What Cable Do I Need to Connect My Laptop to a Monitor?

Adopting an external monitor to your laptop can open up more workspace and increase productivity, but can be intimidating if this is your first attempt.

First, determine what ports your laptop contains. Next, find a cable to match these ports and connect the cable to the monitor while selecting an input source.

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Many laptops feature HDMI ports that can connect with any display that supports the High-Definition Multimedia Interface (HDMI) cable standard. HDMI cables transmit both video and audio signals; they also mirror or extend what appears on your laptop screen onto an additional monitor. If you’re unsure which port your monitor has, check its back or side panels or documentation; some monitors may have only one HDMI input while others might feature multiple. To use your signal properly, locate its HDMI input port number that best supports it.

DisplayPort (DP) connectors provide another popular means of transmission, carrying audio and video signals. Most commonly found on desktop monitors, while HDMI usually appears more commonly on laptops. You’ll know you have found one by their unique appearance – differing from HDMI’s five-sided corners that slant upward at their upper right hand corners.

VGA ports resemble DVI connections but don’t support audio, yet provide higher-resolution images than their older DVI counterpart. Unfortunately, however, modern equipment rarely supports VGA connections as well as DVI does; depending on what kind of laptop connection port you have available to you may require an adapter to convert to something compatible with your monitor’s specifications.

Thunderbolt cables allow your laptop to be connected to a monitor using similar technology as USB-C; however, their bandwidth offers much greater capabilities – delivering audio, video and data transmission between laptop and monitor in addition to powering both. You can find out which type of connection your laptop uses by going into Start > Settings > System > Display and selecting “Display settings by monitor connection type.” You may then make necessary changes.

Once you have determined the cable or connector you require, plug it in and begin working with it. Your operating system settings may need to be modified in order to achieve optimal display configuration for resolution and orientation settings; or manually selecting an input source on your monitor may also be required.


For most situations, connecting a monitor to your laptop using its original cable should suffice; however, you may require an adapter if the ports differ; these adapters include HDMI to VGA adapters and Display Port to DVI converters, among others. You should also take note of each connector’s maximum signal transmission ability – for example HDMI supports higher resolutions than VGA connectors.

An HDMI cable is the easiest and most straightforward way to connect a monitor with a laptop, supporting most laptop models and types. Simply plug one end of the cable into your laptop and the other end into your monitor; select your input option before watching your image appear!

Another popular cable type for connecting laptops to monitors is DVI, a digital connection capable of supporting up to 2560 x 1600 pixels and audio signals. DVI cables come both single-link and dual-link versions; the latter being capable of transmitting data at up to double speed than single-link versions.

Connect your laptop to a monitor via a VGA cable. A VGA connector, typically found on either the back or side of monitors, provides access to 15-pin ports that enable duplicating or expanding of laptop screens. To use one, locate its connecting end on either end and align it with that found on your laptop VGA port; set input source accordingly or allow automatic matching with laptop output source settings on monitor.

Online, there’s a vast array of monitor cables and adapters. Many come in various colors and lengths; some even come equipped with extra features like locking mechanisms and carrying cases for convenience. Others are made to be more flexible or durable for your everyday use; universal HDMI or USB-C adapters may be the ideal solution if you require multistandard support.


If your laptop uses a VGA port, then a cable that connects to it will be necessary. VGA cables usually feature blue hues with trapeze-shaped connectors with rounded edges and 15-pin plugs with five pins across three rows; more expensive models may feature additional features like gold plating or shielding that will protect wires from interference; however these extra features usually don’t offer much benefit over standard cables and shouldn’t justify additional expenditure.

VGA cables are capable of transmitting standard definition video signals up to 640×480 pixels; however, they don’t transmit audio from your laptop onto the monitor. You will require an additional audio cable if you wish to play audio from your laptop on the monitor. VGA ports are becoming less common as more computers and monitors switch over to HDMI. But converters exist that convert VGA signals into either HDMI or DVI signals so your existing system doesn’t have to be replaced completely if only VGA support remains.

Once your laptop has been connected to a monitor, be sure that both devices are powered on. Check your display settings on your computer to make sure that it recognizes the second monitor; if not, press Windows key + P to open menu and select either “Multiple Displays” or “Duplicate These Displays.”

Once you’ve established which connection type your laptop and monitor require, purchase an appropriate cable. Doing this is crucial to ensuring a clear image on both screens; excessive cable length can lead to distortion or signal strength loss and should always include matching male connectors at both ends for protection of connections.


All monitors require at least two cables – one to provide power, and the other to transfer data that creates images on screen. The power cable should connect directly to an electrical outlet (ideally with surge protection); the data cable connects directly to your video card in your computer and sends images directly onto your monitor’s display. Your purchase of either type may depend on what video input options are available in both devices.

HDMI, DVI and DisplayPort cables are among the most widely used video connection types, supporting audio/video simultaneously while maintaining an acceptable frame rate. Most new monitors employ these connections; if yours doesn’t, however, you may require a converter which converts one video signal into another.

Older monitors typically come equipped with VGA and S-Video ports that support lower resolutions, as well as analog audio channels which may come in handy if connecting an older DVD player or cable set top box to your laptop computer.

Modern laptops typically include HDMI, USB-C, or DisplayPort video inputs for video encoding and display. If both your monitor and laptop share one type of port (HDMI for instance), using a standard cable should suffice; otherwise you will require an adapter such as one which converts from one technology into the other (for instance USB-C to HDMI adapters or DisplayPort to HDMI adapters may be needed).

The newer USB-C 24-pin connector can transmit both video and power (up to 100 watts), charging devices, transferring data at up to 10 Gb/s transfer rates, daisy chain multiple displays using one cable, as well as transfer up to 10 Gb/s of information. It makes an ideal solution for connecting monitors to laptops; even those without USB-C ports can still connect using a hub or adapter from either company if needed – simply visit System Preferences Displays > Arranging > Arranging, to either expand your laptop’s screen across all attached monitors or mirror the image displayed between screens using System Preferences Displays > Arranging tab for further custom adjustments!