How to add a third monitor to your laptop

What's better than a two-screen setup? A three-screener, of course. Here's how to work around the video-output limitation.

If you spend any significant amount of time working at a desk, the single best way to boost your productivity is to connect a second monitor.

Most laptops have either a VGA or HDMI output, making the addition pretty simple: just connect the LCD, tweak Windows' settings to extend your desktop, and then enjoy the benefits of a double-size workspace. (My preferred arrangement: Outlook "permanently" open on the right, my browser and other stuff on the left.)

Ah, but why not go a step further? Why not extend your desktop even further with a third screen?

Simple: few desktops, and almost no laptops, have a second VGA or HDMI output, meaning there's nowhere to connect that third screen.

Ah, but there are workarounds. If you happen to have an older and/or spare laptop lying around, you can install MaxiVista ($39.95). It leverages your laptops' network connection to extend your primary Windows desktop, meaning there's no physical connection required between the two machines.

Another option: take advantage of a spare USB port, which can drive a third monitor when connected using a USB-to-DVI or USB-to-VGA adapter. You can find these adapters online for around $40-50.

Finally, don't overlook monitors expressly designed for second- or third-screen duty. Right now I'm liking the AOC e1659Fwu (shown above, though mysteriously without its cord), a 16-inch LCD that's actually powered by USB, meaning it requires no separate AC adapter. I wouldn't call it portable, necessarily, but it's definitely easier to maneuver than a traditional monitor. Plus, it works in both portrait and landscape modes.

The e1659Fwu currently sells for $129.99, which strikes me as a pretty decent price--and lots of online resellers carry it for under $100. The only hiccup: the resolution is on the low side at 1,366 by 768.

Join the newsletter!

Or

Sign up to gain exclusive access to email subscriptions, event invitations, competitions, giveaways, and much more.

Membership is free, and your security and privacy remain protected. View our privacy policy before signing up.

Error: Please check your email address.

Tags productivityhardware systemslaptopsmonitor

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Rick Broida

PC World (US online)
Show Comments

Father’s Day Gift Guide

Brand Post

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Tom Pope

Dynabook Portégé X30L-G

Ultimately this laptop has achieved everything I would hope for in a laptop for work, while fitting that into a form factor and weight that is remarkable.

Ada Chan

Dynabook Portégé X30L-G

I highly recommend the Dynabook Portégé® X30L-G notebook for everyday business use, it is a benchmark setting notebook of its generation in the lightweight category.

Tom Sellers

MSI P65

This smart laptop was enjoyable to use and great to work on – creating content was super simple.

Lolita Wang

MSI GT76

It really doesn’t get more “gaming laptop” than this.

Jack Jeffries

MSI GS75

As the Maserati or BMW of laptops, it would fit perfectly in the hands of a professional needing firepower under the hood, sophistication and class on the surface, and gaming prowess (sports mode if you will) in between.

Taylor Carr

MSI PS63

The MSI PS63 is an amazing laptop and I would definitely consider buying one in the future.

Featured Content

Product Launch Showcase

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?