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How To Have 3 Monitors on Laptop

Work Station With Multiple Monitors

The need for multitasking has increased steadily, especially with the advent of more remote jobs. Having multiple monitors is a shortcut to increasing productivity on the get-go. Having 3 monitors on your laptop can feel like a pain if you don’t know what you are doing.

Quick Answer

To connect 3 monitors on your laptop, you’ll have to first identify your requirements as to whether your laptop has enough display ports or if you’ll need a dongle. After that, you’ll need to connect the displays. Then, you can set them up on either macOS or Windows to enjoy 3 monitors instead of one.

While it may seem easy, connecting more than 1 monitor can be tricky, especially if your laptop doesn’t have the physical ports. 

In this article, we’ll be giving you a complete guide on how you can have 3 monitors on your laptop. 

Understanding Your Requirements 

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Intel Multi-Monitor Setup Screen

First things first, not all laptops support three monitors at one time. For example, Apple’s M1 Macs only support up to two. So, you’ll need to make sure whether your laptop’s graphic card even supports the ability to have more than three displays.

If you have an NVIDIA / AMD / dedicated graphics card, your laptop will, in most cases, support the ability to have more than three monitors. On the other hand, the tale might not always be the same for an integrated Intel graphics chip.

If your laptop has video output ports like an HDMI or a Display Port and has at least three of them, you’ll be able to connect your monitors to your laptop directly. Otherwise, you’ll need to opt for a laptop dock over USB-C / Thunderbolt.

After you’ve identified what you require, it’s time to get your laptop all set up and running with three monitors.

Connect Your Displays

After you’ve gathered your arsenal, it’s time to connect all three of your monitors. Since using just your generic cables is quite an easy affair, we’ll be using a laptop dock/dongle for this particular example as it is the most complex setup:

  1. Connect your laptop to your Laptop Dock / Dongle using USB-C.
  2. After doing so, connect your monitors to the dongle using their appropriate display cables (HDMI / DP / DVI / VGA).
  3. Windows / macOS should immediately recognize these displays and mirror your laptop’s display.
Note

If one or more of your displays stop working when you connect multiple monitors, your laptop does not support more than 1 to 2 monitors. 

Setting Up Your Screen

Once your displays are connected, they’ll be mirroring your primary display. You probably want to extend those displays to get extra screen real estate in most cases. If that’s the case, here’s how you make the most out of your triple monitor setup:

Windows

  1. Right-click on your desktop and head to “Display Settings”.
  2. Once there, click on the right tab and change the dropdown to “Extend desktop to this display”.
    Image 41
  3. Repeat the same process for all your other displays.
  4. Once all the displays are extended, you can adjust their position by dragging them around and picking the one that’s most conscious of your actual setup.
Note

You can also vertically rotate your display, as shown in the image above, by clicking on the display, scrolling down, and changing Display Orientation to Portrait.

macOS

  1. Click on the Apple menu and head to “System Preferences”.
    Image 29
  2. Now, head to “Displays” and then click on “Display Settings”.
    Image 30
  3. After doing so, you’ll have to select the “Extend Display” option from the pop-up menu.

For both macOS and Windows, as soon as you are done with your initial setup, make sure the individual refresh rates and resolutions for each monitor are set to their maximum limit. If the option doesn’t seem to be available, try using a different cable. 

Finetuning

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Once you have 3 monitors set up with your laptop, you can start fiddling around with your display settings to get the perfect layout. Here’s what we recommend trying:

  • Change Orientation: Having a vertical monitor can be quite accommodating, especially if you use many text-based tools like Slack or Discord. So, why not give it a whirl?
  • Change Color Profiles: Not all monitors are built the same way. You might notice a lot of color discrepancies, especially if you are using different monitors. Therefore, we recommend adjusting your color profiles to achieve a more monotonous look.
  • Change Positioning: We recommend keeping your primary display in the middle while all your other monitors are to the side. This ensures that all windows always open in your peripheral vision.

Conclusion

While the initial setup may feel tedious, having 3 monitors connected to your laptop grants you a great increase in productivity and helps you multitask much easier. Generally, after finding out your requirements, it’s a matter of fine-tuning and tweaking to get an optimal multi-monitor setup. 

Frequently Asked Questions

Does having 3 monitors on my laptop reduce performance?

Yes, while insignificant, you will see a reduction in performance as soon as you plug in multiple monitors. This is because your GPU has to pull in extra work to make up for the added displays and render them. Depending on the strenuous task, there might be a more significant decrease.

Can I set up 3 monitors if I have fewer display ports?

Yes, you can use a USB-C dongle with multiple ports to compensate for the difference. However, your integrated/discrete GPU will need to support the ability to render 3 monitors. 

Should I use a dock or a splitter with my laptop? 

A splitter practically halves each port’s bandwidth to output to a single monitor. So, yes, it does have a significant impact. On the other hand, a dock uses each port individually, so it is a better option. 

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