One Big Monitor or Two Smaller Screens

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The first time I ever plugged a second monitor into my system, it was interesting. Of course, issues arose… as is usually the case with anything new. Having two monitors in many cases is better than one. I had an email the other day, asking me if I would suggest using one large monitor… or two smaller ones.

I would go with two separate monitors any day, over one large one. Having two monitors can cause issues, as I said. Some of your software may run differently. Your computer may need to have minor configurations made to it. It can be a headache to get correct… but it’s well worth it. On one monitor, I have my email and work open. On the other monitor, I have all my “widgets”… for IRC, IMs, RSS feeds, etc. It makes it a lot easier for me to keep things organized, and be more efficient with my work.

You’ll actually have more “screen real estate” within two 17″ monitors side-by-side than what you would have with one huge screen. As I said, this can help you stay much more organized. Having one monitor made things too cramped, and too jumbled. I had to search for things, or keep them hidden when running.

What do you all think? Is dual cool? Or is it better to stick with one monitor?

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127 thoughts on “One Big Monitor or Two Smaller Screens”

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  2. I definitely agree – I have two DELL UltraSharp 17″ monitors on my workstation and getting the 2nd was the best thing since replacing my CRT with an LCD monitor. I like to have my windows maximized and I can have my editor (or whatever) in front of me and pop up a window with some reference material, slide it over to the other monitor and maximize it without having to juggle the window positions. I almost feel claustrophobic now when I have to travel and use my notebook with only one screen! Sometimes my laptop becomes my third screen alongside the other two.

  3. I have used dual monitors for as long as i remember – before most video cards even had dual outputs. The increased workflow potential is amazing. Im temporarily having to use a single monitor (22″ lcd) which really sucks but I will be getting my duals set back up very soon. I feel lost without it!

    Next upgrade — triple 22″ monitors!

  4. Research shows that larger screen real estate increase productivity more than your choices in operating system or document/web/media program.

    Two smaller screens are cheaper than large ones per square inch, so that’s my choice.

  5. Have to agree with this one, getting the 2nd monitor was the biggest boost to my productivity since getting a Wacom Tablet, and that was an eye opener!

    I run my set up a lot like Chris’ – using one monitor to have the main ‘work’ on, and the other for looking things up, or referencing stuff.

    But be warned! – once you have used a twin monitor system, you won’t want to go back to a single one :0)

  6. Totally agree, My last job I had 3 screens, mu current job I have 2. at home Technically I have 1 per computer, however I have my mac, right next to my Linux box so pulling up extra stiff (aka reference material is not a problem but dual screens is defiantly the way to go.

  7. I also have to agree that having two monitors works best for me! It simply helps to keep the windows organized. Coincidentally I have two Dell 17″ monitors as well. I’m not completely satisfied with them as I can’t seem to set my colour settings as they should be in windows. On my mac however, I can tweak the colours just the way I want to.

  8. Yes definatly, dual screens is the way to go. I would like to have a nice setup like yours some day but for the time being my two 20 inch moniters are doing wonders for my desktop clutter problems. There is no way I could go back to one moniter.

  9. I agree also. The more screen area the better. I write code for a living, so the more lines of code I can get on the screen the better.

    I use 4 monitors. Two 21″ LCD’s and two 30″ LCD’s.

    I work from home, so I’m constantly on email in outlook, email in a web browser, checking collaboration web pages for todo lists, file manager for working with files, and other software. Being able to instantly look over at something without toggling windows over the top of each other increases productivity immensely.

    Check out my home office pics here: http://www.mikedixononline.com/?page_id=21

  10. I would take 2 monitors over 1 huge one any day! It is much more convenient to just move your head a little bit to check some things than try and find them in a mess on your taskbar. It is really nice when you are doing something (such as web design) on one and then in the other you have a browser to preview. 1 huge screen is nice if you just do simple things and don’t have more than 3 or 4 applications open at once.

    And of course, you are going to pay way less for 2 smaller screens (or possibly even 3!) than you would for 1 large screen.

