UltraWide vs Dual Monitors – Which Should You Choose?

Wondering whether you should get an ultrawide display or a dual monitor setup? Find out the answers for all use: casual, work and gaming.

Answer:

Overall, ultrawide monitors provide a more immersive gaming experience, but they’re usually not the best when it comes to fast-paced competitive gameplay.

As far as professional use is concerned, depending on the resolution, a dual monitor setup will provide you with more screen real estate, but you will also have to cope with the bezel/gap in between the monitors.

Ultrawide monitors are exceptionally useful for audio/video editing as you get a broader view of timelines. Moreover, for most people, a high-resolution ultrawide display offers more than enough screen space.

Deciding between an ultrawide display or a dual monitor setup depends on what type of video games you play as well as on what kind of work you do.

You will also have to take into account other monitor specifications, such as panel type, size/resolution, refresh rate, etc.

In this article, you’ll find everything you need to know to make an informed decision about your next display.

21:9 UltraWide vs. 16:9 Widescreen

Dual Screen Monitor

For comparison, we’ll be using the most popular widescreen and ultrawide screen size/resolution combinations: a 34″ 3440×1440 ultrawide or a dual 27″ 1440p setup — and a 29″ 2560×1080 ultrawide or a dual 24″ 1080p setup.

So, a 27″ 2560×1440 monitor will provide you with roughly the same pixel density (pixel-per-inch ratio) as a 34″ 1440p ultrawide. Similarly, a 23″-24″ 1080p monitor offers roughly the same pixel density as a 29″ 2560×1080 ultrawide.

With ultrawide displays, you get ~33% of extra horizontal screen space in comparison to a single 16:9 display, meaning that dual monitors provide more workspace than an ultrawide.

There are also 32:9 “super-wide” ultrawide monitors, which actually provide you with screen size and space equal to two 16:9 displays, though at a higher price.

Curved vs. Flat Screen

Dual Curved Monitors

We recommend curved ultrawide monitors over flat ones as the curvature provides a more immersive viewing experience with less distortion.

When it comes to regular widescreen displays, a single curved monitor doesn’t have as a noticeable effect.

However, for a dual or multiple monitor setup, we suggest curved monitors as you’d need to have flat monitors aligned at an angle anyway.

UltraWide vs. Dual Monitors For Professional Use

Dual Monitors

If you want to get as much screen space as you can, then a dual or multiple monitor setup is the way to go.

However, make sure you’re getting a monitor with a high pixel density. For instance, a 27″ monitor with 1920×1080 resolution has a low pixel density of 81 PPI (pixels per inch), which results in smudgy text and details.

In this case, if you can’t afford a 2560×1440 monitor, you’re better off with a 24″ 1920×1080 monitor, which has a pixel density of 91 PPI and, therefore, a much sharper picture.

Here are the optimal screen size/resolution combinations:

  • 23″-25″: 1920×1080, 2560×1440, 3840×2160
  • 27″: 2560×1440, 3840×2160
  • 32″-43″: 3840×2160
  • 25″-29″ ultrawide: 2560×1080
  • 34″ ultrawide: 3440×1440, 5120×2160
  • 38″ ultrawide: 3840×1600
  • 40″ ultrawide: 5120×2160
  • 44″ super-ultrawide: 3840×1080, 3840×1200
  • 49″ super-ultrawide: 5120×1440
  • 57″ super-ultrawide: 7680×2160

When it comes to color-critical tasks, there are some additional facts to consider.

First of all, even if you buy two identical monitors, they will likely have at least slightly different colors, contrast, uniformity, etc. Getting both monitors to display identical colors can be quite frustrating if you don’t have the proper equipment, such as a colorimeter.

Moreover, due to their wider screen, ultrawide displays provide a fuller view of timelines, which can be very useful for audio editing, video editing, and content creation in general.

Lastly, there is such a thing as too much screen space. If you put two 27″ 1440p monitors side by side, you may find that you have to move your neck and eyes from one side to another too often or that you’re not using all the space available.

In the end, it all boils down to how much space you need and what type of work you handle.

For professional use, we recommend ultrawide monitors with IPS panels as they offer the widest viewing angles as well as the most accurate and consistent color reproduction.

