Anker says its new USB-C hub allows MacBook M1s to output to three external monitors

Anker has announced a new $249.99 10-in-1 USB-C hub that, among other things, lets an M1-equipped MacBook output to three external displays, MacRumors reports. It’s designed to overcome a key limitation of Apple’s M1-powered MacBooks which, by default, can only output to a single external monitor.

The Anker 563 docking station has a total of 10 ports, including USB-C, USB-A, 3.5mm audio, and Ethernet. But we’re more interested in the display connectors, which consist of an HDMI port that can go up to 4K at 30Hz (unclear what the maximum refresh rate is at lower resolutions), a second HDMI port that can do 2K (aka 1440p) at up to 60Hz, and a DisplayPort which is also capable of 2K at 60Hz.

The specifications of the monitors it allows you to connect.
Picture: Anker

You’ve probably spotted a key limitation here, which is that the first HDMI port only goes up to 30Hz at 4K, which means a connected monitor won’t be particularly smooth to use. But that may not matter if you’re using it to watch video content (which rarely exceeds 30fps) or productivity software. A second key limitation is that you’ll need to install DisplayLink software to get your MacBook M1 to output to as many monitors, and experience with previous hubs suggests the results can be finicky.

Competing accessory maker Hyper last year announced a pair of USB-C docking stations designed to run two displays on a MacBook M1. (It advertises that the hub is plug and play without the need for drivers, but there is still some software you need to install.) Alternatively, macworld has a good overview of your other multi-screen options with various docks and hubs on the market, but be aware that some of them are not officially supported by their manufacturers.

The 10 ports of the quay.
Picture: Anker

Away from its display connectors, the Anker 563 docking station also features a USB-C port that can deliver up to 100W of power to a host machine, a 1Gbps Ethernet port, a USB-C port with 5 Gbps of data transfer speeds and 30 W of power delivery, a 5 Gbps and 7.5 W USB-A port, and two USB-A ports reserved for data at 480 Mbps. There is also a DC input to power the docking station.

The external monitor situation was an unfortunate limitation of the first-generation Apple Silicon MacBooks, and thankfully the newer M1 Pro and M1 Max-powered machines have native support for multiple external displays. There’s no official word on whether Apple’s rumored M2-powered MacBooks will have similar limitations upon release, but we can only hope you won’t. no need for an expensive hub to connect multiple displays.

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