resolution displays without a hiccup ...

And there's this video : - demoing 4 monitors via their TBT3-UDZ thunderbolt hub + a TB3-dual video adapter.
My macbook is a bit older (which is what I was using as a reference), if the graphics power on the 2019 is greater, and someone tested it, you can probably make it work, but those fans are likely going to seriously kick in.
 

tonalexplorer

New Member
Thx for the cablematters tip - definitely a serious candidate!
How was the performance (with the three displays) on the MacBook Pro ?
It was fine running 3 displays - I even had 5 displays running at some points. My 2018 MBP has the Vega 20 chip with 4GB VRAM and running the displays with standard 2D content (web, video, etc) didn't result in fans coming on.

Generally running multiple 2D displays isn't that CPU or GPU hungry a task, it's when you start doing either 3D rendering (GPU Intensive) or CPU intensive tasks that the fans will kick in.

So if you're doing those already then you're probably used to the fans coming on on your MBP. That'll happen with any computer featuring a "Turbo Boost" function in it's processor (like Intel's Core iX chips).
 
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