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Amplify Your Apple M3 Air: Experience Multiple Displays with Kensington® Docks

Desk setup featuring two large curved monitors side by side.Below the monitors is closed MacBook.

Apple has recently unveiled its latest MacBook Air models featuring the revolutionary M3 chip, taking performance and productivity to new heights. The M3 chip MacBook Air not only delivers blazing-fast performance but also solidifies its position as the world's best consumer laptop for AI tasks. With its advanced capabilities, including the ability to enable dual external displays when the MacBook lid is closed, this device is the ideal choice for professionals, creatives, and anyone seeking a seamless and efficient computing experience.

The M3 base chipset MacBook Air offers an exceptional visual experience with its ability to support full native resolution on the built-in display at 1 billion colors. Additionally, it allows you to connect one external display with up to 6K resolution at 60Hz. The real game-changer occurs when the MacBook Air lid is closed, enabling dual external displays and allowing the second external display to have up to 5K resolution at 60Hz. This means that you can now enjoy a truly immersive multi-display setup while maximizing your productivity.  This feature sets the M3 chip apart from its predecessors, the M1 and M2 base chipsets, which are limited to a single external display.

Maximize your M3 experience with Kensington Thunderbolt docking stations.

The new M3 MacBooks Support Dual Displays

Image depicting the new M3 MacBook supporting dual displays with its lid closed, connected to a Thunderbolt 4 dock. A note specifies that this feature requires macOS Sonoma 14.3 or later, while M1 and M2 base chipsets are shown supporting only one external display with the same setup.

Harnessing the Power of Dual External Displays with your M3 MacBook

To unlock the full potential of your M3 MacBook Air and harness the power of dual external displays, Kensington Thunderbolt™ 4 docks are the perfect companion. These docking stations seamlessly integrate with your M3 MacBook Air and provide the necessary connectivity and performance to drive two external monitors when the laptop lid is closed. With Kensington's cutting-edge docking technology, you can create a versatile and efficient workstation that meets your multitasking needs.

It's worth noting that if you own an M1 or M2 base chipset MacBook, Kensington offers solutions to support multiple displays. Kensington's DisplayLink® docks use software to allow you to effortlessly achieve multiple displays, regardless of whether your laptop lid is open or closed. This flexibility ensures that you can optimize your workspace and enhance your productivity, no matter which MacBook model you own.

Dual Display Differences Between M3 Base Chipsets and M3 Pro/Max

The dual displays on the M3 base chipsets are not the same as those on the M3 Pro/Max. The M3 base chipsets require you to close the laptop lid in order to use a second external display. This means that you can have a total of two screens: your MacBook screen and one external display. The maximum resolution supported by the M3 base chipset for the external displays is one 5K @ 60Hz and one 6K @ 60Hz when the laptop lid is closed, using the Thunderbolt™ video ports.

On the other hand, the M3 Pro and M3 Max chipsets offer enhanced video performance. You can keep your MacBook open and use a total of three screens: your MacBook screen, and two external displays. The M3 Pro and M3 Max chipsets support up to dual 6K resolution on the external displays using the Thunderbolt video ports. This allows for more screen real estate and the ability to perform individual tasks on each display simultaneously.

Dual Display Differences Between M3 Base Chipsets and M3 ProMax.

Comparison of MacBook Air chipsets: M3, M3 Pro, and M3 Max

Image depicting a comparison of MacBook Air chipsets: M3, M3 Pro, and M3 Max. It highlights differences in display support—M3 Pro and M3 Max can support dual 6K displays at 60Hz via Thunderbolt ports with the laptop lid open, adding an additional internal display. In contrast, the base M3 chipset supports one 5K and one 6K display at 60Hz, requiring the laptop lids to be closed for dual display setup. Note that the M1 and M2 base chipsets support only a single external display. Additionally, the M3 Pro and M3 Max chipsets are compatible with the M1/M2 Pro and M1/M2 Max chipsets.

DisplayLink® Docking Station for M3 Chipsets: Triple Display and Open Lid Support

Kensington’s DisplayLink® docking stations offer a convenient solution for achieving triple display functionality, regardless of whether the laptop lid is closed or open. This feature is available for both the M3 base chipsets and the more advanced M3 Pro and Max chipsets, which are equivalent to the M1/M2 Pro and Max models. While the M3 base chipsets require the laptop lid to be closed, the DisplayLink® solution eliminates this requirement, preserving the vibrant 1 billion colors of the MacBook laptop's direct display. Many MacBook users with M1 and M2 base chipsets have encountered limitations with single display setups. However, with a DisplayLink® dock, such as the SD4790P docking station, you can connect up to three external displays and keep the screen on your MacBook open as an additional workspace. This allows you to have the laptop screen as Screen A, and the three external displays as Screens B, C, and D.
Extended Monitor Support for M1, M2, M3.

Extended monitor support for Apple M processors via Kensington docks.

Image of a table detailing extended monitor support for Apple M processors via Kensington docks. It shows that USB-C technology docks support one external display across all chipset models. (M series Base Chipsets, Pro Chipsets, or Max Chipsets) Thunderbolt 4 technology supports one external display for M1 and M2 base chipsets. The MacBook Air M3 base chipset can support dual external displays, but requires the laptop lids to be closed. The M3 Pro and M3 Max can support driverless dual external displays with the lid open, plus an extra display from the MacBook Pro itself. For DisplayLink Docks, once the latest driver is installed, the technology supports dual or triple external displays using specific docks (SD4782P for dual, SD4790P for triple). The upcoming SD5900T dock will leverage Thunderbolt 4's 40Gbps bandwidth and DisplayLink software to support up to triple displays for M1 or M2 base chipsets, or quad displays for M3 base (with lid closed) and M3 Pro and M3 Max (with lid opened). Note: For DisplayLink docks, downloading the latest DisplayLink driver is required. For M3 basic chipsets, macOS Sonoma 14.3 or later is required for dual external displays.

What’s Next?

Kensington offers a range of products that cater to various MacBook models, ensuring compatibility and seamless integration. If you have a M3 MacBook Air, a Thunderbolt™ 4 docking station is an excellent accessory for helping you harness the power of dual external displays. If you’re open to using DisplayLink® software to further optimize your display capabilities, DisplayLink® docking stations will allow you to connect up to three external displays and keep your MacBook’s screen open. 

As new technology emerges, Kensington will continue to innovate and provide solutions that help professionals get the most from their workspace investments.

Check out Kensington’s Thunderbolt™ 4 docking stations, and DisplayLink® docking stations!