MacBooks With HDMI: A Guide For New Users…

Which MacBooks have HDMI? It’s a simple enough question but as is often the case with Apple, the answer is a little more nuanced…

Like a kid with OCD, Apple has many, many issues with many, many things that most laptop (and phone) users take for granted. Apple really doesn’t like ports. It hates headphone jacks (and is the sole reason why your phone no longer ships with one). And it isn’t fond of HDMI or USB Type C, for that matter, according to some users online.

If you’ve owned a MacBook at any point during the past decade, chances are it DID NOT come with an HDMI port. Nearly all of Apple’s MacBooks released to date simply did not support the technology. Apple decided it didn’t like it, and you had to deal with it – nothing new for long-standing Apple users.

Which MacBooks Have HDMI?

Not all MacBooks omitted the common HDMI port, though. Back in 2012, Apple launched the 15in MacBook Pro with Retina Display, and, much to everybody’s surprise, this computer shipped with an HDMI port. But this model was the outlier; nearly all MacBooks released before it, and those that came after did not, forcing users to use mini DisplayPort to HDMI adapters.

MacBooks With HDMIPin

Back in 2021, Apple introduced its new M1-powered MacBook Pro lineup, comprising the 14in and 16in MacBook Pro models, and these, again, to everybody’s surprise, featured HDMI ports. Curiously, these MacBook Pro models used HDMI 2.0, not the newer 2.1 standard, but at least it showed that Apple, on occasion, does listen to its users.

So, if you want a MacBook with HDMI, you basically have three options: 1) an ancient 2012 15in MacBook Pro, 2) the 14in 2021 MacBook Pro, and 3) the 16in MacBook Pro (2021). Apple’s newer 13in MacBook Pro does not support HDMI, though, so you’re back to using your trusty old mini DisplayPort to HDMI adapter.

What’s Apple’s Beef With HDMI?

You might think that Apple’s decision to NOT include HDMI on most of its MacBooks is done from a position of cruelty and disdain for its users. But this isn’t actually the case.

Most assume HDMI is simple and easy to use, which it is, but DisplayPort is actually a better solution – that also supports analog signals and audio – and is completely open source, unlike HDMI which requires a license to use it on your hardware.

Plus, Apple doesn’t really hate HDMI anyway; just look at the new Mac mini – it has HDMI. Ditto Apple’s iMac and Mac Studio. The reason some MacBooks have included HDMI is for convenience; HDMI does make it easier to connect to larger presentation displays in the office, for instance, or your HDTV.

But the humble HDMI port itself still pales in comparison to DisplayPort which is why Apple tends to use that standard more. DisplayPort was designed for computers, it replaced DVI and VGA connectors, so it comes with a few, unique benefits that you simply do not get with HDMI which was designed with HDTVs in mind.

What kind of things?

  • Stuff like Multi-Stream Transport (MST), whereby you can connect and run up to 63 monitors on a single port;
  • DisplayPort can handle analog signals;
  • And, finally, that DisplayPort can easily take advantage of USB-C ALT Mode. HDMI can also do this but it requires a different cable.

If you’re currently looking for a new Mac, check out our reviews of the new M2 MacBook Air and the 13in MacBook Pro (2022). We also have a new, detailed guide on how to choose the right ultrawide monitor for your Mac and also a new guide to the best ultrawide monitors for Macs.

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Richard Goodwin

Richard Goodwin is a leading UK technology journalist with a focus on consumer tech trends and data security. Renowned for his insightful analysis, Richard has contributed to Sky News, BBC Radio 4, BBC Radio 2, and CNBC, making complex tech issues accessible to a broad audience.

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