Try to boost your productivity with a second screen? Want more immersive gaming sessions? Multiple monitors can help. Dual screens are great for multitasking and are easy to set up, but there are a few things to consider before jumping into a multi-screen world, whether you’re on Windows or Mac.
Be sure to check out our advice on using a second monitor or screen with your laptop, and you can find recommendations for monitors, monitor arms, and desks in our Home Office Gear guide.
How many monitors can you add?
Most computers can run dual monitors. But if you want to add a third screen or use two 4K monitors, first check that your device is capable.
the Windows: Having multiple ports on your graphics card indicates that it can probably handle multiple monitors. But you need to check the maximum number of supported screens and resolutions. (You can see which graphics card you have by typing Device Manager in the search bar, open it, then expand it Screenshot taken.) Visit the manufacturer’s website to find the specifications for your graphics card and look for a section titled Display support or something similar that will list this information.
Mac: If you are adding monitors to a Mac, click the Apple icon > About This Mac and double-click your serial number, then press Command-C on your keyboard to copy it, go to the Apple website and paste it into search. Click on Support to find the Technical specifications and seek Video support.
What screen size should you get?
You can mix and match the types of screens you have on your workstation, although you’ll probably want some consistency. The most common screen size is 24 inches, but 27 inch screens are becoming increasingly popular. Having screens of the same size will be nice for symmetry. Just keep an eye on the resolution when purchasing. A 1080p screen on a 27-inch monitor might look too blurry.
We dive into orientation and layouts below, but consider different types of screen layouts. My current preference is a 34-inch ultrawide screen paired with a 27-inch screen in portrait orientation. As the name suggests, ultrawides are really wide and can deliver the experience of two screens, minus the bezel of the screen in between. Pairing it with a portrait mode screen means you have enough space on the ultrawide to run two full-size browser windows side-by-side, plus a vertical screen to the side for apps that benefit from it. , like Slack and email.
Mounts and VESA mounts
Monitors come with a wide assortment of stand designs. If you opt for the stand that comes in the box, check the measurements on the product page to make sure it will fit your desk perfectly.
Alternatively, you can mount your display on your desk and get rid of the stand, freeing up plenty of space. (You can also freely move your display to different angles and positions.) Many displays support the VESA mounting system. There are different sizes and monitor arms have a screen size range and maximum weight they can support. Always check if the monitor’s product page mentions VESA support and note the VESA mounting size. When purchasing an arm mount, make sure it supports the size and weight of your new monitor.
Ports and Cables
To get the most out of your computer and monitors, you’ll need to think about which ports and cables to use. For Windows PCs, your choice is often HDMI versus DisplayPort. Unfortunately, it’s not as simple as one might expect. There are several versions of each connection type, each with different capabilities. For example, HDMI 2.1 supports resolution up to 8K at 120Hz, DisplayPort 1.4 can deliver 8K at 60Hz, and HDMI 2.0 is limited to 4K at 60Hz.
For laptops, you might consider Thunderbolt, Mini DisplayPort, or even USB-C. Sometimes you will need a USB adapter or hub to connect an external monitor.
Check the technical specifications of your graphics card and monitor to find the best option for you. Remember that the card, monitor, and cable (and any adapters) you use must support the same technology and version. High-end monitors usually come with a selection of cables in the box, but some manufacturers annoyingly offer only one option that might not match the maximum capacity of the monitor.