How to Set Up an External Monitor or More for Your Laptop

How to Set Up an External Monitor or More for Your Laptop

Advanced technology has helped increase people’s productivity, and people can use computers to handle multiple tasks at the same time. In the office, you may use a desktop or an all-in-one PC to work. The screens are larger than laptop’s screens, so it is more convenient to open multiple windows. Laptops are great for working from home, but as portable computers, they are always short on screen real estate. Working from home (WFH) has become the new default due to the effect of the pandemic, so you must have the right equipment to set up a conducive environment for productive work.

Connecting an external monitor to a computer can turn it into a genuine productivity powerhouse, but it’s not always clear how to connect a monitor to a laptop. Depending on your exact model, you have many different options.

Connect one external monitor to your laptop

Step 1: Confirm your laptop’s tech specs and video output port. Using multiple monitors requires a laptop that can support one or more external monitors, such as Mac laptops and Windows laptops. Many laptops have various ports, some of which may be older connection types, such as DVI, VGA and mini DisplayPort; modern common ports are DisplayPort, HDMI, and USB C.

Step 2: Determine the video input port of the monitor. In most cases, you can find the HDMI or DisplayPort input on the back of most monitors. There may also be monitors with USB-C input. If the monitor is an older model, you may find a VGA or DVI port.

Step 3: Confirm whether the video output port of the laptop and the input port of the monitor are the same.

If so, a video cable can make it, for example:

  • Mini DisplayPort cable
  • VGA cable
  • DisplayPort cable
  • HDMI cable
  • Thunderbolt cable
  • USB4 cable

If not, you may need an adapter cable or a single-port adapter to build the connection, like:

Step 4: Plug in the monitor to a power source and connect it to the laptop using the cable or adapter. Generally, the cable or adapter is plug-and-play. If the driver is needed, remember to download it before use. (Please pay attention to the product description.) After the monitor works successfully, select a proper resolution and refresh rate on the laptop and set mirror mode or extended mode,  making it best for your workflow.

Connect more external monitors to your laptop

If the user wishes to connect more displays than available laptop ports, a hub or docking station is a way to achieve this. A single external monitor is relatively simple but adding more increases the difficulty. Another consideration is the capabilities of the laptop's GPU. Not all can handle multiple displays without decreasing the resolution.

If your laptop has full-featured USB C / Thunderbolt 3 / USB4 ports besides the common video output ports (VGA / HDMI / mini DP), then you can expand more displays through these USB C ports. Choose a suitable hub or docking according to the video input port of the monitor you want to connect, such as:

  • USB C to HDMI and VGA
  • USB C to HDMI, VGA and DisplayPort
  • USB C to dual HDMI
  • Thunderbolt 3 to dual HDMI
  • Mini DisplayPort to HDMI and VGA

By the way, if the connection is DisplayPort or Thunderbolt 3, daisy-chaining multiple displays together is possible. This means one monitor connects to the laptop and the other monitors can be connected to each other to form a chain.

In short, after the laptop is connected to external monitors, we can multitask more efficiently, such as writing complex codes when chatting with friends, editing the video thumbnail while waiting for the video to be exported, opening Excel, Word and PowerPoint simultaneously, or write the thesis while searching for data. And you don't have to toggle or distract between tasks, which gives you more clarity.

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