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If I want multiple external monitors attached to a laptop does that mean I need to buy a laptop with the Thunderbolt port and specialised monitors? Or is there non Apple solution?

I ask as my currently laptop only has one HDMI out and I want to run 2 external monitors from it. My current laptop is an MSI GT 680 bought in oct 2011 with an NVIDIA Geforce GTX640M/1.5 GB DDDR5

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up vote 2 down vote accepted
  • No, multiple monitors don't require ThunderBolt or any kind of Apple solution.

  • Attach one of the monitors to the HDMI out.

  • And get a Diamond DisplayLink USB graphics Adapter, or some kind of USB solution similar to this will do the job for you.

  • This should help you hook up 3 including the screen of your Laptop.

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Thanks - I'll check it out. – Preet Sangha Sep 9 '12 at 7:35
Although a USB adapter might work, you won't get accelerated graphics on a USB connection, and there will be significant lag. USB just isn't fast enough for external monitors. – nhinkle Sep 9 '12 at 7:35
@aliasgar your 1st comment is simply untrue. I've personally hooked up one monitor with HDMI and a second with VGA before. At the same time, on the same laptop. There is absolutely no requirement to have all digital or all analog for separate external displays. – nhinkle Sep 9 '12 at 7:38
@aliasgar that is due to the circuitry of the motherboard, not an inherent limitation of digital vs. analog signals. Some laptops can do that, some can't. Depending on how this particular laptop behaves, it may or may not work, but there are definitely laptops where this works. – nhinkle Sep 9 '12 at 7:42
Since my laptop has USB3 I'll look for a usb3 version of this. This should have the bandwidth no? – Preet Sangha Sep 9 '12 at 7:45

I currrently run 7 external monitors off my ASUS laptop(nothing special). I use an external USB video card for each monitor. I use SABRENT brand but there are many. I run 5 - 22inch @ 1920x1080, 1 - 20inch widescreen and 1- 19inch square monitor. That seems to be the limit. I can run 6 - 22inch @ 1920x1080 as well. I use them for trading so no major graphics issues. One word of caution based totally on experience, use an externally powered(110V) USB hub as you will burn out your laptops power supply. the hub is $20/30. Works great

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Thanks for this detailed information. It's very useful. – Preet Sangha Dec 2 '12 at 20:44

Many different laptops can run multiple external monitors simultaneously; Apple is not the only company that sells computers with this capability. However, you will be very limited in your ability to run multiple external monitors from a computer that wasn't designed to.

In your case, the computer's specifications (assuming I found the right one) indicate that it has both a VGA and an HDMI output. If one of your monitors supports VGA and the other supports HDMI (or DVI, since it's easy to convert from HDMI to DVI), then you might be able to use two external monitors from your current laptop. It depends on the capabilities of the motherboard and graphics card. I've seen laptops that have the same GPU, where one can do 2 external monitors at once and the other can't, so it depends by driver and manufacturer.

Chances are that you will not be able to run both two external monitors and the built-in screen at the same time, so when configuring the monitor setup, keep that in mind. Give it a try with one on the VGA port and another on the HDMI port, and it might work!

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Doh!!! Never noticed the VGA port :-) Thanks - I'll give it a whirl! – Preet Sangha Sep 9 '12 at 7:34

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