For as long as he can remember, Charlie has always been interested in computers and gaming. It all started with the Sega Mega Drive and then evolved into PC gaming in his early teens. CS 1.6 was his first go at competitive gaming which soon evolved into CS:Source and now CS:GO - a game that he still plays (almost exclusively) today. Throughout that period he has also been a keen PC builder and enthusiast - dedicating a large portion of his time to the craft. My current rig is an ASUS 5700XT with AMD's Ryzen 3600X.
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For many, a 3 monitor setup is the perfect way to improve their gaming and productivity experience. However, going from a single monitor to a triple monitor setup can be more difficult than you first thought. Luckily, we’ve got a tonne of experience when it comes to multi-screen configurations, explaining everything you need to know about triple monitor setups in this guide.
Three monitor setups have been growing in popularity over the years, with many of the best racing sim setups utilizing a 3 monitor setup. It isn’t all about gaming though. Twitch streamers, multitaskers, and everyday users will all find benefits in using more than one monitor – effectively tripling the amount of desktop real-estate they previously had.
All being said, we’re here to discuss everything you need to know when it comes to a 3 monitor setup. We’ll be explaining how to construct a triple monitor setup, what monitors are great for multi-screen usage, comparing 3 monitor setups to dual monitor setups, and more in this simple guide.
What is a 3 monitor setup?
A three monitor setup is a computer setup in which three monitors are used at the same time. In 3 monitor setups, the monitors in question can be oriented in any formation, attached by HDMI, DisplayPort, VGA, DVI, or Thunderbolt 3.
As you can imagine, a 3 monitor setup can be incredibly versatile. Whether you’re into gaming, content consumption, productivity, or editing, most people can find benefits from using a triple monitor setup. They’re particularly handy for individuals that like to have numerous tabs and processes running at the same time, allowing them to maintain high levels of productivity on a 2nd or 3rd screen.
For gaming, the racing sim is arguably the most common use case for a 3 monitor setup. Many games support a multi-screen setup though, allowing you to experience your virtual world from a complete different angle.
Are 3 monitor setups worth it?
That all depends on what you plan to do when you’re on your PC. If you’re the sort of person that likes to play competitive games but does a little bit of work on the side, chances are you probably won’t reap the full rewards of a triple monitor setup. That said, for individuals that use Twitch, a triple monitor setup can be extremely versatile.
Popular streamers will use 2 or even 3 monitors to ensure they’re not only interacting with their audience but also allowing them the freedom to seamlessly flick between their streaming software and other applications. Having a dedicated third monitor for your Twitch chat is also incredibly handy as it means you can interact with a larger percentage of your audience.
Twitch streaming aside, a 3 monitor setup is also great for productivity users and traders. If you’re looking to keep a keen eye on a number of different stocks or currencies, the best way of doing so might be with several screens. Some people love having Bitcoin prices visible at all times – especially when you consider the volatility of cryptocurrency.
Below we have listed the most common scenarios which would benefit from a three monitor setup:
- Racing simulator/gamer
- Video/photo editor
- Productivity user
- Individual working within social media
- Twitch Streamer
Is a 3 monitor setup expensive?
That all depends on the monitors you plan to use. There are plenty of smaller, budget-tailored 24 inch monitors that are great for triple monitor setups. You don’t have to get the best gaming monitors for a multi-screen configuration – you can use something much less premium.
Overall, you can create a 3 monitor setup for any budget. If you want the cheapest possible setup and don’t prioritize gaming, you can grab yourself three budget 60hz monitors and away you go. However, if you plan on gaming quite regularly, you will likely have to pay a premium for atleast one of the screens in your setup.
Three monitor setup vs dual monitor setup
So, do you go dual monitor setup or three monitor setup? Of course, the three monitor setup is much more versatile than the dual as it comes equipped with an additional 24 inches (minimum) of screen real estate. However, you may not need that additional workspace.
If you feel you can be more productive with a dual monitor setup, you will save yourself a few bucks in the process. Of course, if you’re only getting two monitors, you’ll be able to splash out on slightly more premium options – allowing you to get a better experience on a monitor-by-monitor basis.
