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connect monitor mac studio - cover

How To Connect An External Monitor To A Mac Studio

Both the M2 Mac Studio and M1 Mac Studio support multiple external monitors and here we show you all the different ways you can connect an external display to a Mac Studio.

Both the M1 and M2 Mac Studio offer the same connectivity options although the M2 Mac Studio supports HDMI 2.1 compared to the M1 which only supports HDMI 2.1 (more on this below).

The Mac Studio is equipped with four Thunderbolt 4 ports and 1 HDMI port on the back and which you can connect an external display, projector or HDTV to.

connect display mac studio - ports

The Mac Studio with the M1/M2 Ultra chip is equipped with six Thunderbolt 4 ports in total as it has two extra on the front.

The M1/M2 Max chip Mac Studio also has these two extra ports on the front but they are only USB-C not Thunderbolt 4.

connect display mac studio - front ports

For an understanding of the difference between the ports check out this look at USB-C vs Thunderbolt.

Both the M1/M2 Max and M1/M2 Ultra Mac Studio support more external displays than any other Mac. You can connect:

  • M1 Max Mac Studio: 4 displays of up to 6K resolution at 60 Hz to the Thunderbolt ports and 1 HDMI display of up to 4K resolution to the HDMI port
  • M1 Ultra Mac Studio: 5 displays of up to 6K resolution at 60 Hz to the Thunderbolt ports or 4 displays of up to 6K resolution to the Thunderbolt ports and 1 HDMI display of up to 4K resolution to the HDMI port.

So basically, both models can support up to 5 external displays but the M1 Ultra Mac Studio can connect all 5 via Thunderbolt without needing to use the HDMI port.

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Does The Mac Studio Support HDMI 2.1?

Surprisingly the HDMI port in the Mac Studio doesn’t support the latest HDMI 2.1 standard as it uses the older HDMI 2.0 standard instead.

This means that although you can get 4K resolution via the Mac Studio’s HDMI port, you can’t get high refresh rates of 120Hz via HDMI.

HDMI 2.0 supports up to 240 Hz when using 1080p resolution, 144 Hz at up to 1440p resolution, and 60 Hz at up to 4K resolution.

HDMI 2.1 supports 120 Hz at up to 4K resolution and 60 Hz at up to 8K resolution. If you use a lower resolution than 4K, HDMI 2.1 can even handle up to 240 Hz.

Currently, HDMI 2.1 is only available in the latest M2 Mac Studio, M2 Mac Mini and M2 MacBook Pros and was one of the notable additions to the M2 Mac Studio compared to the M1 version.

The Mac Studio can can support up to 4 external monitors via Thunderbolt (or 5 via Thunderbolt if you have the Mac Studio with M1 Ultra chip) including 4 Apple Pro XDR displays at 6K resolution which should be more than enough for most professionals.

The Mac Studio can also handle Ultrawide monitors including 34-inch, 38-inch and the biggest 49-inch displays.

The Mac Studio is available with both the M1/M2 Max and M1/M2 Ultra chip but neither chip affects which monitors or displays it can support.

How To Connect The Mac Studio To An External Monitor

Almost all the best external monitors nowadays have either a USB-C port or Thunderbolt port which you can connect via a USB-C cable or Thunderbolt 4 cable to a Mac Studio’s Thunderbolt 4 ports.

Most external monitors come with either a USB-C or Thunderbolt cable to connect to your Mac Studio.

If it doesn’t, you can also purchase USB-C cables and Thunderbolt 4 cables.

Bear in mind if you need lots of space between your Mac Studio and external display then most of them are quite short and you’ll need to buy a longer one.

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Can A Mac Studio Connect To Any Monitor?

As long as the external monitor has a USB-C port or Thunderbolt port then you can connect it directly to your Mac Studio without any adapters.

If the monitor has any of the following ports then you will need an adapter to connect it to your Mac Studio:

Does the Mac Studio Support Dual Monitors?

The Mac Studio can support up to 5 external displays so it can easily support dual monitors.

The base model M1 and M2 MacBooks however can only support one external display although there are workarounds to make them support dual monitors too.

How To Adjust Displays Connected To The Mac Studio

You can go to System Settings > Displays manage any display connected to a Mac Studio.

The Display Settings allow you to activate or deactivate screen mirroring, arrange and manage multiple displays and adjust color, resolution, contrast and other settings.

Is The Apple Studio Display Just A Monitor?

The Apple Studio Display (sometimes referred to as the Mac Studio Display) is a 27-inch flat paneled 5K retina computer display and can only be used as a monitor.

The Apple Studio display was announced by Apple on March 8th 2022 and released on March 18th 2022.

The Apple Studio Display was designed to be used with the Mac Studio but can actually be used with any Mac.

There are however lots of other displays that can be used with the Mac Studio that are cheaper alternatives to the Apple Studio Display.

Can You Use An iMac As An External Monitor For The Mac Studio?

If you’ve for an old iMac lying around, you can use an iMac as an external display for the Mac Studio but it’s not as straightforward as it should be.

The latest iMacs support up to 5K resolution which is the same as the Apple Studio Display so in theory, it would make perfect sense to use an old iMac with the Mac Studio.

However, Apple dropped what’s known as Target Display Mode for retina Macs like the iMac back in 2014 which previously allowed you to use an iMac as an external monitor with another Mac.

There are still ways to use an iMac as a monitor but there are very few that support 5K resolution reliably and our advice is you’re much better off getting a dedicated external monitor.


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