A laptop is an obvious choice when you need a portable system for work, leisure, or academics. In the past, portability meant compromising on hardware to such an extent that using them for powerful applications was unheard of. But thanks to innovation in the hardware space, laptops now boast almost desktop-like performance – making them quite adept at handling intensive tasks like gaming and production without compromising their portability.
The primary attraction towards multi-monitor setups stems from increased screen real-estate, whether you want to game, watch movies, or even work. To this end, let’s explore how to connect multiple monitors to your laptop.
Why Use Multiple Monitors?
Even if you have a high-resolution display on your laptop, your workspace is limited. Setting up dual monitors comes with a few distinct advantages:
a) Adding another, large monitor or another screen with higher resolution to your laptop grants you a lot more screen real estate for work. You can easily work with multiple windows open side-by-side and multitask way more efficiently.
b) Extended monitors will better the experience of watching high-definition movies from services like Netflix, YouTube, and so on.
There are many other use cases for multiple monitor setups and will vary from user to user. However, it’s clear that if you have the budget and space to set one up, you should consider it.
Getting Ready to Hook Up Multiple Monitors to Your Laptop
There are a few things you need to check before we start connecting multiple displays to your laptop. We'll be using the MSI GS75 Stealth Gaming Laptop as an example throughout this section.
Check laptop ports
Your laptop should support multiple displays, which is indicated by the availability of multiple (usually two) display ports. The GS75 Stealth Gaming Laptop, for example, is equipped with a USB Type-C port that supports Thunderbolt 3, the Display Port standard, as well as USB 3.1 Gen 2 (You may want to know more about the latest generation of USB:USB3.2 Explained).
In addition to the USB Type-C port mentioned above, the laptop also features a HDMI output port. The availability of two display output ports tells us that you can successfully connect two screens to this laptop without running into any issues.
You can check your laptop's technical specifications page to identify the type of I/O ports available to you. With laptops that provide a display output using the Type-C interface, you'll need to use an adapter or a cable that support Type-C to HDMI /Type-C to Display Port to connect your screen.
▲MSI Optix MAG271CQR connections
Check your Graphics Card
If you own a modern gaming laptop (Nvidia 20-series GPU or equivalent), it should handle a dual high-resolution display without breaking a sweat. If you own an older laptop, you should consider the resolution carefully. Running a dual 1440p monitor setup is substantially more taxing than a similar 1080p setup.
Let's Extend Your Workspace: Connecting Laptop to Monitor
Now that you’ve made sure that your laptop can be connected to dual monitors, it's time to start. The monitor that we've picked for this task is the MSI Optix MAG271CQR. Its WQHD (2560x1440) resolution should ensure that you never run out of space on your screen.
Setup#1 Laptop Screen Extended by a Single Monitor
In this first setup, we use the screen of your laptop as the first screen and a monitor as the second display.
▲Your extended workspace should look something like this
Plug in your monitor and connect it to your laptop using the correct interface. Since we need to connect only a single external monitor, we can use an HDMI cable to connect your laptop to this display. If all goes well, you should see your screen on your monitor. By default, Windows duplicates the displays. However, you need to set this to ‘Extend.’
Pressing the Windows Key and “P” should bring up the Windows projection menu:
Select the 3rd option here, ‘extend.’ This should extend your screen across your laptop screen and monitor. You can find out exactly how to customize your workspace and screens below
Setup #2: Dual External Monitors
In this scenario, we use two external monitors.
▲Your Dual-Monitor Workspace will look something like this
A distinct advantage of going for this setup over the setup that uses your laptop screen as the second display is uniformity. In this configuration, you can get identical displays that will sit side-by-side, providing a much more seamless experience.
Let's take two MSI Optix MAG271CQR Gaming Monitors this time to use for our workstation. Connect one to the laptop using an HDMI cable, as detailed in Setup #1.
You'll need an adapter to connect the second monitor. One of the MSI GS75 Stealth’s Type-C ports supports a display output. To identify this port on this laptop, look for the port with the Thunderbolt 3 icon near it.
▲The Thunderbolt™ Icon
Grab a Type-C to HDMI adapter and connect it to the Thunderbolt 3 Type-C port. Attach one end of HDMI cable to the adapter and the other end to the monitor. That's it! Now, we move on to customizing our workspace according to our needs and requirements.
Customizing a Multi-Monitor Setup On Windows
Windows display settings will give you more flexibility with regards to choosing a primary (or 1st) display, scaling (default sizes of icons, texts, and windows), resolution, and orientation.
You can find these settings here: Settings > System > Display. You could also just right click on an empty space on your desktop and select ‘Display Settings' to get to this screen. Scrolling down on this screen will give you access to additional layout and scaling options as well.
We have also created just the tool needed for those who want a more powerful multitasking experience. The MSI Gaming OSD 2.0 will grant you fine-grained control and customization of your newly-extended workspace. You can find out more about its features and functionality here.
If you still have more questions about connecting your laptop to dual monitors or customizing your workspace, our experts have created a video to help you out. You can also watch it on our official YouTube channel.