I have three 24" (1920x1200) Dells that I would like to use on a single setup. With the 15" retina MacBook Pro having two Thunderbolt ports and one HDMI connector, would it be possible to connect them all up in addition to the built-in display?

  • 1
    I think we should focus this question towards the 15" rMBP. There are significant differences between the 15" rMBP and the 13" rMBP because the discrete graphics on the high-end model are both faster and have access to more video memory.
    – gentmatt
    Commented Dec 10, 2012 at 17:52

7 Answers 7


The Other World Computing Blog shows that the new MacBook Pro 15" with Retina Display Can Run 3 External Displays:

MacBook Pro 15 with Retina Display Can Run 3 External Displays

image source: http://blog.macsales.com/

These resolutions were used:

  • Retina on laptop @ “best for Retina”
  • iMac used as a display @ 2560 x 1440 via Thunderbolt
  • iMac used as a display @ 2560 x 1440 via Thunderbolt/DisplayPort
  • LG monitor @ 1920 x 1200 via HDMI

Quote from the MacRumors news article on that:

This makes the Retina MacBook Pro the first Mac -- other than a tower-based workstation like the Mac Pro -- to natively power four displays simultaneously.

  • any idea of the resolution of each display?
    – yee379
    Commented Jun 21, 2012 at 6:13
  • @yee379 - I added the resolutions used to the answer.
    – iolsmit
    Commented Jun 21, 2012 at 9:15
  • 1
    by daisy chaining thunderbolt cables I've seen people do 4 monitors, plus the rMBP, total 5. This photo is great for showing just the ports being used. Currently there's no thunderbolt hub in existence that actually works. (random side note) Commented May 8, 2013 at 15:52
  • I am running 10.12.6 MacBook Pro (Retina, 15-inch, Mid 2015) - I have followed the instructions but the mac doesn't even pick up the 4th display. I have a 27" LG 4k, Laptop retina, cheap 2x 21" acer - only 1 acer shows up Commented Jul 28, 2017 at 23:04

Yes. Much of the official documentation doesn't explicitly address the HDMI port as adding to the two thunderbolt and built in display, this has been shown to work by several early adopters of the retina MacBook Pro. It's also buried in footnote 4 of answer 11 of the useful omnibus Thunderbolt FAQ

See reviews like for details on resolutions and performance:

  • This is awesome :-) I which I had this kind of setup :)
    – Michiel
    Commented Jun 20, 2012 at 18:12
  • I can't say if the HDMI supports the dell monitor resolution of 1920x1200, but perhaps that can be determined from the display model tech article.
    – bmike
    Commented Jun 20, 2012 at 18:22

From http://www.apple.com/macbook-pro/specs/:

Dual display and video mirroring: Simultaneously supports full native resolution on the built-in display and up to 2560 by 1600 pixels on up to two external displays, at millions of colors

  • darn :( <insert padding>
    – yee379
    Commented Jun 15, 2012 at 18:17
  • 2
    This is incorrect. See support.apple.com/kb/HT5219#dispnum for a footnote explaining both HDMI and two external displays are supported.
    – bmike
    Commented Jun 20, 2012 at 18:20

Through thunderbolt + HDMI, yes, three is the limit, but you can use the DispllayLink monitors to run smaller (15" or so) monitors through the USB. I should have taken a picture because I'm not set up to really use it, but I successfully plugged in two 1920x1200 (thunderbolt), on 1920x1080 (HDMI) and two 1366x768 (USB) monitors running by my 13" Retina Pro. Just plugged em in. (After downloading the DisplayLink drivers.)



I'm using two of these with a rMBP to cable two external non-Apple displays. I intend to buy a third monitor and cable it via the HDMI port on the right hand side.

If you have a lot of cash to spare, you can daisy chain monitors via thunderbolt. In this process you purchase several apple thunderbolt displays and plug one end of the first thunderbolt cable into your rMBP, the other into your first monitor, then use the second thunderbolt port of your monitor to go to the next, and so on. I have seen video on youtube when the rMBP first came out of a guy powering 4 monitors (5 total including the laptops screen) at full resolution.

Keep in mind, the more monitors you use, the more of a burden it will be on your machine.


You can run 3 to 4 external monitors (4 or 5 including the main screen). This is done through USB. By default you can only have 2 external monitors including your native display. But there is a way to add more.

Here is how you do it:

  1. Get a USB to HDMI adapter (this serves as an external graphics card that pulls from your CPU).
  2. Plug adapter into your USB port
  3. Plug your HDMI into the adapter and connect to monitor. It's that simple. You can also get adapters for display port, VGA, DVI.

This video demonstrates the steps above.



The MBP 15" 2015's Radeon chips lack passive display connections (or timers?). Pick up an “active” mDP cable and your monitors (3rd) should come to life. These GPUs only support two passive connections, the rest NEED to be active cables. Source: http://mkn.us/blog/how-to-use-3-external-monitors-on-macbook-pro-2015/

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