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Dual External Monitors on the HP EliteBook 2540p

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Joe Winograd, EE MVE 2015&2016
50+ yrs in computer industry. Everything from programming to sales. OS kernel dev on mainframes. CIO. Document imaging. EE MVE 2015 & 2016.
I recently purchased an HP EliteBook 2540p notebook/laptop. It has two video ports on it – VGA and DisplayPort. HP offers an optional docking station for the 2540p that also has both a VGA port and a DisplayPort. There are numerous online reports documenting that the docking station can drive two monitors simultaneously (obviously, one via the VGA port and the other via the DisplayPort), but I could not find anyone reporting that the notebook itself (without the docking station) can drive both. So I decided to give it a try. Here are the results.

The one word answer is – YES! Running 64-bit Windows 7 Professional (this is the standard, bundled OS for the 2540p), I tested it in two different setups. The first consisted of a Dell 2707WFP 27" flat panel LCD monitor (connected via VGA) and a Dell 2709W 27" flat panel LCD monitor (connected via DisplayPort). The 2540p drove both at 1920x1200 resolution and 32-bit color (in an extended desktop configuration) with excellent performance. The only downside is that the notebook cannot drive the built-in LCD at the same time. I experimented with it for a while and found that it can handle just two displays at a time, not three. So it can drive either both of the external monitors or one of the external monitors and the notebook LCD. I happily gave up the 12.1", 1280x800 notebook display for the 27", 1920x1200 monitor.

Neither of the Dell monitors has built-in speakers, so I was unable to test whether the DisplayPort sends audio (theoretically, it should). This led to the second test, which consisted of an I-INC iH282HPB 27.5" flat panel LCD monitor (connected via VGA) and a Hannspree HF289HJB 27.5" flat panel LCD monitor (connected via DisplayPort). Once again, the 2540p drove both at 1920x1200 resolution and 32-bit color (in an extended desktop configuration) with excellent performance. Now for more good news – the DisplayPort sends the audio, too!

One point worth making about the I-INC iH282HPB and Hannspree HF289HJB is that neither has a DisplayPort connector. They both have HDMI ports, but that proved not to be a problem. I tried two configurations: a cable with a DisplayPort connector on one end and an HDMI on the other; and a standard HDMI cable with a DisplayPort-to-HDMI adapter/converter. To test the first, I purchased a StarTech DisplayPort (male) to HDMI (male) 10-foot cable (model number DP2HDMIMM10). To test the second, I purchased a StarTech DisplayPort (male) to HDMI (female) Video Adapter Converter (model number DP2HDMI) and connected it to a standard HDMI cable (male-male). Both configurations worked perfectly, carrying audio and video (1920x1200/32-bit-color) to the HDMI monitor, while simultaneously driving the VGA monitor (1920x1200/32-bit-color) in an extended desktop configuration. So, for folks with a monitor that has HDMI but not DisplayPort, there's an excellent, inexpensive solution, as the cable or the adapter/converter is available now at Amazon for around $15.

One other point: if you have a monitor that has neither DisplayPort nor HDMI, but does have DVI-D, that should work, although I haven't tested this. Similar to the above, you may get either a DisplayPort (male) to DVI-D (male) cable or a DisplayPort (male) to DVI-D (female) adapter/converter. The value of the latter is that you may then utilize the DVI-D cable (male-male) that is typically bundled with monitors that have a DVI-D port. Again, StarTech makes such an adapter (model number DP2DVI), available now at Amazon for around $10. But, I repeat that I haven't tried this. If you try it, please add a comment to this article with your results.

In summary, for all of you Experts Exchange members with an HP EliteBook 2540p, enjoy the landscape provided by two, large screen, high resolution, external monitors – without the need for a docking station! If you find this article to be helpful, please click the thumbs-up icon below. This lets me know what is valuable for EE members and provides direction for future articles. Thanks very much! Regards, Joe
 
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by:Joe Winograd, EE MVE 2015&2016
Two updates to this article: (1) I tested a DisplayPort-to-DVI-D adapter and it does, indeed, work, as discussed towards the end of the article. (2) One of the articles on my to-do list is about a video adapter/converter (known as as "active" adapter) that allows three monitors (or two monitors and the built-in display) to work on some laptops in some configurations. However, I tried it on the HP EliteBook 2540p, both on the laptop itself and on the VU895UT Docking Station, and with a DisplayPort-to-HDMI active adapter in one test and a DisplayPort-to-DVI-D active adapter in another test – none of the four tests was able to get the built-in display working at the same time as the two external monitors. Regards, Joe
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