Dual Monitors: 7 Good Reasons to Upgrade

Category: Hard-Drives

An AskBob reader says: “I am considering dual monitors because my 17-inch monitor seems to be shrinking. Sometimes it seems like I spend more time scrolling and tabbing between programs than on actual work. But still not sure... should I upgrade to a big 30-inch monitor, or go with a dual monitor setup?” Here's my advice on dual monitor upgrades...

Try Dual Monitors For Increased Productivity

If you've ever wished for a bigger computer screen, here's an even better idea. Get two! Use a dual monitor (or multi monitor) setup to extend your desktop across two or more screens. Windows, Mac and Linux computers have the ability to simulate one BIG screen using a dual or multi monitor configuration. Adding a second monitor will be cheaper than upgrading to a super-size screen, and there are other advantages too.

I've used two monitors on my PC for many years. Ten years ago, I got a pair of 22-inch monitors with a new computer. When they finally died (with two days of each other) I replaced them with dual 24-inch flat-panel monitors and I love it. I set both monitors on my desk, side by side, and a bit of software magic creates the illusion of one giant screen. I can open a website on one screen, and a word processor on the other, then copy and paste from one screen to another. I can drag a window from one screen to the other, or even open a spreadsheet and stretch it A-L-L T-H-E W-A-Y across the full width of both screens if I want.

Dual Monitors

Personally, I find that all the extra desktop space makes me much more productive and greatly enhances the fun of computing. When I am forced to use a laptop or desktop computer that has a single screen, I notice the limitations right away, as the extra scrolling and alt-tabbing becomes tedious. Others have told me that after ten minutes of using a dual monitor setup, they can't imagine living without it.

Here are SEVEN good reasons to have dual monitors:

  1. Published studies indicate that having a dual monitor in a workplace setting can increase productivity by 20 to 50 percent. For example, if you're a computer programmer, it should be obvious that having your source code on one side and your program on the other side of a dual monitor display would be very helpful.
  2. Real multi-tasking requires enough screen space to keep two or more apps in full view simultaneously. If you have ever tried to size and align windows on a single monitor, you'll appreciate the ability to have several apps fully open at the same time. Customer service reps and web designers are additional examples of people that would benefit from dual monitors.
  3. Cutting and pasting between documents is much easier when you don't have to alt-tab between them and scroll up or down so much. If you create newsletters or PowerPoint presentations, you'll identify with this.
  4. Picture and video editing is a whole new experience with dual monitors. You can have all of your editing tools on one screen while you work on the project in the other. You can compare before and after views of the same work, or supersize panoramic pictures.
  5. Comparing products is easier when you have dual monitors. You can show two cameras' specs side by side in separate browser windows, for example.
  6. Video and gaming take on a whole new dimension with dual monitors. You can view much more of a virtual world and see bad guys coming from a distance. Some gamers like to have Skype or another chat app open on a second screen.
  7. Windows 10 offers some new multi-monitor features, such as the ability to use different backgrounds on each monitor, span multiple screens with your background image, and multiple taskbars.

Hardware Required For a Dual Monitor Configuration

That was seven reasons, and I'm sure I could list more if I rubbed a few brain cells together. Despite all that, a Microsoft study showed that less than 15 percent of all PC users have a multiple monitor configuration. But now that you know all of the benefits, let's move on to the actual nuts and bolts of adding a second screen, to make your dual monitor dreams come true.

Windows 7, 8 and 10, Mac OS and Linux all have built-in support for dual monitors. Setting up dual monitors takes about five minutes. But first, you need to make sure you have the right hardware. Almost all laptops have a VGA, DVI, HDMI or DisplayPort connector where you can plug in a secondary monitor. If you have a spare monitor, and the video cable required to connect it, that's all you'll need. If your video cable has a different connector than your laptop, you can buy an adapter to make ends meet.

