The Ultimate Guide To Four Monitor Desk Setups

We all know that a single monitor is not enough. Dual monitors are great, triple monitors are fantastic, but four monitors? You might become unstoppable.

Not many people go for a quad monitor setup, but those who do are looking at some massive multitasking abilities. Whether you are watching stock charts, or just need a bunch of references open at the same time, the more screens the better. 

In this article, we’re going to walk you through everything you need to know to get that four-monitor setup up and running. 

We’re going to talk about everything from computer requirements, monitor arrangements, monitor types, purchasing monitors for cheap, mounting, wiring, and testing. Use the table of contents to navigate to your current place in the four-monitor journey. 

I find it’s easiest to learn as you go, so just take it one step at a time. Trying to think 10 steps ahead can get overwhelming and you might end up needing to re-learn things anyways. 

Key Takeaways

  • Ensure computer compatibility before starting
  • Think about your desired monitor arrangement, there are a handful we go through
  • Choose the types of monitors you want, there are many types out there
  • Purchase monitors, and get them for cheap using the methods included below
  • Get connections lined up so you can 
  • We go into depth on each of these and discuss a few more steps as well. 

Step 1 – Can Your Computer Support Four Monitors?

It’s easy to get very excited about your potential quad monitor setup. Before we buy anything though, we do have to ensure our computers can actually support four monitors. 

Four monitors means you have to support four times the resolution of a single monitor setup. Not all computers can do this. Especially if you want higher resolution monitors like 1440p or 4K. 

So the first step here is to find out what your computer can actually output. Smarter people than me have already published great guides on how to do this, as we touch on below. 

Graphics Card Lookup

Ultimately, it comes down to what graphics card you have. This article by PC World talks about how you can go into your device manager to see what graphics card you have. 

You simply go to Control Panel -> Device Manager -> Display Adapters. There you will see your graphics card listed. Search for your graphics card model specifications to see how many displays it will support. 

how to find graphics card in device manager

For example, I have the “Nvidia 3050Ti Laptop” graphic card. Looking up the model information on the Nvidia website, I scrolled way down to the “display support” section, and it shows the following:

nvidia 3050 display specifications

Looks like my laptop can support the four-monitor setup too! 

If your graphics card can’t support four monitors on paper, you have a few options. 

You can either upgrade your computer (easier with Windows tower PCs), or settle for the number of monitors your graphics card can handle. The last option is just upgrading entirely if you really want the four-monitor setup. 

Step 2 – Determine The Monitor Arrangement

Now that we have a compatible computer, we should now start thinking about how we want to arrange those monitors. 

Do you want all four side by side? Do you want two on top of another set of two? Is one monitor vertical? Are two monitors vertical? There are a lot of possibilities out there.

To choose the best quad monitor arrangement for you, consider the following:

Viewing Convenience

Think about what programs you will be running when using four monitors. 

Does it make sense to have one on top of another? Or is it more convenient if they are all side by side? Do you need one vertical for a scroll-heavy application? Or is your program very wide and needs to span two monitors side by side?

Also, think about how much you have to move to see the monitors on the far ends of your desk. Do you want to turn your entire body to see the end monitors? Or do you just want to look up and down? 

Each arrangement will have some level of “travel” for you to view it. Consider what level of rotating and tilting your head is acceptable.

The last thing you want is setting up a four-monitor arrangement that makes your life inconvenient instead of productive. 

Available Space

Some layouts are just not possible depending on the space you have available. If you are very constrained in width, you might need to stack monitors two by two. 

We talk a lot about stacked monitor setups and their benefits here. 

If you have a lot of space or a corner L-shaped desk, you could span monitors side by side with great space efficiency. If you’re tight on space, check out our article on making desk space for multiple monitors.. 

If it helps, measure your space and see what monitors fit in a given area. Here are some popular four monitor arrangements you can choose from:

Popular Quad Monitor Arrangements

Obviously, there are a lot more configurations possible, but the four above are by far the most popular. You can quickly tell which ones are more space efficient, and which require a much larger desk. 

Remember that you can get much more creative with your layout if you have an aftermarket monitor mount. We will get into the quad monitor mounting methods soon! 

For now, just choose an arrangement that would benefit your use and your space effectively. 

Step 3 – Think About Monitor Types

Something that goes hand in hand with choosing a layout is actually deciding which monitors you want in your setup. If you already have four monitors, you can skip this step. 

If you don’t have four monitors yet, here are the important factors you should think about. 

Keep in mind that not all four monitors need to be the same make and model. In fact, it can be beneficial if they are different. Usually, people have a “primary monitor” and all other monitors are “secondary”. 

Your primary monitor can have all the fancy and key specs that you need for your core work. The others can just act as reference monitors.  

For example, if you are a photographer, you don’t need to buy 4x super high-end color accurate monitors. That could end up being super expensive. And it is also pointless if you only use photo editing software on the one monitor in front of you. 

