In the quest to get a bigger field of view and wider viewing angles, gamers have pushed for larger and more immersive screens. But size isn’t everything, and form factor matters as well. And so, a question we hear very often is which one’s better, having dual 16:9 monitors side by side or a single ultrawide 21:9 monitor? There’s no clear cut right or wrong answer, as usual it all depends on your personal preference. But in this article we’ll try to help with your decision, since having the right monitor setup makes all the difference for your gaming, whether on PC or console.
That’s very self-explanatory as you might imagine. As an example, you take two 27” 1440p monitors and link them with a DisplayPort cable, then run DisplayPort cables from each monitor to your graphics card, or daisy chain so that the connection goes from the GPU to one monitor and then the second monitor. You effectively get a 54” display, but the downside is that your PC now has to potentially run games in double QHD in our example. If you do this with 4K monitors, theoretically you’ll need enough processing power for dual 4K. Scaling and display extension mitigate the burden on your PC hardware, but you should still account for a performance overhead.
We have a whole article about dual monitor setups if you’re interested.
The ultrawide form factor aims to stretch the display for a wider field of view without having to bring in another monitor. Also, the majority of ultrawides are curved for better viewing angles and a more accommodating fit with human eyesight. However, to get a big display like that 54” twinning of 27” monitors we described above you would have to look at very expensive ultrawide monitors, if you can even find something in that size class.
Take a look at this article for much more info on the basics of ultrawide gaming monitors.
With dual monitors you can easily get a very large display, usually for a much lower cost than that of a big monitor.
For example, two 27” monitors side by side will still cost less than a single 49” monitor, and certainly less than the very rare 55” monitor class.
On the downside, dual monitor setups require a considerable amount of settings and configuration, with compatibility issues often popping up in the OS and within specific games.
There’s also the matter of the bezel separating the monitors, as they’re not seamless. This may begin to bother some gamers after a while. Cable clutter is another con of multi-monitor arrangements, as those DisplayPort cables add up. And HDMI isn’t highly recommended for dual displays, not that it would matter with regards to cable clutter.
And don’t forget, with dual monitors you have two displays to adjust image settings for, and we don’t mean on the software side, but rather on the monitor hardware part of things. Want to adjust brightness? You’ll need to do it on both monitors, and this gets time consuming.
Ultrawide monitors don’t have the bezel issue obviously, nor do they need much setting hassles or configuration. Every major operating system now supports ultrawide resolutions. You only need one cable, and you’re good to go. Plus OSD adjustments cover one monitor, so they’re faster.
Image consistency is another pro for ultrawides.
Since no two monitors are ever exactly the same, even from the same model and batch, there may be color and overall image inconsistencies when you put displays next to each other. Usually nothing dramatic, but depending on the observer, it may be noticeable. That doesn’t happen with a single ultrawide monitor.
The two major cons for ultrawides are the small total display size compared to combining dual 16:9 monitors, and the lingering issue of ultrawide support in game titles.
Surprisingly for late 2021, many games still launch without ultrawide resolution support, take a long time to add it, or never add it at all. Some games have partial ultrawide support, where in-game graphics are fine, but cutscenes run in 16:9 so you get black margins. By far, 16:9 remains the standard aspect ratio for PC and console visuals. Speaking of consoles, ultrawide monitors are not supported by any of the current consoles, not even Xbox. While the latter does support 2560 x 1440, the entire range of consoles from Microsoft has yet to add the ultrawide version of this resolution, 3440 x 1440, which is popular on PC as a midpoint between QHD and 4K.
While this sounds cool, you’ll run into the normal limitations and complexities of dual displays as listed above.
No different from dual 16:9 displays. If those sound like things you’re willing to put up with, then there’s no reason to not have dual ultrawides. However, if you go with curved ultrawide gaming monitors, remember that in addition to the bezel issue you’ll also have the curve factor to consider, resulting in a “bulge” in the middle of the joined display. Curved monitors as a rule were not meant for pairing into one pseudo-seamless display.
For people who want a lot of display real estate without breaking the bank, dual 16:9 monitors are a good option. Assuming you don’t mind the bezel and the setup. We believe this applies more to productivity and non-gaming applications. Gamers stand to gain more from investing in a single, larger monitor.
That leads us to the ultimate conclusion of this article that an ultrawide monitor is better than dual 16:9 displays, especially if you get one that’s at least 34”. A single ultrawide monitor is much more streamlined in terms of setup and adaptability, and even with the many games that don’t support ultrawide resolutions, it’s still not nearly as complex as having multiple monitors crowding your desktop.
We recommend going with either a bigger 16:9 monitor or an ultrawide. Dual monitor setups are fine for people used to multiple displays from their office life and so on, but aren’t great for gaming purposes.
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