On a desktop, you will need two video connectors on your computer, matching connectors on the two monitors, and of course appropriate cables. Some desktops come with two video ports, but if you have only one, you can add a second video adapter, or swap yours for a dual-port model. Adding or swapping a video adapter sounds geeky, but it's actually a pretty easy upgrade. After popping the hood on your system unit, the video adapter simply plugs into a slot on the motherboard. If you know how to use a screwdriver, you can do this.

Some computers, however, simply lack the capacity for internal hardware upgrades. In these unfortunate cases, there are ways to get around this limitation, such as the Matrox Graphics DualHead2Go, which functions almost identically to a standard video card, yet is actually an external device that makes use of your existing video out port. With DualHead2Go, you can add an additional display to your PC or Mac desktop, or another two monitors to a laptop.

How to Connect a Second Monitor

Dual Monitor Setup - Windows

On Mac OS X and most Windows computers, your second monitor should be automatically recognized and enabled. Connect your second monitor to the computer and power it on. On Windows 10, Select Start > Settings > System > Display. Your PC should automatically detect your monitors and show your desktop. In the Multiple displays section, select an option from the list to determine how your desktop will display across your screens.

"Duplicate these displays" shows the same display on both screens. This is handy when monitoring a presentation on a laptop while it is displayed on second, larger screen. "Extend these displays" makes one big screen out of the dual monitors. You can actually drag objects across the boundaries of the two monitors. This is the setting that most people use, and the one I recommend. "Show desktop only on 1" or "Show desktop only on 2" disables one of the monitors.

Once you've selected what you see on your displays, select Keep changes. Adjust the screen resolution of the monitors as desired, and you're done.

Some Monitor Upgrade Options

Prices have dropped quite a bit since I paid about $200 each for my last set of monitors. The HP VH240a Monitor with built-in speakers is just $125. It has HDMI & VGA ports, and a thin bezel-less frame that’s great for a multi-monitor set-up. The stand has adjustable height, tilt and rotation.

If you want to start fresh with a matching set of 24-inch monitors, consider this dual pack of ViewSonic VA2452SM 1080p Monitors with DisplayPort, DVI and VGA ports. They are “head only” so you’ll need a stand to mount them. In the “Frequently bought together” section you’ll find a VIVO Dual Monitor Free-Standing Desk Stand for 2 Screens, and a set of DisplayPort cables to complete the package. Just a tad over $300 for all the pieces.

Dual monitors are not for everyone. They take up more desk space, obviously. If you are a programmer, graphic artist, website designer, author, editor, proofreader, support technician, gamer or power user, dual monitors will boost your productivity and definitely look cool on your desk. If you're just an every-day ordinary computer user, I think you'll find there are benefits you didn't expect.

Do you have something to say about dual monitors? Post your comment or question below…

Ask Your Computer or Internet Question

  (Enter your question in the box above.)

It's Guaranteed to Make You Smarter...

AskBob Updates: Boost your Internet IQ & solve computer problems.
Get your FREE Subscription!


Check out other articles in this category:

Link to this article from your site or blog. Just copy and paste from this box:

This article was posted by on 22 Sep 2020

For Fun: Buy Bob a Snickers.

Prev Article:
Do You Need an OUTbound Firewall?

The Top Twenty
Next Article:
Geekly Update - 23 September 2020

Most recent comments on "Dual Monitors: 7 Good Reasons to Upgrade"

Posted by:

Herb Klug
22 Sep 2020

I added a second monitor to my desktop about a year ago on a whim: A friend upgraded to a larger monitor and gave me his old one. I thought, "Let's see what it's like to have two monitors!" IT IS FANTASTIC - THAT'S WHAT IT'S LIKE! I can't imagine ever going back to one. I almost hate to use my laptop now because of its screen limitations. Yes, I know I could add a second monitor to it, but the purpose of the laptop is portability. Is that a business opportunity for laptop makers? A second monitor that folds up with the laptop and it still fits in a laptop bag? Yes, please!

