Can You Use a Laptop as Monitor for Xbox?

So you have a laptop and an Xbox, but you don’t have a display for the Xbox. You’re wondering if there is a way to use your laptop’s internal display as a monitor for your Xbox. Is it possible? I was wondering the same thing and found a couple of solutions that can work. Can’t you connect them with an HDMI cable?

Can You Use a Laptop as Monitor for Xbox?

You can’t use a laptop as a monitor for an Xbox because both the laptop and Xbox are HDMI out. There are only two ways to use a laptop as a monitor for an Xbox: use an HDMI video capture card or use Xbox Remote Play on your laptop. I’ll walk you through both methods.

Before I get into that, the most obvious solution here would be to connect an HDMI cable from your laptop to the HDMI port on your Xbox. Unfortunately, that won’t work because both the laptop and the Xbox are designed to send HDMI signals out. If you connect two HDMI output devices together, they won’t be able to communicate. So you’ll need to use another method.

HDMI Capture Card

An HDMI capture card is a small device that will allow your laptop to receive HDMI input, usually for video recording purposes.

There are a wide variety of HDMI capture cards on the market, ranging from a few pounds to hundreds.  Naturally, the cheapest capture cards won’t deliver the best performance and there will be very noticeable input latency.

However, the are a number of mid-range HDMI capture cards that almost entirely eliminate the input latency. I recommend buying a mid-range capture card because the cheap ones are not worth the trouble.

To set up an HDMI capture card on your laptop, connect your Xbox to the card with an HDMI cable. From there, connect the USB end of the capture card to an available USB port on your laptop.

You may need to download specific software (certain capture card manufacturers recommend their own software) or use OBS to see the signal from the Xbox on your computer.

One HDMI capture card that I like is called the Elgato HD60s+. It also supports 4K at 60 FPS and HDR10. What I like about this card is it lets you play Xbox games in their original formats.

If you use that HDMI capture card, the software you’ll use is called Game Capture Software, designed by Elgato. Once you have a signal on the program, hit full-screen, and you can use your laptop as a monitor for your Xbox.

Remember, the HDMI capture card should be plugged into the fastest USB port on your laptop, usually USB 3.0. USB-C could work too.

Xbox Game Stream (also called Xbox Cloud Gaming)

Xbox’s Cloud Gaming allows you to stream games from your Xbox to any other device over the local area network. It works surprisingly well, although a fast Wifi network or ethernet cable is recommended.

Setting up the  Xbox game stream is very straightforward and no extra devices are needed. If you don’t have the time to buy an HDMI capture card, Xbox stream to Windows is your best option.

Here’s the thing:

The problem with this method is you won’t be able to change any settings on your Xbox because you can’t see what you’re doing on it. So this would only work if you already connected your Xbox to your home network and you enabled game streaming on the Xbox. You’ll also want to connect an Xbox controller to your laptop.

To start, open the Xbox Console Companion app on your Windows 10 laptop. On the left-hand side, click on the console icon near the gears, and your Xbox should be listed. Select your Xbox and click on the Stream icon. Your laptop will connect to your Xbox and you can start playing games from your Xbox streamed to your laptop.

Streaming Xbox games can be hit or miss. Even if you have a fast Wifi or ethernet connection, there can be a lot of stutters and the image quality won’t be the best. Nevertheless, it can be a good option if you just want to complete some in-game tasks. You can also use Remote Play to play games from your Xbox on a phone or tablet.

Xbox Play Anywhere

Xbox’s Play Anywhere service allows you to download and run digital copies of your Xbox games on a computer. It syncs all your progress across devices. The problem with this option is the games will run on your laptop. So if you want to play a game like Halo Infinite, you’ll need a fairly powerful laptop to run it.

Troubleshooting Xbox Game Stream Problems

What if you don’t see your Xbox on the list of devices? You’ll need to manually enter the Xbox’s IP address. There are a couple of ways to find the IP address.

If you have access to your router, log in it to the admin page and look for connected devices. You’ll see a list of devices and their IP addresses, copy the IP address of your Xbox. You can also open File Explorer and click on Network, any connected devices should show up on that list.

As mentioned earlier, if your Xbox is not connected to the same Wifi network, you won’t be able to use the game streaming feature. And since you have no display for the Xbox, there’s no way to connect the Xbox to a network.

The only workaround would be to connect the Xbox to your router or modem via an ethernet cable because it doesn’t require you to enter passwords.

The Bottom Line

So while you can’t natively use a laptop as a monitor for an Xbox, you can play Xbox games on your laptop by using an HDMI capture card or Xbox’s game streaming services.

I personally suggest buying an HDMI capture card because it can be very handy later on. It also makes it easy to record Xbox footage, not to mention streaming it to websites like Twitch or YouTube. I like the Elgato HD60s+ but there are others worth checking out.

Photo by Jakub Sisulak on Unsplash

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About Tim Gagnon

Timothy Gagnon is a tech blogger and writer. When he's not dissembling computers, he's researching the latest tech gadgets and trends.

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