Egg Freckles
By Thomas Brand

8th Jun 2022 M2 Display Support

Back in the day of translucent plastics and PowerPC processors, Apple used to differentiate its pro line of PowerBooks by crippling the video hardware in its consumer line of iBooks. Starting with 1999's PowerBook G3 (Bronze Keyboard) Apple's PowerBooks could extend their Mac OS desktop to a second display, while all models of iBook were restricted to display mirroring only. This restriction turned out to be superficial; reversible in the iBook's Open Firmware. Which makes sense considering the lowliest iBook contained video hardware superior to the earliest PowerBooks that supported extended desktop. Still the restriction of display mirroring was enforced on all of Apple consumer computers, iBooks, iMacs, and eMacs, until the introduction of Intel CPUs in 2006.

Flash forward to 2020, and Apple is holding back the hardware of its consumer laptops again. This time by limiting external display support of the M1 MacBook Air to a single display, while the previous 2018 Intel MacBook Air supported two external displays. For some the lack of dual external display support could be excused on account of the M1 being the first Apple Silicon to make its way into a Mac. A limitation that was rectified a year later with the introduction of the M1 Pro, and M1 Max MacBook Pros which support two and four external displays respectively.

Flash forward again to 2022, and the release of the M2 MacBook Air shows that limiting the external display capabilities of Apple's entry level laptops in 2020 was not a fluke. You read that right, the new MacBook Air with M2 processor only supports a single external display with up to 6K resolution at 60Hz1 no matter how much memory you configure it with. If your workflow calls for dual external displays, skip the M2 and go with either the 14 or 16 inch 2021 MacBook Pro with M1 Pro or M1 Max processors.2

  1. Same as the 2020 M1 MacBook Air. 

  2. Either that or an active display adapter like the WAVLINK USB 3.0 Universal Laptop Docking Station is in your future.