The Best Way To Arrange Dual Monitors – And Which To Avoid

If you have a dual monitor setup, or are considering one, you should explore all the arrangements possible beforehand. Each setup has its own strengths and weaknesses. 

Today we’re going to talk about all the ways you can arrange those two monitors and give you images of real setups too. We’ll also touch on what setups you should avoid, which is equally important.

Why Dual Monitor Setups

If you’re here to learn about dual monitor arrangements, you probably already know the benefits of dual monitors. Let’s touch on them for those on the fence of going with a dual monitor setup or not. 

And to clarify, if you have a single ultrawide monitor, you will see some of the same benefits. 

Almost Required For Productivity

Productivity is the biggest driver for dual monitor setups. You can have so much more information presented to you at one time with two monitors. That makes it faster to work on anything. 

Instead of opening 100 browser tabs that are stacked on top of each other, you can realistically have four or more windows in view at all times with a dual monitor setup. 

My current company gives every single employee a dual monitor setup. That’s a lot of extra monitors. They know that the increase in productivity will pay for those second monitors over a very short timeline. 

Makes Multitasking Simple

If you find yourself switching windows constantly, it means your screen real estate is fighting against you. 

Dual monitors mean you can have your primary window in front of you, and your secondary, or reference monitor, right next to it. Gaming is a popular example. Gaming uses an entire monitor, so if you want to chat with friends or browse the web at the same time, you can have that open too!

Basically, you don’t have to choose between two tasks anymore. You can have both! 

An Affordable Solution

Presumably, you either have a desktop with a single monitor or a laptop. Both of these can be taken to a dual monitor setup very easily! 

If you have a laptop already, getting a second monitor going is super affordable. You only need one other monitor and viola, you have a dual monitor setup. Though your second monitor is a bit smaller. 

The desktop and first monitor can affordably be paired with another monitor too. I recommend matching monitors if you’re OCD like me.

Here’s an example of a super affordable full HD monitor on Amazon. 

Acer Full HD IPS Ultra-Thin Monitor

The 21.5-inch Full HD IPS display with Radeon free sync technology provides a zero-frame design, ultra-thin body, and 4ms response time. With a 16:9 aspect ratio, 16.7 million colors, and 250-nit brightness, it's perfect for business or personal use. HDMI and VGA ports are available.

Buy On Amazon

Can Fit On Any Desk

If you saw our article on how to fit dual monitors on super small desks, you’ll know that there is a super simple way to make a dual monitor setup fit on your desk. That is by using a dual monitor table clamp mount! 

We keep the affordability alive with very affordable dual mounts like this:

VIVO Dual Monitor Desk Mount

This dual monitor mount fits two screens 13” to 30” in size and up to 22 lbs each. It offers adjustable arm, height adjustment, and monitors can be placed in portrait or landscape orientation. It mounts to the back of your desk via a heavy-duty C-clamp or optional grommet mount and has cable management clips and detachable VESA bracket plates for easy installation.

Check Price on Amazon

But if you want a fancier gas spring version that offers effortless adjustability, those are plentiful on the market as well.

HUANUO Dual Monitor Stand

This gas spring monitor arm simplifies assembly and can be set up in 10 minutes or less. It has solid construction and a stable clamp/grommet base for secure holding and allows for a wide range of motion with smooth action.

Check Price on Amazon

If you have particularly large monitors, there are dual mounts for large monitors as well as we cover in the linked article.

Things To Keep In Mind

Before you set those monitors up, you should keep a few things in mind to get the best dual monitor experience. 

Ergonomic Viewing Height & Distance

Good ergonomics are key for anyone who wants to spend more than 10 minutes at their computer. They are non-negotiable if you work 8+ hours at your desk! 

We had to make this part of our ultimate guide to a productivity-focused desk setup

I won’t get into all of the ergonomics details needed at your desk. The above productivity article will touch on that. I will talk about how your monitor setup is part of the equation. 

First, you want your screen to be about an arm’s length away from you. The goal here is to not have the small text and such make it hard to read and do things on your computer. If you don’t have a choice, I suggest scaling your screen based on what’s comfortable for you. (Scale Windows computers, scale Apple computers.) 

After you get the distance dialed in, you want to focus on the height of your monitor. When looking straight ahead, your eyes should land on the upper half of your monitor. Fine tune this height within this range to your personal preference. 

This just ensures you don’t strain your neck by staring too high or too low for long hours. Your neck will thank you! 

Ideal Viewing Angles

Many people notice this is an issue right away, so it’s worth preparing you for. Monitors these days have pretty good viewing angles. However, viewing your monitor straight on is the way to go for a seamless viewing experience.

Good Monitor Viewing Angle Graphic

Colors and clarity is just better and brighter when your monitor is directly pointed towards you. But that’s not the only thing that’s better. 

Our eyes have to adjust focus everytime we change our viewing distance. With a poorly angled monitor, you can have your eyes constantly working on refocusing without them needing to. 

Poor Monitor Viewing Angle Graphic

At the end of the day you’ll wonder why your eyes are tired! You need your monitors to be angled towards you so your eyes have to do the least amount of work necessary. 

