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Should you get a second monitor?

Should you get a second monitor?
(Image credit: Getty)

Many people these days are hooking up a second monitor to their computers, but what are the real benefits of a dual screen setup, and should you get a second monitor? Well that depends on how often you use your home PC and what you’re using it for, but there are some huge benefits to getting a second monitor that we think you should consider.

If you’re only a very casual computer user then getting a second monitor is probably overkill, since they can be quite expensive and you won’t be making the most of your investment. But if you’re spending a lot of time at your computer, either for work or play, then it’s definitely something you should consider. Especially if you’ve already shelled out for one of the best home computers - you might as well make the most of that purchase.

A second screen is also an option for laptop users too - most of the best laptops have a HDMI port that would let you hook up a second screen, which really helps expand your usable workspace on what is otherwise quite a dinky little device.

So, why should you get a second monitor? Well if you fit into any of the categories below then we’d highly recommend the double screen life.

Working from home

We’ve already preached to you about how to create the perfect home office, and one of those key points was having the right equipment. If you’ve got your computer setup for working from home, then adding a second monitor can really boost your productivity by letting you view more documents and web pages simultaneously. With two monitors, you can view two full sized windows at once, or even split them with half width windows and have four different programs or documents visible at once.

This is especially useful when you’re collating data from multiple sources, like Excel spreadsheets and Word documents. Normally you’d have to move between windows to check information, but with a second screen you can have all the information you need on screen, and still have the program or document you’re working on up on screen too.

(Image credit: Getty)

Work and watch 

We’ve all been there, when you have to do something on the computer that doesn’t really require all of your brain power, so you want to watch some TV (Editor: Ian, we need to discuss this in your next performance review) or listen to some music while you work. Now true, you can do this without a second monitor, but having that dual screen setup gives you much more room to work with.

You could have Netflix or Disney Plus running on one screen, while you sit and calculate your monthly expenses in Excel on another screen. Or maybe you want to watch some HBO Max while you’re shopping on Amazon? With two screens you can do this and still dedicate a full screen to both programs, meaning you don’t have to scroll through a tiny shrunken down version of Amazon or Excel trying to find what you’re looking for.

Gaming

Another big subset of computer users who love second screens are gamers. Many games can be played on multiple screens, essentially combining them into one ultra-wide screen. This isn’t quite as good as just buying an ultra-wide screen monitor, since there will be a visible break line in action where the two screens meet but, honestly, you stop seeing it once you get immersed into the game.

Dual screen two monitor gaming computer

(Image credit: Getty)

Gamers also like to have a lot of other programs running while they’re gaming, such as chat apps like Discord and Slack. And if you suck at games and get stuck a lot like we do, then having a webpage open on a second screen means you’ll be able to search Google for tips when you get stuck. You can do all of this normally, but you’d have to tab out of the game - a second screen lets you multitask while keeping the gameplay front and center.

What are the downsides of a second monitor?

It’s not all sunshine and roses when you’ve got twice the screen real estate though, there are some downsides to having two monitors. The biggest issue is space - a second screen means that you’re taking up twice as much space on your desk. This is fine if you’ve got  a massive executive desk, but for most people with a home office in the spare room, this can be quite annoying.

You should also consider the cost of a second monitor too. While you can get cheap monitors, many of them cost several hundred dollars and that’s a lot of extra money to sink on what is essentially a convenience. You’re probably going to want matching monitors, or at least two monitors that output at the same frame rate and resolution too. You might also want to consider one of the best touch screen monitors as your second screen, especially if you’re using a touchscreen laptop.

Overall though, we’d highly recommend investing in a second monitor if you’re a moderate to heavy computer user, as the added convenience and multitasking capabilities are well worth the extra cost - assuming you have the space to spare. Combine the dual screen setup with the best keyboards for home offices and you'll soon have a productive work space in the comfort of your own home.