Whether you are a video game console enthusiast or a PC Master Race proponent, chances are — you own a laptop. After all, laptops are practical in more ways than one. They can efficiently handle your technological necessities without imposing on your mobility. Moreover, owning a laptop also means that you get to run thousands of Windows-supported games on the fly.
With that said, you may have thought about taking your laptop’s versatility to the next level. Because hands down, having to switch between different devices to play your favorite games can be quite a hassle. For this reason, the HDMI feature on our modern-day laptops is sure to have caught your eye at some point.
On that note, if you are looking to find out more about the HDMI connectivity your laptop offers and whether it is compatible with your video game devices, stick around. We are about to do an HDMI speedrun and give you all the necessary hints on how to handle this overpowered, multiplatform boss fight like a pro.
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What You Should Know About the HDMI Port on Your Laptop
An HDMI input laptop is a rare commodity. Today’s laptops mostly feature HDMI-out ports and they differ from their HDMI-in counterparts. This means that different pieces of hardware, circuitry, and connectors are needed to decode the two HDMI signals. In other words, an HDMI-out port cannot be used as an HDMI-in port. Please read our article on HDMI Output vs Input for more details.
To emphasize, a plug-and-play solution to swapping the HDMI input and output signals is not possible. While there are adapters that convert signals, such as VGA/DVI to HDMI and vice versa, the signal itself travels in one direction only — out. However, certain laptop brands included HDMI-in ports in the past.
For example, you are probably acquainted with Alienware. If you are not “late to the game”, you may have even thought about purchasing one of their two-way HDMI models back in the day. These models allowed the user to switch between the HDMI input and output signals seamlessly without losing any of the laptop’s core functionalities. That is to say, the lucky owners never had to worry about how to get HDMI input on a laptop.
Unfortunately, manufacturers opt-out of including HDMI-in ports in modern laptops for one reason or another. Therefore, if your steal-of-a-deal pre-owned market adventures somehow end up leading you to a functional Alienware HDMI input laptop, we strongly recommend that you snatch it.
No HDMI Input on Your Laptop — No Problem!
Be that as it may, we have to be honest. Since HDMI-in laptops shamelessly sport a holy grail status in today’s market, you will want to explore more probable options. After all, working with the HDMI laptop you already have is as good of an alternative as any.
If you would rather not think about how to get HDMI input on a laptop, we got your back. Luckily, there are a couple of ways for you to use your laptop as a monitor for your video game devices. Without further ado, let us get straight to it!
How to get hdmi input on your laptop – 4 Solutions
★ Option #1: Video Capture Card
A video capture card (VCC) will allow you to stream and record the gameplay directly onto your laptop. It works by connecting your laptop through the VCC to your PS4/XBox/etc. The downside of VCC is that you may have to deal with a game-breaking amount of lag. This is dependent on your rig specs and the quality of the VCC.
With that said, we understand that this is not an ideal solution. However, VCCs can record gameplay from older video game consoles that do not support modern streaming technologies. On top of that, with a VCC, an HDMI input laptop will be off your radar.
★ Option #2: Miracast
You can set up your laptop as a secondary display within the same Wi-Fi network with Miracast. To do so, both your main PC and your laptop need to have the ability to connect to the broadband wirelessly.
To that end, the downside of Miracast is that you may have to purchase a Wi-Fi adapter for it to work. Additionally, Miracast utilizes Intel HD graphics. This means that a dedicated GPU may result in poor compatibility and a bumpy road to optimal performance.
On the other hand, if your rigs meet all the Miracast requirements to a fault, you are golden. All you have to do is configure the System settings on them and ensure that you have Projecting to this PC enabled. By doing so, your main PC and laptop will be able to communicate and successfully establish a connection. In the long run, you will be able to use your portable rig as an external monitor.
★ Option #3: Space Desk
In contrast to Miracast, Space Desk is a third-party application. Despite that being the case, you are less likely to experience compatibility issues with it. After downloading Space Desk Drive to your main PC and Space Desk Viewer to your laptop, you can easily tweak the settings to set your portable rig as an extended screen within minutes. This way, the question of how to get HDMI input on a laptop will be a thing of the past.
★ Option 4: Steam In-Home Streaming
If you plan on streaming your Steam account game library to your laptop, In-Home Streaming is the best solution. It is simple, straightforward, and does not require you to think about getting an HDMI input laptop. You only need to log into your account, download the app on both of your rigs, and get them to pair with a few simple clicks.
However, that is not to say that In-Home Streaming does not come with its disadvantages. You will probably notice a drop in latency, which may negatively impact the gameplay experience in competitive games. On the bright side, you will have no issues using your laptop with older specs as an external monitor. With In-Home Streaming, playability is not dependent on the rig’s hardware components.
Can You Add HDMI Input to Your Laptop?
You may have already noticed that only the first option on our list was not related to computers exclusively. And perhaps you are thinking that adding an HDMI input to your laptop could solve this issue. After all, why not create an HDMI input laptop yourself?
If that is the case, the good news is that it is entirely possible. The bad news is — well, it is tricky. Still, we advise that you do not unleash your tinkering skills on an operational laptop, but a broken one instead.
You can start by looking for an embedded display controller board that features an HDMI-in port. With that said, the board has to be compatible with the 30-pin low-voltage differential signaling connector found in your laptop. In addition, you will need an external power adapter to get this to work. Also, you may want to consider getting a custom 3D-printed casing to house your new HDMI input feature.
Once you are done rearranging and connecting all the bits and pieces, you will get a fully functional HDMI-in feature on your laptop. Thus, your journey to an HDMI input laptop will be officially over.
What Does the Future Hold?
Having a single portable device that can effortlessly display all of our favorite cross-generational video games would be a dream come true. With or without the existence of an HDMI input, it would present a leap forward in terms of much-needed, multi-device support.
As technology actively progresses, so do the means of its utilization. For all we know, using our laptops as full-fledged monitors for various video game devices may be a stone’s throw away.