Looking to connect laptop to a monitor? In this article, we are going to discuss how to connect laptop to monitor and different ways to connect the monitor to a laptop.
The whole idea of creating a laptop was to provide a portable computer, but with technological advancements, laptops are getting faster and better. That is why many users are now inclined toward laptops for work, gaming, education, content creation, etc. The only problem is the small screen. Even 17 inch laptops are not enough when you are dealing with a lot of data, playing games, or working on new projects using professional software like video editing or music production.
That’s where the monitor came into the picture. You can use a laptop’s screen while traveling but when you are at home or the office, it is always a great idea to connect monitor to laptop and boost your overall productivity and visual experience.
Different Types of Connectivity Ports
Before connecting a laptop to a monitor, you need to learn about the different connectivity ports and their compatibility with a laptop. Once you got the idea of different ports for connecting the monitor to the laptop, only then you will be able to know the compatibility of the monitor with the laptop. Not every laptop is compatible with every monitor. You need to check the compatibility first.
Below are popular connectivity ports which are mostly available on both laptops and monitors.
DisplayPort is a digital display interface standardized by the Video Electronics Standards Association. DisplayPort offers high-quality video and audio transmission which is also preferred by gamers because it supports higher resolution and refresh rate. Most of the new laptops, especially gaming laptops and monitor come with DisplayPort.
If you are into gaming or want an HDR monitor to watch HDR content on an external monitor, make sure that both laptop and monitor have DisplayPort 1.2 or DisplayPort 1.4, which is the most common version of DisplayPort supporting 32.4Gbps of bandwidth while DisplayPort 1.2 supports 21.6Gbps of bandwidth. DisplayPort is also preferred for high refresh rate gaming. DisplayPort is also suitable for those who want to connect laptop to monitor without HDMI.
2. HDMI Port
If you want to connect your laptop to monitor with HDMI, here is High-Definition Multimedia Interface or HDMI that is available on every laptop, TV, gaming console, DVD player and also monitor.
Most laptops come with HDMI 2.0 port which is good enough to connect to a monitor for work, media consumption, online studying, video or photo editing. But if you are planning for high FPS 4K gaming, make sure you get the best gaming monitor with HDMI 2.1 port only because HDMI 2.0 is limited to 4K at 60hz only while HDMI 2.1 supports 4K at 120hz.
3. USB-C/Thunderbolt Port
If you are a Macbook, Dell XPS, or Microsoft Surface user, this will make more sense to you. Or if you are someone who wants to connect the laptop to a monitor without HDMI, USB Type-C is the perfect port for you.
Most of the slim-designed laptops only come with USB Type-C Thunderbolt 4 port for connecting the monitor to the laptop. In that case, make sure your monitor also has a USB Type-C port else you have to use a USB Type-C adapter.
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Thunderbolt 4 is the latest version that supports 40Gbps of bandwidth and offers high-quality video transmission and supports resolutions up to 8K. Thunderbolt is an advanced version USB Type-C port (both look the same thought) that is mostly available on premium gaming laptops, productivity business laptops and ultrabooks.
If your monitor doesn’t have a USB Type-C port, you can always use a USB Type-C hub with an HDMI port or USB Type-C to HDMI adapter.
4. VGA Port
Video Graphics Array or VGA is an outdated analog port that is mostly seen in the old generation of laptops and monitor. It supports lower resolution and processes low picture quality. If you have an older laptop with a VGA port, make sure you get a monitor that also comes with a VGA port otherwise, it will create a big compatibility issue. Here is the best monitor under 300 that comes with VGA port and affordable price.
These are the most common connectivity ports you will see on a laptop as well as on the monitor. While most monitor brand provides cables into the box but sometimes you have to arrange the connectivity cable yourself. In that case, it is crucial to have basic information about ports and compatibility.
Now that you can have a basic knowledge of ports and cables, let’s connect the laptop to a monitor.
How to Connect Laptop to Monitor – Step-by-Step
Assuming you already have a compatible monitor, let’s talk about connecting laptop to monitor. If you don’t have a monitor with your right now and planning to get one, make sure you check our monitor buying guide on this website.
Here is how to connect a laptop to a Monitor:
1. Check the Connection Compatibility
First of all, check the available port on your laptop and monitor. In Windows laptops, DisplayPort and HDMI ports are the most common ports you will find. You can use either of them which is available on the monitor as well as on the Laptop.
