Using multiple monitors can be an instant productivity booster, because it helps streamline workflows when working on multiple documents. DisplayPort (DP) video cards that support Multi-Stream Transport (MST) enable you to connect multiple computer monitors to a single DP connection.

How does DisplayPort MST work?

Our previous MST and DP focused post, covers the benefits and applications of MST and DP, but there are some handy tricks to know if you’re an MST and DP user. If you’re considering upgrading your MST / DP setup, here are a few tips to keep in mind:

Want to know more about the technology? Read our Display Tech 101 post to get more technical information on DisplayPort and MST.

Tip #1: Be Specific

Know exactly what your technical requirements are and what type of hub you need.

  • DP 1.2 brought support for MST, but while DP 1.2 or higher is common on many video cards now, MST support isn’t guaranteed. Make sure your video card supports both DP 1.2 or higher, and MST.
  • Know what video connections your monitors support. Where possible, try to avoid using video adapters. While video adapters can work with MST hubs, the goal is to have the least number of devices between your video source (your computer) and your video destinations (your monitors).
    • Trick: You can get MST hubs with ports other than DisplayPort. For example, if you are trying to add three monitors to a computer, and only two have DisplayPort but all three have HDMI, get an MST hub that gives you three HDMI ports.
    • Tool: Our go-to MST HDMI hub is this one.
  • Check if your MST hub has special requirements. For example, earlier MST hubs require that your video card supports High Bit Rate 2 (HBR2).

Tip #2: Resolutions and Refresh Rates Matter

Investigate what resolutions and refresh rates you want from each of your monitors to use.

This is important for a few reasons:

If you have a monitor that provides 4K at 60Hz and want to use an MST hub, you need to check the hub and video card specs to see if each component can support 4K at 60Hz. Even if the monitor is capable of supporting 4K at 60Hz, this setup is also dependent on the hub and video card.

  • Remember: If you want to run a monitor at 4K, you need an MST hub that supports 4K.
  • The DisplayPort connection on your video card only has so much bandwidth. Currently, an MST hub that supports 4K can’t output 4K on three or more monitors.
  • Tool: This chart explains the bandwidth percentages.

Tip #3: Know Your Video Card Capabilities

Your video card capabilities will determine the number of monitors you can connect. Unfortunately, MST doesn’t bypass your video card’s limitation. For example, if your laptop’s video card is only capable of three monitors, and you’re using an MST hub with three ports, you will still only be able to use three monitors. However, there may be variations in the monitor display setup, whether that is two monitors using the MST hub and your laptop’s screen or three monitors with no laptop screen.

Further Reading

Stay tuned for our next Display Technology post series, which will cover USB-C and DisplayPort.

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