Same with gaming. You don’t need four super fast refresh rate monitors if you just have your game on one screen. 

Your primary monitor can have all the necessary bells and whistles, but not all your monitors need them. 

Keep these factors in mind when monitor shopping for your quad setup. There are many more factors for choosing a monitor, but the factors below are considerations specifically for four monitor setups. 

Monitor Size

Monitor size can make a big impact on your four monitor experience. Large monitors are typically 27 inches and above. Monitors under 27 inches are considered “normal” or smaller for the purposes of this section.

Larger monitors can make your work easier to see and reference quickly. They also make it realistic to fit multiple windows on a single monitor without hampering the viewing experience.

Larger monitors do come at an increased cost, however, and you need the space to support them. Keep those tradeoffs in mind. 

And remember, you can have a large monitor as your primary, and get cheaper monitors for the other three. 

I currently use a 34-inch ultrawide monitor as my primary and that works very well. I fit three windows comfortably on this monitor which is great for my own productivity. 

34 inch ultrawide monitor on ikea alex desk

Think about which size(s) actually could benefit your work experience.

When I use my laptop as my second monitor, I only use it for Spotify or something not super critical. That’s why I don’t mind that it’s a small screen. I talk about this more in our article on dual monitor arrangements

You might find the same is true for you and would be fine with smaller monitors on the sides. They are much more affordable so your wallet will thank you.

Resolution

Most standard monitors come in Full HD (1080p) which is 1920 x 1080 pixels. This is a great place to start and is suitable for most people. 

There are two higher resolution standards out there in the normal 16:9 aspect ratio in comparison:

  • Full HD 1080p (1920 x 1080 > ~2.1 million pixels)
  • 1440p (2560 x 1440 > ~3.7 million pixels )
  • 4K (3840 x 2160 > ~8.3 million pixels)

Higher resolutions will typically give you more clarity as you are not able to see the individual pixels. It makes for a nice viewing experience with really good sharpness. 

Monitor Size And Desk Depth (2)

The sharpness is heavily dependent on the size of your monitor because that determines the pixel density. I won’t dive deep into this topic, but if you want to learn more about pixel density for monitors, check out this article.

The main point I want to get across here is that higher resolution monitors will take more effort for your computer to drive. 

For example, if you have four 1080p monitors, your computer has to do the same amount of work to drive a single 4K monitor. That’s because their total pixel count is the same (about 8.3 million pixels).

If you have four 4K monitors, your computer has to work super hard, because now your computer has to display a total of ~33.2 million pixels! Your computer has to be pretty powerful to do this smoothly. 

If you want to go with a high resolution setup, think about your computer’s graphics performance level first. If you are not sure, stick to 1080p or 1440p monitors. Or just make your primary monitor a higher resolution and the others are 1080p. 

Your graphics card specifications should also include a maximum overall resolution output if you want to know the highest resolution setup possible.

VESA Mounting

The last feature I strongly urge everyone to look for is VESA compatibility. If you are unfamiliar with VESA, we have a dedicated article on what VESA mounting is

Basically, it’s a set of four threaded holes on the back of monitors that makes them compatible with aftermarket mounting. This gives you much more freedom on how you can arrange your monitors. 

VESA Monitor Mounting back plate

So if you have any plans to either stack monitors or make one vertical, I highly recommend getting a monitor that has this VESA hole pattern on the backside. 

There are ways to mount monitors without VESA holes, but it is not the cleanest looking solution. 

Step 4 – Purchase Those Monitors

I know you already know how to purchase a set of monitors, but I wanted to share how you can get great monitors for cheap! 

New monitors are great because they come with warranties, no history, and no user induced defects. But they can cost a lot, especially if you want a fancy set of monitors. 

Keep in mind our monitor costs have multiplied by four! So being cost efficient is more important with this type of setup. 

This is where we start exploring some budget-friendly ways to get those monitors. 

Get Monitors For Cheap

Best Buy Open Box

If you want a respectable deal that still has a return policy attached to it, the Best Buy Open Box program is for you. 

Open box monitors are those that someone purchased, unboxed, and then returned. I’ve purchased multiple open box products from Best Buy, and have not yet been disappointed. If you do have a bad experience, you simply return it. No harm, no foul.  

This is an easy way to shave off a nice portion of the price on a basically new monitor! 

Best Buy OPEN BOX monitor savings

Check out this super expensive ultrawide monitor. It shows the original price was $1,199 and is now $899.

If you look closely under the “add to cart” button, you’ll see that an open box version is only $649! That’s a huge savings!

best buy open box discount

Facebook Marketplace & Craigslist

If you want a much better deal than a simple open box product, nothing beats finding a working monitor with fully used pricing. 

Check out the price of these monitors in my local Facebook Marketplace. As low as $30 for working monitors! You can also find businesses trying to liquidate items which is also a good place for deals. 