For Macbook, make sure your monitor either has a USB Type-C port or get a USB Type-C to HDMI adapter. The new 14-inch and 16-inch Macbook Pro with an M2 chip already came with an HDMI port and you don’t need a USB Type-C hub for that. You can also consider getting a portable monitor for Macbook Pro which already came with a USB Type-C port for direct connection.
2. Power off Laptop and Monitor
To avoid any kind of electric shock or exposure to electric leakage, it is a good idea to turn off the monitor and laptop. If your laptop is charging, remove it from the socket and make sure both monitor and laptop are not connected to any power source.
3. Connect Monitor to Laptop using a Compatible Cable
Now it is time to connect the laptop to the monitor via a suitable cable and port.
First, tightly connect the cable at the back of the monitor. Here I am using a USB Type-C Thunderbolt cable to connect the BenQ 4K monitor to Macbook Pro. If you are using HDMI or DisplayPort cable, connect to the respective port at the back of the monitor.
Now connect the other end of the cable to the laptop’s port. Here I’m connecting using Type-C to Type-C cable to connect the laptop via a USB Type-C thunderbolt port.
If you are still planning to get a monitor for Macbook, Dell XPS, Surface laptop or any other laptop that doesn’t have DisplayPort or HDMI port, make sure the monitor has a USB Type-C port for utmost convenience. Otherwise, you have to buy a USB Type-C adapter which is an additional cost and also clutter the whole desk with extra cables.
4. Turn on Monitor & Laptop
Once the cables are connected, turn on the laptop and monitor. Once the laptop’s boot is completed, you will see the laptop’s screen on the monitor. To get the best visuals, you might need to adjust the display settings.
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5. Adjust Display Settings
After connecting the monitor to the laptop, it is time to adjust the display for the best possible visual experience. There are a few things that you should adjust right after connecting the laptop to the monitor. Here are those things:
A. Display Mode
Depending on the requirement, you can select the Extended Display Mode or Screen Mirroring Mode in the display settings of the laptop. In the Extended Display, you will see 2 different visuals on the monitor and laptop screen. If you are someone who needs a dual monitor setup for working, streaming, etc. use extended display screen mode.
If you want to use the monitor with the laptop’s lid off, use extended mode or use Monitor as the main display and put down the laptop’s lid. It will work absolutely fine and feels like a PC if you are already using a keyboard and mouse. In the same mode, if you want to use both screens, open the laptop’s lid and start using the other screen.
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Another is Screen Mirroring Mode in which your laptop screen gets mirrored on the big monitor screen. Basically same visuals on both the laptop and monitor at the same time. It is best suited when you are presenting something on a big display and also wanted to get visual on your laptop’s screen as well so that you can get an idea of what is mirroring on the monitor.
The laptop’s screen resolution could be 1080p while the monitor has 4K resolution. In that case, you will see a distorted, poor-quality image. To fix that, change the resolution of the monitor so that laptop can adjust the signal accordingly for the best visuals. Go to Display Settings on Windows and macOS to change the resolution of the monitor.
C. Refresh Rate
By default, monitors are tuned for 60hz which is okay for work, web surfing, content creation etc but if you are going to play games on the monitor using a laptop, you might crave more Frame Rates. In that case, you need to adjust the refresh rate of the monitor. For gaming, consider getting a high refresh rate monitor. Refresh Rate and overall gaming also depend on the gaming rig you are using. Here are the best gaming monitor recommendations according to GPU:
- Best Monitor for RTX 2060
- Best Monitor for RTX 3080
- Best Monitor for RTX 4080
- Best Monitor for CSGO
- Best Gaming Monitor for RTX 3070
D. Color, Contrast, HDR
Another important thing is the color-related adjustments which get even more important when you are into video/photo editing, graphic designing, and other color-oriented work. Some monitors are color-calibrated out of the box while some need to be calibrated using the OSD Menu of the monitor.
At the back of the monitor, you will see some buttons, use them to access the monitor’s setting panel and change the colors, contrast, and brightness accordingly.
HDR is another setting needs to be adjusted. Most premium monitors that come with VESA DisplayHDR certification support High Dynamic Range content. HDR improves the overall visuals of the monitor by boosting the peak brightness and colors of the picture. If your monitor comes with VESA DisplayHDR certification, turn it on and go to Netflix, or Prime Video to enjoy HDR movies & TV shows.
