In this day and age, multitasking is a must. The act of alt-tabbing between several different programs, video games and browsers can be a nightmare, a game of musical chairs. Oh, which program will you land on when you quickly alt-tab? Not everyone has the luxury to update their monitor to a monitor that’s so wide you could take off like a plane with it strapped to your back. Why not switch to a multiple monitor setup?
Of course, multitasking isn’t the only reason for having multiple monitors; in fact, having such a set up is far better in PC gaming, especially if you’re a video game streamer. Whether you’re looking to multitask, having a better set up for streaming, or you want a better field of vision, setting up multiple monitors for PC gaming is, quite frankly, not that difficult to do.
What You’ll Need Beforehand
Before you drop another monitor on your bill, you should prepare your battle station. For starters, you need to make sure you actually have the space. Can your desk handle two or more monitors? Yes? Then you’ve just checked the most important box.
On the other hand, if your desk is inadequate for two monitors, then you can always invest in wall mounts, provided you have the wall space and setup to allow for it.
Next, you’ll have to ensure that your graphics card can actually handle more than one monitor. Do you have a graphics card that only has one port? Sorry, you’re stuck using one monitor. If your graphics card is sporting two or even three HDMI ports, for example, then congratulations! You can support up to two or three monitors.
- [Note]: Mixing and matching output ports is also a possibility, like one HDMI port and a DVI port or an HDMI and DisplayPort, but matching output ports for all monitors is a better setup.
- [Note]: To be fair, there exists splitters that can turn one output port into two or more (like this one from REI), but it isn’t an optimal setup. Possible and doable, but not as good as having two dedicated output ports.
Speaking of graphics cards, for the love of your computer god, you’ll need a graphics card that can actually support multiple monitors. Sure, your GPU might have different output ports, but that doesn’t mean it can handle displaying your screen across two monitors, let alone 3 or more. Thankfully, most modern GPUs can handle, but to be sure, you should do some research on your current GPUs capabilities.
- [Note]: For AMD GPUs, you’ll want to look for the “Eyefinity” feature. It plays nicely with multiple monitors.
- [Note]: For NVIDIA GPUs, you’ll want to look for the “Surround” feature. It plays nicely with multiple monitors.
Finally, the monitors themselves. You’ll want to shoot for monitors that have identical specifications. Using one monitor that’s 20 inches and another that’s 27 inches isn’t going to be a comfortable fit. For example, if you’re looking to line the monitors up side by side, it’s going to be goofing and disorienting to go from a smaller monitor, to a larger monitor.
But in all seriousness, they don’t have to be identical monitors. You can have one display in 1080p while the other displays in 720p. However, it’s advantageous and works better in the long run if you go for monitors that are identical or close to.
Now, let’s get down to business!
Setting Up Multiple Monitors for PC Gaming
So, you’ve ran through the previous section and found everything is all ready to go. Your graphics card supports a multiple monitor setup and you have the space.
Here’s what you do:
1. Start by updating your GPU(s) to the latest driver(s). Reboot your PC.
2. Next, hook up the monitors to your PC. Insert the right connector into the right port. And don’t worry if you don’t see anything, because you won’t.
3. On your desktop, right click empty space. In the drop down menu that follows, choose Display Settings. You’ll find it near the bottom of the menu.
4. First, ensure that your PC is detecting the additional monitors. If you have three but only see two, check the cable and then click Detect.
5. Next, choose how you want the monitors to be displayed. If you’re working with, say, three monitors, ideally you’ll want your main monitor in the center. If you’re working with two, it’s up to you.
6. Next, open your GPU’s control panel, usually by right clicking on your desktop. The next step will depend on your GPU.
7. NVIDIA only: In the NVIDIA Control Panel, choose Configure Surround, PhysX in the left hand column under “3D Settings”. Checkmark “Span displays with Surround,” and click Configure. This will help line up your monitors.
- AMD only: In AMD’s Catalyst Control Center, click “AMD Eyefinity Multi Display.”
8. AMD only: Choose “Create Eyefinity Display Group.”
9. AMD only: Choose the primary monitor. The main monitor has an asterisk in the top left corner. Click Continue.
10. AMD only: Next, choose how you want your monitors to display information. For gaming, a (3 x 1) display will be ideal, if you’re using three monitors. Other options you choose will display as an image below. Click Continue. Your monitors will go blank and then light back up.
11. AMD only: Finally, click Arrange and finish AMD’s setup.