Posted by:

22 Sep 2020

I really LOVE my twin 27inch monitors. I do a lot of work with graphics (strictly hobby) and it is great to have a tutorial open on one and work in Photoshop on the other.
I have even convinced my non-geeky husband that two monitors makes his genealogy research easier... one for research, the other for his Family Tree program.
I recently had to use my laptop while having a spell in hospital and using a 15 inch screen was terrible, The best part of coming home was getting back to using my 2 big monitors... lol.
I would never go back to a single monitor.

Posted by:

Ward Calaway
22 Sep 2020

I recently replaced two 32" HD TV sets with bigger smart sets. Using HDMI and Displayport outputs from my laptop takes me to monitor heaven with 3 screens. All it cost were a couple of HDMI cables and a mini Displayport adapter and about an acre of desk space.

Posted by:

22 Sep 2020

Thanks for this article today. I have used a dual monitor arrangement for many years now and just loved it.I had a two 15 inch monitor setup for when I was using Windows XP.

When I discovered Linux Ubuntu in 2008,one thing I wondered about if Linux could handle a dual monitor setup.Sure enough it did,so it made it easy when I made the switchover to Ubuntu.

Today,I have two 24 inch monitors on a Linux Mint desktop and they work perfectly for my needs.

Posted by:

Marvin Alper
22 Sep 2020

I can't image not working with on monitor again. I have a 17" laptop and a 22" Acer monitor. I have my investment account open on my monitor along with a few other tabs. I use the laptop for all other programs including email, Excel & Word.

Posted by:

22 Sep 2020

If you use your computer for anything more than reading email or watching YouTube, do yourself a favor and get a second monitor. I have a laptop only, and still use a second monitor when doing computer work.

Posted by:

22 Sep 2020

I've three: two 24's and one 23" in the middle running off a Nvidia GeForce GTX 1050. The 1050 needed a cheap adapter for displayport to HDMI, but all got recognized and working without driver issues.

I would not like to work without them.

Posted by:

22 Sep 2020

Room, room, room! Make sure you have the space. Right now I'm typing on one laptop set in front of me. Just to the left I have a second laptop on the same desk. Farther to the left I have a monitor, keyboard, and mouse on a tray table, connected to a desktop on the floor. On a small table 6 feet away are a monitor, keyboard, and mouse for another desktop under that table. Finally, I have an ancient 32-bit laptop, showing screensavers every 10 minutes, on a cabinet in the corner. I'd LOVE more monitors, but where would I put them?

Posted by:

22 Sep 2020

It really is a good leap forward to go with larger monitor(s). I had graduated to large dual-monitor set-up about 5 years ago. Unfortunately, both the hardware and software complexities, problems, issues, hick-ups and nits are beginning to convince me to go with a single (but extremely large 32+ inch) monitor.
In my set-up, the twin 27” (WQHD) monitors are fed via dual DisplayPorts (DP) of an add-on 8GB Radeon480 graphics card (FX).
Even with being the exact same model monitors and being fed by two DP interfaces of a dedicated FX card:
I hate the vertical ‘gash’ between the two monitors; I detest that Windows10 is a bit too aggressive with their dual-monitor wokeness; I feel e-guilt for being forced to buy an add-on FX card, additional cabling, and a second resource-hungry monitor; I love/hate that Radeon continually strives to upgrade their FX cards almost quarterly; I don’t like the fact that the split between the two monitors actually causes the loss of ~25% of the screen area, as no application window can be positioned smack in the middle, where this split is.

Posted by:

22 Sep 2020

Another advantage with dual monitors is that each has the same resolution as a single large one, so objects are twise as detailed.

Posted by:

Gary R Bell
22 Sep 2020

I use a triple-monitor system. The 3 are for personal use and teaching IT subjects using Zoom (3 years).
The jump from two to three is as large as the jump from one to two. I could never go back to even two monitors now. The productivity is through the roof.

Just know, that you may need additional equipment for a three monitor or more setup. I use a Kensington docking station because in my case, even a high-end video processor was not sufficient enough to support a third monitor. A separate video processor (or power) may be needed. But it's fantastic!

