How to Connect a Portable Monitor to a Laptop

How to Connect a Portable Monitor to a Laptop

Posted by Team Recompute on 26th Aug 2021

Connecting an additional monitor to your laptop is a simple, inexpensive, and effective way to increase your display real estate. Check out our blog 5 easy ways to connect a Laptop to a Monitor here.

A portable monitor will let you:

Have extra display space when travelling. Save on desk space if you can't fit a full size monitor on your desk. Read on to discover how to plug in a portable monitor to your laptop. Add an additional display without losing portability or using up too much desk space.

What is a portable Monitor?

A portable monitor is thinner and lighter than a laptop. They’re designed to look sleek, require less power and fewer cables. In fact, for some screens all you will need is one cable from your laptop to your portable monitor. Picture a sleek looking tablet that can stand upright like a screen. They come in different sizes, typically between 11-inch to 20-inch. Like traditional monitors, they come in a range of different resolutions and refresh rates, some even have touch displays and batteries.

Best ways to connect your laptop to a portable monitor

USB 3.0 cable — Most monitors will use a USB cable to power the monitor from your laptop. Older models may require you to plug a USB cable into a wall plug for power. In that case, you will need a separate cable such as a display cable or HDMI cable to get your display appearing on your portable screen.

USB-C to USB-C (or Thunderbolt 3) — This is the most convenient way to connect your portable monitor to your laptop. It requires only one cable and can be used to power your portable display as well as show the display. Perfect if you’re regularly on the go. This can also be a great way to connect your iPhone or Android mobile phone to a portable monitor too. If your laptop does not have a USB-C port, don’t despair, see our section on adapters below. It's an easy fix, and many portable monitors will come with an adapter in the box

HDMI, Mini-HDMI and DisplayPort — Many portable monitors will have HDMI, Mini HDMI or DisplayPort. This is also a useful way to plug in your second display. Power will still need to come from a USB or USB-C cable, as HDMI and DisplayPort standards don’t provide power to the monitor.


If your laptop does not have a USB-C or Thunderbolt 3 port, but has HDMI, DisplayPort or Mini DisplayPort. Or perhaps you have a MacBook Air or Pro that only has a Thunderbolt or Thunderbolt 2 port. Additional adapters are readily available.

USB-C to HDMI - Use the HDMI port in your laptop to send your display signal to a portable Monitor. See adapter here

USB-C to DisplayPort - Can be used similarly as stated above. See adapter here

USB-C to Mini DisplayPort/Thunderbolt/2 - Many laptops have a Mini DisplayPort or Thunderbolt/2. This adapter is a perfect way to connect your laptop to a portable monitor with USB-C (note: most mini display adapters will work on thunderbolt). See our adapters and cables here. Note that Thunderbolt 3 uses a similar interface as USB Type-C and is backward compatible. So if you have a mac with thunderbolt 3 all you need is USB-C to USB-C as mentioned above.

Mini Display/Thunderbolt to HDMI - We found this particularly useful in connecting our 2015 MacBook Air to a secondary display with an HDMI. It is also useful in connecting a portable monitor with an HDMI output. See adapter here

Remember, with all these adapters you will still need an HDMI or Display cable to connect one side into the adapter and the other in the portable monitor.

Get a Portable Monitor Today

With people increasingly working on laptops, the tedious task of flicking between tabs and split screens can get frustrating. It can also reduce productivity, and considering the small investment involved the frustration is easily avoidable. Check out the ports that you have on the side of your laptop and consider connecting a portable monitor today. You’ll thank yourself. Check out our range of monitors here.