  11. I agree Chris. Having 2 smaller monitors is better than having 1 big monitor. For Example you could have The Stream and Chat in 1 monitor and anything else that you want like widgets and in the other Monitor you can have what your focused on like you Web Browser or anything else.

  12. Right now I am in the same situation, where I want to buy another monitor. Right now I have an Acer 17″, but I wanted something larger. So I am now thinking whether to get a 22″ monitor, or maybe save some more and get two 19 inchers 🙂

    Anyways, great info 😉

  13. i am using dualview right now too and i have to say its totaly better than just using one no matter the size . i am using my 20” dell sp2008wfp and my old crt monitor lol but even though they might not look as good as 2 of the same size i still benefit from it. thankyou for doing a video on this

  14. If your budget can support 2 monitors and so can your graphics card then 2 is definitly the sweet spot. Personally I believe anything above 2 monitors is kinda excesive though I guess some people might consider 2 excessive. But for me, 2 monitors has increased productivity for the majority of my friends who have run 2 monitors. Dual Monitor gaming is an experience in itself.

  15. I have two 15″ monitors and I prefer that over one bigger one because i like to be able to look at two things at once. For instance, say you are looking at a how to article you can read the article without having to go back and fourth on you desktop.

  16. It’s better if you can get two. Once you get two make sure that you put them in a place where you can see both of them at the same time basically because if you can see one more than the other you won’t use the second at all.

  17. I always found that the gap between two monitors would be the real issue for me. Maybe if the trim around the monitors gets pretty thin, it would work for me, but otherwise, I just use one monitor.

  18. I aggre, Dual monitor’s make everything easyer. Right now i have one 15 inch compaq 7550 at 1024×768 and a westinghouse lcm 17w7 at 1280×768. I have them connected to my desktop, my main screen the 17 inch usually runs vista and then i keep a remote of my laptop “xp” on the other. I would still like those two huge 30 inch screens of chris’s tho! 😀

  19. I have to say two monitors are always better then one, and if you cant afford a second monitor, a good cost effective solution is to simply run your tv as a secondary monitor. It comes in handy quite often.

    The problem with one large monitor is that even thou its bigger, the windows still are all on one screen with the chance of over laping, so by having a second monitor your able to keep all your windows open and available without having to constantly minimize, maxamize them. Thats the same advantage with virtual desk tops, the ability to keep all your windows available at any given time.

  20. I recon that it is a much better idea to have two small screens instead of one big. Firstly as Chris said you can organize your desktop in a much better way. You can keep one type of aplications on the left one for example and the other on the righ one.
    Secondly, you have the possibility to change only one screen what is much cheaper than buying a new big one.
    Also you can take with you only one of them or occasionaly connect only one of them to another signal.

  21. I use a 40″ monitor and for the longest time I was going to move it out of the office and get 2x 30″ dells, because you do end up with more landscape then having the one big monitor that also burns your eyes out because its so bright. Before I move it out of the office im going to try and hang 2x 30″ dells horizontal off each side, Then I will be able to open full pages on each side and work in the middle on the 40″.

    2nd idea is sell the 40″ and go with 3x 30″ dells

  22. If your have 2 monitors its kinda a pain because you have to look back and fourth and also its way to big..

    Or its good for multi taskers…

  23. I use dual monitors on my iMac with another 15″ monitor from my old setup. It’s great when I’m making keynote presentations and I need to practice – all I have to do is put my notes on one display, presentation on the other and I am sorted.
    Keep up the good work Chris!

  24. I agree, i personly have 3 monitors, i have my laptop which sits down into its docking station then i have a 17″ to the left of it and a 21″ to the right, its very useful to have, as like you said its good way to keep things organised, and i it also helps with my beta testing of the BumpTop desktop its very fun to play with but very boring if you dont have a touch screen

  25. Yeah I have 2 15″ monitors. There not the best either but it gets the job done. Thats whats important. Also resolution

  26. Definitely two monitors. The screen real estate factor is enough for me. Nothing like having all my “crap” on one screen and all my work on the other.

