What's better than working with a single monitor? Working with multiple monitors, of course. I currently rock dual 32-inch 4K Dell monitors, which sit on my desk. Unfortunately, those two monitors rob critical tabletop space I could use for my peripherals and other work gear.
With this in mind, I felt it would be a good opportunity to look at the different types of monitor mounts out there that would allow me to elevate my monitors and reclaim some desktop space.
Monitor Desk Mount Versus Wall Mount
There are two basic types of mounts for monitors. First, there are non-invasive mounts that clamp onto your desk. These are often the cheapest available and the quickest to install. Since they don't involve drilling into a wall, no traces of their existence are left behind when you don’t wish to use them any longer. On the downside, these monitor desk mounts do take up a little bit of your desk space and will require a desk sturdy enough to handle the weight of your added monitor(s) at the mounting point.
The second method uses a monitor wall mount, which is a bit more involved and requires additional tools to install. You'll also need to drill holes into your wall, which may be a non-starter if you live in a rental property. The advantages of a wall mount are that nothing needs to be attached to your desk, you save a ton of desk space and that a wall stud can provide a very sturdy mounting surface. The disadvantage is that once you start getting into the triple-monitor and higher configurations, the mounts can get very pricey. In addition, you need to have your desk backed up against a wall, which is not always possible in every work environment.
When it comes to desk mounts, there are various configurations that you could choose. Of course, the simplest is a desk mount for a single monitor. These mounts all typically rotate, swivel and tilt for you to find an optimum viewing angle. he $28 Huanuo Single Monitor Mount is a good example.
Besides the side-by-side configuration, which we detail below with an option from Mount Pro, you can opt for 3x1 configuration, like this WALI Triple Monitor Mount for $84 after coupon on Amazon. With this arrangement, three monitors are held side-by-side, with a central monitor flanked on both sides by another.
There are 2x2 configs with two monitors side by side, with another two monitors stacked above, as we see with this Vivo Quad for $59.99. Or you could go with a 4x1 or even a 3x2 configuration, as seen with the Vivo Steel Hex, priced at $139.99. A desk monitor mount configuration is likely out there that can meet your current needs. However, be cognizant of the weight limits of your desk, the weight limits of the mount and the VESA pattern on the back of the monitors you wish to use.
There are also many configurations available for wall monitor mounts (although not nearly as many as desk mounts), starting from the relatively basic WALI Wall Mount that supports tilt and swivel for a low $14.99. Our guide covers the 2x1 Huanuo Dual Wall Monitor Mount ($56.99) installation in detail. Prices tend to go much higher from there, with a 3x1 mount from Displays2Go ringing in at $229.
Installing a Monitor Desk Mount
For my desk mount install, I went with the Mount Pro on Amazon, which retails for $32.99. However, at the time I purchased it, a $7 coupon was available, dropping the price to $25.99. According to the product specifications, the mount can accommodate two 13- to 32-inch monitors weighing up to 19.8 pounds.
My Dell U3223QE weighs just 12.46 pounds without the stand, comfortably meeting the mount's requirements. My Dell S3221QS is a bit porkier, coming in at 16.31 pounds without the stand, but it's still within the 19.8-pound limit.
The Mount Pro is constructed of stainless steel and aluminum, and can accommodate VESA 75x75 or 100x100 patterns. This mount swivels, tilts and rotates, articulating into just about any position you can think of to reach the ergonomic sweet spot for your viewing pleasure.
The exact instructions will vary based on the model of desktop monitor mount you buy, but here’s a general list of steps to follow for setting one up.
1. Pull everything out of the box and survey the components. Luckily, in my case, each of the Mount Pro’s main parts were individually bagged and well marked to make construction easy.
2. Assemble the desk clamp. The clamp for the Mount Pro comes in two pieces: a lower half that holds the knob you use to tighten the mount to your desk and the top portion that screws into the mounting pole. The two halves are held together with two bolts.
3. With the mount assembled, attach the pole. In the Mount Pro’s case, this required three screws.
4. Attach the mount and pole to your desk and tighten the clamp knob, so there is no play/movement.
5. Ensure that the mount arm is fully tightened against the pole. If the connection isn’t tight enough, the weight of the attached monitors will cause the arm to slide down the pole.
6. Remove the stands from the back of your monitor(s). In the case of my Dell monitors, the factory stand is removed using a simple push-button. Once it was removed, I found four screws already installed, which I needed to remove. Each monitor is different, so this step will vary depending on your monitor's manufacturer.
7. Attach a mounting bracket. Depending on the type of monitor, it may come with screws or you may need to bring your own.
8. Attach each monitor to its respective plate on the arm. On most desktop monitor monitors, the plates slide in from the top and are then secured with a single bolt.
9. Do some cable management. Many desktop monitor mounts, including the Mount Pro I used, include nifty clips for cable management, allowing you to route power and display cables along the arm and down the pole.
As you can see, getting the monitors off the desk opens up a lot of space by removing the bulky stands (don't mind my mess of cables for my external drives, Echo, Thunderbolt 3 dock and speakers).
Installing a Monitor Wall Mount
Installing a monitor wall mount takes more time, preparation and patience than a desktop mount. You have to be OK with the fact that you will be drilling into your pristine walls. Before tackling a project like this, you'll need a few tools -- some of which you may already have at home. For this project, I rounded up an electronic stud finder, a level, a cordless drill, some drill bits and a pencil.
As for the wall mount, I went with a Huanuo Dual Monitor Wall Mount ($56.99 - $5 coupon), which I obtained from Amazon. Since I have two monitors, a dual mount was a must. In addition, this Huanuo has many adjustments, allowing me to get just the right position I need for ergonomic and visibility purposes. It also didn’t hurt that the price was right.
1. Find a stud behind the drywall for the mount. This is where my Zircon stud finder came into play. You press a single button, and slowly swipe across the wall until you find a stud for the mount. This particular Zircon stud finder lights up when it finds the center of the stud, and will alert you if any electrical wires are nearby (we don't want you to get electrocuted). Your stud finder may differ, but they all operate on the same basic principle.
2. Mark the center of the stud with a pencil (my Zircon unit has a built-in pencil which makes marking easy).
3. Use the level to draw a vertical line down the wall (using your center point mark in the step above) in the area where you wish to install the mount.
4. Mark the holes necessary for drilling. The Huanuo mount includes a cardboard pattern for the three holes that need to be drilled. I used the level to align the pattern and marked the holes using a pencil.
5. Drill the holes using a cordless drill. Huanuo called for a 5/16 drill bit, and I obliged.
6. Screw the amount to the wall. In my case, I had to attach washers to the three lag screws and tighten -- but not all the way. Use the level to ensure the mount is still level before committing.
7. Tighten the screws completely to ensure a snug fit against the wall.
8. Attach VESA mounts to the back of your monitor(s).
9. Slip a monitor onto the plate at the end of each arm. Secure each with a screw or bolt, depending on what your mount requires. In my case, the mount had thumbscrews.
Like a desktop monitor mount o, the monitor wall mount t also opens up plenty of space in your workspace. However, wall mount hardware resides solely on your wall and doesn't take up any desk space.
Stay on the Cutting Edge
Join the experts who read Tom's Hardware for the inside track on enthusiast PC tech news — and have for over 25 years. We'll send breaking news and in-depth reviews of CPUs, GPUs, AI, maker hardware and more straight to your inbox.
Brandon Hill is a senior editor at Tom's Hardware. He has written about PC and Mac tech since the late 1990s with bylines at AnandTech, DailyTech, and Hot Hardware. When he is not consuming copious amounts of tech news, he can be found enjoying the NC mountains or the beach with his wife and two sons.