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How to Set Up Multiple Displays

  • 3 min read

If you spend all day sitting in front of a laptop, there's a good chance that you've experienced pain and tightness in your shoulders and neck. That's because when you're using a laptop, you're having to hunch over and look down the whole time.

One thing you can do to avoid this is to connect an external monitor (or monitors) to your laptop. Not only does this give you a bigger screen to work from, but it also means you can keep your head up while you're working.

Another benefit of doing this is that it makes it easier to switch between programs or open multiple documents at the same time.

Unfortunately, knowing that you want to hook up external monitors is only the first step. To really get the setup you want, and to make sure you don't end up buying the wrong thing by accident, you first need to find out a bit more about setting up external displays.

Luckily, that's exactly what we're going to tell you about in this article.

1. What Are the Different Display Modes?

There are three video stream output modes: Mirror mode, Single-Stream Transport (SST) mode, and Multi-Stream Transport (MST) mode.

  • Mirror Mode: External monitors and laptop display the same content

  • Single-Stream Transport (SST) Mode: All connected external displays show the same content and are different from laptop content

  • Multi-Stream Transport (MST) Mode: All connected monitors can display different content

Note: macOS only supports mirror mode and SST mode.

2. How Many Displays Can Your USB-C Hub or Docking Station Support?

Let's take a look at a few of our best-selling hubs and docking stations to get an idea about what display modes they support.

Product Name

Anker Apex Thunderbolt 4 Docking Station

PowerExpand 11-in-1 USB-C Hub

PowerExpand 8-in-1 USB-C Hub

Media Display Ports

1 * Thunderbolt 4, 2 * HDMI

Supports connection to 3 monitors

1 * HDMI, 1 * DisplayPort

1*HDMI

Max Resolution

Supports 8K@30Hz to a single screen and 4K@60Hz to 2 or 3 screens

Supports 4K@60Hz to a single screen and 2K@60Hz to dual screens

Has 1 HDMI port with a max resolution of 4K@60Hz

macOS

macOS with the M1 chip only supports mirror mode and SST mode

macOS (non-M1) supports mirror mode, SST, and MST

Mirror mode and SST mode

mirror mode and screen expansion

Windows

Mirror mode, SST, and MST


In general, if you are a Windows user, then the majority of USB-C hubs and docking stations can support mirror mode, SST, and MST.

If you are a macOS (non-M1) user and want to use MST mode, you'll need a USB-C hub or docking station (like Anker Apex) that has either 2 USB-C ports or supports Thunderbolt technology.

Unfortunately, if you are a M1 MacBook user then due to the limitations of this range of MacBooks, your options are limited to mirror mode and SST mode, no matter what hub or docking station you use.

If you're still not sure which hub or docking station is best for you, then you can take our quiz to get some tailored recommendations.

3. Selecting your Display mode

After you've connected your USB-C hub or docking station to your laptop, and also connected the monitors, you'll then have to go to your laptop's settings to choose the display mode that's best for you.

Windows:

1. Find "Settings" in the computer menu bar.

2. Go to "System" and then select "Display". In "Display", you can set the external screen mode. 1 and 2 represent the connected external monitors

3. In "Display", go to "Multiple displays" and select the mode you want from the drop-down menu.

macOS:


1. Find the settings for Displays in system preferences.


    2. Click "Arrangment" and then select "Mirror Displays" to use mirror mode, or leave it unchecked to extend your screen.


      3. Go to the "Display" tab and click on "Scaled" to set the resolution and refresh rate of the external monitor.

        Our Top Picks for You

        Product name Anker Apex Thunderbolt 4 Docking Station PowerExpand 8-in-1 USB-C Hub PowerExpand 11-in-1 USB-C Hub PowerExpand 7-in-2 USB-C Hub
        Price $299.99 $89.99 $99.99 $59.99
        Picture Anker Apex Thunderbolt 4 Docking Station Piciture
        PowerExpand 8-in-1 USB-C Hub Piciture
        PowerExpand 11-in-1 USB-C Hub Picture
        PowerExpand 7-in-2 USB-C Hub Piciture
        Number of Ports 12 8 11 7
        Number of Supported Displays 3 1 2 2
        Supports Laptop Charging
        Data Transfer 40 Gbps 10 Gbps 5 Gbps 40 Gbps
        USB-A Port 2 × USB 3.1 Gen 2, 10 Gbps, 5V/0.9A
        2 × USB 2.0, 480 Mbps, 5V/0.5A
        2 × USB 3.1 Gen 2 2 × USB 2.0
        1 × USB 3.0
        2 × USB 3.0
        USB-C Port 1 × USB 3.1 Gen 2, 10 Gbps, PD 3.0, 9V/2.25A 1 × USB 3.1 Gen 2 1 × USB 3.0 1 × USB 3.0
        Thunderbolt Port 1 × Thunderbolt 4 downstream port, 40 Gbps, 8K@30Hz, 15W - - 1 x Thunderbolt 3 port, 40 Gbps, 5K@60Hz
        HDMI Port 2 × HDMI 2.0, 4K@60Hz 1 x HDMI, 4K@60Hz 1 x HDMI, 4K@60Hz 1 x HDMI, 4K@30Hz
        Display Port - - 1 x HDMI, 4K@60Hz -
        SD/microSD Card Slot SD Card Slot: UHS-II UHS-I UHS-I UHS-I
        Audio In&Out 3.5 mm 3.5 mm 3.5 mm -
        Ethernet Port 1 Gbps 1 Gbps 1 Gbps -