You should buy dual monitors instead of an ultrawide for these 4 reasons

Single monitor setups once dominated most home and office spaces, but computer users looking to enhance their productivity have consistently turned to larger-screened workstations in recent years. For the most part, there are two main ways to add screen real estate to your desk setup. You can either swap your monitor’s standard aspect ratio for an ultrawide monitor, or add more regular-sized monitors to build a multi-screened workstation. On paper, an ultrawide might sound incredibly appealing, because it provides the desktop space of a dual monitor setup without the bezels and clunkiness.


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However, you shouldn’t rush into buying a new ultrawide monitor before fully considering a dual monitor setup instead. I’ve tried ultrawide monitors, and I stuck with dual monitors anyway. If you’re on the fence, here are four reasons why you should create a dual monitor setup instead of buying an ultrawide.

4 They’re a lot cheaper

You can get a pair of dual monitors for far less than an ultrawide

Two Samsung monitors mounted to a desk with the StarTech Dual Monitor Arm.

Price is absolutely a factor for most consumers, and the cost disparity between standard monitors and ultrawide monitors is massive. For example, our favorite ultrawide monitor is currently the Alienware QD-OLED AW3423DWF, and it retails for $1,000. It’s a 34-inch display panel with a 21:9 aspect ratio and a 3440×1440 resolution. By comparison, our top budget monitor is the Asus ProArt PA278CV, and it’s a pretty solid display for under $300. That’s right — you can get two great monitors for hundreds less than an ultrawide monitor. You can even throw in a dual monitor arm for the best experience while still spending less than if you had purchased a widescreen monitor instead.


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Plus, the ProArt monitor I used as an example is actually really sharp and feature-packed for the price. You can get smaller, basic monitors for considerably less than that. In fact, I still use a pair of Samsung monitors I picked up from Best Buy for around $100 a few years ago. They aren’t anything special, but they get the job done for a fraction of the price of an ultrawide. Since ultrawide monitors are a premium market category, the cheapest ones will still be priced higher than a standard monitor.

3 More configuration options

Acer ConceptD 500 with dual monitors

A single ultrawide monitor will be simpler and cleaner than dual monitors. There’s no doubt about that. However, dual monitors can be more versatile and customizable than an ultrawide monitor. If you’re just getting started with your quest for more screen space, you can add a regular monitor to pair with your existing display without much effort or cost required. Displays of different kinds can be mixed or matched to build a desk setup, eliminating the need to spend a lot on a brand-new ultrawide monitor. You could put together a dual monitor workstation with old displays you have around, or use a laptop with an external monitor for the dual-display feel.


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Put simply, you can work with what you have to configure a new dual monitor workstation. If you do want to spend a little bit of cash on a great dual monitor arm, the configuration options drastically expand. Displays can be stacked horizontally, arranged side-by-side, used vertically, or can be configured using a mix of these methods. I’ll take the versatility of a dual monitor workstation over the simplicity of an ultrawide every time.

2 Enhanced productivity

The front of a desk setup using the Insignia dual monitor mount.

This one comes down to personal preference more than anything, but the main reason I stick to dual monitors is for productivity. Some people prefer ultrawide monitors because they find the bezels separating the dual monitors to be distracting. However, I take the opposite position. For me, the constraints imposed by each monitor in a dual display setup help me keep things organized. Rather than having a bunch of apps and windows scattered across one ultrawide desktop, I like to separate them in their own smaller desktop areas.


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Even if you think an ultrawide monitor is more conducive to productivity than dual monitors, you’ll likely run into window management limitations in your operating system. macOS is terrible with window snapping in any situation, but Windows will struggle with ultrawides as well. By default, Windows will view an ultrawide as one monitor despite it being the size of multiple displays. If you go with a dual monitor setup instead, you’ll get to use double the amount of window-snapping and window-management tools. As a quick aside, not all games are optimized for ultrawide aspect ratios either, so these limitations stretch beyond productivity applications.

1 Higher resolutions

Two high-resolution monitors will beat out a high-resolution ultrawide

Mac Studio 2023

The last reason to consider dual monitors over an ultrawide monitor is indisputable: dual monitors can achieve higher total resolutions. You can get 5K monitors in a few aspect ratios, including standard and ultrawide. But pairing two standard 5K displays together will give you a higher total resolution than a single 5K ultrawide. To compare the resolutions of displays with varying aspect ratios, we use a standard called pixels per inch (PPI). The more pixels per inch a monitor has, the sharper it will be. Monitors of the same resolution can have different pixel densities (or PPI values) and thus are not equal.

As examples, let’s take a look at the Dell UltraSharp 40 5K ultrawide monitor and the Apple Studio Display. Both monitors have 5K resolutions, but the Studio Display has 218 PPI while the UltraSharp has 140 PPI. All things equal, two Studio Displays will look better than the ultrawide because they offer more pixels.


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Why I’ll never buy into the ultrawide trend

While some view an ultrawide monitor as an obvious upgrade over dual monitors, I don’t exactly agree. Dual monitor setups offer a handful of key advantages, such as low cost of entry, versatility, productivity benefits, and higher pixel densities. A great pair of dual monitors and a high-end monitor arm can rival any ultrawide. But to each their own, because there are plenty of ultrawide fans that say they’ll never go back to a standard aspect ratio.


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