Lastly, when you have monitors that are not angled directly at you, they can introduce glare from more angles, making it even harder to see what’s on your screen. 

Do yourself a favor and direct your monitors towards you, no matter what your dual monitor arrangement is. 

Primary & Secondary Monitors

This last tip is to give your monitors labels: primary and secondary. This will help us set them up in the most functional way possible. 

Your primary monitor will be your “main” monitor. It will have the computer’s taskbar and will be the more natural monitor to look at in terms of setup. 

So if you have one monitor in front of you, and another on the right, the one in front of you is your primary monitor. 

Also, if you have two monitors that are different models, make the nicer one your primary monitor. 

The same goes for you gamers. Keep your highest refresh rate monitor in front of you as your primary monitor. 

Most of your time will be spent on the primary monitor. The secondary monitor is simply the “other” monitor after you chose the primary. 

Keeping in mind which is primary and which is secondary should drive your setup. Make the primary one in a convenient place where your neck doesn’t need to turn or bend. Now let’s talk about all the ways we can arrange this primary and secondary monitor setup. 

The Best Dual Monitor Arrangements

Angled Secondary

The first example has to be one of the most common dual monitor setups. You simply have your primary monitor in front of you like a normal single monitor setup. 

However, the second monitor goes on one side or the other, angled toward you. 

Here are some great examples from the community over at Reddit’s r/workspaces. I’ll be adding examples from r/workspaces for all the dual monitor setups we cover.

Example 1

Example 2

Vertical Secondary

This next dual monitor arrangement is space efficient and very functional for scroll-heavy applications. 

This is the secondary vertical monitor setup. Your primary stays in the same location as the setup above, however, your secondary is turned 90 degrees! 

If you use a program that requires a ton of scrolling, a vertical secondary can present you with more information without the need to scroll so much. Programmers especially love this setup due to all the lines of code that can fit on a vertical monitor. 

Desk with a vertically mounted monitor (1)

Example 1

Example 2

Keep in mind that if you decide to go vertical with one monitor, put the edge with the thinnest bezel size next to your primary monitor. This will give you the most seamless experience. I guess a “minimal seal size” experience, actually. 

Symmetric Angled

If you do want that symmetric ultrawide feel for your workspace, a symmetric dual monitor setup is definitely an option. 

The advantage here is that the symmetry can be very aesthetically pleasing. Don’t forget to angle these monitors toward you! The folks in the images below did this for a good reason! 

The only downside with this arrangement is that you have a monitor seam right down the middle of your view. That would bother me a bit. 

Also, for those that don’t have the same two monitors, the symmetry won’t be as appealing. You may find one of the earlier asymmetric options looks a bit better. 

Example 1

Example 2

Dual Stacked

If you don’t like looking from left to right for some reason, or you don’t have space, a stacked setup might be right for you.

This is where you simply use a mount like this. 

VIVO Dual Stacked Monitor Mount

This dual monitor mount fits two ultra-wide screens 13” to 32” in size and 22 lbs in weight (each). Simple installation with detachable VESA bracket plates and integrated cable management.

Check Price on Amazon

One caveat for this is that your primary monitor should be pretty low so it doesn’t fatigue your neck from looking at the upper monitor. Or you may want to get a chair that reclines pretty easily. 

Example 1

Example 2

Laptop Secondary

Some people won’t count this as a “dual monitor setup” but I disagree! Two monitors means two screens for more productivity! This is also a super affordable entry point to dual monitor setups. 

My Workspace

I currently use an ultrawide primary monitor and have my laptop as my secondary monitor. I use it for background programs I’m not actively using, such as Spotify. If I didn’t have an Ultrawide, I would probably use my laptop monitor much more. 

Here are some cozy examples of a monitor + laptop setup. We have a dedicated article on laptop and monitor desk setup ideas

Example 1

Example 2

Dual Monitor Arrangements To Avoid

Now here are two dual monitor setups that could really be a pain in the long run. Avoid these setups! 

Completely Flat With a Centered Seam

If you like the symmetric look, it might be super tempting to make those monitors flat for a super cool/ modern look. Avoid this setup! It will do more harm than good. 

Those far edges will be harder to see if you have your monitors at the correct “arm’s distance” away from you. You will find yourself moving more in your chair, bending, and tilting, all to see those screen edges better. 

Do yourself a huge favor in the name of comfort & dual monitor effectiveness! Angle those monitors toward you! 

Stacked With High Upper Monitor

Those who like the stacked monitor setup must also be careful. We touched on this earlier. Avoid stacking that secondary monitor too high! 

Every time you need to reference that monitor, you will have to look too high for comfort. It’s easier to make a tiny movement constantly, but a larger movement constantly will result in fatigue. 

Looking up, then down, then up, then down, will be exhausting. It will actually make you use the second monitor less, and thus you lose all the benefits of that second monitor! 

Do yourself a favor and make both stacked monitors a comfortable viewing height. It’s easy to get this one wrong because of how big monitors are getting these days. 

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I'm a big time workspace enthusiast who is constantly experimenting with my setup. Sharing along the way to help people make their own desk setups more functional and inviting, whether it be for productivity or play!