In this crucial area, the M2 MacBook Air might just have been beaten by the Dell XPS 13 Plus.
The MacBook Air then has two on its left side. The MacBook Air from Apple also contains a headphone jack and MagSafe charging. The XPS’s lack of a headphone jack in a separate article, but what really distinguishes the ports on these two gadgets: compatibility for external displays.
Therefore, the main point of contention in this situation is that the M2 MacBook Air only natively supports a single 4K display. The 2021 M1 MacBook Pro with the M1 Pro or M1 Max chip is the only model powered by Apple silicon that is exempt from this restriction.
With the M1 Pro chip, you can power two external screens with either a 6K resolution or a 60Hz refresh rate on those versions. Up to four external displays, including three at 6K and one at 4K, can be used with the M1 Max processor. However, these are pricey MacBook Air improvements.
You can only use one external monitor with the M2 MacBook Air, and it has a maximum resolution of 6K at 60Hz. You need to spend money on a dual HDMI converter, a DisplayLink hub that supports DisplayPort, or even a HyperDrive USB-C hub if you wish to connect to external screens. Again, these are pricey choices only to support two displays. In addition to the other solutions listed, a dual HDMI adaptor can cost close to $100. The resolution and refresh rates of connected displays will also change depending on which path you take.
This is a significant loss of productivity for someone who ends up with a MacBook Air and may want to work from home with numerous monitors. Even people who work in the music, video, or graphic design industries could have more than one monitor.
It’s unfortunate that you’ll have to pay more just to connect to numerous monitors. One of the main shortcomings of these otherwise excellent computers is that they cannot be connected to many external monitors, which is understandable given how powerful the M2 MacBook Air is.
With the internal display off and without a dongle or hub, you can connect two external monitors up to 4K utilizing both USB-C ports on the XPS 13 Plus, which has two Thunderbolt 4 Type-C connectors. Even with its screen off, the MacBook Air is unable to perform this one task natively.
Up to four monitors can also be linked to the XPS 13 Plus in a similar way using a USB-C docking station; the additional display can be attached to the appropriate Thunderbolt 4 port using a USB-C or Thunderbolt cable.
The XPS 13 outperforms the MacBook Air in terms of display support. It is a better choice if you want a laptop that can serve as a workstation because you can power two monitors without a dongle. When you include a USB-C hub in the equation, the options for display connections expand even further.
For the time being, Dell laptops offer one advantage over the MacBook Air from Apple. We certainly hope that will change in the future, but for the time being, you’ll need to purchase additional gear to work around the restriction.