Laptop Processors With Support For Multiple External Monitors – [tl; dr: Yes, you can run 4 or 6 external monitors, each with different content, and from almost any computer laptop. But there is one thing […]
[New laptop with Thunderbolt 4? You can make quad monitors with the TB4 dock! Pictured is a Surface Pro 8 in a vertical VESA mount powered by a Lenovo TB4 dock (music via maxkomusic.com)]
Laptop Processors With Support For Multiple External Monitors
Many laptop users use a built-in laptop LCD, but some need a larger screen. Almost all laptops can run an external monitor by connecting the monitor directly. Two monitors can be connected to most laptop docking stations with separate content on each screen via DisplayPort or HDMI connectors. There are 4 main dock styles that support multiple monitors:
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Most laptops are limited to running 2 or 3 screens, including the built-in screen. Around the time of Windows Vista, several vendors offered low-cost VGA-USB-2.0 solutions, where a standard USB A plug was attached with a bit of adhesive, providing an additional VGA or DVI monitor output beyond your PC’s limitations. Suddenly, inexpensive four-monitor arrays were possible in entry-level PCs. These early USB video dongles had poor performance, with intermittent lag/latency and frequent crashes. This is caused by relying on software that corrupts Intel, AMD, or NVIDIA GPU device drivers using methods that have not been thoroughly tested by Microsoft or GPU vendors. When Windows Update service packs are applied, the method leaves the screen blank, breaks, and waits weeks for an update.
With Windows 10, however, Microsoft introduced an indirect display driver model that offers a reliable and efficient way to connect displays to USB. Monitors connected this way still don’t perform as well as monitors connected directly to the GPU. They typically have 3-6 frames of additional latency/latency (50-100ms at 60Hz refresh rate), which makes for a poor gaming experience – but fine for most office and creative applications. Below are a few devices using these new software interfaces and chipsets. These devices can be used to add 1-2 additional monitors at 4K60 resolution to your laptop, existing docking station or desktop computer.
Because of the added latency with USB video extenders and docks designed around DisplayLink technology, it’s best to start with a regular dock first. For example, on a Microsoft Surface, get a Surface Dock for the first 2 monitors, then add a third and fourth with a USB 3.x video extender. Or at Lenovo, start with a USB-C or Thunderbolt 3 dock that takes advantage of DisplayPort alternate mode and add a third and fourth monitor with a USB video extender.
How To Use An External Monitor With A Closed Laptop
For people who need to use multiple 4K60 monitors but have an older laptop that can only handle 4K30, use a video extender to provide only the required 4K60 output.
There are affordable USB video extenders from various manufacturers ranging in price from $20-$50, with different features, performance, and vendor support. But I’ve had the best success with Pluggable, Startech, and Cable Matters devices based on the latest DisplayLink chipset technology, and I’ve used them in consumer devices. I have little experience with Silicon Motion based products, but my understanding is that DisplayLink has the best software.
Many modern laptops have built-in USB-C, Thunderbolt 3 or DisplayPort ports. When monitors are connected to these ports, they use the laptop’s GPU directly, so there is no additional lag/dropout. However, not all USB-C ports support direct connection to the GPU. To support it, the USB-C port must enable “DisplayPort alternate mode”. If your laptop’s manufacturer doesn’t specify that a monitor connection is offered via a USB-C port, it may only be suitable for data and/or charging. Also, monitor-specific capabilities such as resolution and refresh rate offered by the port may differ among laptop models. For example, here’s an article describing different monitor support for Microsoft Surface USB-C ports.
How Do I Connect Multiple Displays To My Macbook M1/m2?
Even if your laptop only has 1 monitor output port via USB-C or DisplayPort, you can connect multiple monitors to the GPU with MST technology. MST stands for “Multi-Stream-Transport” and is a method of distributing the DisplayPort signal across multiple monitors, sharing the bandwidth between them. This technology is exclusive to DisplayPort (and USB-C with DisplayPort Alt Mode) and can be implemented using a separate MST hub, a docking station with a built-in MST chipset, or a daisy-chain output port built into the monitor. Windows and Linux support MST well, but MacOS does not. Most laptops limit the number of separate displays to 3 (including if the laptop display is enabled). Therefore, if you try to connect additional monitors beyond this limit, they will remain blank or display the same content as one of the other screens. (DisplayLink and similar video extension technologies have no such 3-screen limitation.) Many OEM docking stations have a built-in MST hub to provide two monitor outputs. The use of additional MST hubs in tandem (in a cascade configuration) with these docking stations to obtain a third release is not recommended due to compatibility issues. The table below compares MST hub and USB video expansion technology:
Not recommended (Connecting an MST hub to a device that already has an MST chipset, such as OEM docking stations, will often fail and the screen will remain blank.)
Not recommended (The bottom USB ports on DisplayLink-based docking station devices can be used to connect additional video extenders, but may suffer from limited bandwidth)
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Note: Products based on different technology providers are incompatible and cannot be used simultaneously on the same system. You must completely remove any software from one vendor to switch to another vendor’s product. For example, DisplayLink provides clear instructions for removing third-party software.
DisplayLink is a brand name and a division of Synaptics Inc. DisplayPort is the name of an open video electronics standard for monitor connectivity that describes physical port and electrical signaling standards and provides software/hardware implementation recommendations.
DisplayPort was in development but was not yet widely adopted and was chosen at a time that caused confusion for customers and IT professionals. When connecting a monitor to any computer – remember that DisplayPort connects directly to the GPU and is always better than connecting via DisplayLink. DisplayLink introduces an extra layer of software and hardware between the GPU and the monitor, which *always* degrades performance to some degree. DisplayLink and similar technologies should only be used when direct connections to the GPU have been exhausted or those connections offer a limited resolution/refresh rate that is not suitable for the specified monitor.
How To Set Up Dual Monitors On A Mac
Instead of getting multiple small monitors, get one 43-inch 4K home theater screen with HDMI 2.0. These screens are compatible with PCs and are significantly cheaper than the total cost of multiple PC monitors for their size. For multitasking, there are a number of third-party apps that make it easy to organize your apps, such as Microsoft PowerToy. Below is a comparison of the pros and cons of PC vs. home theater screens for a desktop computer:
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Animators, graphic designers and visual professionals who live for high-performance laptops with stunning displays are getting game-changing benefits with the Apple M1/M2 chip. M1/M2 Apple Inc. is the company’s second system (Soc) designed exclusively for use in Macs and marks the transition from Intel® chips that have been used in Mac computers for more than 15 years. If you’ve invested in a new 14-inch or 16-inch MacBook Pro with an M1/M2 Pro or M1/M2 Max chip, or upgraded to a Mac Studio with an M1 Ultra chip, you’re already impressed. Ready to take advantage of the speed and efficiency of a single chip – and possibly the incredible external performance capabilities available to you. Although the M1/M2 MacBooks natively support only one monitor, there are options for multiple displays.
Although the M1/M2 chips differ graphically, the M1/M2 Pro offers up to 16 GPUs, the M1/M2 Max up to 32 cores, and the M1 Ultra up to 64, each with . For multiple high-resolution screens and enhanced visual performance.
A Thunderbolt™ 4 docking station is a great place to start if you want to expand your display capabilities
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