Facebook Marketplace monitor prices

In fact, I got my Dell 34 inch ultrasharp wide monitor from Facebook Marketplace. It is a $600 monitor, and I only paid $200. You don’t find deals like this anywhere else. 

I recommend testing out the monitor using your phone with an HDMI adapter. Something

would work for iPhones, and for those with android phones. 

This way you don’t have to take your precious computer with you to meet a stranger. That brings me to my next point. Always meet in a public and crowded place just to be safe. 

I like to test a bright white image and a dark black image on a used monitor. This shows you if there are any blemishes or dead pixels. Also, play a colorful video to see how colors and refresh rates are presented. 

It won’t be a perfect test, but it will give you an idea of what to expect. Here is a more detailed resource on what to look for before buying a used monitor

Step 5 – Grab A Monitor Mount If Necessary

Remember how we got all VESA mount compatible monitors? That now allows us to have a very sleek quad monitor mounting system. 

You can choose a desk clamp mount system if your desk is strong enough, such as a solid wood desk. There are other ways to clamp monitor mounts to weak desks. You can also use methods to clamp monitor mounts to thick desks too

Here are some examples of monitor mounts you can get specific to quad monitor setups.

2×2  Monitor Arrangement

VIVO Quad Monitor Desk Mount

This quad monitor mount fits screens 13" to 30" up to 17.6 lbs with VESA 75x75mm or 100x100mm hole patterns. It has articulation and height adjustment, integrated cable management, and easy installation with detachable VESA plates.

Check Price on Amazon

1×3 Monitor Arrangement

VIVO Quad 3 Plus 1 Monitor Mount

This quad monitor mount holds four computer monitors (13” to 32”) weighing up to 22 pounds each with VESA mounting holes. It's fully adjustable with tilt, swivel, rotation, and height adjustment, and frees up desk space dramatically. The C-clamp is compatible with desks up to 3.94” in thickness.

Check Price on Amazon

Freestanding 2×2 Monitor Setup

Stand Steady Freestanding 4 Monitor Mount

This mount sits on top of any desk and supports 4 monitors up to 32 inches and 17.6 lbs each. It also offers full-motion articulation, swivel, rotate, tilt, and height adjustments, and is easy to install with quick-release VESA.

Check Price on Amazon

Step 6 – Wire Up Those Monitors

By now you should have everything from your monitors, desired monitor arrangement, and mounting all figured out. 

Now we have to make sure they can all connect to your computer.

We need to make sure that our monitors have the same connection types as our computer. We also need to check that our computer actually has four display connections too. 

Targus USB-C Universal Docking Station

Check the input connections that all of your monitors have. For modern monitors, this is going to be either an HDMI or DisplayPort connection. 

If you have a tower computer, you might actually have four of these display connections ready to go. Make sure each computer connection has a matching monitor connection.

If you are a laptop user, you probably don’t have four monitor outputs. Instead, you will need a hub or a docking station. 

Here are a few options for laptop users that have a USB-C port that can extend to up to four monitors. 

USB-C to 4 Port HDMI Adapter Hub

This 4-port HDMI splitter supports 4 displays and allows multitasking with a larger desktop space. It supports 1080p resolution and 48 kHz embedded audio. It's USB powered with SuperSpeed USB 3.0 and does not require external power.

Check Price on Amazon

Cheaper hubs and docking stations tend to only support lower resolutions and refresh rates. More expensive options can carry more data with higher resolution as long as it is compatible with your computer. 

Targus USB-C Universal Docking Station

This docking station with Power Delivery 2.0 provides up to 100W. It supports single 5K and four 4K UHD displays via the four DisplayPort or four HDMI ports. It also has 5 USB ports, 1 Gigabit Ethernet port, and a 3.5mm audio jack.

Check Price on Amazon

Just be sure that the hub is compatible with your computer. So if it’s advertised as a Thunderbolt dock, ensure you have a Thunderbolt port. Amazon listings do a decent job of mentioning what common laptops are supported with their products. 

Perform A Functional Check

As soon as you can, perform a quick functional check before you do any mounting or cable management. 

This will save you time and help you troubleshoot if anything is wrong. You can also return products that you find don’t work right away.

This basically involves plugging in all your monitors, display cables, and docking stations to test everything out. Once everything is working, you can move to the final step! 

Step 8 – Install & Tidy Up

Now it’s time to perform the final mounting and tidying up process. 

  • Install quad monitor mount onto your desk
  • Remove the factory monitor stands
  • Mount monitors onto quad monitor mount
  • Connect all monitors to power
  • Connect all monitors to their display ports
  • Tidy up those cables

If you need help hiding all of your monitor cables, we have a great guide on hiding monitor cables here. 

Viola! You’re all done. Enjoy the unstoppable productivity benefits of your quad monitor setup!

Photo of author

Dasun

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!