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How to Connect a Laptop to a Television

By Edited Nov 13, 2013 0 0

This guide will show you the best way to easily connect your laptop computer to your television.  Depending on what type of ports are available on your laptop and television, there are a few different options you can choose from below.

How to use this guide:
First, find out what video output ports your laptop includes by looking at the back and sides, or the manual.  Then, scroll down to the section(s) with your port(s) and read up on what option is best for you.

Do not be scammed by overpriced cables.  Use the links on this page to search for the best deals on great quality cables and adapters.

The HDMI port

HDMI port(40211)

If you have a newer laptop, chances are that it came with an HDMI port, with the specific purpose of connecting to a television.

HDMI - HDMI

HDMI cable(40213)

This is the simplest method of connecting a laptop to a television.  If your television has an HDMI port, all you need is an HDMI cable to connect them together.  HDMI can also carry the audio signal, so if your laptop supports it, you will only need to purchase the hdmi cable.

HDMI to DVI

HDMI to DVI cable(40212)

If you are connecting your laptop to a computer monitor, you can get an HDMI to DVI cable or adapter to easily connect the laptop to the monitor.  HDMI and DVI are interchangeable signals, so there is no quality loss.  You will also need to purchase an audio cable to connect your laptop to your audio source.  Use an optical audio cable if both devices support it for the best audio quality, otherwise you can connect the headphone jack to the audio source using a 1/8" headphone jack cable to RCA audio or 1/8" headphone jack.

The DVI port

DVI port(40210)

DVI is the digital carrier for computer video signals, very common on most computers, some laptops, and few televisions.

DVI to DVI
DVI Cable(40209)

If your laptop has a DVI port, and so does your television or monitor, you can connect your laptop directly with a DVI cable.  There will be no video quality loss.  You will also need to purchase an audio cable to connect your laptop to your audio source.  Use an optical audio cable if both devices support it for the best audio quality, otherwise you can connect the headphone jack to the audio source using a 1/8" headphone jack cable to RCA audio or 1/8" headphone jack.


DVI to HDMI

HDMI to DVI cable(40212)

If your television doesn't have a DVI port, you can get a DVI to HDMI cable or adapter to connect the laptop to the television.  HDMI and DVI are interchangeable signals, so there is no quality loss.  You will also need to purchase an audio cable to connect your laptop to your audio source.  Use an optical audio cable if both devices support it for the best audio quality, otherwise you can connect the headphone jack to the audio source using a 1/8" headphone jack cable to RCA audio or 1/8" headphone jack.


The VGA port

VGA port(40216)

VGA is the analog video format, found on most computers, and has been around before HDMI and DVI.  The quality can be just as good as the digial formats, if both devices support it.

VGA to VGA

VGA cable(40215)

Most LCD/Plasma/LED televisions come with a VGA port, and an accompanying PC audio in port.  For this to work you will simply need a male to male VGA cable, and a male to male 1/8" headphone jack cable for the audio. 

If you are connecting the audio to a seperate receiver, you can either use an optical audio cable for the best quality, or an 1/8" headphone jack to RCA cable, depending on what audio ports your laptop and receiver have.

VGA to Component

VGA to component cable(40217)

VGA and component cables carry the exact same signal, just in a different cable format.  You can purchase a VGA to component cable to connect your laptop to your television with no video quality loss.  You will also need to purchase an audio cable to connect your laptop to your audio source.  Use an optical audio cable if both devices support it for the best audio quality, otherwise you can connect the headphone jack to the audio source using a 1/8" headphone jack cable to RCA audio or 1/8" headphone jack.


VGA to Composite (RCA) or S-Video

VGA adapter(40214)

If your television does not have VGA, or component, then you can purchase a VGA to composite (RCA) or S-Video adapter.  This will convert the video signal to a different format and drastically lower the video quality.  You will also need to purchase an audio cable to connect your laptop to your audio source.  Use an optical audio cable if both devices support it for the best audio quality, otherwise you can connect the headphone jack to the audio source using a 1/8" headphone jack cable to RCA audio or 1/8" headphone jack.

Video Out Composite RCA or S-Video

VGA to RCA connector(40218)

Some older computers and possibly some laptops come with a RCA video out port or cable.  Simply plug this into a composite RCA cable and connect it to your television.  Note that these cables will not work on all computers with a VGA port, they only work on some ports designed for that purpose.  You will also need to purchase an audio cable to connect your laptop to your audio source.  Use an optical audio cable if both devices support it for the best audio quality, otherwise you can connect the headphone jack to the audio source using a 1/8" headphone jack cable to RCA audio or 1/8" headphone jack.


Once connected, set your television to the correct source, and use your laptop's keyboard function to switch the output to the television.  For most laptops, it is Fn+F7.  Consult your laptop manual for complete instructions.
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