Can My Laptop Support Ultra-Wide Monitor?

Laptop with Triple Monitor Setup
Laptop with Triple Monitor Setup (Source: Unsplash)

Whether for gaming or work, adding an ultra-wide monitor to your laptop can be productive in screen space and image details.

But, how would you know if your laptop supports a widescreen display boasted by ultra-wide screens?

In general, your laptop can support an ultra-wide monitor as long as it supports a high-resolution display, has an appropriate GPU, memory bandwidth and drivers, and reliable display ports (HDMI, Thunderbolt, or USB-C).

Lighting for working on Computer
Lighting for working on Computer (Source: Unsplash)

In fact, your lower specification laptop may support an ultra-wide monitor, but it will significantly downsize the actual resolution to fit the image or distort the image altogether.

Undoubtedly, the ultra-wide display comes with many benefits, but they tend to take up a lot of desk space and are a wee bit expensive.

Read on to find out whether your laptop supports an ultra-wide monitor and if it is a good idea to get one.

What is the Resolution of an Ultra-Wide Monitor?

Before jumping on the bandwagon, let us determine what an ultra-wide monitor is and what is not.

The sellers and retail websites may advertise many different screen resolutions as ultra-wide, but the ultra-wide displays aspect ratio is greater than 2:00:1.

They are wider than taller and usually require high-resolution displays.

49' ultra wide monitor
49″ ultra-wide monitor (Source: Linus Tech Tips YouTube)

A few examples of the ultra-wide resolutions include:

Common NameAspect RatioResolution
WFHD64∶272560×1080
WFHD+12∶52880×1200
WQHD43∶183440×1440
WQHD+12∶53840×1600
UW4K12∶54320×1800
UW5K (WUHD)64∶275120×2160
UW5K+12∶55760×2400
UW6K43∶186880×2880
UW7K12∶57680×3200
UW8K12∶58640×3600
UW10K64∶2710240×4320

Similarly, the ultra-wide monitor will prefer high-resolution images usually offered by 2K, 4K, and higher. Anything under will lack the crisp and rich color required for a wider display.

Here is a table outlining different resolutions and the ones appropriate for ultra-wide display.

DisplayResolutionCommon Name
720p1280 x 720SD or HD Ready
1080p1920 x 1080Full HD
1440p (2K)2560 x 1440Quad HD (OK for ultra-wide display)
4K3840 x 2160UHD or Ultra HD (OK for ultra-wide display)
Ultra-Wide2560 x 1080, 3440 x 1440 or higherWide or WUHD (OK for ultra-wide display)

Note: Ultra-wide monitor uses a combination of various aspect ratios and suitable resolutions (1440p, 4K, or more).

However, remember that running ultra-wide monitors will require laptops with higher specifications.

Your laptop would require a decent amount of CPU and graphics processing unit of the video card to playback ultra-wide images with full efficiency.

How do you Know if your Laptop Supports an Ultra-Wide Monitor?

It can be tricky yet sometimes straightforward to know whether your laptop supports the ultra-wide monitor.

Inquire the seller or manufacturer about the maximum display it can support if you buy a new laptop and whether it has the correct specifications to support an ultra-wide display.

However, you would need to examine the specs for slightly older laptops.

laptop with dual monitor
Laptop with a dual monitor setup (Source: Unsplash)

The specifications may include the laptop’s screen resolution, video card driver and processing unit, refresh rate, and display plug.

As long as the graphics card can display 1440p and has at least one HDMI 2.0, USB-C, or Thunderbolt plug, your laptop would support an ultra-wide monitor with the desired accuracy.

Otherwise, the laptops with slightly lower specifications would have to install a dedicated video card on top of the internal video card to get by.

However, it is less likely to support a dedicated video card if it does not have Type-C Thunderbolt 3, Thunderbolt 2, M.2 NVMe slot, mini PCIe, or ExpressCard slot.

The CPU or processing power would not matter as long as you have a powerful graphics card, but running a high-end graphics processor will quickly drain the life out of your laptop.

Hence, a high-end CPU, processing power, and battery laptop are essential to run an ultra-wide monitor.

Specifications Required to Support Ultra-Wide Display

Let us talk about the laptop specification required to support and run ultra-wide monitors entirely.

1. Video Card, GPU, and Driver

Your laptop will fail to support an ultra-wide monitor without a powerful video card.

Any modern laptop with a video card that can handle 2K or 4K software decoding and provides fast bandwidth memory (18 Gbps or more) will support an ultra-wide monitor.

GPU processor
A diagram of GPU processor (Source: Giphly)

The minimum GPU required for a seamless ultra-wide display is as follows;

Graphic CardSupportRefresh Rate (Hz)
GeForce GTX 1080 2K-4K144
GeForce GTX 960 2K-4K60
GeForce GTX 980M 2K-4K30
Nvidia’s RTX 20802K-4K30-60
Nvidia’s RTX 30802K-4K60
Nvidia’s RTX 3090 (DLSS technology)2K-8K30

Similarly, the high-end video card must have a supporting graphics driver to optimally allow your operating system to use graphics.

Your laptop should already have installed the default driver to get you started. Otherwise, you should download the latest driver updates from the respective graphics driver website.

