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We explain how to configure two monitors in Windows 10

Increasing productivity with multiple displays is not a myth. If your computer supports it and you know how to configure two monitors in Windows 10, you can distribute applications for email, communication and more on one screen, move the browser to another and load Word or Excel in a possible third party. Your eyes will finally be able to breathe.

A man showing how to configure two monitors in Windows 10

If this sounds like your ideal desktop at home or office, you'll want to read this guide on how to set up multiple monitors in Windows 10. It's not (usually) a simple experience. plug-and-play. You must know the limitations and options of your computer to get the best monitor experience you can buy.

Make sure your computer is compatible

The first factor you must determine is what type of graphic component you have inside your computer, be it desktop or laptop. On a desktop, the video output generated by the integrated graphics is piped through the ports mounted on the main board that protrude through the designated holes in the back of the case.

Connectors on the back of a desktop computer

This area is generally called the I / O panel, (input / output), as shown above, and consists of a handful of connectors that are grouped together for audio output, peripherals, networks, etc. Mainboards typically include three types of video output to cover the wide variety of monitors and technologies spanning the past ten years. These include:

Video graphics matrix (VGA): It is generally blue, has 15 holes and includes a screw on each side to secure the connected cable. This port handles analog video only and is the oldest video output from the tro. VGA cannot carry audio.

Digital video interface (DVI): This port is typically yellow and rectangular, and has all the pins on the right side. There are actually five versions of DVI, including DVI-I that combines digital and analog, DVI-D that is digital only, and DVI-A that is analog only. To find out what you have installed, the diagrams are here. Most new computers have DVI-D or DVI-I.

High definition multimedia interface (HDMI): the most common video output on the mainstream market. It serves as an all-in-one output for digital video and audio, so it's just a cable. The standard Type A port is mostly rectangular, except for a slight drop in the lower half. Most computers use the normal Type A port, but on rare occasions you will see a laptop with a smaller version. In this case, you probably need an adapter or a mini-HDMI to HDMI cable.

Connection with discrete graphics (such as AMD and Nvidia)

Meanwhile, discrete graphics cards installed on desktop computers have their own ports that can rely on any of the standards mentioned above. They will be located under the I / O port on the main card on the back of your desktop computer. If the computer has a discrete graphics card, bypass the I / O panel and connect your displays to the ports on the video card.

Video output connectors from a discrete graphics card

They will likely also include a fourth type of port, one that is common in high-end computer monitors.

DisplayPort– Digital video output created by Dell for extremely high resolutions. It was created to replace VGA and DVI, and it supports both, along with HDMI. The connector is mostly rectangular, except for a slight "dent" in the lower left corner. It is the most common connector in modern discrete graphics solutions, surpassing even HDMI.

As an example of an additional card output, Nvidia's GeForce GTX 1080 includes three DisplayPort connectors, an HDMI connector and a DVI connector (see above).

Laptop Compatibility

Due to its form factor, you will have a limited number of video outputs. For example, our Dell Alienware 17 R4 includes a full-size HDMI connector and a smaller, more compact version of the DisplayPort connector (also known as Mini DisplayPort). The laptop also includes a Thunderbolt 3 port that supports DisplayPort video output and three USB 3.1 Gen1 ports. Other more modern laptops, such as Apple's MacBook Pro, also connect to displays with USB-C or Thunderbolt 3.

Backside of a laptop showing the video output ports

But our laptop includes three ways to connect external displays: Thunderbolt 3, DisplayPort and HDMI. Technically, it is also possible to connect displays via the USB ports, but that is rare and you will need an adapter or cradle to do so.

However, Alienware is a laptop. gamerThat means expensive, that's why the availability of so many connectors. An inexpensive laptop can include only one HDMI port. In that case, adding more than one display could be tricky, you would have to try using the USB ports with an adapter.

Limited connections due to driver compatibility

With notebook computers, the ability to add displays is limited. For example, the Intel Core i7-6820HK processor in our Alienware 17 R4 includes the integrated HD Graphics 530 component that can only handle three displays at a time, one of which is the laptop's display.

Meanwhile, Nvidia's GeForce GTX 1080 cards installed in desktop computers can support up to four simultaneous monitor connections with resolutions of 3,840 x 2,160 pixels. And because these computers can generally support more than one additional graphics card, you can turn your desktop with four monitors per card into a huge visual wall with eight screens. Its orientation can be horizontal or vertical, depending on the model.

But on laptops with the same Nvidia GTX 1080 chip, it doesn't support more than two external displays. Also keep in mind that Nvidia's Optimus technology will enable the video chip only for high-resolution gaming and GPU computing applications, leaving the integrated graphics to handle web browsing, email and trolling From Facebook.

Check your laptop or desktop manufacturer's support site for more information on driver limitations. Generally speaking, though, you shouldn't have a problem with dual monitors on a modern computer. Limitations are only a concern if you want to connect more than that.

Add screens in Windows 10

Now that you understand the basics of how displays work, you can connect your displays in Windows 10. This is easy and you can quickly access the interface of screen right-clicking on the desktop and selecting Display settings in the menu, as shown below.

Display settings in Windows 10

All connected monitors should appear in the setup, with your main screen listed under number 1. Here you can choose to extend the main screen to all other connected screens or duplicate the main screen.

As an example, you may be adding two external displays to your laptop (which is amazing, by the way). The default laptop screen is the main screen, and you can expand your desktop to expand it from left to right through external screens. But they may not be physically connected in the order that Windows 10 is detecting. If this is the case, simply rearrange your rectangular icons in the display window. The button Identify show numbers on monitors so you know what screen Windows 10 is assigning as numbers 2 and 3.

Other features worth experiencing are setting the resolution of each screen. For example, if you want to change the resolution on the screen to your left, simply click on the rectangular icon in the display window and select the desired resolution. You can also make the screen enter the mode Night light At a specific time, change its orientation, choose it as the main screen, and change the scale of the Windows 10 interface, applications, text, etc. The scale can be useful if the resolution is high, but the text and buttons are difficult to read.

Monitor resolution setting screen in Windows 10

So many screens, so many options

Honestly, the end result should be an experience plug-and-play. The bottom line is that you need to have the latest drivers installed before connecting a display. You should also consider the hardware limitations of your computer and the types of connectors it supports before purchasing external monitors. Another detail to consider is the maximum resolution that supports each video output on your computer.

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