Do External Monitors Slow Down Laptops?

Laptops aren’t known for their large displays, and let’s face it, most of the time, it doesn’t hurt to have some extra-screen real estate. With that said, though, this begs the question, do you end up affecting the performance of your laptop by connecting an external display to it? Or is there no real difference?

Adding external monitor to your setup shouldn’t have a significant impact on the performance of the laptop, unless it’s already running at it’s maximum capacity.

How does an external monitor degrade Laptop’s performance?

Your laptop does not lose any performance overhead when connecting external monitors to it. However, you may still end up losing performance if you were to perform more intensive tasks. This, however, depends on a few factors. But, ultimately, you’ll notice the loss in performance through reduced frames second (FPS).

frames per second explained


As mentioned earlier, there are a few factors that can drastically affect your performance when an external monitor is connected they are:

  • Screen Resolution: If the native resolution of your laptop is lower than your external monitor, your laptop’s GPU will have to output more frames than usual. So, if you were performing a visually intensive task, such as playing a game, there’d be a drastic overall reduction in performance.
  • Frame Rate / Refresh Rate: If your external monitor has a higher refresh rate, your GPU will have to work harder in order to output those frames. While this doesn’t make a major difference when you are just scrolling through, you will notice your GPU queazing if it isn’t powerful enough when you are playing more intensive games.

Actually, the monitor itself will not slow down the laptop, but the display settings that you use will determine the effect. For example, an output of 4K resolution on an external monitor can slow down a laptop, when compared to a lower resolution output. The performance will also largely depend on the application you are using at that particular time. 

Does My Laptop Slow Down If I Use An External Monitor For Presentations?

No, your laptop will not slow down if you use an external monitor if you use it for presentations. Since that’s hardly a demanding task, you will not really see any difference in your performance. Plus, a presentation in itself isn’t very taxing, to begin with. So, you’ll end up with reasonable performance, given that you close all other processes down.

Connecting an External Monitor for Movies

No, watching a movie on your external monitor will not affect the performance. As aforementioned, you’ll only notice a performance decrease if you perform a demanding task with an external monitor. And, watching a movie definitely isn’t one of these instances where you’ll see your laptop fan ramp up.

How to optimize the performance with an external monitor?

As mentioned there will be some degradation in the performance of your laptop connected to the external monitor. But there are certainly some ways to optimize the way you connect it so that there is the least possible degradation. Here are some of the tips to follow:

  • Use a monitor that has the same refresh rate as your laptop’s monitor. Most monitors have a refresh rate of 60Hz, 75Hz, 90Hz, or 120 Hz, and you can actually select one of the refresh rates from the display settings. The difference in refresh rate will affect the Frames Per Second (FPS), and hence you will see a noticeable lag in the display.
  • Set the monitor display resolution to the same or lower as your laptop’s monitor. 
  • Use a docking device to connect the laptop and monitor that offers versatility in connection with various port options.
  • If possible and feasible according to the nature of your work, you can set it to show the display only on the external monitor and not on your laptop. You can configure this from the display settings by selecting to use the ‘Second Screen Only’ option. 

Using External GPU to Improve Laptop Performance

To minimize the effect of attaching an external monitor on your laptop’s CPU you can use an external GPU. An external GPU uses an external power supply and lets your laptop receive graphics signals from the external dock. In some cases, it might make a marginal difference, while in som

e cases can give a major boost to the laptop performance by reducing the overall load on your laptop’s CPU. 

When connecting an external GPU dock, you’ll need to ensure that your laptop supports it. You can do so by ensuring you have a Thunderbolt port. If you do, you’ll be able to run an external GPU off your system. Moreover, when you do end up picking up an enclosure, make sure that the GPU you end up snagging is actually more powerful than your onboard GPU.

Otherwise, you won’t be gaining much out of your system as you’ll be outputting the same amount of graphical power.


Using an external monitor won’t slow down your laptop, but it will put additional strain on your laptop’s GPU, especially if the monitor has a high refresh rate or a high resolution.

Running external monitors will require more resources from GPU & CPU, which will lead to your laptop running hotter and consuming more power, and it might slow down your laptop in case if it’s running at maximum capacity.

In general, adding an additional monitor to a laptop is a great way to increase productivity, as it allows you to have more screen real estate, but it may not have a significant impact on the performance of the laptop unless the laptop is already running at its limits.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is it bad to connect a laptop to a monitor?

No, there is no problem in connecting a laptop to your monitor. In some umbrella cases, you might just need to lower your resolutions own or maybe hinder your expectations. But, other than that, there’s no issue whatsoever.

Does external monitor affects the FPS while gaming?

If your monitor either has a lower refresh rate or supports a higher resolution than your actual primary laptop monitor, you’ll notice a lot of differences in your frame rate when you game. However, if they meet the same specifications, then you won’t be able to spot the difference.

Will using an external monitor drains out the laptop battery faster?

Yes, plugging in an external monitor to your laptop leads to a reduction in battery life. While your monitor is getting its power from elsewhere, maintaining a signal still requires some format that your laptop’s battery has to fill in for.

Can a 60hz monitor show smooth graphics when connected to a 120fps laptop?

No, you will not be able to experience 120 FPS on a monitor that has a native refresh rate of 60 Hz. However, on the other hand, if you have a laptop that has a lower refresh rate but a monitor that can push out a better frame rate, your monitor will feel much smoother than your primary display.

How do I know if a monitor is compatible with my laptop?

Compatibility isn’t a whole ordeal when it comes to connecting a monitor with your laptop. You can either check whether your; laptop has the necessary ports in accordance with your monitor. If it doesn’t, all you need is a converter that works with your ports, and you should be good to go. There won’t be any performance differences or hiccups, either. 

Related Articles:

Best Vertical Monitors
Why Are Vertical Monitors So Popular?
Will A Better Monitor Increase FPS? Can A Monitor Cause Low FPS?

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I work from home. To do the best possible job I need the right accessories - the right desk, the right chair, the right keyboard, the right monitor, etc. When I work I want to feel comfortable. I review everything that's related to home desk setup - focusing on Monitors & Keyboards.