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Can Surface Laptop 3 power dual 4K external displays?

Surface Laptop 3 15
Surface Laptop 3 15 (Image credit: Daniel Rubino / Windows Central)

Can Surface Laptop 3 power dual 4K external displays?

Best answer: Yes, the Surface Laptop 3 supports dual 4K external displays. Both the 13-inch and 15-inch models have a USB-C 3.1 port, which allows you to connect the laptop to two 4K monitors at a 60Hz refresh rate with just a single port, but you'll need the right hardware to achieve this setup.Thin and light laptop: Surface Laptop 3 (opens in new tab) (From $1,000 at Microsoft)27-inch 4K display: BenQ PD2700U (opens in new tab) ($599 at Best Buy)DisplayPort 1.4 adapter: Cable Matters USB C to DisplayPort Adapter with 8K HDR DisplayPort 1.4 (opens in new tab) ($18 at Amazon)Triple display USB-C hub: Cable Matters 4K Triple Display USB C Hub with 100W Laptop Charging (opens in new tab) ($65 at Amazon)

Two 4K monitors with a single port

The Surface Laptop 3 is a thin and light laptop that builds off the already impressive Surface Laptop line. There are now two versions of the Surface Laptop 3, a 13-inch version and a larger 15-inch version. Both sizes of the Surface Laptop 3 have a USB-C 3.1 Gen 2 port. This port allows a laptop to connect to two 4K monitors at once at 60Hz.

A Microsoft Mechanics video shows off how the new line of Surface devices can power two 4K displays at once with a 60Hz refresh rate. Being able to do this with just a single port leaves other ports open, such as the Surface Connect port and USB-A port that are available on all sizes of the Surface Laptop 3.

Unfortunately, getting the Surface Laptop 3 to power two 4K displays at once at 60Hz is not usually as simple as plugging in a USB-C port into your laptop and monitor. As outlined in a post by Dan S. Charlton, connecting two 4K monitors and hitting 60Hz via USB-C requires additional or specialized hardware. This is due to the Surface Laptop 3's support of DisplayPort 1.4. There are a few options to power two 4K monitors at once.

An easy solution is to purchase an adapter. You can buy Cable Matters USB C to DisplayPort Adapter with 8K HDR DisplayPort 1.4 (opens in new tab). There aren't many adapters that have the required specs to power dual 4K displays at 60Hz, but this one fits the bill.

Another option is to get a USB-C adapter that natively supports DP 1.4 and Multi-Stream Transport (MST). Cable Matters makes the Cable Matters USB C to DisplayPort Adapter with 8K HDR DisplayPort 1.4 (opens in new tab) which meets the required specs. It also has two DisplayPorts and one HDMI port.

The final option is to purchase a monitor that can handle this level of daisy-chaining. These aren't especially common, but the BenQ's 27-inch PD2700U (opens in new tab) can handle it. It has impressive color reproduction for professional design work. To use this monitor with the Surface Laptop 3, you'll need to grab an adapter like the Cable Matters USB C to DisplayPort Adapter with 8K HDR DisplayPort 1.4 mentioned above.

Sean Endicott
News Writer and apps editor

Sean Endicott brings nearly a decade of experience covering Microsoft and Windows news to Windows Central. He joined our team in 2017 as an app reviewer and now heads up our day-to-day news coverage. If you have a news tip or an app to review, hit him up at sean.endicott@futurenet.com (opens in new tab).