The limitations of Apple’s 2021 MacBook Pro HDMI port

You may have heard the MacBook Pro’s HDMI port does not support the most recent and greatest features. Don’t worry, girls and boys, because your favourite blog will tell you all about the MacBook Pro’s HDMI ports limitations.


  • 2021 MacBook Pro has an HDMI 2.0 port for outputting video
  • It doesn’t support features that are specific to HDMI 2.1
  • These include 4K HDR video at 60 frames per second
  • High refresh rates up to 120Hz are also unsupported

What are the limitations of my MacBook Pro’s HDMI port?

Both the 14-inch MacBook Pro and the 16-inch version have one HDMI port that conforms to the HDMI 2.0 specification rather than the newer HDMI 2.1.

According to Apple’s technical specifications, you can only connect one external display at 60 Hertz with the notebook’s HDMI 2.0 connector. This is standard dynamic range (SDR), as HDMI 2.0 does not support high dynamic range content.

This means that you can’t use an external monitor with a higher refresh rate via HDMI. If your monitor supports refresh rates up to 120Hz via HDMI 2.1, for example, connecting it to the MacBook Pro’s HDMI 2.0 port will limit the refresh rate to sixty Hertz.

The limitation only applies to monitors plugged into the notebook’s HDMI 2.0 port–the MacBook Pro’s internal Retina display does support adaptive refresh rates up to 120Hz.

What’s the Thunderbolt situation like?

The 2021 MacBook Pros also have three Thunderbolt 4 ports that support video I/O.

All MacBook Pro models simultaneously support the full native resolution on the built-in Retina display at one billion colors, plus two external displays with 6K resolution at 60Hz at over a billion colors (M1 Pro) or three external displays with up to 6K resolution and one external display with up to 4K resolution at 60Hz at over a billion colors (M1 Max).

HDMI port on 2021 MacBook Pro is HDMI 2.0, not HDMI 2.1 | Image credit: Apple

You can even connect an HDMI television or external monitor to a Thunderbolt port on your MacBook Pro, but you’ll need Apple’s USB-C Digital AV Multiport Adapter for that.

Apple TV4K and HDMI 2_

It’s not clear why the MacBook Pro has HDMI 2.0.

If we were to wager, it would be on bandwidth limits, memory requirements, Thunderbolt requirements, and MagSafe charging as the fourth Thunderbolt port.

It’s even more puzzling if you consider that Apple updated the Apple TV 4K a few months earlier with, among other perks, an HDMI 2.1 port which lets the streaming box output 4K HDR Dolby Vision video at sixty frames per second via a 48 Gbps HDMI cable.

Tell me more about HDMI 2.1 features

The HDMI 2.1 specification was unveiled in November 2017, bringing support for dynamic HDR content, 4K resolution at 120 frames per second, 8K resolution at sixty frames per second and other perks. Along with it came a new standard for ultra-speed HDMI cables with bandwidth up to 48Gbps, which is required to handle uncompressed 8K video with dynamic HDR and 4K HDR Dolby Vision content at sixty Hertz.

A word of caution: Avoid cables that claim to support 4K Ultra HDR or other 4K-rated content if you own an HDMI 2.1 device such as the Apple TV 4K. Instead, look for cables that are Dolby Vision HDR compatible and support bandwidth up to 48 Gbps.

For further information about the HDMI 2.1 specifications, visit


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