Buying a new monitor—are two better than one?

#1 Posted by JJWeatherman (14558 posts) -

Alright, guys. I'm looking at buying a new monitor (or two) and I could use some advice.

Some things I'm looking for:

  • Probably looking at 27", no smaller
  • Thin bezel if I end up running two side-by-side (more on that later)
  • Reasonable response time for gaming purposes
  • Quality panel (probably IPS)
  • 2560x1440 would be nice...

So, I feel like at 27 inches that I may want to bump up to a resolution beyond 1080, probably to 2560x1440, though this is potentially problematic. I currently have a mirrored display setup with a 1080 television, but I hardly (if ever) use the two displays simultaneously, so if I have to get used to manually Windows+P-ing back and forth, it's not the end of the world, I suppose. The real pitfall of going for a 27" monitor at higher than 1080 is the price. I'm not sure it's possible to find anything displaying 2560x1440 at that size for less than ~$600, which would all but eliminate the idea of buying two monitors.

Speaking of which, what I really feel like I need are some opinions on running dual monitors. Assuming I can find a monitor I like for ~$300, I'm considering buying two and possibly some wall mounts. For anyone who runs dual monitors: is it worth it? I don't particularly need it for any serious work that I do or anything like that, but it just seems super luxurious to have that much screen space. Am I crazy? Is one enough?

A few choices I'm considering:

ModelPriceReasoning
Dell S2740L$270I could definitely afford two of these. I really like the edge-to-edge glass and seamless nature of the bezel here. The reflectiveness probably wouldn't be a huge issue for me. This is almost exactly what I want, if not for the lower 1080p resolution. Is that a deal-breaker?
Dell U2713HM$599This seems to be the best monitor you can buy for a reasonable amount of money. Glorious 2560x1440 and all. Couple of things, though: I don't think I like the matte screen or the more pronounced bezel. But I guess the bezel is less of an issue if I can only afford one of these.
ASUS PB278Q$549This seems to be similar to the $50 more expensive Dell listed above. From what I gather, it's just as good at a slightly lower price. So, basically the same thoughts here as the Dell.

So the big question: Would you guys go with two monitors at 1080 or a single at 2560x1440?

If anyone has any different suggestions or various thoughts, I'd love to hear them.

#2 Edited by noizy (662 posts) -

I would go dual. I've been on dual screen for, heck, over a decade easily, and I can't go back.

  • I love being able to push secondary application on the secondary screen.
  • I love being able to watch videos on one screen while doing something, e.g. gaming and watching UPF on the second screen.

As for 1440p. I've been considering it, also considering a 120Hz monitor. I have a "3rd" screen which is the TV in the living room. The whole issue of needing to change the settings in the game to 1080p when I play in the living room, and back to 1440p when switching to the PC is a real turn off to me. As a result I'm sticking to 1080p all over, and going with a 120Hz screen as my primary. (Getting a new one, and giving the older one to my dad for a build I did for him). Hopefully it won't cause too much problems switching back and forth. Some games I'm sure will not like it.

One thing to bear in mind is that if you have two identical screen, eventually one will die first and you will need to replace it. By that point, you won't be able to get the same screen. I wouldn't be so strict in having to totally identical screen. As long as they are adjustable to the same height (ideally get screens with a adjustable beam, or as you suggested, get those custom mounts). You could always get a prime screen for primary, which you will use for game, and get a lesser quality screen for secondary. If you calibrate it correctly, it shouldn't be too noticeable. It's a compromise worth considering.

#3 Posted by Poppduder (460 posts) -

My friend has 2 of the 2740L's and his only complaint is how reflective they are. If that's not a problem for you, I think that's a good set up. Perhaps I'm crazy, but if I was spending YOUR money.... I'd probably go with a nice 27" 1440p guy (The ASUS for example) and maybe a smaller, cheaper secondary monitor. That's what I'm doing now, and it's nice to just throw up a giant bomb video on the smaller monitor to my right, and having something like work or a game on my 27" in front of me.

#4 Edited by noizy (662 posts) -

@poppduder: Yea. Two different sized screen (and quality) is definitely worth considering as well.

#5 Edited by TheManWithNoPlan (5438 posts) -

I'll just say that once I went duel it's never felt right to go back to a single screen. Right now as I'm typing on one screen I'm watching a video on the other. It's fantastic being able to have an extra screen to work with. I have two different sized monitors (19in) and (24in) and if it's more affordable then don't hesitate buying two screens that aren't the same size.

#6 Edited by Kidavenger (3536 posts) -

I went from dual 19 screens to 24" computer screen + 50" TV to single 27" monitor and tablet.

The single monitor and tablet has been the best for me, all I ever did with my second screen was surf the web though.

#7 Posted by dagas (2820 posts) -

I've never had dual monitors but I can't imagine that being good for games. Even with a thin bezel it will still look strange. Maybe for work it would be nice.

I would go with a 30" high resolution screen rather than two 1080p.

I'm happy with my 24" 1080p though. with dual monitors or a higher res display you'll need twice the graphics power to play at the same settings. Not worth it unless you think $4-500 for a video card is acceptable.

#8 Posted by Nightriff (5037 posts) -

Go dual screens, its extremely convenient and nice to have. Necessary? No, but amazing when you need extra space.

#9 Posted by Nightriff (5037 posts) -

Go dual screens, its extremely convenient and nice to have. Necessary? No, but amazing when you need extra space.

#10 Edited by JJWeatherman (14558 posts) -

Hmm. Thanks for the responses. This is a lot to consider.

@noizy, which monitors do you use? The monitors of varying quality/size thing mentioned by you, @poppduder, and @themanwithnoplan is an option I never really considered. I'm kind of a stickler for uniformity in things like this, but I'll definitely consider it.

@dagas, 30" monitors seem to be like $1,000. That's a bit much. As far as gaming at higher resolutions is concerned, I'd likely still go single monitor for games. Although I already have a GTX 770, so yes, I guess I consider $400 GPUs to be acceptable, ha.

#11 Posted by AlexW00d (6240 posts) -

@dagas said:

I've never had dual monitors but I can't imagine that being good for games. Even with a thin bezel it will still look strange. Maybe for work it would be nice.

I would go with a 30" high resolution screen rather than two 1080p.

I'm happy with my 24" 1080p though. with dual monitors or a higher res display you'll need twice the graphics power to play at the same settings. Not worth it unless you think $4-500 for a video card is acceptable.

...You don't play the game stretched to both monitors dude. One for the game/work/main thing you're doing, and one for web browser/film/any sort of side thing.

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#12 Edited by StarFoxA (5150 posts) -

I have two 24" 1080p screens. Use one for gaming and the other for multitasking. All that room is great. 1440p is also a good idea provided you have the power (R9 290 and up, GTX 780 and up for a constant 60fps).

If you go with dual 1080p, I can recommend the Asus VN248H-P. IPS, great monitor with a bezel only a few cm thick. I have one of those and the Asus VS239H-P (slightly smaller, 23" vs 23.8", worse stand, taller, DVI, and thicker bezel).

#13 Posted by MikkaQ (10284 posts) -

As someone who gets to work on two 27" 2560x1440 monitors... fuckin' do it if you can! It's a lot of pixels to work with and you'll never want for more room, pretty much no matter what you do with it. I can have a whole monitor dedicated to Avid, with my bins, email, and a webpage on the 2nd one, and it's not even tight.

I wish I could afford monitors like that for the home office.

#14 Posted by mooncake (157 posts) -

The next frontier is triple!

#15 Edited by crithon (3138 posts) -

I just can't work without a second monitor for over the past 14 years. I've learned it doesn't matter too much, you could use a dumb CRT to keep it nice and low res. But if you want two of the same hrz then I could totally understand. But yeah, I often keep like photoshop windows on the second monitor, or other programs, just to keep my desktop feeling less cluttered.

#16 Edited by noizy (662 posts) -

@jjweatherman: I used to have two Viewsonic VX2255wm, then one of those LCDs died, so I bought a ASUS VH236H to replace it (didn't do a lot of research, it does the job). I'm giving the Viewsonic to my dad and ordered an Benq XL2420T, and will move the ASUS as secondary. I started dual montor with two 17" Viewsonic CRTs back in the days. I agree it's nice to have identical screens, but one will eventually die and you'll get over it ;)

@dagas Most of people using dual monitor don't actually use both while playing games. Very few games are designed for a secondary screen. If you want to do multi-monitor for games, the typical setup is to use is 3 screens (with Eyefinity for example). You really are just using the middle screen as primary, and the two side monitors are for you peripheral vision. Cool for racing games, flight sims, and some would say shooters too.

#17 Posted by mosdl (3228 posts) -

I work from home so I have a two Dell U2412M - I find a 24 inch to be more than enough for gaming/work especially since you can get a higher quality display for the same money.. Coincidentally Amazon has them on sale right now for $229.99.

#18 Posted by alanm26v5 (446 posts) -

@mosdl: Do you ever find yourself wishing you'd gone for the U2413? I'm looking at adding a second monitor and I have a U2410 which I could probably keep as the primary and still have features like HDMI, so the extra price for the 2413 probably isn't worth it to me. Also had I seen the $229 price I might have just pulled the trigger. They're $275 right now looks like.

#19 Edited by mosdl (3228 posts) -

@mosdl: Do you ever find yourself wishing you'd gone for the U2413? I'm looking at adding a second monitor and I have a U2410 which I could probably keep as the primary and still have features like HDMI, so the extra price for the 2413 probably isn't worth it to me. Also had I seen the $229 price I might have just pulled the trigger. They're $275 right now looks like.

I went with the U2412 for the same reason - the 2413 features were not something I needed and instead took the savings.

#20 Posted by Hardywells (49 posts) -

My rig has 2 monitors and a 42" tv hooked up to it. Could never go back to one monitor.

#21 Posted by Vuud (1961 posts) -

Having a huge monitor is not always the best for gaming. Like for FPS's you don't want to have to move your eyes around a big screen to search for targets. Same goes for RTS where you have to be quick on the mouse and need to get that cursor around quickly.

But once you go two monitors it's real hard to go back. Two monitors are sweeeet to have.

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#22 Posted by BaconGames (3371 posts) -

Depends on what you want to do really. If you have the video card to push games above 1080, I don't see why not. Productivity wise is the only other argument I can see for going above 1080 but personally I don't have a use for going above 1080 whether gaming or productivity even though I have the hardware to push those resolutions. For me I use a 23-24" monitor and a 40" TV for controller games and stuff I don't need a sharp response time for. I'll eventually have to go for the switch over to a single monitor when I move out for grad school in a year and I'm personally leaning on a single 27" monitor at 1080p.

#23 Edited by MonkeyKing1969 (2700 posts) -

@mooncake said:

The next frontier is triple!

Next frontier is likely a head mounted display, a curved 32:9 ratio screen, or a spherical radius curvature screen that surrounds your vision field.

#24 Posted by tourgen (4478 posts) -

I'm using dual ASUS PA248Q monitors - smaller, lower-res, but similar tech I believe as the ASUS you listed. They're awesome. Color reproduction is fantastic. Dual-monitors is super-nice if you can swing it. I wouldn't go back.

My only issue with the PA248Q's is a known issue with their DVI-D input - it's flaky. I had to return 1 of the monitors to Newegg to get one that didn't flicker when using DVI. It was just the DVI input too. all other inputs were fine.

#25 Posted by me3639 (1753 posts) -

I have been pc gaming before pc gaming was a thing and never got into any of the crazy dual/triple monitor high resolution mainly because of 2 things:

1. Cost

2. When resolution> 1080P thats where you have to put in that extra PC love. Keeping drivers UTD, drives clean, monitoring temps, etc. to maximize and maintain settings.

I currently have had a Samsung 27"(1080P max) for the last 2 years and would highly recommend, however:

1. My office/ PC gaming room only has 1 window in which i have it Gerstamnned(blackout)

2. Only 1 HDMI input.

3. I have it sitting on a book(Office 2007) which is pretty thick because the stand doesn't adjust.

If you are not into all the bells and whistles of a PC i would stick to a single monitor and spend the extra on a pair of Astro A50 wireless and you will be all set.

#26 Edited by Seikenfreak (380 posts) -

Dual monitors.

I have three 24" monitors I got for about $200 each about four years ago. It depends if you just jump on the computer from time to time or live on it all day, every day like I tend to do lol. As others have said, once you go multi-monitor it's hard to go back. Minimizing becomes annoying and watching videos on the net while playing a game becomes the expectation.

At the moment I use the right monitor for web browser, the left monitor for instant messenger program, music player, Mumble etc and the center monitor for games, file browsing, photoshop etc.. just whatever the main thing is. Having more than one monitor can be extremely handy for something like an MMO when you can be in the game and quick browse the internet at the same time without having to minimize or whatever. Same with IM program if you use one of those. When I want to watch a movie I switch the output my 47" TV and drag the VLC player onto that screen.

I'd absolutely rather have two or three monitors instead of one really big high end one.

#27 Posted by Ben_H (3348 posts) -

I went from a 1920x1200 24" Dell and 1920x1080 23" Dell (both Ultrasharps) to a single U2713HM for doing work and I actually like it better. I find it easier to focus. Once you hit 27" 1440p, you basically never have anything fullscreened (outside of stuff like IDEs) because you end up a lot of wasted space. Instead I usually have the monitor divided into 2-3 sections.

I use my old double monitor setup for playing games while watching videos and stuff. It is at a different desk. For playing games, that is the optimal setup. For doing work, it comes down to preference. I didn't actually like using 27" for playing games. It requires a ton more GPU power to run games smoothly. Stuff I could easily run at 1920x1200 was struggling quite a bit at 2560x1440.

#28 Posted by bybeach (4792 posts) -

I'm sure my outlook is shaped by I do not need (or want). That is, one for work. If I am gaming I am gaming, not surfing the net or working. but I wish someone would be an apologist, or an outright raving cult fanatic for dual/triple monitors for gaming exclusively. Do you get past the bezels? Is it dramatically more immersive? I've thought of a triple monitor myself, for a quasi curved effect, if that is a thing. I supposedly have the card for it now...

Otherwise considering a big Ultra sharp from Dell, or something newer I keep hearing about.

#29 Edited by Viqor (60 posts) -

Go dual. Even if they are different sizes, the amount of space you have to work with will make you wonder how you ever got by with just one and if cost is a concern, you could always go Korean: colors won't be as good and you might have to deal with limited warranty support, but the price is unbeatable (~$300-350). And for whatever it's worth, I've been using one for over 2 years now without any issues whatsoever and calibration took care of most of the color issues.

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#30 Posted by Spoonman671 (4607 posts) -

I'm afraid what will happen to me once I have to go back to a single monitor setup. I don't even use both for games, but the functionality of having two screens to work with when comparing things or multitasking is so convenient.

If you do go multi-monitor, I recommend picking up DisplayFusion.

#31 Posted by Snail (8597 posts) -

To me that's not even a question. Two 1080 screens are a lot better than a single screen of a somewhat higher resolution. Like, no question. You get so much more real-estate, and it's so great to split your open programs/games/whatever over two workspaces. It's such a thermal shock to go back to just one screen.

If you do go multi-monitor, I recommend picking up DisplayFusion.

Windows 8 already does everything that DisplayFusion does, so if that's his OS he won't need it. I used to use DisplayFusion on Windows 7, and then when I upgraded I realized I didn't need any of its features anymore.

#32 Posted by johnmasterlee (4 posts) -

One word of caution: Don't get two 27 inch monitors. Way too big to place next to each other without you turning your neck back and forth. If I had to redo it, I would get one smaller monitor next to my 27 inch one, and use that one for things I run in the background ie. Twitch, Email, etc.

#33 Posted by Ezekiel (415 posts) -

A find that a second monitor on my table draws attention and ruins the whole space, even when it's not on. It has too much presence. I would need a very wide table for it not to suck. Mine is about 1.5 meters wide and I have the screen in the middle so that I'm not distracted by the uneven space, and so that there is room for my mouse pad.

#34 Posted by ajamafalous (11964 posts) -

Super old thread, but: going back to a single display after having two monitors is such a terrible experience that you'll wonder how you ever got anything done with just one.

#35 Posted by MikkaQ (10284 posts) -

I personally like two monitors but only game on one. I work/play off of a PC and a mac so I just tend to have each on one screen, or if I really need to work, I'll make my mac take over both screens. I think it's worth it, but only because of my job, really. It is nice to be able to grind in some games while watching Netflix off in another monitor though. I got through all of Star Trek while playing Eve Online.

#36 Posted by Yesiamaduck (1025 posts) -

I love two monitors for anything but gaming.

My fav thing to do is to have a stream running on ----> in full screen and have this window an open chat room of people watching the same stream. Or a video game on one and stream/other thing on the other.

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