Ultrawide Monitor vs. Dual Monitor: Which Setup is Better for Working?

I spent years working on a dual monitor setup and just recently purchased an ultrawide monitor to replace them in my home office. The monitor I bought is an 34” Acer CB342CK (3440x1440) with a 21:9 aspect ratio, and I only use it for “standard” office work (no video editing, photoshop, gaming, etc.) so some of the more expensive options weren’t necessary. I managed to buy it certified refurbished for $280, which seemed very reasonable given the cost of other similar options. The main factors that drew me to the ultrawide monitor were:
  • It provides a large, seamless screen to work on big spreadsheets etc.;
  • It can easily accommodate two open windows side-by-side for productivity; and
  • It looks cool.
So, which is better: a single ultrawide monitor or dual 16:9 monitors? After working with the ultrawide for a few weeks, I’ve put together a few points on my experience while comparing it to my old dual monitor setup. When it initially arrived, I set it up and connected it to my Lenovo T480 laptop using an HDMI cable. I was only able to get the resolution up to 2560x1080, which made text and images look grainy. I did some research and learned Lenovo uses old HDMI 1.4b technology in their HDMI ports, which can’t support a 3440x1440 resolution at 60Hz. My T480 does have a USB-C port, which can support the higher resolution, so I ordered a USB-C to DisplayPort cable off Amazon for $15 and it solved my problems.

Home Setup.jpeg

I’ve come to really like the monitor when working with large spreadsheets or when hunting through a dozen internet tabs. The extra “wide” space allows you to see a lot more than a standard 16:9 aspect ratio and makes everything easier to work with, which is something you can’t do with two separate monitors. Working with two windows side-by-side is OK, but I’m not sure if I prefer it over dual monitors yet. I find myself using the Windows Key + Left/Right shortcut a lot to split the windows to either side of the screen, which isn’t as quick or easy as clicking and dragging to maximize like you would with a true dual monitor setup. Plus, while the 21:9 aspect ratio provides plenty of space to work with two windows, you still lose space when compared to two separate 16:9 monitors.

If you spend most of your time in large spreadsheets or single, wide windows it may make sense to use an ultrawide monitor. The ultrawide also looks great and only requires a single display connection, which makes it attractive for those with a tablet-style laptop that only has a single port. If you’re willing to spend some serious money ($900+) on your setup, you can opt for something like the 49” Curved Samsung monitor with a 32:9 aspect ratio that gives you a true “dual monitor” feel on a single screen. Otherwise, a standard dual monitor setup provides the same productivity for cheaper with a slightly lower “cool factor”.

Samsung Ultrawide.jpg
About author
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Adam Ewing has worked as an Engineer for aerospace and steel manufacturers as well as a Consultant for an R&D tax credit firm. He currently works as an Implementation Consultant for a financial software company. Adam has a B.S. and an M.B.A. from the University of Alabama. His interests include traveling, cars, cooking, and triathlons. You can also find Adam on LinkedIn.

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