How to Connect CPU to Laptop Without Monitor

Sometimes you need an extra monitor or a secondary working monitor for a variety of reasons. You could be setting up an extra-wide work area or an extended display setup for presentation, swivel-chair work, or multiple apps and/or spreadsheets purposes. You could be needing a secondary monitor because your primary is giving you a headache.

Whatever the purpose would be, the solution to that would be connecting the CPU to a laptop if no other monitors are available. You won’t need to go down the nearest computer store and spend a few more dollars for a monitor. Come to think of it, the decision-making process of buying a monitor takes a significant amount of time as well. For certain, you’ll want a monitor that’s worth the buy.

There are two different working methods for connecting a CPU to a laptop to use it as a monitor, whether you have a monitor or not. In a lot of forums and discussion sites, a lot of users are confused about why there’s a need to connect a CPU to a laptop without a monitor. It doesn’t make sense at first glance. But there are certainly good reasons to do that.

Connecting these two pieces of technology look a lot like what you see in the movies. The good news is that it’s absolutely possible. It’s not rocket science. And it doesn’t take a Boris Grishenko, the James Bond villain/Russian computer genius, to set it up. Below are two ways to set up the laptop as a second monitor of the CPU.

Connecting the Laptop to the CPU as a Second Monitor

You will need a working CPU tower with a working VGA port as well as a working laptop with a VGA port. If there’s an existing monitor connected to the CPU tower, then there must be another port to connect a VGA cable from the CPU to the laptop. Otherwise, this setup won’t work. In this case, you’ll have to have 2 VGA ports on your CPU tower to be able to connect both the monitor and the laptop.

Alternatively, a DVI cable can be plugged into the CPU tower and its other end to the monitor so the VGA cable can be utilized for the laptop. This is applicable when the CPU’s video card has two ports: DVI and VGA.

Follow these steps to connect the laptop to the CPU as a second monitor.

  1. Plug the VGA cable to the VGA port at the back of the computer tower.
  2. Screw the VGA cable into the port properly.
  3. Plug the other end of the VGA cable on the laptop’s VGA port.
  4. Turn the computer tower on as well as the laptop.
  5. Using the computer’s monitor, right-click on the mouse anywhere on the desktop screen and select Personalize or Display Properties.
  6. Click Display Settings in the options.
  7. Select the existing computer monitor and assign it as Monitor 1 and then select the laptop monitor as Monitor 2. Or the other way around, it will still work.
  8. Click the Apply button to confirm the settings and then click OK for the changes to be saved.

Your operating system’s desktop screen should now be extended and/or mirrored to the laptop’s screen. If this doesn’t work, go back to step 7 to test whether or not the computer detects both monitors. Reseating the cables should do the trick.

Connecting the laptop to the CPU via Wi-Fi

This method can be used when there’s really no existing monitors present or to test with. The previous method will not work if there’s no existing monitor because you won’t be able to perform some changes on the Display Settings of the computer without having a monitor. The laptop screen will also not automatically detect even if the laptop is connected to the CPU via VGA connection.

In this case, connecting both devices via Wi-Fi should greatly help. This method will allow you to access the CPU from the laptop. The laptop will serve as the monitor of the desktop computer but most of the work will be done via the laptop as well. The CPU will simply serve as a virtual computer accessible by the laptop via a Wi-Fi connection. To do this method, simply follow the steps below.

  1. Connect the laptop to the CPU using an Ethernet cable.
  2. Plug the Ethernet cable to the Ethernet port at the back of the desktop computer.
  3. Plug the other end of the Ethernet cable to the Ethernet port of the laptop.
  4. Turn on the desktop computer and the laptop.
  5. On the laptop’s screen, navigate to the Windows Start button or click on the Windows icon.
  6. Type in Control Panel in the search box or simply navigate to the Control Panel icon and click on it.
  7. Select Network and Internet in the options inside the Control Panel.
  8. Inside the Network and Internet page, select Network and Sharing Center at the right panel. This will then take you to a page that shows your active networks.
  9. At the left pane of that page, click Change adapter settings in one of the options.
  10. Select both the Wi-Fi and the LAN or Ethernet network connections. To do this, click on any one of the network connections, press and hold on to the Control key of the keyboard, and then click on the other network connection.
  11. With the mouse cursor hovered on the Wi-Fi network connection, right-click on the mouse and select Bridge Connections in one of the options.
  12. Wait for the status of the Wi-Fi network connection to change to bridged status.
  13. Open the Windows Explorer window or open a new window.
  14. Navigate to Network found at the left pane of the window.
  15. Expand or click the plus (+) next to Network to see all the devices connected to your laptop’s Network. The desktop computer’s name should show up in the list.

You can now start browsing all the contents of the storage or hard drive in your desktop computer or CPU. You can use the laptop as a monitor for accessing all the files, running the apps, and software from the CPU.


There certainly is always a workaround available whenever you have challenges with your computer. In this case, trying to set up an extended monitor or simply using the laptop as the CPU’s monitor is definitely possible. It’s also easy and fast to set up. You don’t need to be a certified tech to do it. As long as you have working computers and cables, then you’re good to go.