My Ultimate Second Monitor – Explained

Due to the many questions regarding my set up of my ultimate second monitor, I felt a post explaining my set up may assist some people wanting the same results.

Here goes 🙂

You need a laptop with a DVI output

To connect to a HDTV, you need a laptop with a DVI output. Don’t have one? Stop reading. There’s nothing you can do further.

You need a DVI-HDMI cable

In order to connect your laptop to your HDTV, you need a DVI to HDMI cable.

The DVI side will connect to your laptop, and the HDMI side will connect to your TV.

You need a headphone jack to RGA cable or Wireless Headset

You need a headphone jack to RGA cable. The 3.5mm connector will plug into your headphone slot on your laptop. The Y connector will connect to the left/right channels of your speaker system.

Alternatively, you can buy a wireless headset, which I would highly recommend if you plan to chat with fellow gamers.

You need a wireless mouse/keyboard

Why bother getting all set up on your HDTV if you’re constrained by the laptop’s keyboard and trackpad? A wireless keyboard/mouse is a must.

You need a USB hub

Plan on connecting your wireless headset and wireless mouse/keyboard to your laptop? You’re going to run out of USB ports fast. Get a USB hub for the necessary extra ports.

An external hard drive

Games take up “a lot” of space. Getting a USB-powered external hard drive is a cheap and effective way of handling the storage needed. If you choose this option, the USB hub is a must.

Okay, I got all the equipment, now what?

As some of you noticed, I’m playing my games on a Mac Book Pro. I use Bootcamp to run Windows 7, and use Steam as my game downloading service (if you don’t use Steam, you are really missing out).

What I’ve done is I installed Steam on my external hard drive, that way all the games I download/purchase from the service end up on the external hard drive as well.

Since my Mac Book Pro likes to go into overhead mode when playing intense games such as Modern Warfare 2 or Left for Dead 2, I place it on top of two barbells (to aid cooling). Your laptop may suffer the same fate, and this technique has worked well for me.

I have Windows 7 configured to run multiple monitors, and I run it in the “mirrored” state. My resolution is 1280×1024, which looks funky on my laptop, but looks absolutely splendid on my HDTV.


Here’s what you need to mimic my set up:

  • Connect your laptop’s DVI output to your TV’s HDMI input (via a DVI/HDMI cable).
  • Use a USB hub to connect your external hard drive, wireless mouse/keyboard, and headset (ideal) to your laptop.
  • If you want to use speakers instead of a headset, use a 3.5mm to RGA cable to connect from your laptop’s headphone jack to your left/right channels of your speaker system.
  • Run your multiple-monitors wizard and be sure to duplicate the displays. I have my resolution set at 1280×1024, which works for my TV.
  • If you choose to use Steam as your platform, be sure to install Steam directly on the external hard drive if you don’t want the massive game files using up your precious laptop space.

Hopefully that should answer some of the questions mentioned in the comments on My Ultimate Second Monitor.

4 thoughts on “My Ultimate Second Monitor – Explained”

  1. Hdmi Cables High definition multimedia interface is really a compact audio online video user interface for transmitting uncompressed digital information. It represents a digital choice to purchaser analog criteria, including radio frequency coaxial cable, composite movie, S-Video, SCART, element movie, D-Terminal, or VGA.

  2. This is a great blog and very engaging too. Excellent work! That’s not really much coming from an amateur publisher like me, but it’s all I could think after enjoying your posts. Excellent grammar and vocabulary. Not like other blogs. You really know what you’re talking about too. So much that you made me want to explore more. Your blog has become a stepping stone for me, my friend. Thank you for the articulate journey. I really enjoyed the 4 posts that I have read so far.

  3. I agree with all of your points. Personally I still use a regular laptop which is great when moving from one location to another but not as great for my neck. Therefore I’ve been thinking about getting a monitor and a docking station. Feels like a jungle though and every retailer tells me he got the best stuff :/

  4. I had no idea it could be this easy. Now I’ve setup my laptop to dock with my HDTV and it works very well.
    I use a docking station with a lot of USB ports and a DVI connection.

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