Plugable claims its USB adapter allows up to four monitors for Apple M1 and M2 devices
Boost your Apple M1 or M2 workspace from two displays to fiveBy Daniel Sims
Why it matters: Apple promoted its ARM-based processors for their performance-per-watt advantages over x86-based systems, with tests showing positive results. However, multi-monitor users are at a disadvantage on all but the most expensive Apple Silicon models. Plugable says it has a relatively cheap solution, though it admits there are caveats and no reviews are currently available.
Adaptor vendor Plugable launched its USB-C or USB 3.0 to Quad HDMI Adapter (USBC-768H4) this week - a USB hub that aims to provide the easiest five-panel PC experience. It supports Windows 10 and 11 as well as macOS Big Sur and later. The company highlights the adapter's usefulness for Apple M1 and M2 devices.
Apple says Macs with M1 or M2 CPUs can use only one external display through a Thunderbolt or USB 4 connection, while an M1 Pro Mac can connect to two. The more expensive M1 Max and M1 Ultra devices allow up to five.
Instead of upgrading a whole system for hundreds of dollars, Plugable's adapter lets users add four external monitors for $120. As the hub is brand new, critics and customers haven't posted reviews yet.
Plugable also made the USBC-768H4 relatively portable and simple to set up. It gets all the required power from the PC through a USB 3.0 or USB-C connection, so it doesn't need an extra power outlet. Users just plug the USB cable into the PC, then connect the monitors through four HDMI ports.
The USBC-768H4 gets around Apple's limitations with the Silicon Motion chipset and a unique driver instead of USB-C Alt Mode. On Windows, the driver installs automatically upon connecting the adapter. Mac users, however, must manually install a separate app.
The main limitation is that Plugable's hub limits connected displays to 1080p and 60Hz. Also important, however, is that Silicon Motion currently doesn't support any graphics-intensive tasks. Plugable only expects customers to use it for basic productivity applications like Microsoft Office or Google Docs.
Specifically, Silicon Motion is currently incompatible with many display features like HDCP, gaming graphics drivers, display rotation, night shift, and color calibration. Plugable also advises against using the adapter on Linux and ChromeOS systems.
The USBC-768H4 is available now from Amazon, Walmart, Newegg, and other stores.