Most users don’t need to change the orientation of the monitor but if you are someone who is going to use the monitor in portrait mode, you can change the monitor’s orientation to portrait mode. You also need to plan it while buying the monitor because the monitor’s stand must support Pivot adjustment for using the monitor in portrait mode. Or you need to get a monitor arm.
F. Sound Setting
If your monitor has inbuilt speakers and you actually wanted to use them, go to Sound Settings of your laptop and choose the monitor name in the ‘Sound Output’. That way, all the sound coming from the laptop will be played by the monitor’s speakers.
Once you are done with all the settings, the monitor is ready to use. You can keep on experimenting with new adjustments until you get fully satisfied with the new monitor laptop setup.
Common Issues while Connecting Laptop to Monitor
It is common to face common issues while connecting a laptop to a monitor or monitor to a laptop, the same thing. If you are facing any display-related issues, here are some quick solutions:
1. Adjust Settings
If you are seeing poor visuals or faded colors on the monitor, monitor’s menu and adjust the colors, contrast, and saturation. You can also try different resolutions to improve the visuals. Resolution can be adjusted by going to Display Settings on your laptop.
2. Check Cables
Sometimes the display gets flickering or is interrupted by loose cables. Make sure the cables are not loose and firmly connected to the respective ports. HDMI cables sometimes show No Signal which is a sign of poor connectivity or faulty cable. You can debug the issue by replacing the HDMI cable or changing the input source.
3. Update Display Driver
This is not an issue on macOS but if you are using Windows, make sure Display Driver is up to date.
Here is how to update the display driver on Windows:
- Go to ‘Device Manager’ on Windows and Click on ‘Display Adapters’.
- Now you will see the graphic adapter name. Right Click on it and go to Properties.
- Click on ‘Update Driver’. Choose ‘Search Automatically for Drivers’. If an update is available, it would automatically update the graphic driver to the latest version.
4. Check the Firmware Update of the Monitor
Maybe the monitor itself has some issues that might be causing the issues. If there is any firmware update available, make sure you update it timely. It will resolve all the monitor-related issues.
Connect Laptop to Monitor: Summarising
That is how you can connect a laptop to a monitor. The important thing to learn here is the ports and their compatibility.
For Windows laptops, just make sure both laptop and monitor have DisplayPort or HDMI ports. Both are great ways to connect an external monitor to a laptop.
For Macbook users, it is suggested to get a monitor with a USB Type-C port in the first place. If you are using the latest 14-inch or 16-inch Macbooks with M2 Chip, things get a little easier because the new M2 Macbook Pros come with an HDMI port.
As a last resort, you can always use a USB Type-C hub to connect any monitor with any laptop but that is not recommended. Use direct connections for stability and a better visual experience.
Other than connection, it is also important to adjust the display settings. Out of the box, monitors are not color calibrated and it might show you poor, under-saturated colors but once you adjust all the display settings including resolution, you will get a better visual experience.
That is all about connecting the monitor to the laptop or laptop to the monitor. For any queries, start the conversation in the comments below.
Frequently Asked Questions
We have answered a few commonly asked questions. If you have any other query, feel free to mention it in the comments:
How do I connect my laptop to a monitor and use both screens?
To use both screens, use the monitor as the main display and use the laptop screen as an extended display. That way, you will be able to drag and arrange different visuals on differnet screens.
How do I connect my laptop to an HDMI monitor?
For connecting the Laptop to an HDMI monitor, you need an HDMI cable. Simply connect one end of the HDMI cable to the monitor and the other end to your laptop. Choose HDMI as input source and done.
Why is my laptop HDMI not working?
The common issue associated with non-functioning HDMI is the damaged or faulty HDMI cable. Get a new HDMI cable and if it is still not working, there must be a problem with the HDMI port on the laptop or monitor.
Why is there no signal on my HDMI cable?
You might have chosen the wrong input source. If your monitor has 2 HDMI ports, you can try switching between HDMI 1 and HDMI 2 as input sources or replace the cable.
How do I connect my laptop to a monitor without HDMI?
You can use DisplayPort or USB Type-C Thunderbolt port to connect the laptop to the monitor without HDMI.