How to Connect a Monitor to a PC

Summary: This article provides information about how to connect a monitor or projector to a Dell desktop, all-in-one, or laptop computer. Learn about the different types of video connectors,See more

Article Content


Symptoms

There are several ways to connect a computer to the monitor or projector. The devices may have different types of video connectors, VGA, DVI, HDMI, DisplayPort (DP), USB-C, and so on. The process to connect a computer to the monitor or projector is the same. The instructions in this article provide information about connecting a computer to a monitor or projector.

Cause

For information on connecting to a Dell Wireless monitor, see the Dell Knowledge Base article Guide to Dell Wireless Monitors.

For information on connecting a computer to a TV, see the Dell Knowledge Base article How to Connect a Dell Computer to a TV.

NOTE: To learn how to set up a Dell monitor, see the User Guide of the Dell monitor for step-by-step instructions. For non-Dell monitors, see the User Guide of the monitor that is available on the device manufacturer's website.
Resolution

It is important to identify the type of video connector that is available on the computer and the monitor or projector. Using the correct type of video cable helps avoid video or display issues.

There are two types of video transmission methods: Digital and Analog (see the table below). Each video connector is capable of either digital or analog video signal transmission. Analog video connectors such as S-video, Composite, VGA, SVGA, and DVI (analog) do not support playback of protected high-definition digital content, such as Blu-ray movies, over an analog connection, you will probably get an error message or the movie will play at lower quality resolutions.

  • Dell desktop: The video connectors are located on the back of the computer. If your Dell desktop has a dedicated graphics card (GPU), you must use the video connector that is available on the graphics card (GPU).
  • Dell all-in-one: The video connectors are located on the back of the computer. NOTE: Video-out connector to connect a secondary display is not available on all Dell all-in-one computers. To identify if the computer supports a secondary display, see the User Guide of your Dell all-in-one computer.
  • Dell laptop: The video connectors are available on the back, left, or right-hand side of the laptop. To learn more about what video connectors are available, see the User Guide of your Dell laptop.
  • Dell monitor: The video connectors are available on the back of the monitor. To learn more about what video connectors are available, see the User Guide of your Dell monitor.
  • Dell projector: The video connectors are available on the back of the projector. To learn more about what video connectors are available, see the User Guide of your Dell projector.

When the video connector on the back of the computer does not match with the video connector on the monitor or projector, you may need an adapter or converter. See the using adapters or converters section of this article.

Types of video connectors and cables
Connector Connector Cable Description
USB-C (with DisplayPort or Thunderbolt 3) USB-C with Thunderbolt 3 connector
USB-C with DisplayPort connector
USB-C Thunderbolt 3 cable
USB-C with DisplayPort cable
The USB-C connector, also known as USB Type-C, is used to transmit digital audio and video signals simultaneously on a single cable. Device manufacturers can enable alternate modes like DisplayPort, Thunderbolt 3, or HDMI that can transmit both video and audio signals using the same cable. See the device specifications to identify if the USB-C port on your device supports one of these alternate modes. NOTE: A USB-C port that does not support DisplayPort or Thunderbolt 3 alternate mode cannot transmit audio or video signals.
DisplayPort (DP) or mini-DisplayPort (mDP) Full size DisplayPort connector
mini DisplayPort connector
Full size displayport cable
mini DisplayPort cable
The DisplayPort connector is used to transmit digital audio and video signals simultaneously, although each is optional and can be transmitted without the other. There are several versions of DisplayPort standards. With each latest version of DisplayPort, new features are added. The DisplayPort connector on the device and the DisplayPort cable are designed with one specific version of DisplayPort standard. For example, DisplayPort version 1.2 and above supports Multi-Stream Transport (MST) or daisy-chaining compatible monitors. DisplayPort cables and ports may have either a "full-size" connector or a "mini" connector. These connectors differ only in their physical shape, the capabilities of DisplayPort are the same regardless of which connector is used. Using a mini DisplayPort (mDP) connector does not affect the performance or feature support of the connection. For more information about DisplayPort, see https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/DisplayPort External Link.
HDMI Standard HDMI connector HDMI cable The HDMI (High-Definition Multimedia Interface) connector is the most common digital audio/video connector that is available on many computers, monitors, TVs, and projectors. HDMI supports the transmission of both video and audio signals on a single cable. There are several versions of HDMI standards. With each latest version of HDMI, new features are added. The HDMI connector on the device and the HDMI cable are designed with one specific version of the HDMI standard. For example, HDMI version 2.0a and above supports High Dynamic Range (HDR) video. There are five types of HDMI connectors: standard HDMI, dual-link HDMI, mini HDMI, micro HDMI, and HDMI automotive connector. For more information about HDMI, see https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/HDMI External Link.
DVI DVI-I connector DVI cable The DVI connector is used to transmit analog or digital video signals depending on the type of DVI connector that is available. The DVI connector on a device can be one of three types, depending on which signals it implements: DVI-A (analog only), DVI-D (digital only, single-link or dual-link), and DVI-I (combines digital and analog in the same connector; digital may either support single or dual link). The pin configuration in each type of connector is unique. For more information about DVI, see https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Digital_Visual_Interface External Link.
VGA or SVGA VGA connector VGA or SVGA cable The VGA or SVGA connector is the most common video connector that is available on many devices. The standard VGA monitor interface is a 15-pin D-subminiature connector. For more information about VGA, see https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Video_Graphics_Array External Link.
Component video   RGB component cable The RGB component connector is used to send an analog video signal to a secondary display device, such as a TV or projector. The cable has 3 connectors (red, green, and blue) for video. The digital component video connector became popular in both computers and home-theatre applications.
RCA (composite)   rca cable The RCA or composite connector is used to send an analog video signal to a secondary display device, such as a TV or projector. The cable has 1 connector (yellow) for video + 2 connectors (white and red) for the left and right audio channels.
S-video   s-video cable The S-video connector is used to send an analog video signal to a secondary display device, such as a TV or projector.

