Author Topic: Multiple Monitor setup  (Read 7502 times)

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Offline afish

  • Posts: 1325
Multiple Monitor setup
« on: January 12, 2022, 09:54 AM »
Since my wife is now full time from home I need to upgrade her workstation.  She is in accounting and finance so she doesnt need "gaming level monitor"  but she does spend " A LOT" of time in front of them so something that is easy on the eyes would be good. She works mostly with some HUGE spreadsheets and all that type of gobbleldygook.   Currently she has 2 monitors in the 24" range and a surface laptop screen as a 3rd.  The surface screen is to small to be productive. The 2 24" are mounted on a double monitor stand which is fine for two but the laptop sits on the desk below them so its on a different level and requires the 2 - 24" monitors to be higher than preferred otherwise one or the other will be blocked if I lower the monitors anymore.   Hence the upgrade. 

I started looking at monitors and gave myself a headache.  Heres what I would like to achieve.

1. Min. of 3 full size monitors thinking 27" or more in a wrap around type layout.
2. Something that is easy on the eyes but not overspending either for stuff she doesn't need for what she does. 
3. would like/want all monitors in a single level, she has neck issues so double stacking. 2 high is no good

Some of my questions
1. I see they offer curved monitors "Are these beneficial for what she does or is it more for gaming"?
2. Are we better off with something like 3 27" flat panels or 2 larger curved monitors maybe in the 31-34" range?
3. I see some like LG have built in screen splitting built in to the monitor. This might be beneficial since I think we are maxed out for her computer.  I currently use one of  THESE   
4.Or I also see something that allows daisy chaining the monitors themselves built in to some. I cant remember what its called but Im not sure if there is a draw back to this
5. I thought that if I went with 3 flat screens I would have the option to turn the center one to portrait mode and have the two side ones in landscape mode.  Im unsure if she will like it that way and truthfully she wont know either until she tries it. But it makes sense in my head that it might be handy to have one monitor in portrait mode.

I was kind of hoping there might be someone here that does similar work to her and is more IT savvy and already did the trial and error to find the best system or offer their opinion. 

Offline MikeGE

  • Posts: 368
Re: Multiple Monitor setup
« Reply #1 on: January 12, 2022, 10:12 AM »
I bought the LG 35WN73A-B 35-inch curved monitors for my wife to use when she is teleworking.  The closest model I could find on Amazon.com is the LG35WN65C-B.  The 35-inch curved monitor is perfect for her work applications, and she can open multiple documents and MS applications without having to shuffle or minimize any of them.  Prior to the LG, she was using a pair of 24-inch flat monitors, but now prefers the single LG monitor.

Offline Runhard

  • Posts: 826
Re: Multiple Monitor setup
« Reply #2 on: January 12, 2022, 10:18 AM »
I have a Samsung 49" curved monitor for my work office and love it.

https://www.samsung.com/us/computing/monitors/gaming/49--chg90-qled-gaming-monitor-lc49hg90dmnxza/
Daniel

Offline afish

  • Posts: 1325
Re: Multiple Monitor setup
« Reply #3 on: January 12, 2022, 10:31 AM »
Thanks for the input guys, those LG's where some of the ones I was considering.  I read a few reviews that the built in screen splitting options were not so good so that raised some concern with me.  I was actually considering 2 of the 35 curved units.  I was also a little concerned about things looking strange or deformed on a curved monitor (especially things like spread sheets and such that are very linear) but it doesnt sound like thats an issue.   

Offline mino

  • Posts: 1035
Re: Multiple Monitor setup
« Reply #4 on: January 12, 2022, 10:33 AM »
Get her a 32" one with 2560x1440 resolution and set it up as a "central" one with the existing 24" ones on the sides.

She will LOVE that 2560 width for spreadsheets and 32" is  the minimum/sweet spot needed for the text to not be too small /while still taking advantage of the pixel width/.


