How to connect a laptop to a WQHD monitor

A reader wrote to PC Advisor asking how he could connect a standard laptop to a monitor with a resolution higher than HDMI can support. Here's how we fixed his problem. Also see: How to use multiple monitors with one laptop

Q "I want to take advantage of the full resolution of a WQHD monitor (2560x1440) by connecting a laptop via DVI or HDMI. Does the laptop I use need to have the same WQHD maximum screen resolution capability or will that resolution be available once I’ve connected to the monitor?"

Answer:

Your laptop’s built-in screen doesn’t need to match the pixel resolution of your connected external monitor, but its internal graphics hardware does need to be capable of supporting that resolution.

Your laptop’s specifications should include details on the maximum resolution of externally connected monitors. Some laptops are limited in terms of external monitor resolutions, while others can cope with displays up to 4K resolution. Also see: How to connect your laptop to a TV

How to run resolutions higher than 1920x1080 via HDMI

If, like many laptops, yours has only an HDMI (and maybe VGA) output, you might still be able to drive a monitor with a 2560x1440 or 2560x1600 resolution.

Step 1. First establish which graphics card your laptop has. You can go into Control Panel and open Device Manger to find out. Look under Display adapters and you will see one or possibly two graphics cards.

If you have an Intel Graphics 3000, 4000 or Iris Pro 5200 you're in luck. Those with Nvidia chipsets should also be able to successfully run 2560x1440.

Unfortunately, many AMD graphics adaptors will not support resolutions above 1920x1080, but let us know in the comments if you find otherwise. Don't forget that many laptops have both Intel graphics and an AMD or Nvidia GPU. Usually, the HDMI port is connected to the Intel graphics, so you should be able to run the higher resolutions.

Step 2. Right-click on the Windows desktopand choose Screen resolution... and make sure you have selected 'Extend these displays' rather than duplicating the same image on both monitors.

How to run 2560x1440 over HDMI

Step 3. Right-click on the Windows desktop (we're assuming you're running Windows rather than Linux) and choose Graphics options...  If you don't see this option, look in your Start menu to find the Intel utility. If you still don't find it, it may not be installed, so be sure to install the latest Intel drivers from your laptop manufacturer's website.

Step 4. You'll need to be in Advanced mode, so choose that when prompted, or look for a way to switch from basic to advanced in the Intel utlity. Now, under Display on the left-hand side click Custom Resolutions.

How to run 2560x1440 over HDMI

Step 5. Enter the resolution and set the refresh rate to 55. You can try 60, but if you see flickering, step it down to 55Hz. For the timing standard, you can try the defauly of GTF, but we found that CVT-RB (reduced black) was necessary to make a Philips 272PQ4 work on a Lenovo G570 laptop.

How to run 2560x1440 over HDMI

Step 6. Click the Add button, then close the utility. You may need to reboot your laptop to see the new resolution appear in the list, but we found that repeating Step 1 at this point (under Windows 8.1) showed up the new resolution without a reboot.

NOTE: Make sure you have selected the correct monitor from the 'Display' drop-down menu before trying to select 2560x1440. In the screenshot below, notice that we have selected monitor no. 2 from the menu. Had we selected 1, we would only see resolutions available for our laptop's built in screen.

How to run 2560x1440 over HDMI

Still stuck? Get free tech advice in our Tech Help forum.