Choosing for a setup with two monitors could be made for several reasons. More often than not the amount of screens you need, has to do with the amount of multitasking that you do. Be it that you are writing on one screen, while reading information on the other, a setup with more than one screen can be very useful indeed. This is how you get started.
Image via Flickr by Watchcaddy
Can Your Computer Support It?
No matter how badly you want it, or whether or not you have the monitors already, it is important that your computer can handle it. This means that you need:
- 2 video connectors which can be connected to your monitors.
- Up-to-date hardware.
Even if your graphic card can support two monitors, the rest of your computer should be able to handle it as well.
- Up-to-date drivers.
Without the right drivers for your specific brand and model of video card, you cannot use its full potential.
However, generally speaking when you have two video connectors on your computer there shouldn't be a problem. The worst case scenario being, that you might eventually have a black screen, and need to go through the above checks later on.
Image via Flickr by Josh Miller
Matching Equipment to Use
Now that you know you have a computer which can handle it, it is time to choose how you want everything set up.
In order to do this right you will have to think about the way you want to use your system:
- Do you want your system to be fixed or interchangeable?
- Do you have an existing monitor you want to use?
- What will you use the screens for?
- Do you have the physical space?
The easiest way to go about these questions is to look at what you have. If you have a laptop, it would be more logical to create a system that easily allows you to disconnected the laptop. But also a system that allows you to use the keyboard of the laptop, rather than an external one. This calls for a specific solution, while having a desktop, and an existing monitor calls for a very different one.
The next step is to look at the intended use now, and in the future.
- Would you want to expand your screens beyond two?
- Where would you prefer the second screen to be in relation to your primary screen?
- Will you use it mostly for yourself or will you use it to present a screen to others as well?
All these questions will narrow down the kind of monitor arm that you are looking for. You can also choose not to use a monitor arm, and simply have them standing on your desktop. However you will then lose the benefit of the added space under the monitors; which an arm does provide. Even more important is the ergonomic side of things. How well will you be sitting if your screens are at their standard height? Chances are that you have to look down, which will create neck pains in a short while, and remember you will also move your head around a lot more with multiple screens.
Finally you will want to look at the physical space you have; again with the future in mind. A desk that can be moved up and down, should keep in mind the height of a room. Monitors that are used to present to a client, should have the freedom to rotate without colliding with other objects. The list goes on, but what it comes down to, is the amount of monitors you want in the final phase, the positioning (vertical or horizontal) and the size of the individual monitors.
Ordering and Assembling
With all of the research out of the way, you can start ordering the equipment needed. If you are going to use a monitor you already have, try to match the new monitors as closely to the existing model. Preferably the exact same brand and model, since the whole will match and look professional. Again, also make sure that you order monitors which have the right video connectors, to match the ones on your computer.
The monitor arm you order can have many options like: rotating on the base, in the arm and around the arm, and other options like being pulled closer and pushed away. Depending on your situation you might prefer one which is fixed. Either way keep in mind what your future plans are, if you would want to expand, and how. Another important consideration before ordering, is the material which you will attach the arm to. Whether the arm will be attached to a wall or clamped on a desk can make a lot of difference. Not every desk can take the weight of a sturdy monitor arm and the weight it has from the monitors, so make sure that you have taken this into account.
Finally, the assembling of an arm to a surface, or a monitor to an arm, is not hard. Given that the monitors that you order are made for this particular use. Not all monitors can be used on a bracket or arm, so make sure that this is mentioned by the producer. Most of the time this can be checked by looking if it has VESA mounting options.
Only after having made the choice of which monitors you want, should you look for a monitor arm which can support its particular VESA mounting pattern.
With all of that out of the way, you can connect the monitors to your computer with the provided cables. Make sure you have an extra connector box at the ready though, since your screen (and possibly your monitor arm) will require some empty sockets.
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