Disclaimer: This post may contain affiliate links, meaning we get a small commission if you make a purchase through our links, at no cost to you. For more information, please visit our Disclaimer Page.
Imagine a situation – a long-awaited game is released and you can’t wait to enjoy the gameplay on your Xbox One. But there’s a problem. Your TV broke or is occupied by a family member. What to do? Don’t worry, there’s an alternative. You can use your PC or laptop as a monitor. But how to use a laptop as a monitor for your Xbox One?
You connect your laptop and Xbox One with a new app Microsoft has developed. Download the app on your laptop, then enable streaming on your Xbox One, pair both devices, which have to be connected to the same Wi-Fi network, and you’re ready to play!
This is one of the solutions to your problem. TVs and game consoles have been the iconic duo since the 1970s, but nowadays TVs aren’t the only devices with a display. The big question – TV or laptop as Xbox monitor has been present for years.
It seemed like a simple decision. Casual gamers would choose a TV whilst competitive gamers would opt for the laptop. Stay tuned and will explain to you other alternatives and the entire process in detail.
Table of Contents
When the first video game console was created in the 1970s, it was designed as a device with a static location, plugged into the TV. Think of Playstation – its name describes it best; PlayStation.
I remember when I got my first Playstation. Playing games on the Playstation was a family thing, we would gather in front of the TV and have fun.
A video game console transmits audio and visual image signals to a display and one or more people can play the game with some type of controller.
Nowadays, the TV isn’t the only display device. We have PCs, tablets, and laptops and you can use all of them as a monitor for your Xbox One.
If you don’t have an available TV or you have to travel and want to bring your console with you, just pack your laptop and Xbox in a backpack and enjoy your console wherever you go. It’s practical and portable.
Laptops are a very popular solution because their screen is bigger than tablets’ and have the minimum hardware requirements in order to stream the game without any problems.
Tablets are between mobile phones and laptops so they don’t have the hardware to support a quality game stream from your Xbox.
The main characteristic of a PC is to be a static workstation and it’s not the best solution when you have to travel so I will focus on laptops.
There are two ways to connect your laptop as a monitor for Xbox One. Both have a few advantages and disadvantages that I will explain in detail.
The first option is to connect your laptop and Xbox One via HDMI cable. The connection is usually stable and provides a great gaming experience. But there’s a catch. In order to successfully connect both devices your laptop must have an HDMI input port.
Connect your Xbox One with a power cable and turn it on. Plug the HDMI cable in the output port of your console and plug the other end in your laptop’s HDMI input port.
Then you have to open the display settings on your laptop and adjust them in order to receive the stream. On the majority of laptops, this switches automatically. Then you have to access the system settings on your Xbox and configure resolution settings.
But as I’ve already said, your laptop needs to have an HDMI input port in order to successfully connect the devices. The majority of laptops only have an HDMI output port. HDMI input ports are rare and laptops with this port are very expensive.
Laptops are designed to stream content on other devices so in order to achieve the opposite you will have to obtain a capture card. It’s a device that takes visual inputs from another device such as a laptop or a video camera and then transmits the signal.
If you have a laptop with an HDMI output port, you will do the same steps in order to connect it with your Xbox but with a minor difference.
You will need a capture card. The capture card has an output and input so you don’t connect your devices directly but through it.
The HDMI cable from the Xbox goes to the input port on the capture card, and the cable from the laptop goes in the output port.
To be honest, this method is very time-consuming and expensive. Capture cards aren’t cheap and you will also have to download the appropriate software on your laptop to make this work. If you are blessed with an HDMI input laptop, this is definitely the easiest solution.
The other way to connect your laptop as a monitor to Xbox One is through an app which I will explain in the next section.
Let’s put our HDMI cables aside and try to connect our devices wirelessly. You will need Windows 10 on your laptop and it’s very important to mention that both the laptop and Xbox must be connected to the same Wi-Fi network.
To begin, download the Xbox app from the Microsoft Store and open it. You will have to log in to your Xbox account with the same credentials as on the console.
In the main menu screen of your Xbox go to Settings, then click Preferences. You have to check the box that says “Allow game streaming to other devices“.
