Useful Tips

Connecting an external monitor to a laptop


Good day to all!

Now many laptops are catching up on PC performance. Perhaps the only thing they sometimes lack is a large screen.

But this can be solved by connecting a second external monitor to it (I note that now even thin ultrabooks support this feature). By the way, the second monitor is indispensable for various calculations (for example, in the work of an accountant), when viewing various graphs, when programming, etc.

In this article, I will discuss the main points and questions that often arise when connecting a monitor. I think the information will be very useful for everyone who is interested in this topic.

I have a blog post about choosing a monitor for a computer (the article also talks about a screen for laptops) -

Connecting an external monitor to a laptop

Connection interfaces

I think the article should start with the interfaces that are most commonly found on monitors and laptops. And it is from them that they usually begin the connection procedure.

VGA (D-Sub)

Pretty old interface, but still popular. There are millions of vehicles that support VGA, and therefore, it will be relevant for a long time (although it’s morally outdated.). It is found even on new laptop / netbook models.

Of the minuses: max. the resolution when connecting via VGA is 1280 × 1024 (although in many cases it is possible to transmit a picture with a resolution of 1920 × 1080 pixels (or even higher), this option depends on the equipment). Cannot transmit audio. Mostly suitable for simple projectors, video consoles, small office monitors.


The interface is very popular, although on laptops it is even less common than VGA. Exists in one and two-channel options, they differ in max. the resolution that they can transmit is 1920 × 1080 and 2560 × 1600, respectively.

There are several varieties: DVI-A - for analog signal, DVI-D - for digital, DVI-I - universal. By the way, there are technologies for transferring pictures to 4K monitors by connecting two cables.

I note that the various connectors and their configuration (DVI-A, DVI-D, DVI-I) are compatible with each other. There is a difference in the contacts involved.


One of the most advanced connectivity interfaces. Ideal for connecting TVs, monitors, set-top boxes to a PC or laptop. Allows you to transmit both video and audio signals. This interface is in almost every laptop (also found on tablets and mobile gadgets).

Supports FullHD (1920x1080) picture, 3D, max. Resolution up to 3840 × 2160 (4K). In general, today will suit almost every user.

Please note that HDMI has several sizes: standard, mini and micro. On laptops (overwhelmingly), the standard size type is used.

Display port

A new interface that is gradually gaining momentum. It has high bandwidth, transmits audio and video signals, supports 4K and FullHD resolutions, picture in 3D. Allows you to connect multiple monitors at once to a chain (especially important for a laptop, where, usually, there is only one port).

Please note that on some small gadgets there is a mini Display Port (see screen below). I note that on conventional monitors and laptops, most often, standard-sized ports are used.

Determine the interface - choose a cable (and possibly an adapter)

If you don’t have an external monitor yet, and you are just going to buy it, then everything is simple for you: look at the interface on your laptop and buy a monitor compatible with it. I talked about how to choose a monitor in this article:

If you already have a monitor and a laptop (the most common option), then first you need to see which ports are present on them. In my case, the monitor had DVI and VGA ports (see photo below).

Monitor with VGA and DVI interfaces

Ideally, if you have an HDMI port on your laptop and on the monitor, then all the connection for you will be done using one cable. In fact, you just need to connect it to the laptop port and to the monitor port.

On my laptop, there was only an HDMI port, which means that in this case, adapters could not be done.

HDMI on laptop

I used the most common adapter from HDMI to VGA (there is one in every computer store). In general, you could use an HDMI to DVI adapter.

HDMI to VGA adapter

In general, there are a lot of different adapters on sale: now you can connect almost anything that is suitable to anything. Of course, I exaggerate a little - but nonetheless. Take a look at the assortment of products sold in Chinese online stores. You can find any adapter there!

We connect the laptop to the monitor - we get the first picture

By and large, there is no difference whether to connect a TV or a monitor to a laptop. The steps are the same everywhere. So.

1) Turn off the monitor and laptop. If we are talking about a TV or a stationary PC - I generally recommend disconnecting it from the outlet, disconnecting cable TV.

Here the fact is that the HDMI port can burn out if you connect it to the "hot" (how can this be done with USB ports). More than once, there was enough residual electricity to disable the HDMI port.

2) Next, connect the cable to the monitor and laptop (if adapters are used, also connect them).

VGA cable from the monitor: connect it to the adapter, and the adapter to the laptop

3) After turn on both the laptop and the monitor (or TV). By default, the first time you connect, the image should be sent immediately to both the external monitor and the laptop screen (example below). If you have a modern graphics card from IntelHD with updated drivers, then you don’t even need to configure anything - the picture will immediately appear on the screen of an external monitor!

