How to Connect Two Monitors to a Laptop [Step-by-Step Guide]

Daniel Wabuge
Daniel Wabuge

Updated · Sep 21, 2022

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Let’s make a wild guess—you probably use your laptop for a variety of different tasks. Be it for work, study, entertainment, browsing the web, or catching up with what’s new, it comes through.

But what if you need more screen real estate for a better experience?

Count yourself lucky:

Today, we will show you how to connect two monitors to a laptop, so you can boost your productivity or just enjoy content in a higher resolution. We promise you—it’s super easy!

Let’s begin with the:

Requirements Before You Start

First, you need to see if your laptop supports external dual screens at all. To do this, you must:

Check the Graphics Card

The first thing you need to do is identify your machine’s graphics card (GPU). Here’s how:

Step 1: Open the Task Manager by pressing CTRL+SHIFT+ESC simultaneously on your keyboard.

Step 2: Select Performance

Performance option selected from menu

Step 3: Scroll down and click on GPU to see the model number.

GPU selected to see the model number

Alternatively, in your quest to connect your laptop to two monitors, you can use software like CPU-Z that allows you to learn what are your machine’s configurations. Just install and head over to Graphics to see the details.

Graphics tab open

By default, the majority supports at least one external display. However, double-check with the GPU manufacturer’s website to look into your hardware specs.

checking processor's Graphics

After performing a quick check ourselves, we saw that having a dual-monitor setup with our laptop won’t be an issue.

Check the Available Ports

You must look for the available display connections included on your laptop. In general, it should have a combination of any of the following ports:

  • HDMI: High-definition multimedia interface (HDMI) is a popular connection for modern displays and televisions. It can transmit sound and images in up to 8K quality.
  • DisplayPort: This connection can transmit both audio and video, but unlike its closest rival, it supports a maximum display output of 4K.
  • USB-C: This recent technology supports data transfers by up to 20Gbps. However, support for display capabilities varies across devices. You need to check with your laptop’s manufacturer if your device is USB-C compatible.
  • Thunderbolt: This port is almost identical to USB-C. But it comes with a double data transfer rate of up to 40Gbps. It supports audio and video output at a maximum of 8K quality.
  • DVI/VGA: Older-generation ports that are available on fewer and fewer modern displays. Most manufacturers exclude them on compact-sized laptops due to their large size.

How to Connect Two Monitors to a Laptop?

Now that everything is set, follow these simple steps to configure external displays.

Note that it’s safe to connect the monitors while your laptop is running. Once you do so, Windows will automatically detect them and prompt you to make whatever changes are necessary.

Ready? Let’s go!

Step 1: Hook your two monitors to a power source and switch them on.

Step 2: Connect both screens to your laptop using the correct display cables.

Step 3: Right-click on an empty area within your desktop. Next, select Display Settings on your Windows 11 or 10 device. Older versions like Windows 8 and 7 have this feature named Screen Resolution instead.

Step 4: The monitors will have labels 1, 2, and 3 under Display mode. Note that the first one is your system’s in-built panel. The other two represent the external screens for your dual-monitor setup with your laptop.

Step 5: Select the second monitor with label 2 on Display mode. Next, set Extended desktop to this display under the Multiple Displays option below.

Step 6: Go to Display mode and select the monitor labeled 3. Likewise, choose Extended desktop to this display on the Multiple Displays option below.

Step 8: Click Okay and Apply to save your configuration and enjoy your new setup.

Images may sometimes appear stretched and fuzzy when using your laptop with multiple monitors. Should that happen, go back to steps 5 and 6, and choose Resolution below Display mode.

Set the maximum recommended value for your external screens. If that doesn’t work, ensure you’ve installed the correct monitor drivers.

Alternatives

Your device has fewer connectivity options? You’re not entirely out of luck. Check these alternatives on how to use dual monitors with your laptop:

Use a USB Display

There’s a good chance your laptop has multiple USB-A ports. In such cases, you can try portable USB monitors.

Unlike ordinary displays, they’re lightweight and compact-size, perfect if you have limited space. Another advantage is that they consume less energy, which translates to low power bills.

Unfortunately, you may experience lag, lower refresh rates, and average picture quality. That’s because USB-A can’t match the capabilities of dedicated display ports mentioned earlier.

Still, they’re an excellent option for connecting two monitors to your laptop. You’ll find them ideal for lightweight tasks and entertainment.

Use a Docking Station

A docking station is a dongle-like gadget for connecting with other computer devices. It offers multiple connectivity options to add extra functionalities to your laptop. 

Examples include but are not limited to:

  • USB-A and USB-C ports
  • HDMI slots
  • Ethernet connection
  • Audio and microphone slots
  • Wi-Fi and Bluetooth  

Manufacturers like HP, Lenovo, and Dell all sell docking stations separately. After purchasing one, hook it up to your laptop, and connect your monitors.

On the downside, the $150 average price for these gadgets is quite steep. They’re also bulky and use up more space on your desk.

All in all, docking stations are great for extending your productivity across multiple screens, especially if you have the space and don’t care about the additional investment.

Use a Multihead Splitter

This gadget allows you to split and beam visuals across multiple screens. It's compact, lightweight, and cheaper than a docking station.

Connecting your laptop to two monitors with it is as easy as child’s play. You need one with at least two display outputs, and you’re good to go.

Depending on your GPU’s capabilities, a splitter can have an output of up to 8K. Some have other extras, like a wireless remote control for convenience.

Unfortunately, multitasking is impossible since the device mirrors your laptop’s screen on the connected displays.

It’s still worth it if you value a multi-screen setup, though.

Wrap Up

Adding multiple displays to your laptop can help skyrocket your productivity. You can independently run different apps across each one to manage tasks efficiently.

But to enjoy such comfort, you need a computer with a capable GPU. Your device must also have extra ports to hook up external screens.

Another way you can do it is by using a portable USB display, docking station, or splitter. Easy-peasy!

Now that you know how to connect two monitors to a laptop, it's time to test your newfound knowledge and give it a shot.

FAQ.


Can I connect 2 monitors to my laptop?

Yes, you can! You just need a laptop with a graphics chip that supports multi-screen output and at least two external display ports. Alternatively, you can use a portable USB display, docking station, or splitter to benefit from this feature.

How do I connect 2 monitors to my laptop with one HDMI?

You need to use a multi-head splitter with at least two HDMI slots. Next, connect it to your laptop and hook up your two monitors on the opposite end. Sounds easy, right? It is. 

How do I connect two monitors to my laptop without HDMI?

You’re wondering how to connect two monitors to a laptop without HDMI, and you think it’s mission impossible? Worry not, you have alternatives! You can go with the easy option of purchasing a docking station. It has tons of display ports to extend your machine's multi-screen capabilities.

A multi-head splitter is another option—it works by mirroring your laptop’s panel across multiple screens.

Portable USB monitors are also ideal if your machine has multiple USB-A/USB-C outputs.

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Daniel Wabuge

Daniel Wabuge

Daniel is a curious thinker that loves everything about tech. If he spots something interesting, rest assured that he’ll reverse-engineer it. Apart from being an internet addict, he loves building web servers from scratch. Well, it’s not his profession per se. But it’s a passion he picked up after a series of unfortunate events involving terrible hosts. He’s the “hosting guy”.

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