Connecting small work laptop to larger monitor
November 19, 2022 11:59 AM   Subscribe

Hi everybody. I received a laptop for my work-from-home job some time ago, and the tiny monitor is taking a toll on my eyes. I'd like to connect it to a [much] larger monitor. The problem is that although I suspect it's a simple enough procedure, I'm not very tech-savvy to put it mildly. Here's the tiny bit of information I do have:

A family member has offered me a very large monitor. I don't know its precise dimensions, but by eyeballing it I'd say it's probably at least 24 inches, perhaps larger. The manufacturer is NEC, and up until a couple months ago was used with a PC desktop.

My work laptop is a 13-inch MacBook Air. I don't know the year or the specs for either, but I'm optimistic that neither is very old, and that there shouldn't be any major complications in getting this done.

What kind of cable should I get to connect the two – VGA, HDMI, or something else altogether? Any pertinent and useful information about what I need to purchase and how to go about setting this up would be welcome and appreciated.
posted by DavidfromBA to Computers & Internet (10 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
The monitor might have any number of different connectors on the back. It's impossible to say which ones this particular monitor has. It could be HDMI, DisplayPort, VGA, or DVI, or maybe even some others I haven't thought of.

A MacBook Air may not have an HDMI port and almost certainly none of the others. Depending on the exact model, it might have USB-C ports (oval-ish) or a mini DisplayPort (more rectangular, probably with a lightning bolt symbol next to it to signify that it's also a Thunderbolt port). You can get HDMI adapters fairly cheaply for either of these, and probably HDMI to whatever else you need. I usually buy this type of thing from Monoprice. I myself am using USB-C to HDMI to DVI with my work laptop and my larger monitor, and mini-DisplayPort to HDMI to DVI with my personal laptop.

I would certainly take the monitor as it's likely to work with your laptop somehow.
posted by mkb at 12:09 PM on November 19, 2022

Would it be possible to take pictures of the ports on both your Mac and the monitor, and post a link here? They're easy to identify visually. Depending on how old the monitor is, it may have HDMI and DVI. (It probably also has VGA, but at the modern resolutions VGA is not the best.)
posted by phliar at 12:11 PM on November 19, 2022 [4 favorites]

I believe that anyone who will be able to help you will need more information. Which year/model of MacBook Air? Is it an Intel or an Apple Silicon (M1/M2)?

You can check with this link:

I didn't think MacBook Airs HDMI ports. I know they don't have VGA. I was under the impression they only had Thunderbolt 3 (USB-C) ports, in which case if the monitor also has that you are all set, other than maybe needing a USB-C cable (both ends). My. spouse's MBA M1 has 2 USB-C ports.

If not you may need an adapter and that will depend on the monitor. If it is OLD it may have VGA. If it isn't too old it likely has HDMI. If it is newer it may have USB-C (see above). If it has either of the first 2 then you will need an adapter.
posted by terrapin at 12:11 PM on November 19, 2022

You can find out the model like this.

If it's at all recent, it will support connecting directly to some monitors via USB C, but I doubt that the NEC has that type of connection and that you'll need to get a USB C to HDMI/DVI adapter. They are common and not very expensive.

If the laptop is older, you'll need a different type of adapter.


You always want to use VGA as a last resort. HDMI, DisplayPort, and DVI are functionally equivalent for this purpose in almost all cases.
posted by Candleman at 12:13 PM on November 19, 2022

This page will help you determine what ports you have on the monitor
posted by advicepig at 1:34 PM on November 19, 2022 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: 1. Thank you everybody for all of your responses.

2. Here are some crappy (though hopefully still useful) photographs, which I've labeled. Obviously only the first five are relevant, as the last three pertain to the last time I needed help here on Metafilter.
posted by DavidfromBA at 2:14 PM on November 19, 2022

Response by poster: P.S. As if I needed to hammer home my lack of computer literacy, the link I attempted to enter doesn't appear for some reason. Please copy and paste if you don't mind:
posted by DavidfromBA at 2:15 PM on November 19, 2022

Ok, on the MacBook Air, you’ll start with MiniDisplay Port (a subset of Thunderbolt 2) and go to HDMI.

This Monoprice cable will do just fine
posted by advicepig at 2:34 PM on November 19, 2022

Best answer: For reference, I have this exact cable and used to use it from the same MacBook Air to my TV.
posted by advicepig at 2:36 PM on November 19, 2022

FWIW that MacBook Air is a 2017 or earlier model based on the ports (not a value judgement — just mentioning it since you didn't know how old it is).
posted by primethyme at 3:13 PM on November 19, 2022 [1 favorite]

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