If there’s one thing I’ve learned in a year of working from home, it’s that I wouldn’t be as productive without two monitors.
Having access to multiple screens makes almost every facet of my daily routine easier, whether I’m taking notes during a meeting or monitoring Slack conversations and emails while writing a story. And when it’s time to stop working and start playing, my second monitor is invaluable for browsing tutorials or interacting with my Twitch chat.
If any of these use cases apply to you, you will get a lot out of a dual monitor setup. And fortunately, there is no really wrong way to add a little more screen real estate to your workspace. But since the sheer number of monitor and accessory options can be overwhelming, we’ve rounded up a few indicators and products (including monitors we’ve extensively tested) to help you create the dual-screen setup of your dreams.
So whether you’re looking to boost your productivity or just want to be able to check email during boring Zoom calls (we won’t tell anyone), here’s everything you need to know about building a good dual monitor setup.
A dual-monitor setup is exactly what it sounds like: By connecting two displays to your desktop or laptop (usually via HDMI or DisplayPort connections), you can significantly expand the amount of screen space you have for work or play. There is no really wrong way to put together a dual monitor setup, whether you want to mix and match displays or have two identical displays mounted together for the perfect ultrawide experience.
I personally use a basic asymmetric setup consisting of a Dell S2417DG as my primary display and an Acer KG221Q as my secondary display. The Dell monitor has a sharp 24-inch, 2560 x 1440 screen that allows me to immerse myself in my favorite PC games or work on Google Docs with minimal eyestrain, while my smaller 1080p Acer monitor allows me to keep an eye on emails. or monitor my chat when I stream on Twitch. My particular Acer monitor is hard to find these days, but this $ 93 model (Acer SB220Q) is a good alternative if you’re looking for a cheap, reliable second screen.
If you want a more organized dual monitor setup, there are plenty of screens optimized to sit side by side. The Lenovo L24q-30, our pick for the best overall computer monitor, is perfect for a dual-screen setup thanks to the slim bezels that can create a near-perfect viewing experience when you place two of them side by side. The L24q-30 also supports VESA mounting, which means you can mount several of them together on walls or various types of brackets (more on these later).
Monitors that can be positioned vertically are also worth considering when putting together a dual monitor setup. Vertically oriented monitors are especially ideal for programmers thanks to their ability to display multiple lines of code and also simply to save desk space, something not everyone has in their home office. The $ 124 HP VH240a is a popular and inexpensive option that supports portrait orientation as well as VESA mounting if you want a more elaborate two-display setup. And yes, you can switch between portrait and landscape on the fly.
You can simplify your dual monitor setup a bit by daisy-chaining, which essentially means combining your various display outputs into a single cable that goes to your computer. To cut it all down, one monitor connects to a second monitor, and that screen sends both signals to your PC with just one cable to worry about. It’s a nice feature that will make your setup a bit cleaner, although not all monitors support it.
You will need a monitor with a DisplayPort 1.2 connection with Multi-Stream Transport (MST) technology for the daisy chain to work. The $ 229 ViewSonic VP2468 is a well-regarded daisy chain monitor if you want an affordable 1080p display, while the $ 423 Dell U2721DE is a popular choice if you need a high-end 1440p display.
It’s easy enough to put two monitors on your desk, but what if you want to clean things up a bit? That’s where brackets and wall mounts come in. By mounting your monitors, you can save valuable desk space, as well as gain even more freedom to adjust your displays and find the perfect viewing angle.
For those looking to connect multiple monitors to their laptop (or just simplify your cable mess), a USB-C hub for your dual monitor setup is worth looking for. And if you are a true power user, a KVM switch, which can connect peripherals to two computers at once, will allow you to use your dual displays on multiple machines with ease. Here are some accessories worth checking out to get the most out of your dual monitor setup.
