Can a (2019) MacBook Pro 16" drive only 1 external monitor per port/dongle/dock?

During COVID-19 my company bought me a new (2019) MacBook Pro 16". Worked fine at home with a single external monitor, but today I want to connect two external monitors at the office, using a Dell DA200 dongle.

However, it looks like that dongle can drive either the HDMI port or the VGA port, but not both at the same time…

Is that because of this restriction?

  • For Mac computers with Thunderbolt 3 (USB-C): You can connect a single display to each port. If you connect multiple Thunderbolt devices to each other, the Thunderbolt 3 display must be the last device in the chain. If your Thunderbolt 3 display has USB ports, those can be used for data and power.

(source: Apple)

If this is really true, why are there so many docks with more than one video output?

(sometimes even of the same type, i.e., 2x HDMI)

I hope I can blame the Dell dongle and a CalDigit dock will work properly…

I have the 2019 MBP and use CalDigit to drive 2 monitors without issues (1 via HDMI and other via usb c).

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This adapter is usb-c, rather than thunderbolt.
That may be the difference.


So the CalDigit Thunderbolt™ 3 mini Dock might work?

Yes. It should work.

You need a Thunderbolt dock to do 2 screens.

I ran the 16" with 3 4K T3 screens. 2 connected directly to the 16" on either side and 1 over the Caldigit dock connected to the left side (Controller 1)

It worked great but a.s.a. I connected more than 1 screen to the MBP the fans would go full speed and it could not run in clamshell mode anymore. I ended up buying a Svalt Cooling Dock to keep the MBP cool. Still I would hear the fans most of the day.

I have since replaced the16" with an M1 Mac Mini in my desktop setup (1 screen on T3, 1 screen on HDMI and another one on a Display Link adapter) and use the 16" only as a standalone laptop, which is great!


Just another datapoint: I run two 4K displays through a single connection to a (Kensington) Thunderbolt dock without any issues at all.

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