The best monitor for a dual setup can optimize your workflow and boost your productivity considerably. Ex-Microsoft Supremo, Bill Gates, is famously a huge fan of multiple monitors.
Every year, it seems the picks for the best monitor get bigger. Should you get the largest monitor you can buy, or would two monitors be better than a huge one like one of the best ultrawide monitors? Whether you're doubling up on the best 4K monitor on the market or just wanting to expand your 1080p workspace, this guide will explore the research that supports using two displays instead of one and what monitor pair is best for every use case.
The main benefit of a dual monitor setup for businesses is productivity. Multiple displays allow you to see more, eliminating the delays caused by window and application switching. You will also find that two smaller monitors deliver better results and often cost less than buying a single, super-large one.
We've compared these dual-setup monitors on many points, from their screen size and resolution to their brightness, ports, and design. We evaluated what scenarios and users they're best for, what devices they're compatible with, and the panel type, among other aspects. During our testing process, we have used these monitors extensively in our testing area, offices, and home offices to ensure we have a proper feel for the monitor's capabilities in real-world usage and not just benchmark testing. For more on our testing process, check out how we test: professional and business monitors.
We've also reviewed the best business webcams and the best business Macs. We've written extensively on multiple monitors, why you need dual monitors (or more than one monitor), and how to create a fantastic multi-monitor setup.
The best monitors for a dual setup in 2023 in full
Reasons to buy
Reasons to avoid
The BenQ PD2725U is a 27-inch monitor that is well-suited for use in a dual setup. It can be daisy chained from one monitor to another, allowing for one single cable into your computer, whilst still getting the benefit of onboard ports. One of its standout features is its 4K resolution, which offers crisp, clear visuals that are ideal for media creation and editing tasks. In addition, the monitor supports HDR, which helps to enhance contrast and color accuracy. Other features of the PD2725U include a 60Hz refresh rate, a 4ms response time, and a wide viewing angle. The 60Hz refresh rate is sufficient for most tasks and helps to reduce motion blur, while the 4ms response time ensures that there is minimal delay between player input and on-screen action. The wide viewing angle makes it easy to view the monitor from a variety of positions, making it comfortable to use for extended periods of time.
Read the full review: BenQ PD2725U Monitor
Reasons to buy
Reasons to avoid
The expansive Dell U2723QE 4K monitor does more than just provide a great viewing experience, its built-in hub also provides a solution for those needing to expand their connectivity options in a sleek, ergonomic package.
We appreciated the wide range of built-in color settings (sRGB, Rec. 709, DCI-P3 and HDR) that allowed us to quickly adjust the monitor for optimal viewing across a wide variety of scenarios. The Low Blue Light output also meant we were not experiencing as much eye strain.
What we really liked though, was the built-in hub that provided plenty of connectivity through a single cable. The U2723QE provides additional ports for daisy-chaining your second monitor using USB-C or DisplayPort connections. Also included are KVM, Picture-In-Picture (PIP), and Picture-By-Picture (PBP) if you need to see or control multiple computers.
Read our full Dell UltraSharp U2723QE 4K USB-C Hub review
Reasons to buy
Reasons to avoid
The InnoCN 27M2U is a 27-inch monitor that is designed to be both stylish and functional. It features a sleek, slim bezel that is sure to complement any desk setup. In terms of performance, the 27M2U offers a Full HD resolution, which is more than sufficient for productivity tasks and everyday use. The monitor also has a 60Hz refresh rate, a 4ms response time, and a wide viewing angle, making it well-suited for multitasking and general use. The 60Hz refresh rate is sufficient for most tasks and helps to reduce motion blur, while the 4ms response time ensures that there is minimal delay between player input and on-screen action. The wide viewing angle makes it easy to view the monitor from a variety of positions, making it comfortable to use for extended periods of time.
Read the full review: InnoCN 27M2U Monitor
Reasons to buy
Reasons to avoid
The BenQ PD3220U is a 32-inch monitor that offers a solid all-around performance. It features a 4K resolution, which provides crisp, clear visuals that are ideal for tasks such as photo editing and video production. In addition, the monitor supports HDR, which helps to enhance contrast and color accuracy. Other features of the PD3220U include a 60Hz refresh rate, a 4ms response time, and a wide viewing angle. The 60Hz refresh rate is sufficient for most tasks and helps to reduce motion blur, while the 4ms response time ensures that there is minimal delay between player input and on-screen action. The wide viewing angle makes it easy to view the monitor from a variety of positions, making it comfortable to use for extended periods of time.