Also, as a cherry on the cake, you can mount the main screen on a an Ergotron LX series arm. Yes, pricey, but these are built to last decades and ability to position the main screen is esssential for ergonomy. You can install the smaller ones as semi-fixed, but main one needs a full range of movement.

One thing - be careful with laptops. Not all can handle multiple outputs, so you will want a dock to go along,. Whether a Thunderbolt 3 variety or /better/ a semi-mechanical variety like the Lenovo Thinkpad or HP Elitebook ones are. Just avoid the Dell Thunderbolt docks. They are a mess even in their 3rd iteration of the thing ... do not ask how I know.


I have a Samsung 49" curved monitor for my work office and love it.

https://www.samsung.com/us/computing/monitors/gaming/49--chg90-qled-gaming-monitor-lc49hg90dmnxza/
Not sure that will work here ... that 49" is essentially two 27" full HD side to side, so will "only" replace the dual 24" Full HD she apparently has /and maybe not even that if those are 1920x1200/. And there will be no space left for a third screen to avoid using the tiny laptop screen.

The super-wide screen approach does have one key advantage - one avoids the multiple separate connections challenge..
« Last Edit: January 12, 2022, 10:46 AM by mino »
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Offline AstroKeith

  • Posts: 221
Re: Multiple Monitor setup
« Reply #5 on: January 12, 2022, 10:39 AM »
I once spent quite a while planning a new office environment. Screens got very much to the top of the agenda! We had about 200 staff to accommodate.

Results in summary are..

Even for the identical task, personal preferences were quite varied. No perfect or simple answers.
Split monitors were generally liked when quite separate tasks could be put on each one. Otherwise too much time and effort moving between screens regularly. Could lead to neck problems? Multiple screens were particularly useful when reference screens needed to be displayed - ie stocks/news feeds/etc
If going for big/wide monitors, curved was generally liked. Keeps focus distance more constant.
Wide monitors were liked by computer programmers and spreadsheets users.
Vertically orientated monitors were liked by web designers and heavy web users (less scrolling). Monitors can be rotated at any time.
Quality of the screen was very important. Contrast, resolution and very importantly - antiglare.
Retired engineer/scientist

Offline Bugsysiegals

  • Posts: 847
Re: Multiple Monitor setup
« Reply #6 on: January 12, 2022, 11:08 AM »
I'm not sure docking stations support 3 monitors ...

FWIW - I had 2x 27" gaming monitors which were nice but I've now 2x Samsung 37" monitors and I don't think I could ever go back.  I work with Microsoft products (Access, Excel, PowerPoint), Python for coding, Qlik Sense for data presentation, etc. and REALLY appreciate the screen size as my eyes continue to age.

I'm not sure it's helpful or not but here's a pic so you can see how much fits on a single screen ...

339978-0

Offline afish

  • Posts: 1325
Re: Multiple Monitor setup
« Reply #7 on: January 12, 2022, 11:19 AM »

One thing - be careful with laptops. Not all can handle multiple outputs, so you will want a dock to go along,. Whether a Thunderbolt 3 variety or /better/ a semi-mechanical variety like the Lenovo Thinkpad or HP Elitebook ones are. Just avoid the Dell Thunderbolt docks. They are a mess even in their 3rd iteration of the thing ... do not ask how I know.


Yes this is one of my concerns.  I know the splitter box now only has output for 2 If I go with 3 monitors that is going to require some more investigation.  This was part of the appeal of the LG monitors with the built in screen splitting ability.  I figured I could get 2 of the curved ones and that way she would have approx. 4 screens worth of real estate.  However they are pricy.  Maybe one curved monitor in the center with the smaller ones flanking it.  However this will most likely trigger my OCD not having everything matched up. 

