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HowTo Using your Surface with multi-monitor setup (HDMI, DVI, VGA)


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First of all, your Surface has got a Micro-HDMI-port on the upper right side.

If you want to connect your tablet to a Beamer, TV or a second monitor via HDMI, you won’t have to buy the expensive adapter from Microsoft. Instead you can use any cheap micro-HDMI to HDMI-cable. (Type D to type A)
With this setup you’ll get video and audio with one cable.
Due to some restrictions of the modern-ui (also known as metro), your second device have to support a resolution of at least 1366x768. Some 720p/HD-ready devices don’t support this resolution via HDMI. Some of those devices (supporting 1080p input) are able to scale down and some are not. If yours is with the last ones, you maybe try the solution with a HDMI to VGA-adaptor.

If your monitor has a dvi-port, you can use a HDMI to DVI-adapter, but to hear some sound you’ll have to use an additional audio-cable.

In this case you can buy the original adapter from Microsoft or some 3[SUP]rd[/SUP]-party. At the time there are no real reviews about quality, but in general the signal with HDMI is better than with a SUB-D VGA-cable. Some 720p-devices are able to recognize the 1366x768 resolution on sub-d, so this maybe your chance to get surface working with your device. Like DVI, SUB-D isn’t able to transport audio, so you’ll have to connect your surface via the headphone jack.

Setting up

  1. Connect your Surface with your device.
  2. Normally your Surface would recognize the second monitor instantly and try to mirror the desktop.
  3. If not: WIN+P for switching the modes or swipe from the right and tap “share”->second screen
  4. Mirroring your desktop means, that your second screen will run the same resolution as your Surface. This looks terrible on a 1080p-device, you should go for extend desktop or second screen only-option. Just tap the option or press WIN+P again and wait a second.
  5. Confirm your choice by click/tap yes on the second screen.

Note: Just like on a normal windows, your surface remembers the last state of your choice, so it switches back to this the next time you’re connecting. If this causes trouble the next time, just unplug the cable or press WIN+P.

If you have a 1080p-device just use a HDMI-connection and the second screen only-option. This shuts down the surface screen, saving some battery, and is the best choice of you have a touch- or type-cover (or mouse) connected. This is important, because it’s the only way to get a mouse-pointer shown. Using the touch-screen to navigate on your second doesn’t really work that well without a real pointer.
In some cases folding up your cover or pressing the power-button produces some strange stuttering while playing video, so just leave it. In general most video-apps will prevent the Surface to go into stand-by automatically.

If you want to use your Surface with a second monitor for productive purposes, you can go either for the second-screen only- or the extended desktop-option. The last option has the advantage to let you use both screens, but the behavior is a little bit strange. One screen is the desktop where you can use old-school desktop or metro and the other is restricted to desktop. You can change what screen does what, but it isn’t really convincing to me. There’s room left for improvement and/or updates.

If you have any questions, updates or additions, please share them with us. This is some sort of 1.0 version, so some updates/changes will appear.

Thanks for the info. I was wondering if Surface could be the second screen and my PC the main screen. I know that things are possible the other way around, but many times I would like to use the surface as a simple mirror, extension or second screen of my PC. What do you think?


Yes, it should be up to the job.
I just had concerns about the strength of the microhmdi-port, since a adapter (probably with a not so tight fit) and a 3m hdmi cable produce a decent amount of force for such a small area. Instead i've gone for a small cable (6€). Plus-side: It's much more comfortable to take it with your sleeve/bag.
Yes, it should be up to the job.
I just had concerns about the strength of the microhmdi-port, since a adapter (probably with a not so tight fit) and a 3m hdmi cable produce a decent amount of force for such a small area. Instead i've gone for a small cable (6€). Plus-side: It's much more comfortable to take it with your sleeve/bag.

I would like to know if someone else had problems with poor video quality using HDMI on Surface RT

I'm using a adaptor dongle with a conventional HDMI Cable. The cable is a hight quality one, but can't say about the adaptor.

I've bought the adaptor to use Surface RT on my TV, but I'm so frustrated with the poor graphic quality.

Any idea about what is happing ? Tips ? is it normal ??


@ carlos:
What sort of monitor setup did you use? If you have a 1080p screen use the second-screen only (or the extended) option, so the surface can deliver full HD resolution - if you're going for the duplicate option, your screen have to interpolate from 1280 or 1366px.

This is also mentioned in my first post. Use Win+P or the charm - devices - second screen and choose second screen only and confirm your choice on the second screen. Important: use a mouse/touchpad, as navigating on the second screen via the touchscreen isn't really the best option.
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Mr. NK. thanks for the OP, great info. I am trying to find a 3rd party VGA adapter and I am wondering if this one at Newegg would work. I am trying to find an adapter that will also go lower than the minimum listed for the MS adapter (minimum output resolution of 1366 × 768 and a maximum output resolution of 1920 X 1080 found here:Surface VGA Adapter | Surface HD Digital AV Adapter | Video out problems).

adapter at Newegg
Newegg.com - HDMI to VGA and Audio Converter ( Support 1080P, Input HDMI, Video Output: VGA, Audio Output: 3.5 mm-outs )

I might just go ahead and order and try this.
Hey guys, I purchased an inexpensive micro HDMI (D) to regular HDMI (A) cable to connect my Surface 2 to my TV. Of course I had to trim the plastic on the micro end to compensate for the Surface 2's beveled edge. I've successfully set it up with the video no problem, but I'm not getting any audio over the HDMI cable through the TV. Any ideas? Any settings in control panel or somewhere where I can select the audio output? I cant find any.. :( the sound still comes out of my tablet when the HDMI cable is hooked up.

Edit: nevermind, I found it under "sounds" in Control Panel duh
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I have one problem with my new surface pro 2, and i don´t know how to solve it. I will try to explain it.

Yesterday i tried to connect surface pro 2 to a IPS PC monitor, through the official hdmi adaptor. It was easy to set up both monitors, work with extended mode etc....At first it was impossible to listen anything, as the ips monitor doesnt have speakers and the tablet was completely mute when i connected the hdmi cable.

I could solve it using this method


With this method i was able to return the sound to the surface. Everrything worked fine with this pc monitor (gestures fluently in the tablet, work with extended mode).

Now i´m going to explain the problem i can´t find a solution for.

If i try to connect the surface pro 2 (official hdmi adaptor too) to a Led TV LG 42¨, the sounds goes directly through the tv speakers, but the tablet doesn´t respond well to the gestures touch....it doesnt mind if i choose extended, mirroring mode...it is imposible to use gestures in the surface...i cant even make ¨pinch to zoom¨, or ¨drag an drop¨ or rearrange icons, move with gestures between screens... i have to use the mouse (this works perfectly).

It is strange...if i connect to the tv i can only press buttons and not with too accurate results...so, i´m force to use the mouse, but i would like to be able to continue using gestures (something that i can do if i connect to de ips pc monitor in all modes).

Does somebody know why does it happen? i´m using the same hdmi cable in pc monitor and Tv led....so i dont know why it doesnt work well...

Thankyou very much in advance and sorry for my bad english! it is difficult to explain this in a foreign language :)
when I connect the surface pro 4 with the mini display adapter to my HDTV, the resolution is all wonky. I've tried changing every single resolution but it doesn't seem to fix it - the TV just ends up looking strange with the ratios all messed up - it's usually cut off on the bottom and sides.