So you’ve finally decided that one monitor isn’t cutting it for you and time to hook additional screens to your setup. Well, first, it isn’t a bad decision at all. Having two to three monitors can significantly increase productivity and help you get more done without having to Alt-Tab every five seconds.
Regardless of whether you’re a gamer, programmer or writer/reporter, extra screen space always helps. In this article, we’re going over a few things you need to keep in mind when building a triple screen setup and how to make one in the first place.
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Step 1: Decide
The first step to building a triple screen setup is deciding what you want and why. Consider your PC first. Is it a PC or a laptop? Whether or not it’ll be able to handle the three displays, you’ll add? What displays do you need to add? Do you need to get all three displays of the same size, or do you need a better main display and get away with lower quality on the other two? And most importantly, how much are you willing to spend on the upgrade as a whole.
If you’re strapped for cash, we’ll suggest getting a good primary display that’ll act as a centrepiece, and you can get away with smaller or weaker displays on the side. However, don’t expect that to look aesthetically pleasing, which is why most people bite the bullet and get three of the same monitor.
Monitor size is an important thing. For most people, three 24 or 27-inch monitors will do just fine. If you want a lot more screen space, you can consider the 30+ inch ones as well. You can also mix and match monitor sizes. For example, you can have smaller 24-inch monitors for the sides and one large 27 or 32-inch monitor for the centre.
Apart from the size, also consider whether or not you need a high refresh rate monitor. We strongly suggest getting at least 120Hz, especially if you’re looking to play games on your PC.
If you’re using a laptop, you can also consider using your laptop screen and adding two additional screens. That way, you’ll be able to actively use the existing screen you have while saving yourself the money for an additional display.
You also need to consider things like desk space. Whether or not your desk will be able to support three monitors (most office desks should) and if it can, what amount of space you’ll be left with for things like keyboard, mouse, your CPU or laptop and any other things you might want to have on your desk.
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Step 2: Building the setup
Once you’ve got the particulars sorted out, you can get to assembling everything.
Now depending on your desk space, you might just be able to get away with putting the three monitors side by side or using a monitor arm to hang them in place to save desk space and get orientation options. Don’t be afraid to throw one of the side monitors in portrait to help you read long articles, those Slack threads or even help you code.
Consider my example. I wanted to use my laptop’s screen and an old 18-inch Samsung monitor I already had. All I did was get an MSI Optix G24 to act as the centrepiece. I then hung the MSI monitor and the Samsung one on a monitor arm that mounts to my desk.
This helped me save desk space while also countering the massive size difference between the two monitors. Finally, the laptop goes in the corner with the third screen open. I don’t have a particularly high-end desk, but the setup works fine with a little bit of creativity. Your solution might vary depending upon your hardware, budget and the space you have.
Deciding your cabling is also essential. I’m running my MSI using a DisplayPort to get the 144Hz refresh rate, while the Samsung one uses a standard HDMI connection. This also avoids the hassle of buying splitters — something you might need if you’re trying to connect multiple displays to a laptop.
If you’ve got a PC, the situation will be simpler for you as they tend to have more output display ports. However, always try to use the highest available standard for the best results.
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Step 3: Set up the Setup
Now, most operating systems will automatically register your monitors, but you still might have to set some things according to your monitor placement, like telling your OS which monitor goes where so that your PC knows the physical locations of each monitor and doesn’t make you go crazy the second you move your cursor.
Make sure your centre monitor is set as your primary display unless, of course, you want to use either of the other monitors you have. You’ll find all these settings in Windows 10 under display settings accessible from the context menu on the desktop.
Step 4: Revel in triple the glory
Now that you’ve got everything set up and working, you can go ahead and work much more productively, have access to more information at the same time and will be able to work more efficiently.
Note that the steps mentioned above also apply to a dual-screen setup which can be just as effective as a triple screen setup, depending upon whether or not you really need that extra screen.