UltraWide vs. Dual Monitors For Gaming

Double Monitor

Gaming on a dual monitor setup is not recommended because you’d have a crosshair or your character right where the monitor bezels meet; unless you plan on using one monitor for gaming and the other for web surfing, chatting, etc.

In the former case, a triple-monitor setup makes more sense, since you can put one monitor on your left, one on your right, and one in the center, thus increasing your field of view, which is a particularly popular setup for racing games.

On the other hand, an ultrawide gaming monitor will provide you with a more seamless and immersive gaming experience without any bezels and gaps; it’s also a cheaper and simpler option.

Compatibility

There are a few things you should keep in mind about gaming on an ultrawide display.

First of all, not all games support the 21:9 or 32:9 aspect ratio, which results in either a stretched-out picture or black borders at the sides of the screen.

You can check a list of all games that support ultrawide resolutions here.

Also, because ultrawide monitors offer a wider field of view in video games, you get a slight advantage over other players as you can spot the enemies from the left or right more quickly and have a better view of the map in RTS games.

That’s why some competitive games such as StarCraft II and Valorant limit the aspect ratio to 16:9. So, make sure to check out whether your favorite games support ultrawide resolutions.

Other Features

Ultrawide Vs Dual Monitor

For fast-paced gaming, we recommend IPS panel ultrawide displays as they usually offer a faster response time speed than VA panel models.

If you prefer more graphically oriented games, VA panels will provide you with a higher contrast ratio, which results in deeper blacks and more vivid details in the shadows and highlights of the picture.

Nowadays, you can also find both ultrawide and widescreen displays with OLED panels or mini LED backlights for proper HDR support.

Other things that you should consider when purchasing a monitor are the display’s maximum refresh rate and VRR (variable refresh rate) technology.

UltraWide Vs. Dual Monitors For Everyday Use

1 Monitor vs 2 Monitors

For everyday use and home entertainment, we recommend ultrawide displays with VA panels as they are usually cheaper than the IPS models and offer a higher contrast ratio.

Moreover, the 21:9 aspect ratio of an ultrawide monitor is close to the native aspect ratio (2.35:1) at which a lot of movies are recorded, making for a more cinematic and authentic viewing experience.

Lastly, with an ultrawide screen, you won’t run into potential issues that can occur with a dual monitor setup such as different calibration out of the box, aligning the monitors (if they are different models/sizes), lack of connectivity options on your GPU, etc.

32:9 UltraWide Monitors

What Is Aspect Ratio
Click to enlarge

The 32:9 ultrawide monitors (also referred to as ‘super-ultrawide’) are equivalent to two 16:9 monitors side by side, just without the bezels in between.

For instance, a 49″ 5120×1440 ultrawide is basically equivalent to two 27″ 1440p monitors, a 44″ 3840×1080 display is similar to two 24″ 1080p screens, etc.

When it comes to gaming, most video games that support the 21:9 format also support the 32:9 resolutions and you get an even wider field of view for a more immersive viewing experience.

It’s rare to find content other than games that support the 32:9 format, so 21:9 and 16:9 movies will have black bars at the sides of the screen.

Besides gaming, audio and video editing greatly benefit from 32:9 screens, as well as general productivity and content creation.

However, if you just want a lot of screen space, for the price of the cheapest 32:9 5120×1440 display (~$800), you can get more than two 27″ 2560×1440 monitors (you can find one for around $200).

Of course, if you want to minimize clutter and use a super-ultrawide monitor for both gaming and work, it can be worth the investment.

You can further improve your productivity by using a monitor with Picture in Picture or Picture by Picture support or integrated KVM functionality. Some monitors also have fast USB hubs, USB-C ports with enough Power Delivery to charge a laptop, display output ports for daisy-chaining, an RJ45 port, etc.

In case you’re interested in something like that, we recommend checking out our best 32:9 monitors guide, as well as our guides for the best USB-C PD, KVM and Docking Station monitors.

Conclusion

We hope you’ve found this article helpful. For more information and the best deals, visit our best ultrawide monitors and best dual monitor setup buying guides.

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Joseph Moore

Joseph has probably spent thousands of hours learning about displays in his free time and prior work experience at HP. He now writes and manages DisplayNinja to ensure it stays as the people's favorite resource.