Offline mino

  • Posts: 1035
Re: Multiple Monitor setup
« Reply #8 on: January 12, 2022, 11:28 AM »
I'm not sure docking stations support 3 monitors ...
...
The proper ones do ... the real limitations are that Intel processors max at 3 (active) screens /including the laptop one/ while AMD can do a bit more at 4 total (active) screens /again including the laptop one if active/.

Even historically, if one needed more screens from a laptop, the only way were some of the higher end docks as there were not enough native ports on notebooks.

Is a bit sideways, but for reference some docks good for work use. I always look for available docks when in market for a new laptop ..
https://www.lenovo.com/us/en/p/accessories-and-software/docking/mechanical-docks/40aj0135us
https://www.hp.com/us-en/shop/pdp/hp-thunderbolt-dock-120w-g2
When The Machine has no brains, use yours.

Offline mino

  • Posts: 1035
Re: Multiple Monitor setup
« Reply #9 on: January 12, 2022, 11:43 AM »
... 4 screens worth of real estate.  However they are pricy.  Maybe one curved monitor in the center with the smaller ones flanking it.  However this will most likely trigger my OCD not having everything matched up.
Screen arrangement is a very personal preference and heavily depends on a workflow, so only some very generic comments:

- design-wise, you want one "central-ish/main-ish screen" as that is how we, humans, operate. Even with two screens, it is best to have one a bit more "central" than the other

- be careful with the overall width - the human eye has a limited peripheral vision, and work is not a video game ...
Personal experience: had 4 screens side-to side and reverted to just three - one 32 central, one 27 to the right and one 24 1920x1200 vertically for work chat app. The main message being, if going ultra-wuide, then only one is feasible/practical in the central position and then you can have a laptop  in front/below. But two 49" side to side are impractical. Same as four 27" side-to-side would be.

- for work with spreadsheets, you want the simplicity of two screens side-to-side each 1920(or more) pixels wide so you can place one document maximised on each screen  and do not have to fiddle with window sizes.
I would be very suprised if your other half did not use that workflow goiven current setup. That can be emulated with some Window manager trickery, but I would not go super-wide without her actively saying she likes the idea. She would hate if it breaks her workflow ..
« Last Edit: January 12, 2022, 11:45 AM by mino »
When The Machine has no brains, use yours.

Offline mrFinpgh

  • Posts: 512
Re: Multiple Monitor setup
« Reply #10 on: January 12, 2022, 01:07 PM »
I work in technology as a 'technical architect', meaning I do a lot of diagramming, documenting, planning, online workshops, and some coding.

I use a 13" macbook pro for all of these tasks and don't have any external monitors set up.  Now I'm wondering whether there might be some benefits to having more than one.

Reading this discussion, I am wondering what the needs are that drive having so much display real estate.  Is it about viewing items in a larger screen?  Or having more things available to view without leaving the context of the 'main' work item?  Or having a 'dashboard' view of all applications at one time?

Does having this much stuff on multiple screens at one time improve the work experience?  I would be very concerned about the costs of context switching, if I could always see someone messaging me in slack or always know when a client sends me an email. I think this would be highly individualized in terms of workflow, but often it seems beneficial to turn off as much as possible and focus on the tasks at hand without interruptions or distractions. 

To echo @mino , I think it would be good to approach is to consider what is really needed and what is going to be most ergonomic in terms of what someone can comfortably visually track. 

Offline Joelm

  • Posts: 160
Re: Multiple Monitor setup
« Reply #11 on: January 12, 2022, 01:10 PM »
I would suggest she tries one of her current 24" monitors in portrait mode right now before you make any purchases.

My last setup was a Cintiq monitor as my main display and a regular  27" monitor to the side in portrait mode using 2 ergotron arms. This is a great setup as you can always swap or rearrange monitors of you don't like what you currently use.

My wife on the other hand went with a large 40" gaming monitor and much prefers that.

Everyone has different preferences. Hope that was a bit helpful.