After identifying the video connectors and you have a compatible video cable, connect the computer to the monitor or projector.

  1. Connect the power cable to the monitor or projector, and the wall outlet.

    Illustration of connecting the monitor to a power outlet
    Illustration of connecting the monitor to a power outlet.

  2. Connect the video cable to the monitor or projector, and the computer.
    1. For multiple monitors, connect the other monitors to an available video connector on the computer. To learn more, see the Dell knowledge base article How to Setup Multiple Monitors.
    2. For help with connecting a monitor to a Dell docking station, see the Dell knowledge base article How to Connect and Set Up a Docking Station With a Laptop .
    3. For help with connecting to a Dell wireless monitor, see the Dell knowledge base article Guide to Dell Wireless Monitors.

    Illustration of connecting a video cable between the monitor and the desktop
    Illustration of connecting a video cable between the monitor and the desktop.

    Illustration of connecting a video cable between the monitor and the laptop
    Illustration of connecting a video cable between the monitor and the laptop.

  3. Turn on the monitor or projector.
  4. Turn on the computer.
  5. Select the correct video source on the monitor or projector. For example, if you are using the HDMI 1 video connector on the monitor, set the source to HDMI 1. To learn more about how to change the video source, see the User Guide of your Dell monitor or projector.
  6. Microsoft Windows uses Windows Plug and Play to automatically detect and set up the monitor or projector.
    NOTE: Most monitors and projectors will work without the need to install any drivers by using Microsoft's Plug and Play.

When the video connector on the back of the computer does not match the video connector on the monitor or projector, you may need an adapter or converter. See the Using adapters or converters section of this article.

For optimal video performance, download and install the latest video drivers from the Dell.com/support website. To learn more about downloading and installing the drivers on a Dell computer, see the Dell knowledge base article How to Download and Install a Device Driver.

Configure the screen resolution, color depth, refresh rate, and font size.

Based on the operating system that is installed on your Dell computer, see the Dell knowledge base article:

When the video connector on the back of the computer does not match the video connector on the monitor or projector, you may need an adapter or converter. See the table below for examples of adapters or converters that are available.

For example, if the computer has an HDMI connector and the monitor has a DVI connector, you can use an HDMI to DVI adapter.

Examples of common video converters or adapters
Source (computer) Display (monitor or projector) Illustration
DVI DVI (digital or analog) or VGA (analog only) DVI to VGA adapter
HDMI DVI or VGA HDMI to DVI cable
HDMI to VGA adapter
DisplayPort (DP) or mini-DisplayPort (mDP) HDMI or DVI DisplayPort to HDMI cable
DisplayPort to VGA cable
USB-C (with DisplayPort or Thunderbolt 3) HDMI, DisplayPort (DP), or mini-DisplayPort (mDP) USB-C to DisplayPort adapter
USB-C to HDMI adapter
NOTE: Many video converters or adapters are not bi-directional. They can only transmit video signals in a single direction, from the source (computer) to the display device (monitor or projector). An incompatible or incorrect adapter or converter may cause a no video or display issue.
Additional Information

SLN128890_en_US__43Monitors More information and support for your Dell monitor, desktop, laptop, or tablet screen can be found on our Monitor Support site.

SLN128890_en_US__44image(13480) Out of warranty? No problem. Visit the Dell.com/support website and enter your Dell Service Tag and view our offers.

NOTE: Currently, offers are only available for US, Canada, UK, and France PC customers. Server and Storage not applicable.
Videos

How to Connect Two Monitors to One Computer (Official Dell Tech Support on YouTube)

Duration: 01:37
Closed captions: English only

How to Connect Wireless Monitor (Official Dell Tech Support on YouTube)

Duration: 02:26
Closed captions: English only

Dell Monitor Driver Installation (Official Dell Tech Support on YouTube)

Duration: 01:26
Closed captions: English only

Article Properties


Affected Product

Desktops & All-in-Ones, Monitors & Accessories, Projectors & Accessories, Laptops, Fixed Workstations, Mobile Workstations

Last Published Date

01 Mar 2021

Version

6

Article Type

Solution

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