The one thing I’ve learned after working from home full-time for a year is that I need two monitors to be as productive as I am now.
Whether taking notes in a conference call or maintaining tabs on Slack chats and emails while I pound out an article, having access to many monitors makes my life easier. And when I’m done for the day and ready to play some games, my secondary screen comes in handy for things like checking out walkthroughs and chatting with viewers on Twitch.
You will benefit significantly from using multiple displays if you find yourself in any of these situations. It’s never a bad idea to expand your workspace; fortunately, there’s no one wrong method to do it. We’ve included some tips and items (including the monitors we’ve tested extensively) to help you build the dual-display setup of your dreams because we know the sheer amount of display and accessory choices available can be intimidating.
This is a complete guide to a productive two-monitor setup, whether you want to work more efficiently or sneakily check email during tedious Zoom meetings.
What you need to know about configurations with two monitors
Connecting two monitors to a single computer (usually using DisplayPort or HDMI connections) is known as a “dual monitor configuration.” It allows for a vast increase in the available screen space. Mixing and matching panels or mounting two similar displays together for a smooth ultrawide experience are also valid approaches to creating a multi-monitor arrangement.
An Acer KG221Q serves as my secondary screen to the primary Dell S2417DG. My 24-inch, 2560 x 1440 Dell monitor is great for playing games or working on Google Docs for long periods of time without experiencing any visual fatigue, while my more minor, 1080p Acer monitor helps check emails or chat with viewers while streaming on Twitch. It’s challenging to get the exact Acer monitor I use. Still, if you’re willing to spend $93, the Acer SB220Q is a solid replacement.
Many monitors are explicitly designed to sit next to one another, allowing you to have a neater two-monitor configuration. Our top pick for the most exemplary computer monitor, the Lenovo L24q-30, can be used in a dual-screen configuration because its tiny bezels make for an almost seamless visual experience when two of them are placed side by side. With the L24q-30’s VESA mounting capabilities, you can easily set up multiple displays side by side on walls or in various mounting arms.
When setting up a dual monitor configuration, it’s also essential to consider displays that can be placed vertically. Because of their ability to simultaneously display numerous lines of code and free up valuable desktop real estate, vertical monitors are a godsend for programmers working from home.
If you want a more complex two-screen arrangement but still don’t want to spend too much money, the HP VH240a (which retails for $124) is a popular and economical alternative that allows vertical orientation and VESA installation. You can change the orientation on the fly between vertical and horizontal.
You can streamline your dual-monitor setup by daisy-chaining or connecting all of your monitors’ display ports to a single cable that enters your computer. Simplified, this setup requires only one wire to transmit two signals from one monitor to your computer. It’s a handy addition that will make your layout more organized, but not all screens can take advantage of it.
If you want to daisy chain monitors, you’ll need one that supports DisplayPort 1.2 and has built-in Multi-Stream Transport (MST) functionality. For an inexpensive 1080p display, the $229 ViewSonic VP2468 daisy chain monitor comes highly recommended, while the $423 Dell U2721DE is a go-to for many.
Accessory options include hubs, wall mounts, and stands for multiple screens
It’s simple to set up two screens on your workstation; however, what if you prefer a less cluttered environment? This is where tabletop and wall-mounted displays come in handy. When you mount your screens, you free up valuable desk space while maintaining full mobility to fine-tune your displays to the ideal viewing position.
A USB-C hub is a good option for people using a dual-monitor setup who wish to connect additional displays to their notebook (or simply want to reduce the number of connections used). If you’re a power user who has to use many computers at once, a KVM switch will let you do so by connecting their respective screens to each other. If you’re using a dual-monitor setup, you might want to check out these valuable add-ons.
The Wali twin display mount is a well-liked and inexpensive option if you’d prefer to connect your monitors to the wall. Vertically situating your monitors has never been easier with this wall bracket, which supports screens up to 27 inches and has multiple articulation points, such as a 90-degree swivel and 360-degree rotation. You can adjust the gas spring on Wali’s Dual LCD Monitor attachment to provide more or less tension, depending on the weight of your screen.
Consider purchasing a KVM switch if you utilize numerous computers with a dual monitor arrangement, as this is common among power users and Twitch streamers. With the push of a button, you may move from operating one pc to another using a single set of displays, mouse, and keyboard. This highly regarded Steetek switch is compatible with both full HD and 4K displays, and it includes two more USB ports for connecting and sharing peripherals like printers and external hard drives among several computers.
Many newer laptops have limited port selections, making it difficult to hook up to many monitors immediately. One solution is to use a USB-C hub, such as the Totu 9-in-1 Triple Display interface. Because it has two HDMI inputs and a single VGA output, this reasonably priced device can drive three monitors simultaneously. If you want to use two 4K displays side by side, you can, or you can use three 1080p displays. Besides its low price, we like this hub because of its valuable connections, such as three USB 3.0 ports, SD and microSD card readers, and a USB-C port that allows for rapid laptop charging.
Incredibly versatile, the Vivo Dual LCD Monitor Desk Mount Stand can hold two screens between 13 and 27 inches and up to 22 pounds each, making it one of the most sought-after stands on the web. This stand’s arms are pretty adjustable, allowing you to swivel your screens up to 180 degrees or turn them 360 degrees for portrait mode use. The stand has a clamp that can firmly attach to desks up to 4 inches thick, and it also comes with removable cable clips to keep your work clutter-free.
Which is better: Two regular monitors or one Ultrawide one?
Consider whether an ultrawide monitor suits your demands better than a dual monitor configuration before spending money. As their name implies, Ultrawide displays typically feature a 21:9 aspect ratio (as opposed to the more common 16:9), providing a great deal of horizontal screen real estate for intensive multitasking. For example, the $699 Samsung CJ791 is our top pick for the best computer monitor with a large display boasting a 34-inch, 3440 x 1440 screen, perfect for multitasking or watching your favorite movies and games in glorious 4K.
Some advantages of ultrawide monitors over twin monitor arrangements are highlighted. For starters, you’ll only need to buy and set up one monitor for your workspace, reducing your setup time and costs. You can also reap the benefits of games, movies, and tv programs formatted for a more expansive 21:9 display. In addition, many ultrawide displays are curved, providing deeper immersion and reducing eye strain when switching between windows.
However, twin monitor configurations offer unparalleled flexibility. Due to the flexibility provided by multiple monitor support, you can use a high-end 4K screen as your primary display while getting an inexpensive 1080p model for use while online browsing and business calls. You’ll be able to arrange your screens as you like, whether vertically on a single mount or side-by-side, with individual adjustments for height and angle for each screen.
Of course, if you have the means and the room, you can have numerous ultrawide displays and get a combination of both. Although a dual-monitor setup provides additional versatility, most people prefer the simplicity and immersion offered by an ultrawide display.
Adding a second monitor can significantly improve productivity in any environment, from the office to the gaming room. You’ll be able to multitask more efficiently between applications like email, Slack, and video conferencing and keep a closer eye on your broadcasts as you work toward becoming a Twitch or YouTube sensation.
Think about a stand or wall mount for a tidier, more flexible configuration. An ultrawide monitor is an excellent option if you don’t want to go into the trouble of purchasing two monitors. However, you approach it, having extra screen real estate on your desk can greatly improve your efficiency while providing more opportunities to relax and enjoy yourself.
Nexym's editorial team handpicks all of the products and services it recommends, regardless of external influences. Affiliate links appear in some of our stories. We may receive an affiliate commission if you purchase something through one of these links, which helps us stay independent and support our great team.