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The Apple Silicon based 2020 Apple M1 MacBook Pro supports Thunderbolt version 3 and I'm wondering if anyone has tried connection one to an Apple Thunderbolt Display?

Of course you'd need to use one of Apple's Thunderbolt 3 to Thunderbolt 2 converters.

I also understand that this version is limited to supporting only a single 4K or 6K display, but since the original Apple Thunderbolt Display is only 2K I’d want to try and daisy chain these.

Can I run more than one external display from the Apple Silicon M1 CPU/GPU based MacBook Pro (or Air)?

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No, you get only one external display - for two supported displays total and they do not chain (in the case of the mini and two external displays).

One is the MacBook Pro / Air screen and the second can be as large as the 6K Pro Display XDR. The Mac mini has the same limitation - two displays only, no chaining of displays. Initial reports from the Thunderbolt 2 to 3 adapter are very encouraging that those displays work well. As do the latest displays with newer connections.

Now, just because Apple doesn’t support it, you can add all sort of Thunderbolt docks and USB to HDMI adapters.

Five displays works with third party software + hardware.

This team has tested 5 displays from an Air and 6 from the Mini. It looks like you can push things far more using DisplayLink software instead of the supported direct connection with reasonably priced adapters if you really need more pixels.

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  • Have you tested a single original Thunderbolt Display? Not an Apple Pro XDR. – Gerard de Jong Nov 20 '20 at 5:38
  • I have none of those operational, but the thunderbolt 3 to 2 adapter is bidirectional and very compatible with all other devices I’ve tested from that era. I think chances are very good a working TB Apple display would work great. – bmike Nov 20 '20 at 12:12
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    I can confirm that the M1 Mini works with the Thunderbird Display and the adapter Apple sells. Arrived, well, a few minutes ago :-) – nohillside Nov 20 '20 at 17:25
  • Thank you for the confirmation! – Gerard de Jong Nov 20 '20 at 18:25
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    DisplayLink is a remote GPU typically talked to over USB, so the refresh rate is slower than for the built-in graphics adapter. – Thorbjørn Ravn Andersen Dec 21 '20 at 4:23
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The youtube video showed 5 display works with M1 systems is not using M1 video solution, but a third-party DisplayLink (not DisplayPort) solution, which using USB ports and the computing power of installed systems to redirect/ repack the video output via USB ports.

So, technically speaking if your systems have unlimited USB ports, then you can have unlimited monitors connected to the systems (not limited to M1 systems), as long as the connected systems can provide the process resources for the DisplayLink converter/adapter. That is why the solution MUST have a matching DisplayLink driver for the installed OS version on each connected system.

The solution is not perfect, but looks like is the only solution currently to provide multi-monitor for M1 systems.

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This videos shows how to connect 3 monitors on macbook pro with M1 chip:

https://youtu.be/yxrM394Rka4

make sure second dock is compatible with DisplayLink drivers. its working for me. :)

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  • While this link may answer the question, it is better to include the essential parts of the answer here and provide the link for reference. Link-only answers can become invalid if the linked page changes. – grg Dec 21 '20 at 13:59

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