I’m always researching and writing. And for me, that means looking up stuff on one screen and writing about what I’m researching on the other. The following photo doesn’t really do justice to my actual set-up’s usability because the lighting is different from my normal working set-up to enable a usable snap. But it does show me writing this very blog post, with WordPress open on the right-hand screen, and a Dell product page open on the left-hand screen (to their snazzy new UltraSharp U2713H 27″ monitors, currently available online for about $850 a pop).
I use two Dell UltraSharp 2707WFP monitors side-by-side on my desktop.
This set-up works pretty well for me, but it does require a reasonably capable graphics card to deal with two HD monitors (my older 2707 models feature 1980×1200 resolution, the newer models typically offer 2560×1440 at this screen size) side-by-side. My GTX 460 dates back to June 2010, and both of my monitors date back to 2008. At their time of purchase, each monitor cost me about $750; the graphics card cost just under $300. That’s more than the rest of my production desktop cost, despite its i7 930 CPU, an Intel 520 Series 180 GB SSD, a nice case, and 24 GB (4×6) of PC3-10600 RAM.
Even so, this is probably the best money that I’ve ever spent on PC hardware, simply because it lets me get so much stuff done both quickly and efficiently. I simply can’t overstate the value of copious screen real estate while you’re working on a PC. In fact, I’ve gotten in the habit of remoting into most of my other PCs to work on them (both notebooks and desktops) just because I’d much rather interact with them on a single 27″ screen, especially one of my notebooks, none of which has a screen larger than 21″ (the old HP Dragon) and most of which are 14″ or smaller (my Lenovo T520, X220 Tablet, Acer 5552, and my Dell XPS 13).
Though you may have to twist some arms at work to get funding for a second (or multiple) displays, it’s still worth the effort — and the expense. Here’s a Google search on “impact of multiple displays on PC productivity” that should provide you with plenty of ammunition to help you convince reluctant bosses that increasing your screen real estate likewise increases productivity and work output. Simply put, it’s money well spent and will generally earn itself back within a year (or at most, two) of purchase.