How to Get 4K 120Hz With Mac [M1 & M2]: A Cable Matters Exclusive Feature

How to get 4K 120Hz with M1, M2 Mac – Cable Matters Exclusive Feature

Want to run your M1 or M2 MacBook at 4K 120Hz over HDMI? It’s now possible thanks to an exclusive feature of Cable Matters products. With the right adapter, custom firmware only available from Cable Matters, and a high-quality HDMI 2.1 cable, you can output to a 4K 120Hz display with your MacBook.

It’s even possible with older Intel MacBooks in some cases. 

This opens up the potential to connect the latest Apple MacBooks to a range of TVs and monitors at the highest refresh rates. It’s great for MacBook gaming, and for enjoying sports and streamed media with great motion resolution. 

That’s not to say this is the only way to get 4K 120Hz on a Mac. Indeed, if you have the right USB-C to DisplayPort adapter and a high-quality DisplayPort cable, it’s also possible to display 4K 120Hz from a MacBook to a DisplayPort-compatible monitor. HDMI 2.1 is much more widely supported in the consumer display space, though, so this latest tweak makes 4K 120Hz on M1 and M2 Macs far more accessible.

4K 120Hz Limitations with Apple M1 and M2

The M1 and M2 MacBooks from Apple are some of the most exciting devices Apple has made in generations. They’re super powerful, incredibly efficient, and still retain that excellent Apple build quality that helps them stand the test of time. They also feature many of the latest advances in wired and wireless connectivity, including support for Wi-Fi 6, USB4, and Thunderbolt 3 and 4.

However, Apple included a unique limitation for the USB-C ports on its M1 and M2 devices. It limited the HDMI-Transport Stream over USB-C to 4K@60Hz. That doesn’t affect other methods of video output using those same USB-C ports. If you output to a Thunderbolt or USB4-compatible monitor, you can leverage DisplayPort Alternative Mode to display at 4K 120Hz (as long as the monitor supports it). The same is true if you use a USB-C to DisplayPort adapter.

What you can’t do with the M1 and M2 Macs though, is output to 4K 120Hz over an HDMI cable. At least, not without using the specific Cable Matters adapter with custom firmware that gets around this blockage.

This changed with the introduction of the M2 Pro and M2 Max models in 2023. The MacBook Pro 14, MacBook Pro 16, and new Mac Mini, all support 4K 120Hz on external monitors.

Although older standard M1 and M2 Macs and MacBooks can’t do that, it is still possible to do 4K 120Hz on them with the right hardware and a few tweaks and tricks.

M1 and M2: Standard Video Capabilities

Alongside the major leaps in CPU performance with the Apple M1 and M2 System on Chips (SoC), the new graphical power of this Apple silicon was just as impressive. It unlocked new powers for 3D rendering, CAD work, and gaming at higher resolutions and refresh rates. Although the standard retina displays were limited to 2,560 x 1,600 resolution at a 60Hz refresh rate, connecting external monitors gives these devices much more room to play with.

M1 and M2 Mac and MacBook Pro devices can support external displays at up to 6K resolution over HDMI or DisplayPort – though you’d need an adapter for the Thunderbolt port on the devices if you wanted to use it. 

Without the right hardware, though, you’ll be stuck connecting to DisplayPort or USB-C displays if you want to enjoy a 4K 120Hz Mac experience.

How to Get 4K 120Hz with Mac: Requirements

If you want to run a 4K 120Hz external display over HDMI from your M1 or M2 MacBook, you’ll need the following:

  • An M1 or M2 Mac or MacBook running MacOS Ventura 13.2 or later. If in doubt, update your Mac before proceeding.
  • A Cable Matters USB-C to HDMI 2.1 adapter. It’s crucial that the adapter has either the VMM6100 or VMM7100 chipset (more information on why, below).
  • A high-quality HDMI 2.1 cable with 48-Gbps certified bandwidth. Shorter HDMI 2.1 cables can be more reliable than their longer counterparts, but as long as you stick to under 2M for passive HDMI 2.1 cables, you’ll be fine.
  • A Windows PC with USB-C DisplayPort Alt Mode capabilities. 
  • A custom firmware for the Cable Matters adapter. You can get this by contacting Cable Matters directly, here.
  • A TV or monitor that supports 4K 120Hz and has a spare HDMI 2.1 port.

If your adapter is running the older VMM6100 chip, you’ll also need the custom display tool, BetterDisplay, and the AW EDID Editor from Analog Way.

Cable Matters has verified this process internally, and can confirm that we have achieved 4K 120Hz on both M1 and M2 MacBooks over HDMI 2.1.

