If you are a laptop user who does multitask continuously, you will love to set up dual displays and monitors. That helps to increase productivity and work efficiently with two screens without minimizing and opening screens in a single monitor.
Let’s look at how to set up dual monitors in Windows 10/11 laptops and desktop PCs.
We will go through several scenarios in settings up multiple displays. Configuring dual monitors in a desktop PC is relatively easy. But I always have a few doubts or somewhat misunderstandings regarding laptops.
- Are we going to configure two monitors?
- Are we going to set up two displays?
Do not tell me both are the same on laptops. Because a laptop already has a screen that can be treated as one display, adding one more monitor can be considered as 2nd display. Desktop computers already have one monitor, so adding one more monitor will be considered a dual monitor.
Adding one monitor to the laptop is like setting up the dual display (because you are getting two displays of the system), but this is not the two-monitor setup for me.
If you want to connect two monitors to a laptop, you will have 3 display outputs (one in a built-in laptop screen and the other 2 are on external monitors).
Setup Dual Monitors/Display in Windows 10 Desktop PC
Since we already have a monitor on a desktop PC, the second display could be a monitor, projector, or TV screen. Windows 10 and 11 give multiple options to manage the 2nd monitor. But to connect the 2nd monitor, your desktop PC should have the 2nd display output.
It is physical connectivity from the display card. Most of the latest motherboards have a built-in display and support for external display cards with dual display outputs. Either it can be VGA, HDMI, DVI, or Mini DVI. You must find the 2nd display output from the system unit and see whether it matches the 2nd monitor input.
The HDMI output can connect to an HDMI monitor or projector only. If it is not matching, then you need a converter. For example, the HDMI to VGA converter can connect your PC’s HDMI output to VGA input to the 2nd monitor (monitor, TV, or projector).
Windows 11/10 can detect the 2nd monitor/display when it is connected. After 2nd monitor is connected physically, change the display settings to see the dual screen.
Press Windows Key and P together to get the projection option. You can select how (or what) you want to see on the 2nd monitor.
That is pretty straightforward in setting up the dual monitor on a Windows 10 desktop computer.
Dual/Two Monitor Setup in Windows 11/10 Laptops
Most of the laptops have a VGA or HDMI output. You need to connect your 2nd monitor to one of them and adjust the display settings as we did earlier for the desktop PC. Those Windows 10/11 display options will enable you to duplicate, extend, or only project to the 2nd monitor display outputs from the laptop.
How to Connect Two Monitors to A Laptop
This time we will connect two monitors to a laptop, leaving the built-in laptop screen. As mentioned earlier, most laptops will have single video output such as VGA or HDMI. Few laptops have multiple display outputs. You may find a VGA, HDMI, Mini display, or Thunderbolt port (or USB-C).
These ports can be used to connect multiple monitors to the laptop. Make sure that the monitors support these cable inputs; otherwise, you may need a converter.
Once you connect the two monitors, Windows 10 will detect these monitors separately, provided that the video card can handle two display outputs simultaneously. You may see 3 monitors under display settings, including the built-in laptop screen. You can set different screen resolutions for each monitor.
Connect Two Monitors with a Single Display Port on a Windows laptop
Here is the tricky part, if the laptop has only one video output, we need to follow different steps to connect two monitors.
1) Get a Display Splitter
Display splitters can split single input into multiple outputs. This will work if you need to connect two or more monitors to a laptop with only a single video output. You have to ensure that the splitter input and outputs match the laptop output and monitor inputs.
When you use a display splitter, Windows 10/11 will not detect every monitor connected to the splitter. For Operating Systems, it will act as a single video output only. So, you will not get additional OS-level display options to extend, duplicate, or change the resolutions for every monitor.
2) USB to HDMI or VGA converters
We can still buy USB-to-display converters to connect the 2nd monitor. It will work as the external VGA adapter to connect the monitor or projector. These type of USB video adapters has less powerful hardware inside. They will use the laptop resources to display the graphics/video through this converter.
You may face glitches in pushing HD videos through this converter, especially if you buy a cheaper converter.
3) Docking Station
Connecting two or more monitors to a laptop by compatible docking stations is handy at the office or home. The latest docking stations connected via USB-C ports have several video output ports, like the Dell docking station below.
Even the older models have a minimum of 2 video outputs to connect additional monitors. You must get the correct model of docking station for your laptop. The Windows will detect each monitor individually and give all options to customize it.
Connect Two Monitors to Laptop – Troubleshooting Tips
- Make sure all cables are correct and in good condition.
- The USB, display converters, and splitters are compatible with your setup.
- Check the video card model and make sure it can support multiple displays.
- Upgrade the display card drivers. It is better to download the latest driver from the vendor’s website rather than update through Windows updates.
- If Windows does not detect the display outputs and monitors, restart the computer when the display cables are connected, and the monitors are powered on. Sometimes the Windows OS may not recognize the additional monitors if you connect them while the laptop is working.
I hope this guide helps set up the dual-display or two monitors in Windows 10/11 laptop and desktop computers. You may need additional devices to complete this setup if you want to connect two monitors to single display output.