Read the full review: BenQ PD3220U Monitor
Reasons to buy
Reasons to avoid
The MSI Modern MD271QP is a 27-inch monitor that is geared towards gamers. It boasts a fast refresh rate of 144Hz, which helps to reduce motion blur and provide a smooth, seamless gaming experience. In addition, the MD271QP has a low input lag, which ensures that there is minimal delay between player input and on-screen action. Other features of the monitor include a Full HD resolution, a 4ms response time, and a wide viewing angle. The Full HD resolution is sufficient for most gaming tasks, and the 4ms response time ensures that there is minimal delay between player input and on-screen action. The wide viewing angle makes it easy to view the monitor from a variety of positions, making it comfortable to use for extended periods of time.
Read the full review: MSI Modern MD271QP
Reasons to buy
Reasons to avoid
The Monoprice 28-inch CrystalPro 4K is a large monitor that offers plenty of screen real estate for multitasking and productivity. It has a 4K resolution, which provides crisp, clear visuals that are ideal for tasks such as photo editing and video production. In addition, the CrystalPro 4K has a 60Hz refresh rate, a 4ms response time, and a wide viewing angle, making it well-suited for general use.
Read the full review: Monoprice 28-inch CrystalPro 4K
Best Monitor for a Dual Setup: Frequently Asked Questions
What is the best setup for dual monitors?
We asked Jason Lee, BenQ's North America LCD Line of Business Head, for his thoughts. Below are his top 6 best practices for setting up dual monitors.
1. Optimal Display Quality: When setting up a dual monitor configuration, prioritize monitors known for their precise color reproduction and wide color gamut. Look for professional-grade monitors that offer excellent color accuracy, ensuring that your visuals are displayed with accuracy and detail.
2. Seamless Viewing Experience: Positioning the dual monitors side by side with minimal bezel gap provides a seamless viewing experience. Monitors with thin bezels maximize screen real estate and minimize distractions, allowing you to work seamlessly across both screens.
3. Ergonomic Design: Choose monitors that offer adjustable stands or compatible mounting options. Customizing the height, tilt, and swivel of your monitors promotes ergonomic comfort, reducing strain during long work sessions.
4. Connectivity Options: Select monitors that provide a range of connectivity options, such as HDMI, DisplayPort, or USB-C/Thunderbolt 3. This versatility ensures compatibility with various devices and facilitates an easy and convenient setup process.
5. Efficient Workflow Features: Consider monitors that offer additional features to enhance your workflow efficiency. Some professional monitors include built-in KVM switches for controlling multiple computers, or integrated card readers for seamless data transfer. These features can streamline your workflow and boost productivity.
6. Calibration Capabilities: Look for monitors that offer advanced calibration options to achieve accurate and consistent color reproduction. Some monitors provide built-in calibration tools or compatibility with external calibration devices. Calibration ensures that your dual monitor setup delivers reliable and precise color representation.
By considering these factors, you can create an optimal dual monitor setup tailored to your needs.
Can any PC handle 2 monitors?
We asked Andrew Hicinbothem, Global Product Marketing Manager at Dell what his thoughts were
There are several things to consider.
First, you want to ensure your PC and monitors are physically connected to each other. It is common to use a combination of DisplayPort HDMI and VGA connections. Recently, the market has expanded its use of USB-C and Thunderbolt Technology. It then becomes possible to connect monitors with a combination of DisplayPort, HDMI, USB-C, and Thunderbolt cables. You’ll also want to determine if you intend to daisy chain 2 monitors together or instead connect 2 monitors individually to connections on the PC. Daisy chaining is when you connect one monitor to the PC directly and then the second monitor is only connected to the first monitor. Some PCs such as Macs can support 2 monitors, but only with full capability in the non-daisy chain scenario.