Offline Chainring

  • Posts: 174
Re: Multiple Monitor setup
« Reply #12 on: January 12, 2022, 01:12 PM »
The proper ones do ... the real limitations are that Intel processors max at 3 (active) screens /including the laptop one/ while AMD can do a bit more at 4 total (active) screens /again including the laptop one if active/.
It gets a bit more complicated than just the capabilities of the processor. Recent Intel built-in graphics can typically drive 3 x 4K monitors, but docks are often a limiting factor. Some docks have in the fine print that 2 x 4K can only be done via USB-C (DisplayPort Alternate Mode) and/or HDMI/DisplayPort. Even then, you get into situations like the dock can do 2 x 4K  but only at 30Hz. Need or want 60Hz? Lower resolution monitors...

Make sure of the capabilities of both the laptop and the dock before going all out and purchasing monitors.
« Last Edit: January 12, 2022, 03:25 PM by Chainring »

Offline Joelm

  • Posts: 160
Re: Multiple Monitor setup
« Reply #13 on: January 12, 2022, 01:21 PM »
Everyone has different preferences. Hope that was a bit helpful.

I would like to add that he desk may be causing her problems. When I worked at Microsoft I signed up for an ergonomic assessment. The big thing they recommended was a sit/stand desk. This was probably the biggest change for me. Sitting all day at your desk can wreck havoc on your back.  With a sit stand desk you can stand up while working for part of the day.  Some people at Microsoft even had treadmills that they used while working.

Offline DynaGlide

  • Posts: 1452
Re: Multiple Monitor setup
« Reply #14 on: January 12, 2022, 02:47 PM »
I've been satisfied with two 24" wide monitors side by side with small bezels.

@mrFinpgh My work requires me to have multiple windows open at once so I can reference one of them while working in another. Sometimes I lead trainings and having the video software, like MS Teams, open in one to monitor chat and whatever I'm presenting in the other. Having two monitors makes it easier to separate what is shown to viewers.
Instagram @matts.garage

Offline RobS888

  • Posts: 81
Re: Multiple Monitor setup
« Reply #15 on: January 12, 2022, 04:06 PM »
« Last Edit: January 12, 2022, 04:11 PM by RobS888 »

Offline squall_line

  • Posts: 1462
Re: Multiple Monitor setup
« Reply #16 on: January 12, 2022, 08:40 PM »
Admittedly, this is a little bit overkill, since I had a second laptop running for a troubleshooting conference bridge; this was an event day, so I had more dashboards and chat windows up than I may normally have.

340011-0

Some notes about the setup, though:

The portrait monitor is a 27" 2560x1400.  My laptop is 1400x900 (technically, 2800x1800 but down-rezed so I can actually read it), so I can get 2 2/3 laptop-sized screens' worth of information stacked on top of each other on the portrait monitor, or have a longer view for long spreadsheets and documents.

The laptop stand and a separate keyboard/trackpad helped my neck, shoulders, and eyes immensely compared to using the laptop looking down at the surface of the desk.

Arranging the monitors within the OS so that they are lined up as close as possible to allow the mouse to seamlessly transition from one screen to the next is a big pain, but well worth it.  It was quite annoying to move my mouse from the middle of the laptop screen over to the left and have it show up at the bottom of the portrait monitor.

I would prefer a curved monitor for the 27; it's tough to get the angle right so that you can read the top and bottom edges of the screen comfortably in portrait mode.  I have the same monitor in a 24" on my work-from-home desk, and I don't have issues with that.

I would prefer if the screen on the right was better than a 1900x1200, but it's still better than a 1900x1080.  I've had that particular monitor for almost ten years now, and it still looks and works great, it's just at a really weird DPI compared to the laptop and 27" monitor.

If you're going to use different sized screens, make sure the DPI (dots-per-inch) are at least somewhat close to each other.

Some of the large monitors that offer screen-splitting actually require two separate GPUs to run, and count as two monitors against the "total number of external monitors" limit.  YMMV.

