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If you frequently work with external displays, it's worth noting that Apple's just-announced M3 MacBook Air models support two external displays – one more than the 14-inch MacBook Pro with the same M3 chip.

Apple-MacBook-Air-2-up-hero-240304-feature.jpg

Launched last October, the 14-inch MacBook Pro with M3 chip simultaneously supports one external display with up to 6K resolution at 60Hz.

In contrast, both the 13-inch and 15-inch MacBook Air with M3 chip support one external display with up to 6K resolution at 60Hz, and two external displays with up to 5K resolution at 60Hz when the laptop lid is closed, also known as clamshell mode.

Given that the machines use identical chips, it could be that the additional external display support on the MacBook Airs has been made at the software level. If so, there would seem to be no reason that it could not be added to the M3 MacBook Pro in a future software update. However, it could also be a hardware-based change, and we might not know for sure until a teardown is performed on the new laptops.

The new M3-powered MacBook Air models start from $1,099 and can be pre-ordered on Apple's website, with availability beginning on Friday, March 8. The 14-inch MacBook Pro with M3 chip starts at $1,599.

Article Link: M3 MacBook Air Supports More External Displays Than M3 MacBook Pro
 
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Onimusha370

macrumors 6502a
Aug 25, 2010
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Yeah this is the real headline from today. What’s going on with the M3 MacBook Pro? A lot of people will have been upsold to an M3 Pro for extra display support. I’d feel pretty crappy for the M3 MBP buyers if a software update doesn’t enable this.
 

tuc

macrumors 6502
Aug 25, 2003
333
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It's interesting. The MPB with the non-pro M3 chip has a slightly more demanding internal display, but one wouldn't think it would make much of a difference. [EDIT: especially when the new MBA must have its lid closed to support two external displays. One would think differences in internal display matter not at all.]
 
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Onimusha370

macrumors 6502a
Aug 25, 2010
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It's interesting. The MPB with the non-pro M3 chip has a slightly more demanding internal display, but one wouldn't think it would make much of a difference.
I guess the internal display doesn’t make any difference as the 2 monitor feature is for when the lids closed? The more I think about it the more I’m sure that the M3 MBP must be capable of this, it’s a question of where Apple enables it through software
 

mukiex

macrumors member
May 31, 2016
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If that ain’t concrete proof that Apple artificially rations features, I don’t know what is.

And I’m sure the usual apologists will come up with some ridiculous excuse to try and justify it.
Realistically it's probably concrete proof that someone at Apple figured out this compromised workaround and either they're working on a firmware/EFI update for the 14" M3 model to do the same thing or the 14" M4 model will be able to do it because there's some kinda system board limitation stopping it on the current iteration.

I always wondered why they didn't offer an option to have dual monitors without requiring the built-in one to be on the list.
 

RMo

macrumors 65816
Aug 7, 2007
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I guess the smallest MacBook Pro (14") has a larger screen resolution than the largest MacBook Air (15") -- something I don't think was really discussed much on its release and one reason I wouldn't consider the 15" Air over any Pro -- so that could explain part of this. But even that explanation seems a bit odd; we're talking with the lid closed here.

If it this is just a software limitation, despite what we've been lead to believe, then hopefully they can update the M3 MPB with similar support.
 

Neil J. Squillante

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Jun 18, 2017
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New York, NY
Yeah this is the real headline from today. What’s going on with the M3 MacBook Pro? A lot of people will have been upsold to an M3 Pro for extra display support. I’d feel pretty crappy for the M3 MBP buyers if a software update doesn’t enable this.
The other real headline from today is why couldn’t Apple also refresh the Mac mini?
 

rorydaredking

macrumors member
Aug 3, 2014
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They are b*******

We all knew it, but to release the same machine in a thinner shell and enable more displays is just a complete piss take. Unless of course they release a firmware/OS update to enable it on the 14 inch too.

My first gen retina MBP ran 3 external displays, it's a farce that they claim their state of the art SoC, worlds best blah blah blah doesn't support 2. And of course now it does support 2.

Oh dear it gets worse. 2 displays only with lid closed. They really take the biscuit.
 
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eicca

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Oct 23, 2014
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Realistically it's probably concrete proof that someone at Apple figured out this compromised workaround and either they're working on a firmware/EFI update for the 14" M3 model to do the same thing or the 14" M4 model will be able to do it because there's some kinda system board limitation stopping it on the current iteration.

I always wondered why they didn't offer an option to have dual monitors without requiring the built-in one to be on the list.
I’m happy to eat my words if Apple updates the M3 MBP so it has the same functionality.

Knowing Apple, I’m not holding my breath.
 

Fuzzball84

macrumors 68020
Apr 19, 2015
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For all Apple are good at in their design and quality of hardware… it just shows you how even a multi trillion dollar company can still end up with unusual choices and limitations in its products

This display isue on Macbook Air vs Pro… when its more likely the Pro would be the one that its users would benefit from the feature

Absence of function key row on Magic Keyboard for ipad air and pro…when the cheaper base model has had this over a year now.

And lets not forget the butterfly keyboard… that monumental engineering disaster of epic proportions. Which they tried to fix with three iterations before accepting scissor switches were fine and reliable all along.

🤔
 
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v3nt

macrumors newbie
Apr 13, 2010
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But doesn't the MacBook M3 pro support 2 external displays? My low end MacBook M1 Pro does.
 

CalMin

Contributor
Nov 8, 2007
1,699
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The inability to push more than one external monitor is my M2 MBA's lone shortcoming. Glad to see this addressed and now wish I had an M3 MBA. 🤪

Yep. I’m in the same boat.

I might actually upgrade for this. I’ve been so impressed with the M2 Air (even in base spec) that an M3 Air could serve as my main computer. Up until now this has been a couch laptop which serves alongside my M1Pro business laptop. And I needed the pro because of two external monitors with my work setup.

Gonna have to do some thinking here 🤔
 
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