I know the Apple site says this regarding the number of displays:

  • Up to two displays with 5120-by-2880 resolution at 60Hz at over a billion colors
  • Up to four displays with 4096-by-2304 resolution at 60Hz at millions of colors
  • Up to four displays with 3840-by-2160 resolution at 60Hz at over a billion colors

But I'm trying to find the cleanest solution for connecting this thing to 3 monitors without having a bunch of wires connected. I also know very little about the power restrictions and the connectivity of how the Thunderbolt ports are setup. Are they effectively on the same bus? Is connecting to one the same as connecting to all? Are they (hardware-wise) divided between the two sides they're on?

I'm also unable to find any docks that support 3 displays, only 2.

Ideally, I'd like to be able to plug in a single dock, and have that dock power 3 displays. I'd like to know if it's possible, and if so, what dock there is. If it's not possible, will just using two docks on the same side of the machine be okay?

  • Is this question about plugging multiple displays into a dock or into the MBP?
    – Allan
    Aug 31, 2017 at 22:03
  • What kind of displays are you planning on using?
    – mjmccolgan
    Aug 31, 2017 at 23:00
  • @Allan I'm assuming, given the nature of the wording on Apple's site, it should be a given that I can power 3 monitors by using up 3 Thunderbolt/USB-C ports. So, I'm asking about a dock, or at least minimal dongle configuration that uses less than that. Sep 5, 2017 at 12:23
  • @mjmccolgan definitely not 5k, and only possibly 4k; for the sake of this question though, just assume that I'm trying to connect 3 1920x1080 displays (over HDMI, if you think it helps to answer.) Sep 5, 2017 at 12:25

1 Answer 1


It's a matter of available bandwidth of the Thunderbolt port, not the dock itself.

A Thunderbolt 3 port has enough display bandwidth to handle a single 5K @60H display or two 4K displays at 60HZ.

On the 15" MacBook Pro (2017), it has two Thunderbolt controllers, so you can now attach a second 5K display or two more 4K displays. But because it's on a second controller, it will have to be on a different port.

From Apple's Thunderbolt Page

Thunderbolt 3 provides twice the display bandwidth of Thunderbolt 2, enabling iMac to support two 4K displays or one 5K display. And with two Thunderbolt controllers in the 15-inch MacBook Pro, you can send graphics to dual 5K displays for the perfect high-resolution photo and video editing setup.

The dock can support 2 displays, because that's the maximum that can be supported by the port. To get a 3rd and 4th display, you would have to use a different Thunderbolt port on the MBP.

However, you could (theoretically - meaning I have never personally tested this) put a USB to DVI/DisplayPort/HDMI adapter on one of the USB ports of the dock and get a 3rd display, but I currently can't see how you would get 4K out of it.

  • Okay, and when you say "different thunderbolt port", does it have to be on a different side? As "with two Thunderbolt controllers" and 4 Thunderbolt ports would suggest, to me, that it's one controller per side. Sep 5, 2017 at 13:21
  • I believe so, but I am not certain. I don't have a 2017 MBP available to try it out at the moment.
    – Allan
    Sep 5, 2017 at 13:23
  • 2
    Gotcha. Thanks! I'm really just trying to do what research I can before spending any money. I'm starting to think of one beefy dock to use for connecting other peripherals on one side, and just a simple USB-C to HDMI adapter connected on the other side. Sep 5, 2017 at 13:39
  • That's probably the way to go. If you're going to convert to HDMI, make sure you get an active adapter versus a passive one. If you go DisplayPort you won't need an adapter since the signal is there natively.
    – Allan
    Sep 5, 2017 at 13:54
  • 1
    This question and answer got me on the right path. I was daisy chaining three Apple Thunderbolt Displays bu t couldn't get it to work :/ Also after plugging them in 2 by 1 on the same side of the MBP 15". But this is basically the same Thunderbolt 3 controller can't drive 3 Thunderbolt displays. By switching one connection to the other side all 3 displays work including the built in Retina display. Great! Although, maybe hard to use a docking station because that will only use one side of the MBP to put some connectors in?! Maybe the Hengedocks horizontal dock uses both sides? Must be ;) Jun 23, 2018 at 12:57

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