How to Connect a Monitor to Your Windows Laptop, Including USB Type-C

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How to Connect a Monitor to Your Windows Laptop, Including USB Type-C

Laptops are ideal for working on the road, but their tiny screens often impair reading and performance. Connecting a second, third, or even fourth screen provides you some breathing space and helps you manage your workload. Of course, the more displays you add, the quicker the battery drains and the hotter the laptop becomes.

How to Connect One, Two, or More Monitors to Your Windows Laptop, Including USB Type-C

Essentially, having several displays eliminates the need to switch between apps on a single screen. You may, for example, use your email client on your laptop’s native screen while Photoshop runs on a larger external monitor. Perhaps you have one display for Slack and another for surfing. The options are limitless.

This article will show you how to connect an external monitor to your laptop and customize the display to perform exactly as you want it to. There’s also information on resolution restrictions for different connections and how to locate the right adaptor if your video inputs don’t match. Let’s get this party started.

How to Connect and Use Multiple Monitors on a Windows Laptop

1. Check the Cable Connections

HDMI cable

If you have a Windows laptop, connecting external screens should be simple. The first step is to decide what kind of cable you need. Most recent laptops contain a display output connector that might be HDMI, DisplayPort, mini-DisplayPort, or USB Type-C.

If the inputs and outputs of the monitor and laptop match, you may connect the two using a connection, such as this basic HDMI cable from Amazon. If the inputs don’t match, or if you’ve tried connecting your PC to your display and still don’t see anything, continue reading for more information on adapters and converters.

2. Choose to Extend or Duplicate the Desktop in Windows

Extending/Duplicating the Desktop in Windows 8, 8.1, and 10

Once you’ve plugged your cable into the display and laptop, the Windows side of things is simple.

    Windows Project menu
  1. To play a movie or show a presentation with a projector, choose “Duplicate” or “Second screen only.” However, for business or gaming, you should choose “Extend.” This option enables you to split your desktop into two displays and drag windows and other things between them.

Extending/Duplicating the Desktop in Windows 7

To duplicate or expand their display in Windows 7, users must follow a different approach than those in Windows 8, 8.1, or 10.

    How to connect a second screen to your laptop
  1. Click “OK” or “Apply” after selecting “Extend these displays” or “Duplicate these displays” from the “Multiple displays” drop-down menu.

Note: If your monitor does not immediately show your laptop output, you may need to utilize the monitor’s settings to switch to the right input.

3. Adjust Multi-Monitor Positions in Windows

By default, Windows sets the laptop’s built-in screen to the left and the external monitor to the right, thus when going to the monitor, you must shift the pointer off the internal screen’s right side. If you have things reversed, you’ll need to slightly change the placement position since the external display is on the left side.

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Changing Multi-Monitor Screen Positions in Windows 10

    Windows Start Menu
    Windows Settings Menu
  1. Click on a monitor in the pre-selected “Display” Menu and move it into place. If it is to the left of your main screen, move it to the left of the main screen, or put it wherever it is around the built-in/primary display.
  2. At this time, no more action is required. Close the “Settings” menu and you’re all set.

Changing Multi-Monitor Screen Positions in Windows 7

  1. Right-click on the Windows 7 desktop and choose “Screen resolution.”
  2. Click and drag the “screen icons” (screens numbered as 1, 2, etc.) in the dialog box that displays until they are in the right order/position as they appear on your workspace. If necessary, use “Identify.”
  3. When done, click “OK” or “Apply.”

You’ll note that Windows doesn’t limit you to just left and right configurations; you may also position the display above or below your laptop. You can even fine-tune the placements of the screens so that different windows and other things spread over them and line up.

4. Solve Video Adapters and USB-C Problems

If you have DVI and HDMI, HDMI and DisplayPort, or even VGA and any of the aforementioned connections, don’t worry. You may still connect several displays via a dual-purpose connection, such as DVI-to-VGA, HDMI-to-DVI, or another adapter or converter.

To complicate things further, a growing number of laptops employ a USB Type-C connection, which supports data, video, and charging. USB Type-C is fantastic, but it’s not always clear what your laptop’s connector can and cannot do. For further information, see your laptop’s handbook. Some gadgets only offer USB 2.0 connection and power transmission and do not transmit video. Others provide USB 3.0 but do not allow you to connect to a display. Unfortunately, there’s no way to determine until you test it out or check the specs for your laptop’s USB controller hardware.

You’ll be out of luck if you try to connect your laptop to your display using the same cable. Again, there’s no way to determine apart from trial and error or purchasing a video-compatible cable.

Fortunately, even though USB Type-C is a newer technology, cables are often inexpensive. But don’t let that phrase fool you into thinking that cheaper is better. You normally get what you pay for, and the cable’s capabilities may be limited, such as 4K vs 8K resolution and a refresh rate of 60Hz against 120Hz.

