Microsoft Details Surface Pro 3/Docking Station External Display Support Suneel Goud/Microsoft

Microsoft Details Surface Pro 3/Docking Station External Display Support

Multi-monitor or one 4K display

With the general availability of the Surface Pro 3 Docking Station on Friday, Microsoft has also provided some more details about how you can use a Surface Pro 3 and/or the docking station in tandem with external displays. This information will be useful for anyone who wishes to use Surface Pro 3 in a third configuration, as a desktop workstation.

You can now purchase a Surface Pro 3 Docking Station in the United States and Canada, and if you preordered one, you should have just received it. The Docking Station will be available in additional markets where Surface Pro 3 is sold starting in September, Microsoft says.

I published my review of the Surface Pro 3 Docking Station about a week ago, as I received a review unit in late July. My conclusion is simple enough: This accessory is "an elegant and efficient way to turn the ultimate mobile computer into a desk-bound workstation that can connect to multiple peripherals, including multiple displays. If you were hoping to consolidate everything around Surface Pro 3, you'll want to pick up the Docking Station as well."

Microsoft's new overview of the device documents how it works with external displays. I've only been able to test the docking station with two 1080p external displays, but the Surface team's Suneel Goud provides a lot more info about the possible configurations.

Two daisy-chained DisplayPort 1.2 displays (without docking station). This is "the most elegant solution," Goud says, because there is the least cable clutter. You can connect a single cable to your Surface and then daisy chain the second external display from the first. Of course, this requires very specific display types. (Which I don't own, so I've not tested this configuration.)

Docking station with any combination of two HDMI, DVI or VGA displays. This is essentially the setup I've been using: You connect one display to the docking station's miniDisplayPort, and one to the Surface Pro 3's miniDisplayPort, using whatever required adapter(s).

DisplayPort 1.2 Multi-Stream Transport (MST) hub with or without docking station. Here, you use a modern DisplayPort MST hub to connect two external displays (DisplayPort 1.2 or, with adapter(s), any combination of HDMI, DVI or VGA) to your Surface Pro 3 mini-DisplayPort (or to the port on your docking station). I don't own an MST hub so I've not tested this setup.

4K external display. Each of the scenarios above will support two external displays (for a total of three, since you can still use the Surface Pro 3 display as well). You could also use a single 4K external display (with or without the internal display) using any of the three methods above. I don't yet own such a display, so I've not yet tested this.

USB. You can connect your Surface Pro 3 or docking station to a USB 3.0-based DisplayLink Dock like the Plugable UD-3900 USB 3.0 Universal Docking Station with Dual Video Outputs I've been recommending (and using at home). There are some color depth limitations to this setup, and since USB-based displays require CPU power, the Surface Pro 3 fan will fire up a more frequently than usual, and the Surface Pro 3 could get hot. For the most part, you would only want to use one external HD display over USB, though that Plugable unit does technically support two.

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