For a step-by-step guide, please contact Cable Matters directly through their Contact Us page.

We can also confirm it’s possible to get 4K 120Hz over HDMI on the 2019 MacBook Pros based on Intel CPUs. However, we did run into issues with sound not transmitting correctly with certain LG monitors. The USB-C to HDMI 2.1 Multiport Adapter (201310) can only output 4K@60hz with the Intel 2019 MBP. Non-Pro MacBooks from that same era and earlier are not able to output at 4K 120Hz at all, no matter what firmware or hardware you use. We found that earlier Intel-based MacBooks are outputting DP 1.2 over the Thunderbolt ports. These hosts only support resolutions of up to 4K@60hz, so this firmware will not help.

One caveat to the whole process is that once you have used your Windows device to update the firmware on the USB-C to HDMI adapter, it may no longer be able to handle 4K resolution in Windows. The firmware has, in some cases, limited the adapter’s abilities, so it is only able to transmit up to 1080p resolution in Windows. It still maintains its 4K 120Hz capabilities on MacOS, however.

VMM7100 & VMM6100 Firmware: What is It?

A key component in getting this 4K 120Hz Mac fix to work, is with the firmware the USB-C to HDMI 2.1 adapter is running. Both the VMM6100 and VMM7100 chipsets support 4K 120Hz on a Mac, but each requires its own custom firmware to get working correctly. 

The VMM6100 is the older chipset of the two, and outside of a select few channels, you won’t find Cable Matters USB-C to HDMI adapters with that firmware for sale anymore. However, if you have one of these adapters already, you can still get it to support 4K 120Hz over HDMI, it just takes some extra steps. 

With VMM6100, after you’ve updated the firmware to the custom one provided by Cable Matters, you then need to apply the custom EDID to enable DP Transport Stream over HDMI. There are a few more steps involved, but it’s still perfectly possible to enjoy a 4K 120Hz Mac experience with this older adapter.

For more information, please reach out to us directly! 

Contact Us


If you already have a newer Cable Matters adapter or bought a new one specifically to enjoy 4K 120Hz on your Mac, then you’ll have one running the newer VMM7100 firmware. Since Cable Matters doesn’t mass produce any adapters using the custom firmware required for 4K 120Hz on M1 and M2 Macs, you’ll still need to contact Cable Matters directly to get it.

When you do get in touch, be sure to have your USB-C to HDMI adapter model number handy so that we can confirm which version of the custom firmware you’ll need.

Cable Matters has a custom firmware that is fit for the following five Cable Matters Products:

  1. 48Gbps USB-C® Adapter Supporting 8K Video (SKU 201388-A)
  2. USB-C® to 8K HDMI Cable (SKU 201362-A)
  3. Foldable USB-C® to 8K HDMI Adapter in Black (SKU 201398)
  4. 48Gbps USB-C® to HDMI Adapter with 100W Power Delivery (SKU 201428)
  5. USB-C® Multiport Adapter with HDMI (SKU 201310)

**The USB-C to HDMI 2.1 Multiport Adapter (201310) can only output 4K@60hz with the Intel 2019 MBP**

All of these adapters have been tested with the new custom firmware on M1 and M2 MacBooks to confirm that they do enable 4K at 120Hz.

Once you’ve updated the firmware on your VMM7100-equipped USB-C adapter, the process for enabling 4K 120Hz on your Mac is much easier than with the older VMM6100 chipset adapters. After applying the new firmware, you can simply plug your MacBook or Mac into the HDMI-compatible display and you should be able to enjoy 4K resolution at up to 120Hz on your Mac device.

48Gbps USB C to HDMI Adapter Supporting 100W PD

Is 4K 120Hz On a Mac Worth It?

Although the process for getting 4K 120Hz on a Mac working correctly has been refined by Cable Matters and dedicated Mac users, it does still require jumping through a few hoops. That begs the question, is it worth it to do all this just to get 4K 120Hz on a Mac?

That can depend on what you want to use your M1 or M2 Mac for, but there are benefits to having a 4K 120Hz Mac for just about any kind of user. For starters, 120Hz looks and feels far smoother, even when you’re just moving the mouse pointer around the desktop. The motion is smoother, it’s easier for the eye to track, and it makes everything look more fluid and feel more responsive.

This fix also lets you connect a wider range of televisions and monitors to your Mac or MacBook. Some displays, particularly mainstream TVs, don’t come with the option of USB-C or DisplayPort connections, so HDMI is their only option. Using this clever 4K 120Hz Mac fix makes it possible to connect your MacBook to your TV in ways that weren’t possible before.

