Apple M1 Dual Monitor Setup

It has been a LONG time since I posted last – truth be told, I haven’t done anything technical since the last post, really. I got super into the election coverage and have been focused on that. Now that it looks to be winding down – I won’t get into my politics here and now (maybe at some point) – I thought I would post about something new that I recently got.

HTC Evo 4G
First, a little perspective I had recently decided to move to the PC and Android. I had been using Apple Computers and the iPhone for a very long time. The last android phone I can remember having was HTC EVO 4G. Image by Christian Lo CC.

I probably did this about a month or so after my last post, so that wasn’t more than three or four months ago now. Long story short. I am back on an iPhone and back on the Macintosh for my daily drivers. My foray into Android left me missing the refinement of iOS, and the move into Windows (though I use windows every day for my job and I have a gaming rig that runs windows) left me really missing the integration that the Apple ecosystem provides.

So when I saw that Apple announce the new M1 computers, I jumped at the chance to switch back to the Mac and back to the iPhone. So far, I’m very impressed. The speed has been pretty much what all the reviews have promised, and the battery life is impressive.

I ended up getting the Macbook Air with 512GB of storage and 8GB of ram. I had initially ordered an air with 16GB, but Best Buy had a sale on for Apple Care for $50 off, so I decided to get this one that was in stock. After reading and listening to many reviews, it seemed the 8GB model would meet my needs and seemed to be outperforming most intel laptops with 16GB quite handily.

One limitation that I was not thrilled with, though I did know about it before my purchase, was the limitation of using only a single external monitor. I found several articles and Youtube Videos, so I thought I would give it a try. With the second display being driven over a USB 3 link via a software driver, my expectations were pretty low. But I can tell you that the device has over-delivered on those expectations.

Here is my current display setup:

My M1 Air Setup
This feat is accomplished using a USB to Displayport Displaylink adapter I bought on from Diamond Multimedia. I use this in conjunction with my CalDigit TS3 dock to achieve single cable ‘docking’ to the Macbook Air. The dock provides connectivity to ethernet, other USB devices, and a more convenient audio jack.

I am actually sharing the monitors and keyboard between my Macbook Air and a Windows machine I use for work in my setup. I am manually switching the displays (both displays use Displayport for the Macbook) to HDMI to switch to work mode. I then use a little device, USB 3.0 Splitter for 2 Computers Sharing 4 USB Devices, which allows me to share my Keyboard, Mouse, and Webcam between the work computer and the Air.

This setup has worked very nicely so far for me. As I get more installed and working on the new M1, I will post here if I find anything exciting and new. But for now, I just wanted to make a quick post about the setup and talk about how nice the Displaylink hardware and software are working to drive 2 4K displays from a machine that only supports one.