Going for a multi-monitor setup and wondering if it’s a good idea to opt for vertically stacked monitors instead of a traditional side-by-side setup? We can help!
Vertical stacking monitors can save desk space and is especially useful for editing, but this layout is also a lot less practical than horizontally stacked monitors for many applications. Gamers, especially, will likely find vertically stacked monitors to be less-than-ideal.
That’s our way-too-short take, but there’s plenty more to think about before definitively deciding whether a vertical layout is right for your setup.
This quick guide will cover everything you need about the in’s and out’s of vertical stacking monitors. From practicality to individual scenarios that fit this layout, we’ve got you covered.
Pros and Cons of Vertical Stacked Monitor Setups
Multi-monitor setups are becoming more and more common, and for good reason. Having multiple monitors can be a godsend to anyone working with multiple documents or applications at once, and there are real productivity benefits that come from being able to shift focus between them without alt+tabbing, minimizing, or maximizing windows.
Constructing a multi-monitor setup has never been easier or more cost-effective, and more and more users are taking the plunge.
Most multi-monitor setups are horizontal—having two or more monitors sitting next to each other—but sometimes the horizontal approach isn’t viable or desirable.
Vertical stacking, is much less common, but there are some good reasons why it is sometimes preferable to a horizontal setup.
- Saves desk space
- Lets you go multi-monitor in space-constrained workstations
- Helpful for working with music editing programs
- Extra screen offers more real estate for watching dataflows
- Great for standing desks
- Lets operations professionals keep an eye on KPIs and real-time performance
- Adds another screen for monitoring security camera feeds
- Less useful than horizontal setup for most tasks
- Not very helpful for gaming, watching media, or other personal computing
- Need to buy, construct, and set up a special mount
- Harder to keep track of information than with a horizontal setup
- Generally easier to move mouse left to right than up and down
- Need to look up all the time can be bad for your neck
P.S. – If you want to skip all of this and get the pros of vertical stacking without any of the cons , our recommendation would be to get a mount that can do both vertical and horizontal.
The Ergotron LX (Here’s a link to its current price on Amazon) is a premium choice, but it’s a fantastic mount for flexibility and reliability.
If you think your setup could benefit even slightly from occasionally switching to a vertical stack, it’s probably more than worth it to save yourself the headache and splurge on this.
We’ll cover more vertical mount recommendations later in this guide.
Productivity Benefits of Vertical Stacked Monitors
Horizontal setups are better for most school and office work, but there are some professional applications that work as well or better with a vertical setup. Here are just a few examples:
- Video Editing: Video editing is perhaps the task that benefits most from a vertical stacked monitor setup. It’s very helpful to have a a monitor above your main timeline monitor that is dedicated solely to displaying the video you are working on. This is doubly true for things like color grading, where you may want to have a separate panel for ensuring the perfect colors are displayed in the end result.
- Making music: The layout of many music editing programs is built around vertical track lists, so lots of music producers find it helpful to spread the window over two vertically stacked monitors.
- Security trading: Trading stocks, bonds, and other securities is a data-heavy business with an insane number of moving parts. Most serious traders like to have as many data feeds and trackers in front of them at once, which means they need workstations with as many monitors as possible. They’ll typically go for horizontal setups first, but it isn’t unusual for them to add verticality to their setups when their desks get crowded.
- Operations and logistics: Similar to security traders, operations and logistics managers often need to keep track of workflows and key performance indicators in real time. Vertical monitors are often used for displaying dashboards and at-a-glance information to help them stay on top of their facilities and spot problems as soon as they emerge.
- Security professionals: Security guards often need to keep an eye on several camera feeds at once, and the best way to do that is to cram as many monitors as possible into their workstations.
- Programming: Some programmers like to see their code stacked vertically, not horizontally. Having the window extended vertically lets them check previous code and spot errors without doing a ton of scrolling. It may only save them a few seconds each time they have to retrace their steps, but those few seconds add up to some serious productivity increases in the long run.
Gaming With Vertical Stacked Monitors
Some power users, especially gamers, like to add a vertically stacked monitor to their setup for added versatility. They’ll often put communication apps like Discord on the top monitor so they can check chats and messages, stick their Twitch stream on the upper monitor to make sure their feed is being recorded and displayed properly, or even have Netflix or YouTube running on the upper monitor while they game.