For owners of video cards from AMD and NVidia - sometimes it is necessary to update the video driver (for example, an error may pop up that the video signal cannot be transmitted.). I recommend using utilities for automatic driver updates:

The monitor is connected to a laptop - the picture is the same there and there

Detailed setup of an external monitor, image projection

To fine-tune and fine-tune the operation of an external monitor, the laptop keyboard (usually) has a special key. For example, on my ASUS, the FN + F8 key combination is used for this (pay attention to the picture on the F8 key - on different laptop models, there may be excellent keys).

Important! If you don’t have such keys, read below, the second option will be indicated there, how to get to these settings.

FN + F8 - view projection modes

When you click this combination (FN + F8) - Windows 10 shows a small pop-up window on the left of the screen in which you can select several projection options:

  1. only a computer screen — the image will only be displayed on your laptop screen (it’s convenient when you want to show a presentation, but you’re still preparing materials. Or, say, a large screen is not yet required for work)
  2. repeating - the same picture on the external monitor and laptop screen (see my photo above),
  3. expand - an interesting solution: in fact, you will have a large desktop immediately on 2 screens. On one, you can start watching a movie or show some graph, and on the other screen - do something else, say, print text or play a game,
  4. only the second screen - on the laptop the screen goes blank, on the external monitor it will work. It’s convenient when you connect your laptop to an external monitor and work at home (say) (that is, your laptop will be in the role of the system side).

The photo below shows an option when only an external monitor is working (the last option).

Monitor 2 works, monitor 1 no

If special. you do not have keys on the laptop keyboard (or they do not work) - in the new Windows 10 OS, you can also resort to another setting option.

Right-click anywhere on the desktop, and in the menu that appears, select Screen Settings (see screen below).

Next, I should open the "Display" section of the Windows 10 control panel. In this section, you can do 2 important things:

  1. adjust scaling: often on laptops with a small screen, but high resolution, scaling in the region of 125-170% is included. Naturally, on a regular external monitor - the image will be too large and it will not look very comfortable. Therefore, adjust the scaling specifically for your monitor and your vision,
  2. multiple displays: here you can select the projection option (what was disassembled above: i.e. show the picture on the laptop and on the monitor, or only somewhere in one place).

But here I would also like to recommend to you two more of my articles on similar topics:

Connection Methods

There are a number of methods that allow you to connect a second monitor to a laptop. It is recommended to proceed from the presence of interfaces on both devices. To connect the equipment, you need to understand what standards are present on the laptop panel. The following methods are considered the most common:

  • VGA - is considered a bit outdated, but it continues to be widely used in some laptop models. The standard is analog. Most often, the plastic from which the connector is made is marked in blue. Engage it in the absence of a DVI connector on the PC.
  • HDMI - its feature is the ability to transfer media using a single cable, has a high transmission speed. Usually use it to connect all types of multimedia devices. Audio signal via HDMI is transmitted only if the laptop video card supports this option.

  • DVI - in its design may vary slightly, it all depends on the specific model. The standard is digital, marked with white labels and plastic. Compared to VGA, this connector provides better quality. Experts advise using this standard with appropriate interfaces.
  • DisplayPort - reminds HDMI in its parameters, it is often used in new models. This digital standard, it provides a scalable interface with which you can protect HDCP from copying and transmit audio signals. This type of connector resembles USB connectors, but protrusions are equipped on one side of it. The interface is the newest, developers position it as the most high-quality and safe.

Connection Steps for VGA

If we talk about VGA, then for it the connection order is as follows:

  • unplug the monitor and laptop,
  • connect your laptop to the monitor using the necessary cable,
  • Connect both devices to the network
  • press the Power key on the monitor, and then start the system on the laptop.

After these steps, a desktop window should appear with the settings for the connection options. The system will offer to expand, duplicate the image, show only the projector or only the computer.

When using the first option, the “picture” will be displayed on both screens, expanding. In other words, on the right side you will see a continuation of the desktop. This is very convenient, because on one monitor you can drag a tab with a video player, and on the other at the same time do some routine work (look for something on the Internet, type text or program). When dubbing is selected, the image will be repeated on the displays of both devices. The other two types mean viewing on one device (either a monitor or a laptop).

If nothing has changed, try setting the transfer mode manually. To do this, select on the keyboard one of the F * keys (F1 – F12), on which the monitor icon is applied. By clicking it, you can easily switch modes.

Connection steps for DisplayPort, HDMI, DVI

Connecting a monitor for these types of interfaces is no different from VGA. It is enough to connect two identical ports on a laptop and a monitor using a suitable cable to them. The device then determines the additional display and reproduces the "picture". If no changes have occurred, it is recommended that you reboot the device.

