Power draining with four displays connected

Greetings friends,

I have four 4k@60hz external displays, to which I’ve connected my 12th Gen DIY framework with the lid closed by way of its four USB-C expansion cards. One of these monitors is connected using an adapter - allowing me to also deliver power to the laptop.

I use a 96W power adapter.

While this drives the displays without issue, the battery behaves… erratically, with the OS (arch+KDE) constantly shifting between reporting the battery as charging or discharging. The reported battery level will randomly nose dive from high power to “your laptop is about to shut down” style messages from the OS.

Reducing the number of connected displays by one resolves the issue.

Is there hope for my dream of a non-mac that can drive four 4k@60Hz displays without an eGPU? Should I try throwing a 140W charger at it?


I’m interested in this use case.

Can DisplayPort daisy chaining help ? You could connect 2 or more displays on one USB-C expansion slot from the laptop, freeing one plain USB-C for charging.

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That’s a good question. If the adapter is the bottleneck, this would be an excellent way to find out. Unfortunately, I don’t have the equipment to try it out - these displays are a bit older and don’t support any sort of daisy chaining or USB-C PD.

I’ve downgraded to three monitors - plugging the power adapter directly into the laptop - and it consistently charges now, at least.

I looked around on the web, and the adapter in question is rated for 96W of PD through (sends about 90 in practice) - well above the 60W of the charger shipped with the laptop.

This makes me suspect the issue is, in fact, something with the laptop itself. I’ve opened a support ticket and crossed my fingers, but don’t have the EE background to know much more about what’s going on under the hood.

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Some further experimentation:

  • I changed all displays to 1920x1080 resolution
  • I changed all displays to 1920x1080 resolution, moving the power to an input on the right side

… to no change - battery still drains.

The laptop will charge under the following confirmed conditions:

  1. One external display is connected through the HDMI+power+accessory adapter
  2. Three external displays are connected through HDMI adapters, and a fourth expansion slot is dedicated to power

This tells me that there’s either something extraordinary with the laptop’s internals - or, more likely, the adapter is the issue.

If anyone happens to know of an adapter or “dock” that will work for this case, I am all ears :slight_smile: