As monitors and bezels become thinner, setting up multiple monitors becomes more attractive from a spatial, functional, and aesthetic perspective. Rather than constantly having to minimize and maximize applications, they allow you to demarcate your desk into separate spaces, improving productivity. For games that support the feature, you can use multiple monitors to expand your viewing space. This guide will help you set up this feature on a PC system.
Step 1: Monitor Size and Make
First you want to make sure you have the funds to purchase the exact same model twice. At the very least you should try for the same size, resolution, and brightness. Dragging a mouse between two monitors can be distracting if one is larger than the other, like light refracting in a pool. You want the pointer transition to be seamless, and not have to scour the screen for your cursor each time you move the mouse.
The bezel is also a distracting feature, especially in gaming, and the main reason people stay away from multiple monitors. While it may not be as bothersome for running spreadsheets are multi-tasking, for gaming it might appear as if critical areas are hidden behind a stripe of black plastic. Technically this is not true, since the total visible area has been expanded and not zoomed in, but the bezel can still at times take you out of the illusion. A thin bezel can help rectify that, which is why it’s important thing to ask yourself what you need your second monitor for before you purchase one.
Step 2: Check Your Graphics Cards
In the past, a consumer had to purchase multiple graphics cards, also known as video cards, to set up multiple monitors. This was because most graphics cards only came with one output slot. Most GPUs today come with a standard monitor output and an HDMI output, or dual HDMI and DVI outputs. Thus it’s important to match your graphics card outputs with the inputs featured in your monitor. For instance, if you already have one monitor that is an older model, you may opt to buy an updated model of the same size that features an HDMI output, so you don’t have to purchase another graphics card. A graphics card with an HDMI output is probably a wise investment anyway, in the event you want to use your television as a monitor.
Step 3: Setup the Monitors
Everything is plug and play, so setting up the monitors should be as simple as setting them on the desk and plugging in the cables to your graphics card. If you are using the same model, it doesn’t matter which monitor you put on the left or right, you will mirror the set up virtually on your computer afterward.
Step 4: Configure the Software
Nowadays, configuring devices is as easy as pushing a button, clicking a link, checking a box. Multiple monitor features should be accessible via the graphics card software that came with your video card. For example, for nVidia all you have to do is right-click on the desktop, run the nVidia control panel, then go to the multiple display section. From there you can alter resolution of each monitor, label one of them your primary display, rotate displays, change flat panel scaling, and alter display location. In other words, you want to make sure the computer reads that the monitor physically on the left is virtual on the left as well. If your monitors are the exact same make and model, an easy way to see if you have them properly positioned is to run your mouse back and forth between the monitors. It will be obvious if the computer has them backwards, at which point you can either physically move your monitors, or simply drag and drop the virtual monitors in the configuration window to their proper side.
In the end, having multiple monitors can increase productivity, visible space, and the look of your workstation. Depending on your current rig, however, it can be costly, and it’s important to remember what your ultimate goals are before you fish for your wallet.