How to Connect Two Monitors to a Laptop?

How To Connect Two Monitors To A Laptop?

There are a lot of benefits to having dual monitors on your laptop.

It allows you to run multiple applications simultaneously.

Sharing data between apps also becomes much smoother and you are able to have critical data on display as a reference point.

In this article, we will run through several ways to connect two monitors to a single laptop so that you can enjoy the benefits of multi-monitor use.

Multi-Monitor VS Mirror Imaging

There is a big difference between multi-monitoring and mirror imaging.

So, before we delve into how to set up for a multi-monitor display, let’s clarify the difference.

Mirror Mode

Triple Laptop Monitors

When you set up a second monitor to your laptop in mirror mode, what you see on the second screen will be an exact duplicate of what is on the actual screen of your laptop.

A lot of laptops provide you with a second monitor port to allow you to project what is on your screen to a large screen when you are watching movies.

If the screen of your laptop is a better quality (i.e higher resolution) than the screen that you are sending the mirror image to, the quality on the second screen will not be as good.

Multi-Monitor Mode

Multi Monitor Laptops

Multi-monitor mode is a step beyond mirror imaging.

It allows you to set up more than one monitor to your laptop to, in effect, double, triple or quadruple the size of the monitor.

Each monitor is able to display different information. This is great for some video games as well as many business applications.

Setting Up Two Monitors on a Windows Laptop

The vast majority of Windows laptops will support a two-monitor display setup.

Before you start, however, it pays to check that your laptop has this capability.

This involves checking the graphics card and the ports on your device.

The graphics card must support multiple monitors. Check first that the graphics card provides at least two outlets.

You should then check the specs of your graphics card on the manufacturer’s website to see if it supports dual display. This will be clearly shown under the ‘Display Support’ section.

If the graphics card does not support dual display, you will have to buy one that does. However, in most cases, you’ll find that the graphics card does, indeed, support the functionality you are after here.

The next step is to check the ports on your laptop. Here are the four ports you should look for:

  • Display Port
  • Display Video Interface Port (DVI)
  • Video Graphics Array Port (VGA)
  • High Definition Multimedia Interface Port (HDMI)

You will also need to check that the monitors that you will be hooking up to have the same ports. If they do not you will have to buy an adapter to allow you to connect them.

For example, you may need a VGA to HDMI adapter.

If you discover that your laptop has just one port, you can purchase a docking station or a switch splitter.

Setting up Two Monitors

HDMI and VGAs

You should have your laptop switched on when you set up your two monitors. Here are the steps to follow:

  •  Plug the cable of the first external monitor to the appropriate video port on the laptop. This may be VGA to VGA or HDMI to HDMI.
  •  Plug the cable of the second external monitor to the appropriate video port on the laptop.
  •  Right-click any empty area on the desktop of your laptop. On Windows 10, click Display Settings.
  •  In Display Mode, you will see three displays that will be labeled 1, 2 and 3. Display 1 will be your laptop, with 2 and 3 being your external monitors.
  •  Click Display 2.
  •  In the Multiple Displays box, choose ‘Extend desktop to this display.’
  •  Click Apply.
  •  Click Display 3.
  •  In the Multiple Displays box, choose ‘Extend desktop to this display.’
  •  Click Apply.
  • Click OK.

Trouble Shooting

On some laptops, the external monitors will not be detected by the laptop.

The usual cause of this will be improper cable connections. Go back and take the cables out and reattach them.

If you do this and the problem persists, it is likely that the cables or the external monitors are defective.

Another possibility if you are unable to find success with the 11 step setup process outlined above is that your graphics card driver is not able to support multiple monitors.

If this is the case, you will have to update your driver.

An easy and free way to update your driver is to use a program called Driver Easy. Here is how to do it:

  • Download and install Easy Driver.
  • Run Driver Easy.
  • Click the Scan Now button.
  • For any flagged devices, click the update option.
  • If you have the Pro Version of Driver Easy, you can click Update All.

Q & A

What is the maximum number of monitors that can be attached to a single laptop?

There is no recorded limit as to the number of monitors that it is possible to display.

There have been setups that have had 24 monitors attached to a single device.

The Display Properties Applet in the Control Panel provides for a limit of 10 displays.

However, this is not the maximum capacity.

However, if you wish to add more than ten monitors, you will need a custom display properties applet that configures to more than 10 monitors.

The max number of monitors will also depend upon the graphics card.

Some graphics cards will only have 4 ports to attach displays, so if, for instance, you wanted to attach 20 monitors, you would need 5 graphics cards.

That would require 5 connector slots on the system board.

Do you really need 3 displays on your laptop screen?

one laptop 3 monitors

Most general users will not need to have 3 displays of their screen.

However, there are situations when this will be very handy. For a start, when you have two monitors you are then able to run two different applications side by side.

This can be very useful if, for example, you are Skyping someone on one monitor and referring to a document during the conversation that is displayed on the second monitor.

This can also be very handy if you are used to working between more than one program. Instead of pressing Alt + Tab to toggle between them, you can have them all on permanent display. This will make the job much easier.

Having multiple files open and visible at the same time will also make it easier to transfer files between applications. As an example, if you are browsing images you can simply drag those you wish to keep to your open Photoshop app on the other screen.

Having one or more monitors at your disposal also allows you to reference specifications or other important data relating to the job that you are working on. You will be able to more easily ensure that you are sticking to these guidelines.

Having monitors side by side will also allow you to make easy comparisons between two sets of data.

Which connection is better: HDMI or DVI?

DVI or HDMI or VGAs

The decision between using an HDMI or a DVI ports comes down to your intended use and preference There are advantages and disadvantages for both.

Let’s go through them:

HDMI

HDMI Cable on Computer

Advantages

  • Convenient
  • Cheap
  • High-speed HDMI works with 4K displays
  • Don’t have to line pins up
  • Simple plug n’ play operation
  • Streams audio and video in the same connection
  • The standard when it comes to digital cables

Disadvantages

  • Limited 8-bit color range
  • Limited bandwidth capabilities
  • Version 2.0 only supported on high-end TVs and monitors

DVI

DVI Laptop

Advantages

  • Supports max resolution of 2560 x 1600
  • More versatile
  • Easy to convert DVI to HDMI

Disadvantages

  • Does not support HDCP
  • May not support Blu Ray
  • No output audio

Do I need to buy an expensive cable to connect my laptop to another monitor?

No, you do not need to buy an expensive cable to connect your laptop to another monitor.

If you go into a store, you will probably be directed to the most expensive cables.

The reality is that you do not need them. Back in the days of analog the type of cable was an important factor. But in the age of digital, it doesn’t really matter what type of cable you – as long as the fittings match your devices.

The bottom line is that you can get the job done well with the cheapest cable you can get your hands on.

Conclusion

Connecting your laptop to multiple monitors will open up your computing experience.

In this article, we’ve shown you how to do it and explained why.

You are now able to connect as many laptops as your heart decides – happy viewing!

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