It happens that the monitor and the computer do not have the same ports - for example, the HDMI port is not on the monitor, and the laptop panel is built with it. Do not despair, because you can find an adapter. Even in a regular computer store, adapters for any interface are sold: HDMI - VGA, DisplayPort - DVI, DVI - VGA and the like.

As described above, there are three modes for connecting an external screen to a laptop computer. It is about the following:

  • "Picture" is displayed only on the monitor,
  • output simultaneously to both devices,
  • Information can only be viewed on a laptop.


Windows OS in most cases automatically tightens the resolution on both displays. Do it manually if the system missed this point for some reason. Screen settings are not difficult to choose:

  1. Right-click on the desktop.
  2. Select "Screen Resolution".

  1. Examine the settings and enter the required parameter in the "Resolution" field. In addition to this field, you can change the orientation and select the screen. The fact that the resolution is optimal for this display is indicated by the mark “Recommended”.

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And what will happen if ... Such words, which are essentially the quintessence of human curiosity, often preceded serious research among a large army of enthusiasts in their field, and subsequently - significant discoveries. We, in our modesty, do not pretend to be the discoverers of the discoverers in this material, but only try to find the answer to one question - how will the connection of an additional monitor affect the performance and stability of the netbook?

As the main “experimental rabbit” we chose Acer Aspire One A150-Bw. The capabilities of the model as a whole are typical of a netbook and are based on a combination of such hardware and software components of the system as the Intel Atom N270 1.6 GHz processor, 1 GB of RAM, integrated graphics and the Windows XP Home Edition 2002 SP3 operating system. All this together allows you to use the device not only for working with documents and browsing the Internet, but also for the purpose of demonstrating videos, as well as for many other everyday, but not too resource-intensive tasks.

We connect the monitor

So, at first, system performance was measured using the 3DMark03 test utility, so to speak, in its pure form, without connecting an external monitor. The results were quite expected and did not bring any special surprises. Then we connected one of the office 17 "monitors with a resolution of 1280 × 1024 pixels to Acer Aspire One and again drove out now the tandem of devices with the aforementioned software. The numbers that we ultimately received did not differ much from the original ones. And even when the netbook was alternately connected with a 22-inch monitor with a resolution of 1680 × 1050 pixels and a widescreen representative of the NEC family with a screen diagonal of 21.5 ", whose matrix resolution was 1920 × 1080 pixels, the measurement results did not change significantly. A similar outcome could be predicted even before the start of testing, however, in order to completely dot all the “i”, we could not pass this stage of the program.

Performance tests

The next item on the agenda was the study of the "behavior" of the mini-laptop in situations where it was required to perform several tasks simultaneously. One of them came down to archiving through a WinRAR 3.71 application of a fairly large file of 1.36 GB. The second was to demonstrate the movie (1.36 GB, resolution - 672 × 272, audio - 448 Kb / s, video - 1582 Kb / s, 25 frames / s) first on the Acer Aspire screen (archiving took place in the background) , and then on external monitors. The device was also tested for strength in a gaming environment, and for these purposes we once again enjoyed playing Plants vs Zombie, the now-popular casual toy. The average backup speed was calculated by the built-in benchmark in WinRAR 3.71. In addition, the real time that the process of creating the archive was recorded was recorded. Based on the results obtained, the following conclusion can be drawn: the distribution of computing resources occurs in such a way that priority is given primarily to multimedia tasks, and the speed of execution of "secondary" tasks is significantly reduced. This recession is especially noticeable during the game - the archiving speed is almost halved.

We observed a similar picture while running the application for converting VirtualDub video and simultaneously watching a video or gaming entertainment. As in the previous test, there were no problems with displaying the video sequence, but the conversion process, on the contrary, became more leisurely.

In addition to semi-synthetic tests, we tried other characteristic options for load balancing between the netbook and the monitor. These include working with office documents and web surfing, instant messaging services (ICQ) and watching videos, etc. In all cases, there were no noticeable malfunctions in the applications, and the speed of activation of the programs by eye was practically nothing differed from the usual.

В итоге на основании серии тестов можно сделать сразу несколько выводов.

  • Простое подключение к нетбуку дополнительного монитора никоим образом не сказывается на его производительности вне зависимости от разрешения матрицы последнего.
  • При одновременной обработке двух процессов приоритет отдается мультимедийному направлению с некоторым ущербом для процесса конвертации или архивирования файлов.
  • Параллельный запуск офисных приложений не приводит к сколько-нибудь заметному падению скорости работы устройства.

Some of these theses may seem obvious to a technically savvy category of users, but we are sure that there will be many people for whom this information will be very useful and, perhaps, even dispel some biases regarding the scope of this class of portable computers.