Options For Using USB-C With An External Display

Part of the benefit of using a USB-C cable is the fact that there’s never going to be any shortage of options for external displays. This applies whether or not you are trying to make a connection for a presentation, general operations, or even for entertainment purposes. What’s a little bit more difficult to pin down is exactly how you’re going to choose the best option for the cable, computer, and purposes you have. The best way to navigate the problem is to ensure that you know the full breadth of your choices. So, if you’re thinking about a USB c to displayport hookup, here’s the options that are on the table.


Finding The Right Setup


The first thing you want to do is decide what display you plan on running with your USB type-C cable. This can vary, but the best way to look at this is looking at external sources on what matches best with your model, the amount of ports, as well as the maximum power.


After choosing the display for your port, the next step is choosing the actual setup that suits you best. There are a lot of potential variants in terms of whether or not you are looking to try and hook up everything on your desk/run multiple displays, or try to integrate all of these options into your docking station. Either one is feasible, in the grand scheme of things.


The easiest way to approach this question is to break it into three main options: multiple cables, a single cable or a docking station. Some experts may already know what’s going into and have one of these other options set. Others may need to debate a bit. Be sure to take each of the capabilities and potential drawbacks about each option to make sure you choose the best option.


The most inexpensive option, granted, an inelegant one, is trying to turn your computer into a USB C hub by plugging in several cables into the computer. In terms of concept, it’s rather simple, and it’s also the most inexpensive of all options (a huge driving point). However, the idea of connecting a USB-C power supply, a hub, multiple display adapters and potential converters for various peripheral equipment, every time you set up at your desk can be a daunting one.


There are also some situations where using multiple cables may not be feasible. For example, some people using smaller computers and certain models may not have enough single or dual USB-C ports available to be used.


If you want to support a multiple-cable setup for your computers, you want to make sure that you take the time to try and find the proper adapter for your monitor. For example, a 4K monitor with HDMI would need to have an adapter with those capabilities. If you want to support dual external displays, you can also add a secondary display adapter and plug it into the computer.


When it comes to advanced cables like USB-C and Thunderbolt 3, one of the biggest benefits is the ability to supply power, video, and data connectivity while only needing to use a single connection. Granted, you may see major changes in performance between each option, but the most important things people want to look at are single external displays or dual external displays.


In terms of a power or data connection to your computer, your average USB-C connection can support a single display with a maximum resolution of 4K at 30Hz. Granted, you can get 4K at 60Hz in some cases, but that data speed will drop to USB 2.0 speeds. In these cases, you can opt to either use dongles or tethered docking station. Each is best for different situations. For example, your average dongle allows data and power connections over a VGA or HDMI connection, but is focused more on portability over port expansion. Docking stations may be more expensive and stationary, but on top of supporting external displays, can also offer a variety of port expansion options.


Docking Stations


An alternative solution for your USB-C cable connections is a docking station. The goal of these docking stations is to make it easy as possible to connect laptops to desktop setups as easily as possible. To minimize cable clutter, these docking stations work to automatically connect into the laptop’s ports when the computer is inserted, rather than plugging in a single cable by hand. As a result, using USB-C to go from desktop to portable options is far easier.


In fact, for some of the simplest setups, with only one external display and a wireless keyboard or mouse, you don’t need a single additional cable. In these cases, you can put the external display and power supply at the rear of the dock and just place it in. If you wanted to use dual external displays, you can connect a multiport adapter and 4K to HDMI adapter to provide a USB-A connection for your peripherals/HDMI connections. Best of all, this is far less expensive than needing to pay for a single cable, like the advanced Thunderbolt 3, that has the power to hold all these connections.


Docking stations are a major benefit for a variety of reasons, but ultimately, it’s another piece of equipment that you need to buy and maintain. Some people who are planning on using their USB-C cables for personal purposes may not want to pay the premium for something they are using for recreational reasons.


Ultimately, when it comes to your ideal option for an external display, it’s essential that you take the time to look at every potential option in front of you. The last thing you want to do is buy something and have to return it, so consider talking to your local tech professional with your plans and computer/display to make sure you have the best match.


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