  27. Im in favor of dual monitors because they are easy to get use to, but i have only one and im prety happy whit it because im using diferent desktops on it, just like spaces on osX, and i ting it is just the same just because i cant aford to buy other monitor but when i get to have enoff money ill be happy to get a second monitor, now my recomendation to the peple the are intrested on geting a second monitor is use diferent spaces (desktops) first because it is like in some way geting the second monitor and if u are happy whit it (the second space or desktop on your computer) you wont regred buying the second monitor.

  28. Dude… I wish i had them screens xD. All i got is a crappy 17″ Dell Moniter that keeps disconnecting. I know quite alot of people with dual moniters, i envy them, but non of them have such big moniters like you xD if i heard correction 30″ right? wow… xD.

  29. monitors aren’t that expensive, i have only had 1 monitor so i’m used to it.
    i think that you shouldn’t get 2 monitors right away cause it cost more.
    you should get the second monitor after awhile when you get money again.

  30. I have one 22” wide monitor on my computer running Linux. I really don’t need two monitors because I only play games and surf the internet.

  31. I can see the value of having two monitors. Like with you Chris, you have a good reason to have two monitors. You can have a Windows VM on one screen and Mac OS X on another. In my own opinion, I would prefer to have one huge monitor than two smaller ones… But two big ones… That’d be cool with me too.

    Love the show!

  32. I have 2 screens which is nice but they are different sizes so its not very fluid. And like Chris at first I had issues but its very nice to have them set up the way I do.
    It’d probably be best to have Chis’s monitors cuz u get the best of both worlds.

    Overall I’d probably agree with Chris on this one.

  33. I have to agree 100%. I’ve had the opportunity to use multiple monitors, and it has ALWAYS been better. Besides having double to workspace, I also find it easier to run multiple programs.

    For example, the other day I was using our TV as one monitor, and the normal monitor I use as the second. I was able to optimize my space, and by able to run a full window while watching Chris on the TV!

  34. two monitors is way more productive. Where I draw the line is, if I want to game, go big, if I want to work, two smaller ones is light years better. Good post Chris

  35. I agree with this all the way, if you were to get the dual moniters you would have more possibilities such as on a mac having os x on one monitor and windows on the other. The dual monitor setup also brings more possibilities in gaming. Unfourtunately i am stuck with a single moniter laptop but would love to have a dual screen setup.

  36. Although I’d like to have dual screens, I have the graphics card to support it, but I don’t have 2 matching monitors to use, witch is what I’d prefer in dual monitors. Right now I have 1 large monitor on my wall, a Westinghouse 27″ HD WideScreen TV is what I have and it displays at a maximum resolution of 1360 x 768! So I’m fine with that for now.

  37. I have a 19″ desktop and a 15.4″ Dell Laptop and i connect the 19″ monitor to my laptop and i now have 2 monitors…and i totally agree that 2 moniters are better

  38. For 2 years i have used 2 23″ flat monitors, and sor far I like it better. The reason I got 2 is because of gaming, so this give me a chance to check both the status of my game while playing it. When ever I`m working on a project for school, or just for a website, gives me the chance of having less hassle trying to open another window….Increasing my productivity =)

  39. I really would enjoy having duel monitors, unfortunately my Mac mini does not support it. I will be upgrading to an iMac someday. I believe it has a mini DVI port on the back so I can finally have a duel monitor setup!

    I completely agree with you, two 17′ monitors would look way better.

  40. I have a 21.6 inch monitor and would gladly give it up for two smaller one. (although I need to buy a new graphics card first).
    Bettazrkool

  41. I have never loved being in front of my computer as much as i do now. My macbook is using a 17″, dare I say, Gateway monitor which is great cause i can do my main reading with a bigger screen and my macbook usually has your chatroom on it. My third monitor is hooked to my windows desktop for educational purposes. I am trying to keep windows off my laptop!

  42. Two moniters are always a great thing to have. It definetly increases your productivity and it’s just like having a second computer right at your fingertips. I agree with Chris that two moniters is really the way to go. It can keep you organized, and it looks pretty awesome, too!!

  43. I would love to be able to afford 2 monitors, but I can use spaces instead. I couldn’t live without it after having it for a few weeks.

  44. I have a macbook with a 20 inch dell monitor. I love it. When I unplug it, I miss the extra real estate. I kind of wish the menu bar was on each monitor though.

  45. To tell you the truth i would rather have one giant screen. I know sometimes the resolution wont be as great but i just like the fact that the picture won have the boarders between each indivual screen

  46. In total agreement–I had my parents’ LCD for a couple of days, and I plugged it into my computer–I was sold after about two minutes. Losing that second monitor was like losing an arm.

    I wish I could definitively say that two 17-inch monitors are better than one, say, 30-inch monitor, but I’ve never tried it. I did the math back when I was shopping for a second monitor, and, although two 17 inchers measure almost 30 inches diagonally, it adds up to only about half the resolution of a 30 inch monitor (2,621,440 pixels on two 17 inchers at 1280×1026 vs. 4,096,000 on a 30-incher at 2560×1600). So, in the end, you are getting fewer pixels per square inch on your desktop real estate. It’s something you have to consider when deciding which way to go. Although I am absolutely in love with my dual monitors, it would definitely be beneficial to be able to fit twice as many windows on my screen.

    Or, of course, you could always just get two 30 inch monitors and have the best of both worlds…

  47. Two monitors is the best! I can’t wait to get another monitor, there is just so much resolution to work with!

  48. I agree too. I have been learning to use Adobe Premiere Pro by useing tutorials. I will usually have the tutorial playing on one screen and on the other I acually have Premiere Pro open following along with the tutorial. So it works out quite well.

  49. i agree, having two monitors makes things so much easier. way more room to do things. right now i am using on 22in monitor i thought that was too big when i first got it but now it seems too small. im gonna need a second monitor soon

  50. I bought a 22″ LG Flatron Wide. It’s great coming from a 16″ Samsung CRT. I would like to one day get a second Flatron but for now the extra real estate is instrumental in my desktop functioning. Some say getting two smaller monitors would be better but I’d rather the higher resolution.
    If you can afford it, though, always go bigger and more (like Chris)!

  51. I actually wish I had two monitors.. I like to play around with 3d software but trying to go through tutorials or pdf books is nearly impossible. I currently don’t have funds to throw around but I wish I did, so I could purchase another lcd.

  52. I personally think a single big monitor is better. Maybe it is just what I do, but dual monitors can be better for certain tasks.

  53. I just bought a Samsung 22″ 226BW that I’ll be running with my Dell 20″. I hope it works flawlessly with 2 different size monitors…..

  54. I have two 15″ monitors. but I know with monitors the small I couldn’t work without 2. Im planning on getting a new 20″-24″ soon.

    Also choose screen res. over screen size.

  55. Definitely dual monitors all the way. A single big monitor, just doesn’t feel as cool as it does when you could have two monitors running. It also helps for when I am gaming, and want one monitor to be for the game and the other monitor for reading various information about the game.

  56. In my opnion 2 monitors are good if you are doing alot of text/web based stuff but if you are going to be doing alot of movies and games and stuff along those lines then you are better off getting 1 big monitor.

    In my opnion the best option 2 65″ HDTV’s 😀

  57. I have 2 20s set up now, they are pretty cool, I am though thinking of buying a 30inch and running one, its easier to handle things on one monitor rather than having to scramble to another side to catch an IM or to even find a wallpaper.

    Grats on the Mac Pro, enjoy it!

    ~Randy 322

  58. two monitors!!!! Its so much nice using two monitors rather than just one. It makes it so much easier to navigate between open windows and helps unclutter the desktop. I use two my 22inch monitor and my laptop monitor at once and I refuse to go back to one monitor.

  59. Hi Chris, i just have to say that i totally agree with you, i love two monitors, too bad i only own one. my grandfather has one that i use when he is not fishing but it sucks so much when i have to give it back. I really need to buy another 19 inch one. anyway time for my to go. Bye Chris

  60. i think 2 monitors is better than one. why? well, if one dies, then you dont have to replace a $2000 monitor, and when it breaks, you still have one more monitor left until you can get another one.

  61. The first time I hooked up a second monitor to my laptop, I couldn’t go back to using a single monitor again. Dual monitors is just awesome.

  62. I would like to have dual monitors too but until have enough cash to buy an apple monitor I will have to use spaces. I have “16” screens. Does that count for something

  63. Hello,

    I think I’d like the two smaller monitors better because it would keep me more organized. Like e-mail on one side and weather or IM’s on the other.

    Keep up the great work Chris!

    Keja

  64. I use 2 19″ monitors and I couldnt be happier. I would like to upgrade to two bigger monitors though. But this is a better set up than 1 big monitor for me.

  65. i agree 2 small monitors is better then one large one i often do alot of multi tasking such as your video stream tucked to one side as well as a double thick tool bar at the bottem so my screen gets pertty cramp (such as now i have 100% filled up with windows) also it can get perty messy so i have been thinking about getting a second 19″ wide screen monitor…

  66. I tend to break the golder rule: Thou Shalt not cheap out on PC parts, but in this case it helps. I currently have a single Envision 19″LCD. I was considering going all out and spending close to 500$ for a 24in WS LCD, but i eventually decided to just get a second Envision. Hope you’re right!

    Also, may i bare your child chris?

  67. i think that two are better than one … that way when the monitors start to go bad or one dies you have the others

  68. While two 17″ monitors are nice, personally I’d go for the larger monitor. The reason being is you can always get a second larger one later. At that point, you’re only adding a new monitor instead of replacing two. Work your way up to stuff you’ll have for awhile, not just keep temporarily.

    – Adam

  69. I been looking into this for a few months. I personally would like to have 2 smaller monitors at least 17” instead of one. My main problem right now is my desk space is too small. In a few weeks it will be upgraded and ready to go. My one monitor is packed and is too hard to get around in.

    Thanks again Chris

  70. I agree dual monitors are better then one but one huge one isn’t bad either use synergy2 with a desktop and laptop for dual monitors and its even better chris should show off synergy with his dual monitors and his mac laptop

  71. I would rather have 1 big monitor like a 22″ or a 24″ just because in my opinion everything bigger than that is like a TV and to big for a computer monitor….Just my opinion

  72. I think two small monitor is better than one big monitor….hands down…..so i agree chris…. bc when you start to mult. task it is whole lot easier to use 2 monitors…. for example….. if you want to watch a movie and you need to do a paper too. It is perfect to have a 2 monitors in many ways…. that is just one good reason…

  73. 2 screens all the way, you can maximize two windows and watch movies as well as having programs on the left/right.

    Hp makes great 30 inch and 23 inch monitors, so do apple, make sure to check out their sites.

    I prefer the 30 inch monitors but the 24 inch monitors tend to be sharper, the ones I have seen

  74. I have upgraded all (25) of my computers at work with Vid Cards with dual outputs and two 19 inch LCD’s. Two other stations I put the Dell 32 inch screens. The 32 inch screens have been bounced around from worker to worker because everyone likes the dual monitors better. Go Figure..

  75. oh man i was just having problems with this desicion last night and i see this video now thanks. I will definately get a second monitor instead of a big one. Will save me a lot of money too

  76. i’ve never had two screens but it sounds like it would be very helpful. in the future, when i can get my dream computer set-up, i’ll have two screens based on everyone’s recommedations.

    siamese27

  77. Great post Chris. I also perfer two dual monitors against one large monitor. I have a 17″ CRT centered as my primary monitor and a 14″ CRT on my left side for ‘always on the other screen’s top’ pusposes. 🙂

  78. Dual monitors are certainly nice, however, people who are into digital photography or any type of design will likely prefer having a larger, single display rather than a dual setup. I recently moved from 2 x 17″ to a single 30″ (which has the same horizontal resolution as both 17″‘s combined) and I haven’t looked back. I use my tablet PC as a secondary monitor and share my desktop’s keyboard/mouse using Multiplicity.