VIVO Dual LCD Monitor Desk Mount Bracket ($ 39.95; amazon.com)
The VIVO Dual LCD Monitor Desk Mount is one of the most popular mounts on the web, allowing you to mount two monitors ranging from 13 to 27 inches and up to 22 pounds each. Each arm of this mount is very flexible and allows you to rotate your displays up to 180 degrees or rotate them 360 degrees for when you need some portrait mode action. The stand clamp is designed to fit securely on any desk up to 4 inches thick and includes removable cable clips to keep all cables organized.
WALI Dual LCD Monitor Wall Mount ($ 59.99; amazon.com)
If you prefer to mount your monitors on a wall, the WALI Dual Screen Mount is a popular and relatively affordable way to do it. This wall mount fits any monitor up to 27 inches with a 75 x 75mm or 100 x 100m VESA mount, with a ton of articulation points including 90 degree swivel and 360 degree rotation to place your monitors vertically. The WALI Dual LCD Monitor Mount also has an adjustable gas spring, allowing the mount to offer increased or decreased tensions depending on the weight of your monitor.
Aukey USB C Hub 12-in-1 Type-C Adapter ($ 69.99; amazon.com)
Many modern laptops have limited ports, which can make it difficult to connect external monitors. USB C hubs, like this 12-in-1 from Aukey, solve that problem with ease. This adapter has two HDMI ports and one VGA port, giving you plenty of flexibility to mirror your laptop screen to up to three displays or use them all as separate displays in extended mode. On top of that, you get a ton of extra ports for your peripherals, including two USB 2.0 ports, two USB 3.0 ports, an Ethernet port, and an SD card reader.
Steetek 2-Port Dual Monitor KVM Switch ($ 109, originally $ 115; amazon.com)
For power users or Twitch streamers who use multiple computers with their dual monitor setups, a KVM switch is worth considering. These switches give you a single connection point for your monitors, as well as your mouse and keyboard, allowing you to switch from controlling one computer to another with the touch of a button. This well-rated Steetek switch is compatible with Full HD and 4K monitors, and features two additional USB ports for sharing accessories like printers or external drives on multiple PCs.
Before investing in a dual monitor setup, it is also worth considering whether an ultrawide monitor is more suited to your needs. As the name suggests, ultrawide displays generally have a 21: 9 aspect ratio (compared to 16: 9 for a traditional display), giving you plenty of horizontal screen space for multitasking. Just look at the $ 699 Samsung CJ791, our current best selection of large screen computer monitors, offering a generous 34-inch wide 3440 x 1440 screen for juggling multiple apps or diving deeper into your favorite games or movies. .
Ultrawide monitors have some benefits over dual monitor setups. For one thing, these monitors involve less setup and can potentially save you money as you only need to purchase and configure a single display for your workspace. You also get the benefit of a truly seamless display that can take advantage of games, movies and shows that have been optimized to fit a 21: 9 aspect ratio. And many ultrawide monitors are curved, allowing for greater immersion while It prevents your eyes from having to strain too hard when moving from side to side.
However, dual monitor setups give you a level of versatility that is hard to beat. The freedom to mix and match displays means you can invest in a high-end 4K monitor as your primary display while choosing a cheaper 1080p model for browsing the web and making business calls. And you’ll literally have more flexibility when it comes to positioning, whether you want to have a screen positioned vertically or adjust the height and angle of both monitors independently on a wall mount.
Of course, if money and space aren’t an issue, you can have the best of both worlds and choose multiple ultrawide displays. But for most people, an ultrawide monitor gives you simplicity and immersion, while a dual-screen setup allows for greater flexibility.
Whether you’re looking to upgrade your home office or game room, a dual monitor setup can make a big difference. You’ll have more screen real estate to jump between emails, Slack chats, and video conferences with ease, and you’ll be better able to monitor your broadcasts on your way to Twitch or YouTube stardom.
A stand or wall mount is worth considering if you want a cleaner, more flexible setup, as well as an ultra-wide monitor as a simpler alternative to buying two displays. But no matter how you do it, increasing the amount of space on your desktop screen will increase your productivity and help you have more fun.