As far as using dual stacked vertical monitors for displaying your full gameplay goes, we’d almost always highly recommend that you don’t. It just doesn’t work as seamlessly as it can with horizontal monitors. Especially when bezels are accounted for.
Gaming is definitely an area in which horizontal or side monitors reign supreme.
Physical Benefits of Vertical Stacked Monitors
If you work in an office, chances are you spend most of your day crammed into a half cubicle or stuck on the side of a table with barely enough room to move your arms. Workspaces have been shrinking for decades now (even most private offices are basically closets now), and many employees just don’t have the desk space for horizontal multi-monitor setups.
The same goes for remote workers who’ve been forced to convert a corner of their bedrooms or kitchens into ad hoc home offices; sometimes there just isn’t enough space for a horizontal setup.
Vertical Monitor Mount & Setup Recommendations
There are a number of different mounts on the market that will work for a vertical multi-monitor setup. Some are freestanding, others clamp onto your desk or attach to your wall. Some of them offer very limited angle, height, and positional adjustments, others are built with versatile arms that let you reposition your monitors as you please.
Not all of them will work with your particular desk or workstation, but you’re sure to find something that fits your needs.
Here are a few of the top-rated vertical monitor mounts and a quick rundown of how to set them up.
Recommended Freestanding Mount
This low-cost stand provides a stable mount for two 13 to 30-inch displays. The removable VESA plates make installing your monitors fast and easy, and the sturdy mounts offer an impressive tilt and swivel range. You’ll be able to swivel your monitors 360 degrees, tilt them up to 45 degrees forward and backward, and raise or lower your displays with ease.
- Follow the included instructions to assemble the stand itself
- Take the removable VESA plates and lay them against the back of your monitors
- Use the included bolts and washers to screw the VESA plates onto the back of your monitors
- Once the plates are secure, lower the first monitor onto the lower clamp, stopping when the VESA plates and the clamps line up
- Use the included fasteners to attach the VESA plates to the clamps
- Repeat steps 4 and 5 with the other monitor and clamp
- Run monitor cables through the cable management clips built onto the stand, then plug them into their respective displays
And that’s it. Easy, right?
Recommended Fixed Desk Mount
This article is actually being posted from a setup using this setup.
If you’re looking for a little more flexibility than a freestanding mount can provide, look no further. This mount’s two gas spring-driven arms let you reposition, tilt, swivel, and rotate your displays whenever and however you want, and their sturdy constructions support monitors as large as 35 inches.
Its base attaches securely to the back of your desk via clamp or bolt-through grommet (both included) and keeps your monitors nice and stable—a big advantage over more precarious freestanding alternatives.
- Determine whether you want to use the clamp mount or the grommet
- Follow the included instructions to attach the base to your desk
- Attach the arms to the base, then use the included screws and allen key to fasten them in place
- Attach the monitor plates to the ends of the arms using the included bolts, washers, and allen key
- Have someone hold the first monitor in place in front of the mounting plate
- Use the included (appropriately sized) screws to attach the monitor to the mounting plate
- Repeat steps 5 and 6 with the other arm/monitor
- Slide monitor cables through built-in cable management holes on the arms
- Plug in monitors
And there you have it. It’s a little more involved than the freestanding stand, but the added range of motion and versatility is worth it.
The best way to make sure you get the most out of your vertical multi-monitor setup without making your neck ache is to use a standing desk, especially when combined with an arm-based mount.
Let’s say you have a standing desk and attach an arm-based mount to it. You can keep your monitors stacked or adjacent when you’re sitting, then rearrange them into a vertical configuration when you raise the desk to standing height.
That way you get the best of both worlds and won’t go home with a neck ache at the end of the week.
There are some real use-cases and compelling benefits from vertically stacked monitors. Having information vertically stacked makes it easier for a whole range of professionals to do their jobs, and just about any employee in a cramped office can benefit from the space-efficiency of vertically stacked monitors.
There are some definite drawbacks—namely the ergonomics of it all—but it’ll be worth your time to consider a vertical multi-monitor setup for your home or office.