The biggest benefit of being able to enjoy 4K 120Hz on your Mac, though, is for gaming. Although Macs aren’t often considered major gaming devices, the performance of the M1 and M2 processors is impressive enough that casual and even AAA gaming is possible with compatible games. Being able to enjoy these games at 4K resolution at up to 120Hz on your Mac makes it a much more capable gaming system.

Cables That Support 4K 120Hz with Mac

Alongside the Cable Matters USB-C to HDMI 2.1 adapter, you need a high-quality HDMI 2.1 cable to get your 4K 120Hz Mac experience up and running. Just as the HDMI port on your TV or monitor needs to support the full 48 Gbps bandwidth of HDMI 2.1, so does the HDMI 2.1 cable. If in doubt, check your TV’s specs, as some earlier HDMI 2.1 ports didn’t support the full bandwidth. 

This Cable Matters 3-pack of HDMI 2.1 cables is fully certified to support 48 Gbps for the full HDMI 2.1 bandwidth. That makes them capable of supporting the highest resolutions and refresh rates, including 8K at 60Hz, and 4K at 120Hz. That includes dynamic HDR and up to 10-bit color, too. 

If you need an HDMI cable to run longer than the 10ft of standard, passive HDMI 2.1 cables, then you’ll need an active cable instead. The Cable Matters Active Ultra High Speed HDMI 2.1 cable supports the same high 48 Gbps bandwidth as its passive cable cousins but over much longer distances. For the added cost, you get the ability to enjoy a 4K 120Hz Mac experience over distances as great as 30 feet. The only caveat is that the cable is not bi-directional, so you must be sure of its orientation when installing. It does still support ARC and eARC for Dolby Atmos and DTS X surround sound and 7.1 and 5.1 surround sound setups.

Need More Help? Get In Touch

If you’re still keen to get your M1 or M2 Mac outputting to a 4K 120Hz display over HDMI, but you’re finding it a bit tricky to get working, be sure to get in touch. Cable Matters support has been working diligently to test and refine the firmware needed to make the 4K 120Hz Mac experience possible, and we’ll be happy to help if you’re having trouble.

Just be sure to have your USB-C to HDMI adapter model number handy, so that we know which version of the adapter you’re working with, and what firmware you need to upgrade to.

Comments (11) -

  • Can I use 2 of the SKU 201362-A off my Thunderbolt 4 dock to drive 2 x 4K@120Hz monitors in addition to my built-in MBP 16 display? (M1 Max, 2021). I run 2x4K@60Hz monitors now, but I'm getting tired of the slow refresh rates and am thinking of upgrading.
  • ”8K to 30Hz”    (… ”4K at up to 120Hz”. In one of the last paragraphs.)

    I think this should be ”8K at 60Hz” instead. Smile

    Kind regards,
  • Hi,

    I would like to know if this solution is functionable on Macbook Air m1 ?

    • twa
      hi alan, no macbook m1 is not support 120hz
      • What about MacBook Air M2 ?
  • Wim
    This works on my Macbook Pro M1 and Philips 4K tv
  • It worked!!!
    I did it via Win 11 ARM VM (Parallels) and the tool VmmHIDTool (available on the Microsoft Store)
    4k@120Hz 10 bit HDR on a LG 42C2 looks amazing and all that with my little M1 MacBook Air

    Thanks so much
    • Hi @ConSchulz.
      Any idea how you were able to get HDR? Are you also running "Better Displays"
      I was able to flash my firmware and can finally see 120hz! But my HDR Option has disappeared. I also purchase the recommended HDR compatable 47Gbps CableMatters cable. No change. Rebooted the machine and again, no change. I have it running through a CalDigit TS4 so I assumed perhaps the dock didn't support HDR, but no change when connecting directly into the ThunderBolt port on the Mac.
      Also, I have an M1 Max MBP and also running a 42" LG C2 OLED.

  • Hi, I purchased your 48Gps adapter, flashed the custom firmware and now get 4k 120 Hz from my Mac Mini M1 - nice! Smile - but I have no audio output through my connected LG C2 42" inch tv.

    Is this to be expected?? Do I need a special EDID file or such?
    How can I fix this because I need the 120 Hz *and* sound for gaming.
  • It seems it doesn't work anymore with Sonoma 14.2 upgrade :-(
  • Does anyone have an issue where the screen randomly splits down the middle, with one half lagging behind? It only happens in 120Hz mode and seems to persist between reboots and reconnects, before going away with no apparent cause.

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