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DisplayPort Multi-Stream Transport (MST) Explained

How to Connect Multiple Monitors to a Laptop Using DisplayPort MST

displayport hub multiple monitors

Your laptop or PC has a DisplayPort-compatible graphics card with Multi-Stream Transport (MST) support, and now you want to add multiple external monitors. With an MST Hub, this is a simple task.

What is Multi Stream Transport (MST)?

First introduced in the DisplayPort 1.2 standard, Multi-Stream Transport allows multiple displays to be connected to a single DP port on a desktop PC or laptop. It does this by combining multiple video signals into a single stream (a process known as multiplexing) and sending it over a DisplayPort cable to a device that unbundles the signal. The "unbundling" device might be an MST Hub or a series of "daisy-chained" MST monitors.

MST Hub Connector Types
displayport mst - dp mst
DisplayPort (Male)
mini displayport mst multistream transport
Mini DisplayPort (Male)

MST vs. SST Transport Modes

The DisplayPort 1.2 specification includes support for two transport modes: Single-Stream Transport (SST) and Multi-Stream Transport (MST). With the introduction of MST, which combines multiple video signals into a single stream, the default method of transmitting video as a single stream to one monitor was renamed Single-Stream Transport (SST).

mst vs sst - displayport single stream
DisplayPort 
Single-Stream Transport (SST) Mode
 mst vs sst - displayport multi stream
DisplayPort 
Multi-Stream Transport (MST) Mode

DisplayPort MST Configuration Options

Daisy-Chained Monitors

displayport mst monitors

DisplayPort MST lets you daisy-chain monitors with DisplayPort 1.2 ports (each monitor must have a DP output port that supports MST). Daisy chaining means connecting your laptop to monitor A, then connecting monitor A to monitor B and so on. The number of monitors you can daisy-chain is limited and depends on the resolution and frame rate. The last monitor in the chain does not need to support DP MST.

What you will need:

  • Graphics card (GPU) supporting DisplayPort (1.2 or better) MST
  • DisplayPort 1.2 MST-capable monitor with MST mode enabled
  • A DP-to-DP cable for each monitor in the chain. Cables between monitors should be 3-ft. or less to avoid cable clutter.

I have two existing monitors. Can I daisy chain them using DisplayPort MST?
The first monitor in the chain, the one connected to your laptop or PC, must have DP 1.2 ports in and out. DisplayPort Out on the first monitor is connected to the second monitor, which needs to have a DP in port. Alternately, you can use a DP adapter or adapter cable to convert the signal to some other standard such as HDMI. Don't forget to verify that you graphics card and first monitor support DP 1.2 and it is enabled.

DisplayPort MST Hub

displayport mst hub

A DisplayPort MST hub offers the most flexibility. For example, you can connect up to 4 HDMI monitors or televisions. You can also create a video wall, making a hub ideal for digital signage in schools, churches, conference rooms, trade shows and retail outlets.

MST-compliant DisplayPort graphics cards have limited bandwidth. An MST hub will split this total bandwidth between the connected monitors, with 1080p monitors consuming approximately 22% of bandwidth and 4K monitors using 40% or more. For example, this means you can connect up to 4 monitors with a resolution of 1080p to a DP 1.2 port.

If you need help with MST configurations, contact a Tripp Lite product specialist. Our advice is always free and without obligation.

What you will need:

  • Graphics card (GPU) supporting DisplayPort (1.2 or better) MST
  • An MST Hub
  • Monitors compatible with your selected Hub

Which operating systems support MST?

MST is supported by Windows 10, Windows 8/8.1 and Windows 7. 
It is not currently supported by Mac OS X or Chrome OS™ (although Chrome OS support is rumored to be in the pipeline).


DisplayPort MST Hub Display Modes

An MST Hub supports three different modes for multi-monitor displays: duplicating your primary display, extending your display across multiple monitors, or creating a video wall. 
Let's take a closer look at each of these display modes:

MIRROR MODE

Display the same image on each monitor.

displayport multi-stream cloned desktop
Note: The maximum supported video resolution and number of monitors will depend on your graphics card. Check your graphics card specs to determine its capability.

MST Mirror Mode

Also called cloning or duplicating your display, in duplicate mode the same image will be displayed on each monitor. Duplicating a display is useful in settings such as retail environments with in-store product promotion screens; arrival and departure boards in airports, bus terminals and train stations; video presentations in classrooms, churches or auditoriums and multiple information booths and kiosks at trade shows. Duplicate mode is backward compatible with DisplayPort 1.1, so it can even be used with many older graphics cards.

EXTENDED DESKTOP MODE

Display a different image on each monitor.

displayport multi-stream extended desktop
Note: The maximum supported video resolution and number of monitors will depend on your graphics card. Check your graphics card specs to determine its capability.

MST Extended Mode

Extending your display allows you to show your PC's desktop on all of the connected monitors, while having a different window open on each monitor. The monitors still function as separate displays, but your usable workspace is extended and you can easily multitask and even move things around from one screen to another. You will be able to work on multiple documents at the same time, boosting your productivity. Extended mode is especially useful in presentations when you want to display notes or reference data on one screen while performing a demonstration or showing a video on another screen.

VIDEO WALL MODE

Use multiple monitors to display one large image.

displayport multi-stream video wall
Note: The maximum supported video resolution and number of monitors will depend on your graphics card. Check your graphics card specs to determine its capability.

MST Video Wall Mode

Creating a video wall lets you combine all monitors in your setup so they act as one giant monitor. You can arrange the monitors however you want them: vertically, horizontally or clustered together. In multi-stream video wall mode, the monitors will correctly display your content to create a dazzling, eye-catching presentation. Create a panoramic digital sign or wow the crowd at your next trade show. Three monitors aligned horizontally also make for a super-wide-screen gaming experience. A computer with a DisplayPort 1.2-compatible graphics card (such as AMD Radeon with AMD Eyefinity technology) is required to display in video wall mode.


MST Hubs and Cables for HMDI and DVI

Tripp Lite has MST Hub solutions with built-in converters to support HDMI and DVI monitors, as well as DisplayPort monitors. You'll also need the compatible cables to connect the hub to your monitors; we recommend the following cables:

For DisplayPort monitors MST Hubs P580-Series Cables
For HDMI monitors MST Hubs P568-Series Cables
For DVI monitors MST Hubs P560-Series Cables

MST hubs are compatible with DisplayPort 1.2 standards, but to ensure full functionality, check your graphic card's documentation to confirm it supports the features you need. For example, some graphics cards - particularly older DisplayPort 1.1 models - are limited to the duplicate mode. Others support duplicate and extended modes, but not video wall mode. Finally, be aware Mac OS X does not support MST for NVIDIA and Intel Graphics Processor Units; you will be able to use the duplicate mode, but not extended or video wall modes.


Products Mentioned in this Article

DisplayPort to DisplayPort MST Hubs (B156-003-V2)

DisplayPort to DisplayPort MST Hubs

Mini DisplayPort to DisplayPort MST Hubs (B155-002-DP-V2)

Mini DisplayPort to DisplayPort MST Hubs

DisplayPort to HDMI MST Hubs (B156-004-HD-V2)

DisplayPort to HDMI MST Hubs

DisplayPort to DVI MST Splitters (B156-002-DVI-V2)

DisplayPort to DVI MST Splitters

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