If you need an HDMI to USB Type-C adapter, you can acquire one on Amazon for a reasonable price if you don’t mind putting a little USB Type-C-to-HDMI adapter to the end of your Type-C cable.

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However, it is preferable to get a multi-adapter, which provides considerably more versatility. These connectors are somewhat more costly than one-to-one adapters, but they are not prohibitively expensive, and they include connections for your display, normal USB accessories, and power input all in one.

5. Adjust Display Quality

However, there is another thing to consider while selecting a cable or adaptor. Some video connections may be unable of showing pictures at the native resolution of your secondary monitor, depending on its characteristics.

Although you may still connect the monitor as a secondary display, you may notice that the image becomes stretched or unclear. With many inexpensive consumer displays boasting WQHD (2,560 x 1,440 pixel) or 4K (3,840 x 2,160 pixel) resolutions, finding the appropriate option to obtain the greatest quality on your specific device is important.

Although there is no hard limit to a VGA connection’s highest resolution, laptop graphics cards typically peak out at 2,048 x 1,536. However, since a VGA cable transmits an analog signal rather than a digital one, visuals may seem softer and less crisp.

A DVI connection is a better option, mainly because it is a digital connection, but you must still use caution. If you wish to utilize resolutions higher than 1,920 x 1,200, you’ll need a dual-link DVI cable and a laptop with a dual-link suitable socket. Consider the difference between a dual-link (left) and a single-link cable in the illustration below (right).

Although the HDMI 1.3 standard adds compatibility for monitors and displays that go beyond the popular Full HD resolution (1,920 x 1,080 pixels), and HDMI 1.4 and HDMI 2.0 currently enable up to 4K resolutions, the connection requires both your laptop and monitor to accept the standard. You won’t be able to increase the secondary monitor resolution higher than 1,920 x 1,200 if you have a portable computer with an HDMI 1.2 or older connector.

DisplayPort is the most adaptable connection (as is USB Type-C, which is just a container for a DisplayPort or HDMI connection). Even the earlier DisplayPort 1.1 protocol, which is still in use, can offer up to 4K resolutions at 30Hz. The display framerate is limited to a choppy 30fps due to this limitation. As a result, although movies look great, it isn’t appropriate for 4K games. DisplayPort 1.2 has 4K compatibility at a smooth 60Hz frame rate.

DisplayPort 1.3, the most modern specification, provides 8K resolution (7,680 x 4,320 pixels). Varying outputs on various laptops and graphics cards will enable different resolutions and refresh rates. Before purchasing any cables or adapters, check to discover which connection is the most competent. If you don’t purchase the proper one, you may end up with a monitor with a lesser resolution and refresh rate created by a monitor capable of producing superior quality.

If you have a recent Apple laptop with a Thunderbolt connection, you may connect to any compatible monitor using a’mini DisplayPort-to-DisplayPort’ cable (or a DisplayPort converter). A Thunderbolt input is not required for the display. On Amazon, you can get a’mini DisplayPort-to-DisplayPort’ cable for a few bucks.

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6. Connect Two or More Monitors

Connecting two (or more) monitors to your laptop is sometimes as easy as plugging them into different video outputs. Hardware constraints may prohibit you from doing so, depending on the age of your portable PC and the graphics chipset within. Older laptops may only support a single additional display monitor. Newer versions often support up to three external screens. Other devices, such as Ultrabooks, hybrids, and tablets, may be restricted to just one additional display output or none at all.

There are, however, methods to install an additional monitor even if you’ve exhausted all available connections or your laptop lacks a functional video output.

There are two alternatives for devices that support DisplayPort 1.2. To begin, you may purchase a DisplayPort hub, which divides your single connection into many outputs. These splitters aren’t cheap, but they let you use a single DisplayPort connection to power two 2,560 x 1,600 displays and a third 1,920 x 1,200 display at the same time.

Another alternative is to purchase a monitor that supports daisy-chaining: suitable displays have a DisplayPort output on the back that allows you to connect numerous monitors using a single DisplayPort connection.

Even if you have an outdated laptop or gadget with no functional video connections, you may install another display using a free USB port. There are USB-to-DVI, VGA, and HDMI converters available at reasonable prices. Drivers for Windows 7 and previous may be required, but Windows 8 devices and later should automatically detect them.

Whatever you pick, keep in mind the resolution problem we discussed before when connecting several monitors. For example, if you wish to run a 4K display alongside a 1,920 x 1,080 monitor, you must connect the 4K monitor to the video connection, which allows for the maximum, and preferably native, resolution. If you install them incorrectly, you will not get the most out of your display.

Finally, whether you’re connecting several displays to your laptop for business or streaming movies to a larger display, there are various options. It’s never been simpler to connect several displays to a laptop. Simply follow the steps outlined above, and you’ll be up and running in no time.

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