Does Running Two Monitors off Your Laptop Heat Up the Video Card More?

By Ashley Poland

Most laptops feature the external monitor port on the side.
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Dual monitor setups tend to boost productivity by increasing your digital workspace. Dual monitors are more commonly used with desktop computers, but it’s also possible to use two monitors with your laptop. Unless your laptop has two built-in monitor ports, such as VGA, DVI or HDMI, your dual monitor setup will consist of the laptop’s screen and an external monitor.

Dual Displays on a Laptop

The video cards installed in laptops tend to be less powerful than in desktop computers unless you are using a high-end gaming laptop. Such laptops typically feature a more advanced graphics card. The added load of running two displays may cause your video card to heat up, especially if you are running graphics-intensive programs such as games. But just because your laptop generates more heat doesn't mean that it's overheating.

Heat and Use

Laptops become warm during normal use, so you should expect that yours may heat up while you're using it. When evaluating excess heat in your laptop, try to determine the source of the heat. If it's near your monitor port or video card, the extra monitor is likely the cause. If the case is too hot to touch or the fan runs continuously at full speed, turn off the laptop and give it time to cool. Then, verify that the air vents are clear.

Laptop Design Considerations

Using two monitors generally will increase the video card heat in any computer, but the problem is more noticeable in laptops. Because laptops are compact and the components are closer together with minimal air flow, more heat is generated, and many laptops are equipped with only one or two fans for heat management. Prolonged overheating in the graphics card may damage other components in the laptop.

Using One Monitor

If you want to use a larger display with your laptop without increasing the load on your graphics card significantly, one alternative is to disable your laptop display while you are connected to an external monitor. In Windows, open the Display options and choose to show your display only on the monitor. This is usually Display 2, but you can click "Detect" to see the number assigned to each display.