I use prosumer Dell Ultrasharp monitors; they have better overall color and build quality compared to most consumer models and usually come with fully-adjustable stands/bases and rotation.  Some of the lower-end monitors can only tilt or raise/lower, but not both.

Offline jstout

  • Posts: 5
Re: Multiple Monitor setup
« Reply #17 on: January 13, 2022, 01:08 AM »
I'd recommend either a single large widescreen monitor or a large widescreen monitor with supporting smaller monitors for other needed windows. To me the primary consideration is that you said your wife works with HUGE spreadsheets. A single wide screen monitor will allow her to work on spreadsheets and see many columns versus having to read a single spreadsheet split over multiple monitors. If she wants a monitor dedicated for email or chat, consider getting an additional monitor (or two) to support that.

I'm not the biggest fan of the 49" ultrawide monitors.  I feel like they're more gamer oriented. I've always thought highly of Dell for office monitors. I personally have a Dell U3818DW which has 1600 vertical resolution (vs 1440 for most ultrawides). That extra 160 pixels can make a difference when you're trying to view more rows in the spreadsheet. I was just looking at 3818DWs on Craigslist as I might go with two stacked. Around me you can find them for $650-$700 used.

Offline Mini Me

  • Posts: 250
Re: Multiple Monitor setup
« Reply #18 on: January 13, 2022, 04:58 AM »
I use two 27" Dells for business on a small desktop computer, the laptop gets used for internet browsing and not much else. What I do advise is anyone doing long hours in front of a monitor(s) should seek professional advice on good glasses that filter the blue light. I now suffer from dry eye because I didn't.















Offline mino

  • Posts: 1035
Re: Multiple Monitor setup
« Reply #19 on: January 13, 2022, 07:14 AM »
I use two 27" Dells for business on a small desktop computer, the laptop gets used for internet browsing and not much else. What I do advise is anyone doing long hours in front of a monitor(s) should seek professional advice on good glasses that filter the blue light. I now suffer from dry eye because I didn't.
Quality monitors have blue light reduction built-in, same as non-clicker backlight etc.

But yeah, most people by "shiny" and do not really pay attention to the small print. Not to mention there are so many aspects it is not easy to pick something which will not make one's sight worse.

My rules of thumb here, to avoid a TLDR:
basics)  anti-glare, non-flicker, reduced blue and correct(able) height
rule 1) have as big a screens as possible as far as feasible /bigger screen farther equals same screen estate nearer but is easier on the eyes
rule 2)  - if having multiple screens, cuse different with different dot pitch and place the one which is "denser" closer while the more coarse one farther out so that the text seems same size to the eye

2) Helps a lot to my initial surprise. Apparently the human eye is designed for us walking around and permanently refocusing. What hurts it the most is if we look at stuff at the exact same distance and/or place for prolonged periods. Having screens at different distances forces the eye to train all the time. Kinda like outa window does but that is sooo easy to forget  ..
When The Machine has no brains, use yours.

Offline Bugsysiegals

  • Posts: 847
Re: Multiple Monitor setup
« Reply #20 on: January 13, 2022, 09:53 AM »
I work in technology as a 'technical architect', meaning I do a lot of diagramming, documenting, planning, online workshops, and some coding.

I use a 13" macbook pro for all of these tasks and don't have any external monitors set up.  Now I'm wondering whether there might be some benefits to having more than one.

Reading this discussion, I am wondering what the needs are that drive having so much display real estate.  Is it about viewing items in a larger screen?  Or having more things available to view without leaving the context of the 'main' work item?  Or having a 'dashboard' view of all applications at one time?

Does having this much stuff on multiple screens at one time improve the work experience?  I would be very concerned about the costs of context switching, if I could always see someone messaging me in slack or always know when a client sends me an email. I think this would be highly individualized in terms of workflow, but often it seems beneficial to turn off as much as possible and focus on the tasks at hand without interruptions or distractions. 

