There are several reasons why you might want to hook up your laptop to a larger device, like a television display. Perhaps you need to add a monitor to your workspace, or you forgot the password to your Netflix account, and it’s saved on your computer. Even though most modern computers have an HDMI port that you can utilize to hook up directly to a TV display, that may not be the case if you have an older computer.
A USB to HDMI adapter works to connect a computer without an HDMI port to a television display, monitor, projector, or any device that supports HDMI inputs, provided the adapter is compatible, and the appropriate driver software is properly downloaded to the computer.
There are a few things that you should consider when purchasing a USB to HDMI adapter. Also, take note of the type of USB port on your computer; there may be more than one type among the average of 4 USB ports. We will discuss your options and which one would best suit your needs.
What Do You Look For In a USB to HDMI Adapter?
The most important factor in selecting the proper USB to HDMI adapter is knowing your needs and devices. Are you a gamer looking for maximum resolution and a built-in graphics card to lighten the burden on your native card? Do you have multiple devices and need the versatility of an adapter that works for both Windows and Mac?
There are options out there to suit anyone’s needs, but the main factors in selecting a perfect USB to HDMI adapter are the following:
Of these considerations, what takes precedence will depend on the reason you need your USB to HDMI adapter.
You may be a loyalist, and all your devices are from the same brand, like Apple; or you may have a variety of devices and require a USB to HDMI adapter that can handle both Windows and Mac and perhaps other devices like Chromebook or Linux.
There are products on the market that possess this versatility, like this #1 New Release Krevi USB to HDMI adapter on Amazon.
When discussing compatibility, don’t forget that if you are using the USB to HDMI adapter to hook up multiple monitors, this could affect the performance of your graphics card or GPU. To ensure a high-performance output, you may consider an adapter with a built-in graphics card, like this Startech.com USB 3.0 to Dual HDMI Adapter on Amazon.
You want high-quality resolution, whether you’re adding a second monitor for gaming or watching a movie from your laptop on a projector. The minimum resolution you should look for in an adapter is 1080p. However, with Ultra High Definition on the rise in popularity, some adapters offer this kind of 4K resolution. For the unfamiliar, 4K has four times the resolution of High Definition 1080p.
The thought goes that the more you require from your USB to HDMI adapter, the heftier the price tag, but that is not always the case. Knowing what you do and don’t need will help determine your price range. For example, you may want an adapter compatible with multiple devices with a higher resolution, but you don’t need the multiple HDMI outputs or the added graphics card.
There are affordable options on the market that will cost less than $20. If you want all the bells and whistles and don’t mind the added expense, there are also high-end choices.
The Difference Between USB and USB-C
As you’re assessing your USB situation on your computer, you might notice multiple ports of different sizes and shapes. You may have both a USB-A and USB-C port on your laptop. USB-C is gradually replacing the standard USB-A ports, and there may come a time when the latter will become obsolete.
The following are the differences between the USB-A and USB-C:
- USB-C is reversible, meaning you can plug-in from either end. USB-A is not reversible; it has a male/plug and female/receptacle.
- USB-C has bi-directional capability, which allows for power to flow in both directions, so you can power large devices by having the devices charge each other. USB-A is not bi-directional, so power can only flow in one direction.
- There is a power difference of 2.5W of power with the USB-A versus 100W of power with the USB-C.
- USB-C has alternate modes to make it compatible with different connectors like HDMI ports, DisplayPort, VGA headphones, etc. USB-A does not have alternate modes that allow for this kind of streamlining
- USB-C has faster data transfer speeds, 40 Gbps, versus the last generation USB-A at 10 Gbps.
If you have a USB-C port on your laptop, it will benefit you to purchase a USB-C to HDMI adapter, like this best-selling Anker USB C to HDMI Adapter on Amazon. There are even USB-C to USB adapters that you can purchase if you want to utilize the benefits of the USB-C.
Regardless, any USB to HDMI adapter will work provided it is compatible with your device and drivers are installed correctly.
How To Use a USB to HDMI Adapter
Now that you’ve listed out what you’re looking for in a USB to HDMI adapter and have done your shopping to purchase the one most suitable for your needs and budget, you can hook up your laptop to a display device for viewing.
Follow these simple steps to install and hook up your USB to HDMI adapter correctly:
- Install the driver software that came with your USB to HDMI adapter.
- Plug the USB cable from the adapter into the USB port on your computer.
- Plug the HDMI cable into the adapter and the other end into the display device, like your TV.
- After connecting, you can go to your System Preferences>Displays and select the proper aspect ratio for your device.
Now you’re ready to use your USB to HDMI adapter. If the driver does not come on a CD, look up the manufacturer, and there may be an option to download the driver from the web.
Now that you know what to look for and where to look, with a few options linked in this article, you can hook up your computer to your project or that second monitor as soon as it arrives.