Sometimes, one computer monitor just isn’t enough – and the good news is it’s simple to add a second monitor to your existing desktop computer or laptop. Using a dual monitor setup increases the size of your desktop, giving you more room to view your work and improve your entertainment options.

“Dual monitors are a great way to expand your digital desktop and can save you time,” says IT specialist and Geeks2U technician Eugene Quah. “For example, you could have one monitor with feedback for a presentation, while you action that feedback on the monitor in front of you. It eliminates flicking between tabs.”

Choosing Your Monitors

 Illustration of two computer monitors positioned side by side showcasing a dual monitor setup, with folder icons on the screens.

“My tip is to get monitors of the same size and resolution (moving your mouse from a large to a small screen isn’t as smooth a transition), as this allows for seamless movement between them both, offering many efficiencies,” says Eugene. 

Having monitors the same size allows you to line them up side-by-side as though it was one big screen and makes it easier to move your mouse and documents across both. Choosing the same brand for both monitors will also make it easier to connect and ensure a consistent user experience, with the optimum size ranging from 25.5 to 34 inches.

There are also different options in resolution, including full high definition and 4K UHD (ultra-high definition) for even greater detail. You can choose between a curved or flat monitor: a curved screen, such as the Lenovo Legion R27fc 27" 240Hz Curved Ergonomic Gaming Monitor, which allows for a more immersive effect for gaming or viewing content; or a portable display, like the Lenovo ThinkVision FHD Touch Screen Portable Monitor M14T, is great for flexibility if you have a hybrid working structure.

Users of laptops can either add a second monitor (using the display of their laptop as one screen), or use their device to power two additional monitors.

Hot Tip: Using a wireless keyboard and mouse for your dual monitor setup will stop cables cluttering your workspace.

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How to Position Your Monitors Using Dual Monitor Arms and Stands

Before deciding on a dual monitor setup, you need to make sure you have room on your desk to sit them side-by-side. All monitors come with a desktop stand but another option that saves space and ensures the screens are at the right height is the use of dual monitor arms.

Monitors that are VESA mount compatible (they have four screw threads on the back) can be attached to monitor arms such as the Professional Dual Monitor Arm with Dual USB or a stand like the Brateck Gas Spring Dual Monitor Arm

Monitors also come with their own power cables, so you need to make sure there are enough powerpoints available, or purchase a powerboard such as the Belkin 4 Outlet Powerboard with 2 USB Ports 2.4A.

What to Try

Different products needed to create a dual monitor set up of coloured backgrounds, including a powerboard, a dual monitor arm and a dual monitor stand.

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How to Connect Your Dual Monitor Setup 

Illustration of a dual monitor setup with program windows open on the screens, with one being shared across both. 

The main monitor connections include HDMI, DisplayPort, USB-C and Thunderbolt. To connect your monitors, match the corresponding cable from the back of the laptop or computer to the port on the back of the monitor. For example, one end of the HDMI cable would be connected to the monitor and the other to the HDMI port on the computer. These cables often come with the monitors.

If your computer or laptop doesn’t have enough free ports, or doesn’t have a port to match the monitor’s requirements, you can also purchase an adaptor such as the Comsol USB-C to Dual HDMI 4K Adapter. The other option is to buy a hybrid cable that allows you to connect one end to the HDMI port on the computer and the other end to the DisplayPort on the monitor, such as the Comsol DisplayPort Male to HDMI Male 4K Cable 2m.

What to Try

A rotating GIF series showing different monitors etched onto a coloured background, including portable monitors, gaming monitors and laptops.

Getting the Settings Right

Once the monitors are connected, you will need to adjust your display settings to ensure they’re in the correct arrangement. This will let you move the mouse across both screens and drag windows and documents from one monitor to the other. 

To do this, head to your computer’s settings and look for options to set up your system display. You should see a graphic of two monitors, which will give you the option to configure and match how the physical monitors themselves are arranged on your desk. Make sure they are aligned to suit your preferences, then save your settings.    

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Need some IT help? Geeks2U offer tech support for households and businesses. Find out more here.

This article was originally published in 2020 and has been updated.