To echo @mino , I think it would be good to approach is to consider what is really needed and what is going to be most ergonomic in terms of what someone can comfortably visually track.

There's definitely enough screen to split applications side-by-side with a large monitor; however, this isn't something I do often, other than comparing code.  For me, while I have a horizontal scroll wheel on my mouse, I simply prefer to avoid it whenever possible and it's easier when you can see everything you need all at once. 

Wider monitors allow me to see many more columns of spreadsheet data which makes it easier and faster to digest and compare.  They allow me to most times see very long lines of complex coding statements and to even compare 2 different versions of code side-by-side with a diff program like WinMerge without much if any horizontal scrolling necessary.

And regardless of size, I share and present information with my colleagues.  Multiple monitors means I can move everything I'm working on to my 2nd monitor, move what I want to share to the primary monitor, and share without people accidently seeing any sensitive information or my FOG browser window.  ;)

Offline squall_line

  • Posts: 1462
Re: Multiple Monitor setup
« Reply #21 on: January 13, 2022, 11:06 AM »
Multiple monitors means I can move everything I'm working on to my 2nd monitor, move what I want to share to the primary monitor, and share without people accidently seeing any sensitive information or my FOG browser window.  ;)

"Share entire screen" can be a pretty eye-opening look into someone's off-line life.  [eek] I prefer "share app" or "share individual tab" whenever possible, since I tend to trigger people when they see how many open windows and tabs I have on my screen.

Offline Bugsysiegals

  • Posts: 847
Re: Multiple Monitor setup
« Reply #22 on: January 13, 2022, 04:22 PM »
"Share entire screen" can be a pretty eye-opening look into someone's off-line life.  [eek] I prefer "share app" or "share individual tab" whenever possible, since I tend to trigger people when they see how many open windows and tabs I have on my screen.

I wasn't aware of this!  I seen multiple things you could share but just jumped straight to Desktop 1.  I just noticed Desktop 1 and individual windows open on Desktop 1 as well as Desktop 2 and each of its open windows! 

I'd learned to keep my bookmarks in folders and open a new tab on each Chrome window, if I have multiple open, but there've been a few times I opened the window and people see the tabs with descriptions of what I was shopping on Amazon/eBay, YouTube video I had paused, etc.  Thanks for sharing this!

Offline DashZero

  • Posts: 128
Re: Multiple Monitor setup
« Reply #23 on: March 20, 2022, 11:54 PM »
I would buy a $299 Samsung 43” 4K tv.  You get 3840 wide by 2160. I use this with a MacBook Air 2020 M1.  Try it out and if you don’t like it then look at smaller options.

With the correct $125 adaptor I can run two one at 60 hz and one at 30hz with the entry level MacBook Air 2020 M1.


Offline mino

  • Posts: 1035
Re: Multiple Monitor setup
« Reply #24 on: March 21, 2022, 06:22 AM »
I would buy a $299 Samsung 43” 4K tv.  You get 3840 wide by 2160. I use this with a MacBook Air 2020 M1.  Try it out and if you don’t like it then look at smaller options.

With the correct $125 adaptor I can run two one at 60 hz and one at 30hz with the entry level MacBook Air 2020 M1.
Be careful with TV screens.

Some may be OK, but most are essentially unusable as computer monitors. At a minimum, ability to disable color/picture post-processing is an absolute must if using a TV. And those which are cheap often do not have it (or it is only partial).

IF you want TV-big, thing 55"/65", then look for the "conference room monitors" which have PC-use aligned technology and software and are much more suitable for computer use. Otherwise are are good screens to be had for PCs in the 40" space.

They cost more than the TV versions but that is because the panels suited for PC use are more expensive.

/Above holds when using a TV on a desk, if planned 5' and more away, then a TV which is unusable on a desk gets to its sweet spot and works wonderful./
When The Machine has no brains, use yours.