Things We Love: Multi-Monitor Setups


For the longest time, I was stuck with a single monitor for my computer. Trying to view multiple websites simultaneously was a pain. Watching a YouTube video while typing a Word document was nearly impossible. Ever see four tiny windows opened on a single monitor? It’s not a pretty sight. Now, you may ask, why didn’t you just buy another monitor? Well, for starters, the monitor I was using, Apple 27" 1440p Cinema Display, was discontinued (RIP). And while I could’ve gone and bought a used one, the prices were less than ideal (it was nearly the same as the price of a new one).

Apple 27" LED Cinema Display

I considered several options before I settled for a second monitor. The first option was to get a single 21:9 ultrawide monitor. It’s basically two monitors fused together into one gigantic display. While opening separate windows on the 21:9 monitor would basically look like they’re on two different monitors without bezels, I wasn’t a fan of the curved aspect for most of the monitors (although, you can get a 21:9 monitor without the curve). Also, the 21:9 monitors I checked out had some bad backlight bleed; granted, it was the first-gen models I was considering, which was worsened if the monitor also had a curved design.

LG 34UC88-B 34" 21:9 UltraWide Curved FreeSync IPS Monitor

Another option I thought of, albeit brief, was getting an Oculus Rift or HTC Vive VR Headset. The thought of using a headset instead of a monitor was appealing at first, but after trying it out in person, it was quite apparent that the technology wasn’t quite there yet. While watching 360° videos and playing around in a virtual reality environment were both new and exciting, the practical uses of the VR headset fell short. I tested a friend’s HTC Vive with Virtual Desktop (available on Steam) to browse websites, and the resolution was just not high enough to see the text clearly. You would have to zoom in all the way, which is impractical when you’re trying to work with multiple tabs. The screen-door effect, where the fine lines separating the pixels are visible, was very noticeable. Suffice it to say, it is a neat concept but, in my opinion, virtual reality headsets will need to have at least 4K resolution to start becoming viable (which will probably require you to have a beastly graphics card).

HTC Vive VR Headset

After months of trying to figure out what to do, I eventually purchased the Dell U2417H 24" 1080p IPS Monitor as a secondary display. While it may seem like a spur-of-the-moment purchase, I did consider several factors when I bought it. First, this secondary monitor was mostly for multitasking, and by multitasking, I mean streaming Netflix and YouTube videos while I worked (there’s nothing like using an episode of The Office as background noise). Second, I could also easily connect my Xbox One and Nintendo Switch to the Dell monitor via HDMI (something that would’ve been a pain to do with the Apple Cinema Display because it required adapters for its Mini DisplayPort connector). And finally, it was just nice to have a secondary monitor, even if it didn’t exactly match my current one the I originally wanted. Now, I don’t have it set up in the traditional manner, where you split the monitors on each side with the bezels right in front of you. Instead, I had the Apple 27" Cinema Display directly in front of me and the Dell 24" Monitor off to my left. It felt more natural for me in this position, especially since the monitors are different sizes. I will admit that it’s not an ideal setup, but more of a Band-Aid® fix for not thinking ahead (I take personal responsibility for this).

Dell U2417H 24" 16:9 IPS Monitor

Having dual monitors increased my productivity and my enjoyment of using my desktop computer. I could do several things at once, whether it was for work or for play. I could research a topic while writing at the same time or look up Easter eggs for a game I was playing with ease. Not having to “ALT+TAB” every 10 seconds was such a welcomed change. I haven’t used both monitors simultaneously for PC gaming, mainly because the monitors are of different size and resolution (and partly because my Steam backlog has become too intimidating at this point). My NVIDIA GeForce GTX 970 graphics card is on the older side, but it’s perfectly capable of running most things I want, although, an upgrade is in order.

For my next multi-monitor setup, I already plan on going with triple 4K HDR monitors (aiming for 30"+ screen sizes… it’s going to be expensive). For a triple-monitor setup, I will definitely go with identical monitors, especially since I’m planning on mounting all of them together. And while my current computer build is still running strong, despite being almost 5 years old, I would like to build another one soon (preferably with a smaller case, because a Full ATX tower takes up way too much space). I’m just waiting for the next generation of NVIDIA GeForce graphics cards to be released (assuming they don’t all get bought up by cryptocurrency miners).

Do you use a multi-monitor setup? Do you use dual or triple monitors? Perhaps you opted for a 21:9 widescreen monitor instead? Did you invest in the future, aka VR? Let us know in the Comments section, below.

The “Things We Love” series articles are written by B&H Photo Video Pro Audio staff to talk about products and items that we love. Opinions expressed in the articles are those of the writers and do not represent product endorsements from B&H Photo Video Pro Audio.

1 Comment

I'm really enjoying my LG 34" ultrawide 3440x1440, but now I'm very interested in the LG 38" with 3840x1600 and HDR, also I work with a dual 27" Dell monitors setup but is very annoying to have the frontal bezel, sometimes I have some problems moving windows between monitors and scaling the program's windows and when you close and open some applications don't keep the windows full extended across both monitors.