By TechThop Team
Posted on: 16 Aug, 2022
The Dell XPS 13 Plus is our favorite laptop of 2022 for a good reason. The design is fresh, the screen is amazing, and the webcam is improved. When considering these two laptops as workstations, there's one area to focus on in particular.
The ports on the devices provide a clue to what we mean. Dell XPS 13 Plus and MacBook Air M2 both feature USB-C ports. There are two on the XPS, one on each side. The Thunderbolt USB-C port charges transfer data and connects displays.
The MacBook Air has two on the left side. MacBook Airs also have MagSafe charging and headphone jacks. In another article, we discussed the lack of a headphone jack on the XPS, but here we talk about what truly sets these devices apart: external display support.
The main argument is that the MacBook Air M2 can only support a single 4K display natively. Only the 2021 M1 MacBook Pro with the M1 Pro or M1 Max chip is exempt from this limit.
The M1 Pro chip allows you to power two external displays with either 6K resolution or 60Hz. Up to four external monitors can be connected to the M1 Max, with three at 6K and one at 4K. We aren't here to discuss these expensive upgrades over the MacBook Air.
The M2 MacBook Air can only support one external display with a 6K resolution at 60Hz. To connect to external displays, you need a dual HDMI adapter, a DisplayLink hub that supports DisplayPort, or even a HyperDrive USB-C hub.
Dual display support is expensive. The cost of a dual HDMI adapter can reach $100, and the other options are over $100 as well. Monitor resolutions and refresh rates will also differ based on which route you choose.
The result is a huge loss of productivity for someone who ends up with a MacBook Air and wants to work from home with a multiple monitor setup. Music producers, video editors, and graphic designers may use multiple monitors.
The only problem is you have to spend more just to plug in multiple monitors. As powerful as the M2 MacBook Air is, connecting it to multiple external displays is a no-brainer, and it remains one of its primary drawbacks.
The XPS 13 Plus is next. Conceptually, things are much simpler. With the XPS 13 Plus's Thunderbolt 4 Type-C ports, you can connect two external monitors up to 4K, with the internal display turned off, without a dongle or hub.
The MacBook Air has no native support for this, even when its screen is off. The XPS 13 Plus can also be connected to four displays via a USB-C docking station, with the additional display connecting via Thunderbolt with the right port.
The XPS 13 Plus can be connected to two external displays using a USB-C docking station. It supports three external displays via USB-C. Each external display requires a DisplayPort connector on the USB-C docking station to operate at 4K UHD at 60Hz. A display stream compressor must be supported.
The XPS 13 Plus doesn't support 8K displays with the display turned on. The internal display must be turned off. Overall, the XPS 13 offers better display support than the MacBook Air.
A laptop that can serve as a workstation is the best choice since it can power two monitors without the use of a dongle. When you add a USB-C hub into the picture, you have even more options for connecting displays.
The Dell laptop has one advantage over Apple's MacBook Air for the time being. We hope that this will change one day, but for now, you will need to purchase additional hardware to overcome it.
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