Return to the app on your laptop and search for the Connection icon which is located on the left sidebar of the dashboard, directly above the Settings icon.
A list of devices to connect to your laptop will appear. Click on the Xbox device. After connecting your devices, look for the Stream icon which is located right near Test streaming and More.
The Xbox will instruct you to attach the controller and then click Continue and you are ready to go.
This method requires the laptop and Xbox to be close to each other or in range,
A stable and fast internet connection is a must if you want everything to run smoothly and without lag. If you have a poor Internet connection, don’t worry, there’s a solution! Opt for an ethernet cable connection.
It will stabilize your connection and make it more reliable so you don’t have to downgrade the stream quality.
As mentioned, laptops with multiple HDMI inputs are quite rare especially if you own a Mac, but they’re important to output the screen of the Xbox on your laptop screen.
Sometimes laptops with more than one HDMI port can be quite expensive. Most of them are strictly gaming laptops with strong hardware which is good because the streaming quality will be exceptional.
If you find that you don’t have enough HDMI ports, you can try purchasing a USB hub that expands the number of available ports. I recommend the Dell USB 3.0 Ultra HD (amazon.com link). It is a powered USB hub, which although more pricey lasts for a while.
You can connect via HDMI on the back of the device and it has multiple USB ports for you to plug in a mouse, keyboard and other devices you want to play your Xbox with.
This is helpful if you have a setup that you won’t move around often.
Also there is one more catch to using a laptop as your monitor. If you connect your console with your laptop over HDMI-in, you won’t be able to use your laptop until the link is disconnected. It is only used as a monitor in this case.
So, if you’re lucky enough to find a laptop with this feature, you can carry it anywhere and use it as a monitor.
It is very important to say that if you aren’t sure whether your laptop has HDMI in or HDMI out, don’t plug in consoles and other devices because it can cause serious irreparable damage to your laptop.
HDMI in port is usually labeled. If you can’t detect any label, it is pretty certain that you have an HDMI out port.
Xbox has developed a service called Xbox Play Anywhere. It was developed in 2016 and it enables you to play Xbox games on your Xbox and laptop.
The laptop has to have Windows 10 installed and you must own a digital copy of the game you want to play.
It’s a great thing because your devices don’t have to be in the direct vicinity and no pairing is required. It saves your game progress and you can pick up where you left off on either of the devices.
There are a few downsides, too. Only specific game titles are compatible with Xbox Play Anywhere. In addition, your laptop must have the latest version of Windows software – Windows 10.0.19042.985 which was released on May 11th, 2021.
This feature is only available on digital copies of games, so if you have a physical version it won’t work.
Also, you have to be an Xbox Live Member as well. It’s a paid subscription that allows you to play multiplayer online and some other perks like free games.
You can’t play a game simultaneously on both devices and connecting to the internet is important. But Microsoft launched a great thing called xCloud.
The xCloud allows you to store games and data on a cloud and play on your phone or tablet even if you’re offline.
It was launched in September 2020 as a project, but it was successful. It is available only to users who play a subscription called Game Pass Ultimate.
All of these alternatives are something to think about. You have to keep in mind that you may have a problem with the quality of your stream because it depends on various factors. Bad video quality and lags are gamers’ worst nightmare.
There will be a slight delay and we know that millisecond response time is crucial in some games, especially first-person shooter games.
So, it is possible to use your laptop as a monitor for Xbox One when all options are out. The HDMI connection is clearly the most complicated and I would not recommend it.
The best solution is a connection via the Xbox app. Keep in mind that the connection quality heavily relies on the Internet connection itself. If you want to avoid low-quality resolution and lag, opt for the ethernet cable.
Laptop screens and TVs are part of the same family but with a few differences. Different design, different image processing, but TVs nowadays offer a PC mode.
When you enable PC mode, the TV adapts with image processing settings to ensure the best possible experience and tries to lower the input lag as much as possible.
Although laptops are very practical to use as a monitor for Xbox because they’re portable and practical, for best performance you should have a laptop with at least 1ms response time and 60hz.
TVs have a bigger screen and you can get comfy on your sofa and enjoy your favorite games without the hassle of connecting your Xbox and laptop.