Posted by:

23 Sep 2020

Something went wrong with my previously attempted comment, so here is the bottom line:
If you have trouble with a multiple display setup using displayport simply disconnect and unplug EVERYTHING from power and each other. Wait a couple of minutes and reconnect one monitor. You should discover that all is well and the computer's displayport is NOT dead after all!!

Posted by:

23 Sep 2020

In my work environment, I have a dual monitor setup, and it is very convenient and practical. Yes! Definitely, it saves a lot of time while working between applications and software packages, and it helps keep things organized. Thank you for another good article!

Posted by:

24 Sep 2020

In a previous workplace I used dual monitors and it was the best. Thought I would never go back to a single monitor. In a different workplace I used a single 30" monitor and that was also perfect. If I needed another screen I still had a laptop, but the large screen allowed me to work with 2 docs side-by-side but still large enough to see both docs.

Posted by:

24 Sep 2020

Definitely a "Yes" to dual monitors. I have used them for many years and just couldn't live without them. I test graphics tutorials so having the tutorial on one and the program on the other is great.
My setup is this... I have one screen attached to the analog port and the other to the digital.
I have an L-shaped desk and, as my backup PC is a mini (7" square footprint) 2 computers, each with 2 monitors, is no problem.
My new laptop did not have the usual ports, but I recently discovered the newest monitor has an HDMI port, so I can use it with it.

Posted by:

28 Sep 2020

I use three monitors. Monitor 1 is a 19 in I had laying around and mostly serves as a launch screen. I found that too often I had snapped windows to my regular 23.5 in monitors and couldn't get to the desktop. This fixes that. I'd enclose a screen shot but can't upload a graphic here.

Posted by:

29 Sep 2020

Ever since I started using a dual monitor setup at work a few years ago, I find it very difficult to use one screen. My home setup is a 17.3 inch Dell Precision laptop with a 24 inch secondary monitor. What I really don't like are the HD resolution screens which is what my laptop has. My 24 inch monitor is a WUXGA 1900 x 1200 resolution screen and the extra high makes a big difference.

Posted by:

Terry L Clayton
29 Sep 2020

I started with dual monitors in 2006 with two ViewSonic 24”. I still use those at home today almost 15 years later.
Something to be said for buying the best.

Posted by:

Phillip Jeck
30 Sep 2020

I had dual monitors for many years and would never have gone back to one. Never say never..I had a 50" tv that became a spare, so I tried it, and have been using it for three years now. It is big enough that I can get 2 screens up and work just like the dual monitors. some times I even have three screens open at the same time. I love it, I know it has some set backs, but if it works do it.

Posted by:

Steve B
30 Sep 2020

I have been using two monitors for about 6 years and actually added a third a couple years ago to my PC (all 19 inch). Monitor 3 took a dump, so now using only 2 again. I am looking to add two new 20+ inch displays and maybe a third again. I am in the financial world and could never go back to just one monitor - not even one large monitor.

Post your Comments, Questions or Suggestions

*     *     (* = Required field)

    (Your email address will not be published)
(you may use HTML tags for style)

YES... spelling, punctuation, grammar and proper use of UPPER/lower case are important! Comments of a political nature are discouraged. Please limit your remarks to 3-4 paragraphs. If you want to see your comment posted, pay attention to these items.

All comments are reviewed, and may be edited or removed at the discretion of the moderator.

NOTE: Please, post comments on this article ONLY.
If you want to ask a question click here.

Free Tech Support -- Ask Bob Rankin
Subscribe to AskBobRankin Updates: Free Newsletter

Copyright © 2005 - Bob Rankin - All Rights Reserved
About Us     Privacy Policy     RSS/XML

Article information: AskBobRankin -- Dual Monitors: 7 Good Reasons to Upgrade (Posted: 22 Sep 2020)
Source: https://askbobrankin.com/dual_monitors_7_good_reasons_to_upgrade.html
Copyright © 2005 - Bob Rankin - All Rights Reserved