The latest laptops, tablets, and smartphones now feature a new, smaller oblong connector, called the USB-C port, which is slowly replacing the popular USB A and USB B connectors. This is a relatively new connector that is symmetrical (can be inserted both ways), but that’s not all it is. That simple USB-C port on your device can do much more than you think.
The USB-C technology is associated with several cutting-edge technologies, including USB 3.1 data transfer (up to 10 Gbps), USB power delivery (replacing power cables on laptops), and Thunderbolt 3 technology for supported devices.
Because of these features, the USB-C port can now be used to output high-quality video content from your phone, tablet or laptop to a high-resolution monitor or display, such as your 4K TV. Learn how to connect your laptop USB-C to DisplayPort 4K below.
What you will need
The USB-C port can be used for almost anything, such as laptop USB-C to DisplayPort 4K video output. However, you should have the right cables and adapters to ensure that you don’t lose any video quality.
You will need:
- Laptop with USB-C port
- USB-C to DisplayPort adapter
- 4K monitor that supports USB-C port
For the best viewing experience, your laptop, output adapters/cables, and monitor should all support the same level of video output/input.
How to Set Up Your Connection
Once you have your originating device (could also be a smartphone or tablet), a laptop USB-C to DisplayPort 4K adapter and your external display, all you need to do is connect your adapter cable from the USB-C port to the DisplayPort.
If your TV doesn’t have a DisplayPort but instead has an HDMI port, you’ll need an extra cable to make the connection. The USB-C to DisplayPort adapter connects to a hub or another DisplayPort to HDMI cable. The HDMI cable, in turn, connects to the HDMI port on the monitor/display.
FPS and Hz
Pay attention to the video output quality on your laptop vis-à-vis the refresh rate of your 4K monitor/display.
Remember, even if your laptop supports 60 FPS (frames per second), a 4K@30Hz refresh rate means you’ll only see 30 of those frames. This could create a problem called screen tearing, where your TV tries to combine two frames into one. Some distortion could occur depending on what you’re watching. Fast-paced, live-action viewing, such as sports, could have some gaps that may affect your viewing experience.
The advantage of using a DisplayPort is that even the older generation DisplayPort can support 4K@60Hz viewing. This means that you won’t lose any video output quality on the ports.
If you’re using HDMI, however, remember that an HDMI 1.4 port can only support 4K@30Hz. Therefore, after your laptop USB-C to DisplayPort 4K connection, you’ll only be able to view at 30 Hz. For a better viewing experience using HDMI, invest in a high-speed HDMI cable, i.e. HDMI 2.0, which supports the 60 Hz refresh rate.
If nothing happens when you turn on your display or monitor, check the following:
- Ensure the laptop USB-C to DisplayPort 4K connection is secure on both sides – the laptop side and display side
- Ensure the video cable is securely plugged into the monitor/display and to the adapter
- Disconnect and reconnect the adapter on your laptop side and watch what happens. If nothing, disconnect then reconnect the video cable from the adapter.
If the above steps don’t work, your cable/cables could be malfunctioning, and you may need to replace them. Test the cable using a different USB-C device, such as your smartphone or tablet.
When making a Laptop USB-C to DisplayPort 4K connection, you must always remember the frame rate and refresh rate of your laptop and display monitor respectively. In the best case, the two should match, i.e. 30FPS to 30 Hz, but if they don’t, note that your video output will be limited to the device with the lesser value. You don’t have to worry about DisplayPort as it’s automatically suitable for transmitting at 60 Hz on 4K resolution.