How to Connect 3 Monitors to a Computer

A triple display setup is the last word in productivity

What to Know

  • Connect the video cable for the first monitor to the PC and monitor. Wait for an image to display, then repeat for the other monitors.
  • Then, right-click on the Windows desktop and select Display Settings. Under Multiple Displays, select Extend these displays.
  • In the Display menu, verify the monitors are arranged as you want by opening a window and dragging it between monitors.

This article explains how to connect three monitors to a computer for a boost in productivity.

How to Hook up 3 Monitors to One Computer

Sometimes you need a command center whether you're gaming, coding, or working with multiple documents. Here's how to add three monitors to your computer.

  1. Connect each monitor to power and turn each monitor on.

  2. Examine the ports on your PC to determine the video outputs you have available.

  3. Examine the video inputs available on the three monitors you'll be using. The ports on your PC don't have to match the ones on your monitors, but you'll need a cable or adapter with the appropriate connections if they are different.

    HDMI and DisplayPort are the most common video connections.

    Different monitors can use different video connections. For example, you can connect two monitors with HDMI and then a third with DisplayPort.

  4. Connect the video cable for the first monitor to your PC and then to the monitor. Wait a moment for the PC to detect the monitor and display an image. If it's successful, repeat this for the second monitor and, finally, the third.

  5. Right-click on the Windows desktop and click Display Settings.

  6. A diagram will be visible at the top of the Display menu. If this is your first time connecting multiple monitors, the diagram will show one rectangle with the numbers 1, 2, and 3 together. Scroll down until you find the Multiple Displays option. Click the drop-down field and then Extend these displays.

    Windows 10 Display menu with "Extend these displays" highlighted
  7. Scroll back to the top of the Display menu. It will now show three rectangles, each labeled with a number. These rectangles show the position of each monitor on your Windows desktop. Change the diagram so that each rectangle's location is approximately the same as each monitor's physical location on your desk.

    Verify the monitors are arranged as you want by opening a window and dragging it between monitors.

    Multiple monitors being configured on Windows 10 Display settings
  8. Close the Display menu.

Can My Computer Support Three Monitors?

A computer needs the proper hardware and software to support three monitors at once. Even one with enough physical video outputs might not support three monitors if the driver for its graphics hardware lacks support for so many displays.

The incredible diversity of PC hardware means there's no fast, easy rule for determining whether your PC supports three monitors. You instead need to examine the physical connectors available and the published specifications for your PC's graphics hardware.

You can tally the physical video outputs available with a glance at your PC's ports, but there is one common exception to note. Most desktops can only handle video connections from one graphics solution at a time. You can't use video output from a motherboard alongside video output from a video card if you have one installed.

You'll also want to check the published specifications for your graphics hardware. Determine the hardware your PC uses with a Windows Search for Device Manager. Open Device Manager and then find Display adapters in the drop-down list. Expand this option to view the graphics hardware your PC uses.

When you know the graphics hardware, hit your favorite search engine. Look for a support or specification page on the company's official website that produced your PC's graphics hardware.

You may have difficulty finding official specifications for hardware more than five years old. Beware of results from unofficial websites. Many third-party websites attempt to compile graphics hardware specifications, but most are unreliable.

How Do I Connect 3 Monitors With an HDMI Splitter?

You can use an HDMI splitter to connect three monitors, but the results likely won't be what you hope.

A "splitter" is a video adapter that takes a single output and splits it into multiple duplicate outputs. It can only display a single video output on numerous monitors.

In other words, all three monitors will show the same image, which isn't much use on a PC.

There's no easy way to expand a PC's display output limitation with a splitter or adapter. The only option that genuinely extends a PC's display output is an external graphics card, one that bypasses the default graphics hardware. It's an expensive, niche option and only works with a small selection of PCs.

Connecting 3 Monitors With a Daisy Chain

Another option for connecting three monitors is a daisy chain. This option is supported by DisplayPort 1.2 and Thunderbolt 3 (or newer) and USB-C connections that include a DisplayPort mode. HDMI does not support daisy chains.

In a daisy chain, the first monitor connects to your PC through one of the video outputs listed above. Then the first monitor connects to the second and the second to the third.

A daisy chain is functional but has limitations. The first and second monitors must have video connections that can work as an output. This configuration is uncommon, so you'll need to carefully check the specifications of the monitors you want to use.

Your PC must support this feature. Most PCs sold in the last few years will, but older models often don't. Check the PC manufacturer's website or the company's website, which made your graphics card, to see if daisy chains are supported.

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