Adding external monitors to a laptop

Discussion in 'Hardware' started by ArbitRAGE, Apr 4, 2011.

  1. I intend to add external monitors for the sake of achieving general efficiency. I intend to attach a dell monitor (link below) to my dell vostro 3400 (specs listed below).


    Dell Vostro 3400 specs:
    CPU: Intel Core i3-370M
    Display: 14" High Definition LED Display (1366 × 768) with Anti-Glare
    Memory: 3 GB or 4 GB DDR3 @ 1066 MHz (up to 8 GB supported)
    Optical Drive: Dual-Layer 8X DVD+/-RW Drive
    Video Card: Intel Graphics Media Accelerator HD
    Security Hardware: Fingerprint reader w/DigitalPersona software
    Hard Drive: 250 GB SATA @7200 RPM
    Wireless: Dell Wireless 1520 b/g/n
    Webcam: Integrated 2.0 MP Webcam
    Battery: 6-Cell or 9-Cell Lithium-Ion Battery

    1- Is it possible to simply attach an external monitor or pair of dual monitors to a laptop or do I need additional hardware? [indeed, n00b question]

    2- Do I need to upgrade my video card to facilitate this process?

  2. I have reviewed the specs. Should be okay. Your laptop has one VGA 15-pin outlet, as most laptops these days. You should be able to drive one external monitor (your Dell E2011H). There you have a 2-screen set up. (Your laptop's 14-inch screen, plus your external Dell monitor's 20-inch screen).

    If you want to have a third screen, then you can buy a USB-to-VGA or USB-to-DVI adapter to drive yet another external monitor. They cost about USD $50 - $70 a piece.

    No. Not in either case. The video chip inside your laptop can drive the built-in 14" screen and one external monitor. If you buy a USB-to-VGA gadget, the gadget has the video circuit inside.
  3. dc101


    You should be able to connect 2nd monitor using just either hdmi or vga cable. I've done it with my Acer 1810t and Dell SP2309W (2048x1152). I know it's not the same laptop, but most modern laptops support 2nd monitor in extended display mode.

    Let us know how it goes.
  4. Thanks for the prompt and concise advice Bolimomo and dc101. I'm going to by the external monitor during the first few weeks of may, so I still have some time to shop around for the best deal and I'm open to any suggestions. Budget: <$180, preferred size: >18 inches. I'm also considering this monitor right here:

    RE: Using HDMI cables, I've actually used it only my HD TV to mirror my laptop display when watching movies, or use a HD TV screen as an additional monitor. I'm still unsure if I can use a HDMI cable with an external monitor, though I'm quite content with the conventional VGA cable.
  5. What's most important to you in a monitor?
    *) Size? (20", 22", 23", 24"?) - Compact or more spacious?
    *) Resolution?
    *) Light weight?
    *) Vivid colors?

    I use a few Samsung SyncMaster 2243SWX (22 inch) and 2343BWX (23 inch). They are excellent in color contrast and resolution (as high as 2048 x 1152 on the 23 inch, and 1920 x 1080 on the 22 inch - not every 22-inch model can do that.). Light weight - easy to carry onto a trip. Bought these last year at about $220 or so - prices as of a year ago. I also have a few ViewSonic VA2431wm (24-inch, resolution 1920 x 1080) that I picked up around $170 on sale a couple of months ago. These are all LCD mons and they are selling many LED mons now.

    I recommend Samsung SWX and BWX series the best. Viewsonic and Envision monitors second.

    You can use a HDMI cable to connect your laptop to an external monitor. But... the monitor itself must also accept HDMI input. Not all monitors support it. You need to double-check. The new ones usually do but not the old ones.

    I have a mixed use of DVI (which is identical in digital signal to HDMI, minus the audio 2 channels) and VGA. I perceived no difference in the image quality between the two. So I think VGA is adequate for your use, especially in trading.

    The added advantage though in using HDMI is that, if your monitor supports it, you can play a DVD movie on your laptop (14-inch screen) and watch it on the bigger external monitor - with the 2 channel audio played on the monitor. (Can't do that with VGA or DVI).
  6. BTW the Dell 20-inch monitor your referenced, E2011H, has a 1600x900 maximum resolution. Highly NOT recommended. For 20-inch or above screen real-estate, I think you will enjoy the 1080p resolution (i.e. 1920 x 1080) much better. Look for monitors with higher maximum resolutions.
  7. dc101


    Most new monitors have hdmi input, and you can absolutely use hdmi with those - so check monitor's input ports list. Also, most monitors do not have built-in speakers, so it'll be just video. Audio will be heard through either your laptop speakers or connected headphones.

    Hdmi should be your preference over vga. Monitors automatically adjust with hdmi, while with vga, picture may be blurry without tweaking monitor settings = pain.

    Phone or web-chat with Dell and find out the max resolution your laptop's video card can produce with external monitor, and then base your purchase decision on that. You don't want to pay for unused pixels.

    Minor thing: check whether your monitor comes with hdmi cable on not - it may save you couple of bucks but should not be a deal-breaker. Resolution, size, and picture quality should be the most important criteria imho.

    Hope this helps, feel free to ask if this is clear as mud. :)
  8. 23" external

    If the 23" 1920 x 1080 res external monitor below is attached via VGA cable and software preferences are fully optimised, would the image quality suffer if from the Dell 14" Laptop vs the HP 17.3"?

    Dell - Inspiron Laptop / Intel® Core™ i5 Processor / 500GB Hard Drive

    Display Type
    (1366 x 768) High-definition WLED

    Screen Size (Measured Diagonally)

    Intel® HD

    HP dv7t / Intel® Core™ i3-380M Processor / 500GB Hard Drive

    (1600 x 900) High-Definition WLED

    Screen Size (Measured Diagonally)

    Intel® HD

    Monitor Type

    Screen Size (Measured Diagonally)

    Maximum Resolution
    1920 x 1080
  9. I use a vostro 3700(3GB , 128GB SSD, i3 chip w/integrated graphics works fine) with a 24 inch dell monitor using vga input. audio goes in headphone jack, as well as ethernet connection and usb from keyboard and from monitor for wireless mouse. works great. Ill never use a desktop again.
  10. you can split your single vga output into 2 vga outputs vai something called dualhead2go. Prob the easiest way to get a triple monitor setup without too much of investment.

    before you take that make sure your graphics card can handle an additional big ass screen (dualhead2go tricks the monitor into think its one large screen ratehr then 2 smaller ones.
    #10     May 6, 2011