Furthermore, two monitors only requires two input cables from the GPU. Let’s not forget, not every GPU offers three video inputs – meaning you may actually be limited to a dual monitor setup.
How to set up 3 monitors on one computer
If you’re all in on an 3 monitor setup, let’s take a closer look at how to set one up.
Luckily, the process for setting up 3 monitors on your computer is incredibly easy. However, there are some preliminary checks you need to do.
1. Check your GPU for video inputs
One of the first things you need to do before, well, even buying the monitors is to check whether your GPU can accommodate a triple monitor setup.
Check the rear of your GPU to see if it has three inputs available. If it does, then we’re off to the races.
2. Make sure you have enough cables
The next thing you need to do is ensure you have all the relevant cables for your new setup. You’ll need to match your cables with the inputs found at the rear of your GPU – as not all GPUs offer three HDMI or DisplayPort options.
Instead, you’ll often find each GPU with a mix of inputs (HDMI, DisplayPort, VGA, DVI).
3. Check for available plug sockets
Again, while this might sound basic, it’s something people often overlook. Make sure you have all the available plug sockets before starting.
4. Start connecting your monitors to the GPU
If you have all the available cables, inputs, and sockets, start connecting your displays to the GPU.
At this stage, it might be worth labelling (sticky label) each cable with numbers so you can easily determine which cable goes to which monitor.
While this might sound stupid, it does help if you need to change monitors, cables, or are just reorganising your setup.
5. Switch on each monitor and make sure they’re registering with the PC
At this stage, each monitor should turn on and display either a black screen or your desktop background. If your monitor’s standby light isn’t active or you see the monitor cycling through the display inputs, chances are, it isn’t being recognized by the PC.
If this happens, you may have to skip to the next step and try to manually get the monitor to register. Of course, a monitor not working with a PC is fairly slim, so I wouldn’t worry a great deal.
6. Configure your 3 monitor setup in Windows Display Settings
At this stage, you’ll want to head into your Windows Display Settings (Right-click desktop and select if from the options) to configure them properly. Unless you’re lucky, you’ll often find that the orientation of the monitors is out.
For example, the monitor on the far left has actually been assigned the centre position – and so forth.
Inside Windows Display Settings you’ll be able to drag and drop the monitors into the correct orientation.
If you don’t know which monitor is which, simply ‘Identify‘ the monitors by pressing the ‘Identify’ button underneath the screen configuration section of Windows Display settings.
7. Save your monitor configuration settings and you’re finished
You can apply the settings at the bottom of the window. If it asks you to confirm the settings, simply confirm them and close the window.
Best monitors for a 3 monitor setup
If you’re interested in a more versatile multi-monitor setup, you’re probably wondering what the best monitors are for that job. Fortunately, we have a lot of experience when it comes to monitors, allowing us to recommend displays for all scenarios.
Below we have listed some of the best monitors for 3 monitor setups:
Best gaming monitors for 3 monitor setup
The ASUS VG279Q might be an aging panel now, however, it still offers excellent value for money and decent gaming performance in a triple monitor setup. It offers a respectable 144Hz refresh rate, low 1ms response time, and IPS panel technology.
Best editing monitor for multi-monitor setup
Acer B287K Monitor
The Acer B287K is a great monitor for a dual/triple monitor setup. It offers good coverage of the sRGB spectrum, decent colors right out of the box, and an sRGB emulation preset that is incredibly accurate. While it only has a 4ms response time and low 60Hz refersh rate, it does bring a 4K resolution to the party.
See the full Acer B287K monitor review here.
Best budget monitor for triple monitor setup
Acer Nitro VG240Y
The Acer Nitro VG240Y is a budget monitor that, despite its price tag, still ticks a lot of the right boxes. It may not be as big as the previous two mentions, however, it still provides enough screen real-estate when it comes to a 3 monitor setup. It feature an IPS panel, low 1ms response time, and 1080p screen resolution – not a bad combination of specifications for everyday use.
So, there you have it, our quick guide to 3 monitor setups. Hopefully we’ve explained everything you need to know if you are considering upgrading your current gaming setup. If not, feel free to drop us a question in the comments section and we’ll get back to you as soon as we can.