I (and many people) love a dual monitor setup. It’s the best way to maximize your computer workspace and ensure you’re getting the most out of your monitors, especially if your work requires a lot of computer time. Not only that, if you’re a casual PC user who loves gaming, streaming movies, and consuming media in general, it’s not only useful, but it also has a cool factor that goes with it.
So in this guide, we’ll go through all of the steps involved with setting up dual monitors and taking full advantage of their potential, and we’ll also take a look at some of the best dual monitor setups for some scenarios so you can try it out for your use case. Let’s start!
Get a Dual Monitor Stand
First, you will need a monitor stand, specifically a dual-monitor stand. A good monitor stand should be able to elevate, articulate, and rotate both monitors so you can find the ideal monitor position that you love. And as a bonus, getting an articulating monitor stand will mean that your work setup can double as a gaming/media consumption setup when you’re done for the day!
There are many monitors stands on the market, some can be fully adjusted at will, and some needs a fair bit of time to adjust, and the latter also usually being the more expensive option. My advice? Try out the cheap ones first. You should be able to find one for less than $20, like this one:
If you have already tried a cheap stand or want to go ahead and get the ones with all the bells and whistles, you can get easy-to-adjust hydraulic stands equipped with gas struts (like the ones on your computer seat, only smaller). Just remember to get the quality ones like the one linked below because, believe me, cheaply made gas struts are a pain to deal with, especially when they go bad.
Many people will just use their laptop as the primary or secondary screen, so if you want to take that route, just ensure that the monitor stands you’ll get included or has support for a laptop tray. Or better yet, if you want to save a lot of money, you can skip getting a monitor stand and use the stock stands that come with your monitors at the expense of not being able to make certain arrangements.
But always remember, the monitor stand is literally your setup’s backbone. I can’t believe I’m saying this for a monitor stand, but take your time to find the perfect one for you; you might get several stands in a few months, but once you find the perfect dual monitor stand, your setup will be effective and comfortable. It might even save you from back or neck pains someday!
Get Your Dual Monitors
The most important step with getting a dual-screen setup is getting great monitors.
The first route you can take is a laptop/external monitor setup. This is the route that many people (including myself) took as it’s the most economical and probably one of the most functional as well. All you need to do is make sure that your laptop can extend to a second monitor, then you can get any monitor to serve as your secondary monitor.
The second route you can take is getting a dedicated double monitor setup. This is the route most desktop PC users take, although some laptops, especially those equipped with USB-C, can also process two external monitors and take this route. Either way, you have to take extra consideration when getting two monitors for your setup since you might want to get matching ones to make your setup more comfortable and aesthetic.
If you want to get work done, get something comfortable to the eyes, preferably one with high resolutions and blue-light reduction, you can check our gaming and OLED monitor buying guides if you want to get an idea.
If you want to get immersed in gaming or movies, you should get curved monitors.
If you work on photos and videos, however, you can get away with one color-accurate and probably expensive monitor while also using your laptop or a lower-tier monitor as the second display to save some cash.
Finding the Perfect Arrangement for Your Dual Screen Monitor Set Up
Finally, the most satisfying part of a dual screen monitor setup is finding the perfect arrangement. The only way to do so is to try different configurations. But I’ll suggest one rule to make your time easier: Have the primary monitor raised to eye level and distanced to a proper distance. Most comfortable setups have this aspect nailed down.
Then after that, the secondary monitor can be anywhere you’re comfortable with, and this is where your creativity will take place! Most setups will have the secondary monitor on either side of the primary. But photographers, video editors, and even traders might prefer having the monitor above or below the primary monitor.
Now, to give you a better idea of what path you can take, here are several and also the best examples of different dual-screen setups!
1. Symmetrical Setup
This is one of the most popular arrangements and the one you’ll see the most on Instagram or set up tours on YouTube since it’s arguably the most straightforward and aesthetically pleasing arrangement!
In this setup, you’ll use two identical monitors (sorry, laptops don’t make symmetrical setups). And the setup is done with each monitor placed side to side with equal height and equal but opposite angles from each other (imagine a perfectly opened book).
Although this setup is best for looks, comfort might not be its best point since you’re likely to have more strain on your neck from looking from side to side. A quick fix to make this setup more comfortable is positioning yourself directly in front of one of the monitors, but then the following arrangement might be better for you!
2. Primary and Secondary
The second monitor arrangement is very similar to the first, but it’s also much more functional. This setup uses two identical or different monitors, with one as the primary and another as the secondary. The primary monitor will be positioned in front of you and set at an angle that makes it easier to see your computer screen and type on your keyboard without straining your neck too much.
The second monitor will be placed on either side of the primary monitor. The secondary monitor can be used to control apps used for music, email, file management, and anything that you want to keep an eye on while you work on your primary display.
While I have two more setups to recommend to you, they’re essentially variations of this setup. The key is utilizing all the features your mount can give you, like on this following setup…
3. Coder/Writer Setup (Vertical Secondary)
This arrangement is best for coders, writers, developers, and social media scrollers. In this setup, the second monitor is set vertically or to portrait orientation to display code or text. Not only will this setup display more text at once, but it’ll also be more comfortable since you don’t have to move your neck from side to side as often.
To set one of your monitors vertically, you must ensure that your monitor stand can rotate. Some stock monitor stand gives you this option, and some monitors can even automatically correct their orientation when you rotate them; no need to go into settings every time.
4. Top and Down Setup
This setup is a favorite among gamers, photo & video editors, graphic designers, and anyone doing creative work.
Aesthetically speaking, this is also the best setup if you want to use different monitors since it’ll still be horizontally symmetrical. But the magic of this type of setup comes if you want to run a single task on both screens and take advantage of real estate brought by two screens.
Let’s say you’re a photo or video editor, in which case you can use both screens simultaneously. The top monitor can be used as a viewing monitor to preview video or photo edits better while you manipulate sliders, timelines, or files on the bottom display.
But then again, you can also use one display for specific tasks, a great example is when artists or designers set their touch or pen-sensitive screens at an angle while low-priority tasks are displayed on the top monitor.
Or, if you’re gaming or streaming, you can use the bottom screen for the game while you use the top screen to read chats from your team or comments from your audience.
Overall, this last setup is a bit more complicated to explain, but it has the highest possibilities of tasks that can be done since it gives priority to both screens at the same time.
That’s pretty much all you need to know! Of course, it’s not all there is to it, you can creatively set your screens up! I’ve even seen people use their second display as the table. Just remember, know your needs,
If you have any questions, don’t hesitate to leave them in the comments below, and thanks for reading!
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