Explain Multi Monitor Resolution to Me?

I have a Surface Pro 6 at work, with 2 x 1920x1200 external monitors, running it as a 3 screen setup.

Now I'm working from home, and have a single 1920 x 1200 external monitor, running a 2 screen setup.

Was thinking about getting a new, larger monitor (my trusty 24 inch Dell is over 12 years old, bought via a group buy on Whirlpool). I'm trying to work out how monitors with higher resolution than 1920 x 1200 work with the Surface's max resolution. I see here https://support.microsoft.com/en-au/help/4023496/surface-tro... the max refresh rate and resolution is:

For single external display: Surface Pro 6 with i5 or i7 processor 60 Hz 4096 x 2304
For two external displays: Surface Pro 6 with i5 or i7 processor 60 Hz 2560 x 1600‚Äč

How does this work? For my work setup, how can 3 displays, 2 x 1920 wide, correlate with the 2560 max given above?

If I buy a QHD monitor, the resolution is still less than this. What should I expect resolution wise when hooking such a monitor to the Surface? Is it a waste over just getting a 1920 x 1200 monitor for dual external displays?


  • +3 votes

    You can run 2xQHD, or 1xQHD and 1xHD (1920), or 2xHD. Take your pick.

  • +2 votes

    The comment above is correct. Don't over think it.

  • +1 vote

    How does this work?

    Your Surface has a built in graphics/display adapter that has a limited memory to the total number of dots (pixels) it can manage to display at once. For the Surface 6 this number of pixels will be at total of the built in display (2736 x 1824) + any external displays.

    Eg (2736 x 1824) + 2 x (2560 x 1600) = A really big number!

    Anything more than this really big number will be more than your display adapter can handle.

    I work with almost an identical setup at work with a Surface 5 with 2x24" 1920x1080 monitors.

    At home I have a single 27"QHD, but I think the optimal configuration would be 2x27"QHD if you have the desk space. This is because I like the convenience of working with two large separate screens and because I like the high PPI (Pixel per Inch) of a 27" QHD screen that gives me smooth crisp looking fonts and images, similar to the high PPI screen of the Surface Pro.

  • +1 vote

    Thank you all! That all makes sense now. For some reason I was thinking the max resolution was across all monitors, like a large imaginary rectangle but I realise now that makes no sense.

    Will look at a QHD monitor - this sounds like a good sweetspot now, instead of 4K? Or will 4K be the norm soon?


      I chose the 27" QHD as a sweet spot for me between price, size, image quality and PPI. As I use it for gaming as well it so it has 144Hz refresh rate and FreeSync, a 4K monitor with those specifications was looking too expensive for me and excessive to what I need. My computer / display adapter can manage gaming on QHD but would need a big upgrade to do 4K gaming. So I've bought what meets my budget and needs now and let future me worry about 4K.

      I'm very happy with QHD for both desktop and gaming on this size monitor, no regrets at all.

      If you don't have gaming requirements, that might shift the value point for you and a 4K desktop monitor might look very good (I'm sure it will). A 4K 27" monitor will give you a PPI of 163 vs the Surface Pro's very high PPI of 267, so although not really close, it will give you a lot sharper and smoother looking fonts than a QHD (depending on how good your eyesight is YMMV).

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