Attaching 14 Monitors on Windows 8.1 with USB

As computers continue to advance in computing power the need to display more information is greater than ever. Our USB display adapters are based on DisplayLink technology and the driver limit until now has been 6 USB attached monitors. Now, with the DisplayLink 7.5 M1 driver (and higher) and our Plugable USB graphics adapters and docks, this limit has been removed. 14 monitors via DisplayLink plus one to two additional via on-board PCIe graphics is the new limit.

Here’s a video of a massive 14 monitor setup we created in our office with Plugable hubs and graphics adapters. Take a look:

Overall we were extremely pleased with the results but there are some important limitations to be made aware of. The removal of the 6 adapter limit DisplayLink feature and is still in early testing. Users may see slow enumeration of attached adapters beyond the previous 6 adapter limit. Our 14 monitor setup took 15 minutes on each restart to bring all the monitors up, but was reasonably snappy after that. In our video we focused on mainly static content on each monitor. Full-screen video playback on multiple screens will start bogging down your system.

On our computer equipped with a Core i3 3217U with Intel HD Graphics 4000 we capped out at about 10 simultaneous HD YouTube videos though playback was well under 15 FPS. Expect to be able to play around 2 to 3 HD videos smoothly with near 100% CPU load. Anything more and the frame rate drops significantly. This is mainly due to the limitation of the entry level Intel Core i3 processor in the Intel NUC computer we used. Surprisingly having only USB 2.0 on this system did not seem to be the main limiting factor.

Further testing on a more powerful Intel Core i5 based computer proved to be a much better experience. Slow enumeration was still present but to a lesser extent.  HD video playback on multiple monitors was acceptable on all 14 monitors though still not perfect. Users who wish to attempt a setup such as the one in our demonstration should consider using an Intel Core i7 based computer with Intel HD Graphics 4400 or better. The use of USB 3.0 based graphics adapters vs USB 2.0 is strongly recommended for best performance, however, some USB 3.0 equipped systems may run into USB resource limit issues. Our Surface Pro 2 was only able to connect about 9 USB 3.0 graphics adapters before we ran out of USB resources.

Have any questions? We’ll be happy to help. Feel free to post below. Thanks for going out of your way for Plugable products!

5 comments on “Attaching 14 Monitors on Windows 8.1 with USB”

  1. Ken Reply

    I’m still having issues with Full Screen DX games not working unless I completely uninstall DisplayLink drivers… Has this been tackled yet?

  2. Joe K Reply

    This type of USB DisplayLink configuration is new to me, but I had already been planning a video/picture wall build for a while. Was on the fence over whether a NUC/Brix type of desktop would be able to handle the load and whether the 6/9(with video connections) was worth the effort. The option to step up to as many as 14/16 is amazing! Please, for the love of the computer God’s, make the next test case based around a GB-BXi5-4570R or GB-BXA8G-8890 Brix unit utilizing USB 3.0 and as many high res monitors as possible. This could be an amazingly simple replacement for complex, expensive, custom built display walls in my industry.
    Nevermind that I would love to build out a home video wall for simple video/picture playback.

  3. Jude Reply

    I have eight monitor running using the Multi-Display USB 3.0 adapters connected to four USB 3.0 seven port USB hubs. Great products! Everything running through hubs, ethernet connections, keyboard, mouse, USB cameras, Amateur Radios, etc. I have three USB A/B switches that allow me to select groups of devices between my HP 8570W laptop and my HP Elitepad 1000. Will be coming out with any switches for isolating USB devices between PC’s or other USB intelligent devices. Or is there a way to do it now via Window’s 8.1? Many thanks again for the great product line!

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