2. HDMI or Other Connection

Connection is another crucial factor because supporting ultra-wide monitors would require high-speed cables and reliable connection ports.

HDMI cables are standard with many ultra-wide monitors; however, older HDMI connections (below 2.0) cannot handle the higher resolutions required by ultra-wide monitors.

HDMI connection
HDMI connection (Source: Amazon)

Here is a table describing different HDMI versions and their specifications.

HDMI ConnectionSpecification
HDMI 1.4Transmits 1080p to 4K but only at 30Hz
HDMI 2.0Offers 18GB memory bandwidth to support 4K at 60 FPS
HDMI 2.0aSimilar to 2.0 but with HDR for vibrant color
HDMI 2.1Supports up to 8K display with dynamic HDR, faster refresh rate, and bandwidth

Alternatively, you can use Display Port 1.3 or 1.4 port that supports 4K display at 120Hz.

Thunderbolt is the latest and most reliable display connector that supports 4K to 8K displays at a higher refresh rate.

Thunderbolt 2 can easily support a 4K monitor, while Thunderbolt 3 and 4 will support UHD display at 60Hz and 120Hz.

Read our blog about whether it is safe to Hot-Plug HDMI Cable to the laptop or monitor.

3. Native Resolution

Your laptop’s native resolution will significantly influence whether you can add an ultra-wide monitor.

The unmatched or lower native resolutions will lead to stretched or distorted images on the external monitor.

4K vs 2K vs HD
A comparative diagram of different resolutions (Source: Unsplash)

However, the laptop’s display resolution is not the same as its output capabilities.

As a forum commenter points out, “The laptop screen has no relationship to the laptop’s output capabilities. Most laptops are designed to support external monitors for serious work.”

A laptop with a 1080p output resolution can support 2k or higher; however, it should have the appropriate GPU and memory.

Otherwise, get yourself a high-end laptop with a higher native resolution.

Find out how many external monitors can your laptop support with the existing resolution.

How to Use an Ultra-Wide Monitor with a Laptop?

Using the ultra-wide monitor with your laptop is pretty simple, assuming it meets all the requirements.

Plugin the monitor to your laptop via an appropriate cable connection (HDMI, DisplayPort, or Thunderbolt) to run the device.

However, you need to define the display resolution and display type to start broadcasting the image from the laptop to the monitor.

1. Display Resolution

Most laptops will automatically detect the monitor’s resolution and start broadcasting feed in 4K or more.

Otherwise, you would need to change the resolution in the setting manually. Follow these steps to change resolution on Windows.

  • Right-click on the desktop and find “Display Settings.”
  • Choose the appropriate display from the given option (Choose 2 for an external monitor)
Dual screen display
Dual-screen display on Windows Laptop
  • Scroll down to “Display Resolution” and choose the appropriate resolution, such as 2560 x 1080 or 3440 x 1440, from the drop-down menu.

Mac users need to open “System Preferences” and choose “Display” to open the settings.

Next, change the native resolution from “Default for display” to “Scaled,” then choose the appropriate resolutions.

2. Display Type

Display type refers to mirroring the same display as seen on the laptop screen or extending the image.

From the same “Display Settings,” scroll down to find the Multiple Displays section and choose the appropriate feature.

Extending or Duplicating the display
Extending or Duplicating the display

Voila! Your ultra-wide monitor would start broadcasting images in UHD resolution at no time.

Pros and Cons of Using an Ultra-Wide Monitor

There are many advantages to using the ultra-wide monitor for everyday use, such as work and gaming; however, they are not free of problems.

Here is a table describing both pros and cons of choosing an ultra-wide monitor.

ProsCons
It offers increased screen space thanks to a high-resolution display.The large display screen takes up significant desk space.
Choose from a flat or curved display for a better viewing angle.Gaming or heavy work done on the monitor will take a toll on the laptop’s GPU.
It reduces flicker that contributes to eye strain.Large screen display consumes slightly more power or energy.
It is no longer expensive or inaccessible.It is still more expensive than budget LED monitors.

Best Ultra-Wide Monitors to Buy in 2022

Here are a few ultra-wide monitor recommendations for you.

Ultra-Wide MonitorSpecificationImage
Sceptre 35-Inch Curved Ultrawide MonitorThe 35" inch curved display with 3440 x 1440 QHD frameless AMD Free sync HDMI Display Port Up to 100Hz.
SAMSUNG CJ890 Ultra-wide MonitorThe 49” ultra-wide screen boasts 3840 x 1080 QHD with a 144Hz refresh rate.
LG 34WP65G-B UltraWide MonitorThe 34" inch monitor with 2560 x 1080 FHD display at 75Hz
LG 29WN600-W21:9 ultra-wide monitor with 2560 x 1080 display and 3-side virtually borderless design
MSI Optix MAG342CQR21:9 ultra-wide monitor offers a 3440 x 1440 display at 144Hz

Conclusion

Your laptop will support ultra-wide monitors with the correct specifications, display ports, and cables.

All you need to do is ensure to get a laptop that meets the minimum requirement to run the high-resolution display demanded by the ultra-wide screen.

However, keep your activity and available desk space in mind before purchasing one.

Related Article: Extend Monitor Setup with KVM Switch or Docking Station.

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