    For virtual desktop software under windows, I would highly recommend taking a look at VirtuaWin.

  79. Ah thanks, but I found out that it doesn’t. I never really bothered to look to see if it has room to connect two monitors. xD

    The problem is, my graphics card is built into my motherboard, so it looks like I’ll need a new motherboard to have dual monitors. -_-

  80. It would be hard…you would need enough VGA or
    DVI ports. I can’t think of any motherboards that would support enough video cards with that many video outputs…but even if you could, the price would be very expensive.

  81. On the other hand, if you’re a gamer, you’ll want one monitor. SLI does NOT work across 2 monitors.

    Profesions that deal with high rez 3d graphics may also prefer 1 large monitor.

    One large monitor may even equal the realstate that 2 would give you.

    Also alot of windows apps deal with one monitor better than 2.

    So it really depends on what you’ll be doing on your computer and how much you can afford to spend at one point.

  82. It would be cheaper and look better if you just got a 60″ LCD. It would be heaps better. This goes for everyone. If you use your pc for work, 2x smaller screens. If you watch alot of movies. get a larger screen.

  83. I have been using two monitors for a long time. Right now, I’m running 20.1″ for main monitor and 17″ for TV, clock, calendar, etc. This setting is great and I will continue to use this setting with my Windows PCs.

    But I have ordered adding a Dell 30″ for my MacBook Pro. This is the one Chris uses. I’m planning to use it as a single monitor by closing the rid of the build-in display. There are two reasons to this.

    First, there is only one dual-link DVI port on my MacBook Pro. I know there are ways to add DVI port, but I don’t want to add too much cables to my Mac. I need to carry my Mac around, and disconnecting cables is just annoying.

    Second, Spaces in Leopard doesn’t behave in a way I wanted with dual screens settings. I want to create spaces only on my main screen but not on the second one! If there is a “Every Space” option based on which monitor the window is on instead of what the application is, I’ll think again.

  84. I have personally never used multiple monitors ever outside of work. As a gamer there isn’t many applications I am wanting to run that call for a need to have multiple monitors. So I myself have only a single monitor at home. At work I do run multiple monitors due to as people said before for productivity.

  85. oh no, thats a big mistake ;D
    i had a built in graphics card in my motherboard and i still have it but ive disabled it and put a nice 7300GT that fully supports dual monitors. You just need to determine if you have an AGP or PCI-E port for a graphics card. Those are different, and you have to be carefull not to buy the wrong one. IM me or comment in my profile. Good Luck!

  86. ahhah ditt jävla p9 du fattar ju noLL!! Om man använder en flygsimulator eller ett racing spel och man kopplar ihop dom rätt blir det sjukt bra. Det blir som en skärm. jävla plutt. 9 år ?

  87. Haha det fattar jag ju.. -.- men menar att om du har 2 skärmar så blir det ju en skarv mitt i men med racingspel som man sitter inne i bilen skulle ju fungera men sjutarspel.. Hade du dig då tänkt ha siktet mitt i skarven? ..-.-

  88. I live in mexico.

    when i have time I always visit o live pirillo.

    I sometimes “borrow” my moms monitor and conect it to my notebook.

    Its really much more comfortable to have 2 monitors even if they are small. My notebook has a 15.4″ widescreen and my moms monitor is a normal (square) 15″ .

    =D

  89. Dual Monitors > One big monitor.

    If you’re a gamer, its really great to be able to play a game in one monitor and having the other free monitor to chat, web browse, etc. Only if of course your rig is up to this challenge of multi-tasking.

  90. I choose 2 monitors is best way, buy it will takes more spaces in my tiny desk -which only 110cm length. I have now LG WTQ22″ which had about 43cm, so i will need another 22″ -require 126cm. how’s that.

    what im trying to say is that how multiple monitors will takes real space for your home/office- instead makes more room for applications

  91. How about 2 laptops? Is it going to work with this “left and right” monitors idea…?
    Please advice

    Thanks

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