[SOLVED] 1080p Notebook with external GPU & 4k monitor ?

enewmen

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Hi all.
I tried to attach a 1080p notebook to a 4k monitor, but I can only output 1080p.
If I get a minimal 1080p notebook with Thunderbolt 3/USB4, can I get 4k later using an external GPU with a docking station and an external 4k monitor?
I can save a lot by getting a 1080p notebook rather than a 4k notebook. I also don't need 4k while traveling and 4k on a tiny 14" screen won't improve it much.
For the other specs like how much RAM is needed, CPU power, SSD size, etc I already know what I need.
I think it will work, but I don't want to spend a lot just to test.

Thanks!
 
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erik_h

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This question starts from a bad premise.

Virtually all of the modern 1080s I'm aware of, and literally all of the nice ones, WILL support 4k external--whether or not they have a 1080 screen.

For example, almost anything with Intel 630 UHD built-in graphics (which is most older Intel chips) will support 4k--which is why there is "UHD" in the name. And of course, anything w/ 11th gen Iris graphics, and any modern AMD chip, will do so as well.

Here's a Lenovo spec for the ThinkBook 14: https://psref.lenovo.com/syspool/Sys/PDF/ThinkBook/ThinkBook_14_IML/ThinkBook_14_IML_Spec.PDF

Again, that is NOT the most modern solution. But still, while it has a boring 220-nit FHD 1080 screen, that is not the limitation AT ALL on the graphics:
"Supports up to 3 independent displays via native display and 2 external monitors; supports external monitors via HDMI® (up to 3840x2160@30Hz) or USB-C (up to 3840x2160@60Hz"

And of course the modern ons are better. The X1 Nano uses an Iris chip and will support 5120x3200@60Hz

If you can't do it, check (in order):
  1. Your laptop specs. Does it say it will drive a 4K? Out of which output(s)?
  2. Your cable. Does your cable support 4K? (Don't use a decade-old chacp HDMI cable)
You may have it now ,and not know.

Anyway, i'm off to go pick up (today!) my new 4K display, which I will happily be running off my FHD-sreen laptop ;)
 
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erik_h

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This question starts from a bad premise.

Virtually all of the modern 1080s I'm aware of, and literally all of the nice ones, WILL support 4k external--whether or not they have a 1080 screen.

For example, almost anything with Intel 630 UHD built-in graphics (which is most older Intel chips) will support 4k--which is why there is "UHD" in the name. And of course, anything w/ 11th gen Iris graphics, and any modern AMD chip, will do so as well.

Here's a Lenovo spec for the ThinkBook 14: https://psref.lenovo.com/syspool/Sys/PDF/ThinkBook/ThinkBook_14_IML/ThinkBook_14_IML_Spec.PDF

Again, that is NOT the most modern solution. But still, while it has a boring 220-nit FHD 1080 screen, that is not the limitation AT ALL on the graphics:
"Supports up to 3 independent displays via native display and 2 external monitors; supports external monitors via HDMI® (up to 3840x2160@30Hz) or USB-C (up to 3840x2160@60Hz"

And of course the modern ons are better. The X1 Nano uses an Iris chip and will support 5120x3200@60Hz

If you can't do it, check (in order):
  1. Your laptop specs. Does it say it will drive a 4K? Out of which output(s)?
  2. Your cable. Does your cable support 4K? (Don't use a decade-old chacp HDMI cable)
You may have it now ,and not know.

Anyway, i'm off to go pick up (today!) my new 4K display, which I will happily be running off my FHD-sreen laptop ;)
 
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enewmen

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The spec sheet you provided is more detailed than the ones I was looking at.
Strange when I try to set the screen-res in Desktop Display Settings, I just see 1080 max. Maybe my monitor is not configured correctly. I'll also check the cable carefully.

The notebook I'm looking at is Xe gen 12 and better than the 630.
Apologies for the bad premise. This is easier than I thought and I confused myself.

thanks, for the help!
 

erik_h

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I told you "cable" and proceeded to ignore my own advice for 20 minutes lol, but anyway DEFINITELY check cables! here's why:

My system has UHD 630 but only has Displayport out.

I was using an FHD monitor which only had HDMI.

I was running via a displayport-HDMI adaptor, and an HDMI cable

I just plugged in my brand-new 4K monitor via HDMI (though my old cable setup.)

I was completely unable to get Windows to even OFFER anything above FHD resolution.

After a frustrating 20 minutes of reboots and drive checks and whatnot I smacked myself in the head, swapped to the new Displayport cable which came w/ the monitor... and of course it then delivered perfect 4K.

Don't be like me!

(For your existing laptop, try googling the model and "spec sheet" or "psref")
 

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