In non-daisy chaining scenarios, you’ll need to ensure your GPU can drive to separate displays. As monitors advance in resolution and capabilities, it also becomes important to consider the data bandwidth required of the CPU and cables. For this type of detailed information, it is best to read through the manufacturers guidelines to ensure your PC can support all the requirements for 2 monitors.
Is there a benefit to using dual monitors?
Science says yes.
Using two monitors is not a fad. The benefits are real and measurable. What was anecdotal evidence and assumption is supported by scientific research too. Behavioral research studies have found the reduced time required to complete tasks and significant productivity increases.
Jon Peddie, an influential analyst and an industry pioneer in the field of graphics, has done the numbers, and they show a productivity increase of over 40 percent: "We found that users with multiple monitors have an average productivity increase of 42 percent," Peddie explained.
Other experts have validated these assumptions: researchers from the Software Usability Research Laboratory at Wichita State University found 91 percent of users preferred dual monitors to a single monitor during a study completed in 2011. Computers with one and two monitors were used to observe participants performing business tasks. People with two displays completed their tasks 18 percent faster. Many even said a pair of smaller screens would be preferable to a single big screen.
Dual monitors or a single ultrawide monitor?
The pros and Cons
We aren't keen on including prices in buying guides, but for the sake of comparison it’s easiest to display current prices. A pair of 27-inch 4K screens from our best for productivity choice cost less than 600 dollars at the time of writing. There are 8K pixels on a combined display area of 46.98 inches horizontally by 14 inches vertically, and a diagonal size of 49 inches.
If you prefer a 49-inch curved display with a resolution of 5120x1440 pixels and they do exist, you're looking at paying $866 for an entry-level ROG Strix XG49VQ, $1100 for a mid-tier Sceptre Curved 49, and $1349 for a high-tier Samsung Odyssey G9.
As a result, you get a gigantic screen designed mostly for gamers, which can only be used as delivered. If you have separate screens, you can move them vertically or horizontally as you wish. A single monitor is also a single point of failure, so if it malfunctions you're left with nothing to look at.
Those who advocate a single monitor can rightly claim that with a single screen there are no bezels to get in the way, there is only a huge smooth surface of continuous pixels. You decide whether visual comfort vs bulkiness is more advantageous for your use case. Proponents of a dual setup say the human brain is very effective at focusing on what is important and ignoring everything else. Therefore, when you start using more than one screen, especially with multiple apps, the middle bezels just disappear.
How to choose the best monitors for a dual setup for you?
When choosing the best dual monitor setup, you'll want to consider aspects like screen size, resolution, brightness, connectivity options, panel type, and display modes.
Back when monitors were big CRT tubes, placing monitors next to one another was the only option, but today's monitors are thin and no longer weigh a ton. With flexible mount options and monitor stands, you can easily position the screens to your liking and even stack displays on top of one another if you want to.
Some monitors even support screen rotation for "portrait" mode. Lawyers working on long blocks of text and those reading scanned printed documents will benefit from portrait mode, if supported.
You'll want to consider how much space you have at your office for the screens. Keep in mind that you don’t need a huge office to take advantage of dual displays: there is a new breed of small 15-inch portable monitors that deliver the high information density of 4K ultra HD without the bulk. These come with their own foldable stands and can be easily slipped into a backpack, taking your dual-screen setup virtually everywhere.
When you choose a pair of 4K monitors, make sure your graphics card is capable of handling them. To drive two monitors at 4K you´ll want cards capable of handling two or more displays. Just to mention a few: the Gigabyte Geforce RTX 2060 or the MSI GeForce GTX 1660 can support up to three 4K displays and come with three full size ports.
If you are on a tight budget you could have a card like the EVGA GeForce GTX 1080 capable of driving two monitors in 4K at a reasonable price. You can find plenty of options in our graphics cards guides for AMD and Nvidia.
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Collin is the B2B Hardware Editor for TechRadar Pro. He has been in journalism for years, with experience in small and large markets, including Gearadical, DailyBeast, FutureNet, and more.
Collin is an experienced individual who has an abundance of knowledge when it comes to all things professional hardware. He is the go-to subject matter expert for TechRadar Pro and focuses on standing desks, office chairs, business laptops, "pro" monitors, and other similar topics. With his in-depth understanding of these areas, Collin can provide invaluable insights and advice to readers looking to make informed decisions about their hardware investments.