You are a multitasker, and you make use of all the possible tools available to you including multiple monitors without concern for computer performance. Perhaps you are doing business/schoolwork or you are gaming and/or watching twitch streams. Whatever your reason is for two monitors, it makes your entertainment or job easier.
Running two monitors sometimes affects your performance, but usually, it does not. Depending on what you are doing with the two monitors, you may have no performance difference at all. However, if you are watching a video on one monitor and gaming on another, it may greatly affect your FPS and even cause lag and lower framerates.
If you are interested in using two monitors, you are likely wondering if it could affect the performance of your computer with other programs. Or perhaps you are using two monitors already and you are wondering if unplugging one will increase your performance. In either case, you will benefit from reading this whole article on two monitors and performance.
Performance with 2 Monitors
Using two monitors by default uses more video RAM, which is the memory on your GPU (graphics processing unit). If you are utilizing too much of this RAM, things can slow down or start displaying incorrectly. Videos and games could start lagging and it could reduce FPS.
Besides utilizing more of the GPU RAM, you will be using more of other resources too, such as:
- CPU (central processing unit)
- RAM (random-access memory)
- The GPU itself
But does using two monitors really have a noticeable effect on your system performance? In most cases, this answer is no. The reason is that it is hard to max out the GPU, CPU, and RAM with just one extra monitor.
Having an extra monitor does not cost double the resources. It is only an incremental increase that is barely noticeable. All the visual data is already coming from the GPU and since it is already flowing, it does not take double the effort.
However, having two monitors means you have more space to open up more programs at once, which certainly does affect performance. If you had 25+ programs open you would expect the performance to go down, it is the same idea here.
Having multiple programs open is usually the core issue to decreased performance and not the second monitor itself.
Performance with two monitors can be affected differently depending on what you are doing on the two monitors. If you are gaming, using office programs, or watching two videos simultaneously, your results will differ.
The more resources the application (program) takes up, the more you will have to worry about performance-based issues occurring. To be clear, multiple open programs tends to decrease performance more than having two monitors does.
Video gaming typically affects performance the most out of everything you can do with a computer. It takes a lot of muscle from the GPU, RAM, and the CPU to keep the more complex games running smoothly.
Video games with fantastic graphics take the most out of your computer’s performance reserves than anything else. If you are playing a brand-new game at a 4k resolution, this would be a top culprit for a slowdown in performance speed.
When you are getting into gaming and using two monitors, you could very likely experience performance issues. Especially if you are utilizing the second screen to use programs that take a lot of resources to operate, such as:
- Twitch streaming
- Watching videos (Youtube, Netflix, etc)
- Editing videos
- Editing high-resolution photographs
As you can imagine, gaming takes up a large portion of computer resources, and putting additional weight with additional high-resource programs on your computer’s back will eventually slow it down.
However, this may not be an issue that is only exclusive to having two monitors. You can video game and do the other tasks simultaneously on one monitor and experience similar issues. Having the second monitor is the gateway to having more programs opened at once.
Office Type Programs
Using two monitors at once to complete projects at work makes you a more efficient worker! By default, most employers provide their office employees with at least two screens since many studies have shown that work gets done faster and better with two monitors.
The run-of-the-mill text/spreadsheet/presentation software and web-based programs do not take up many resources from our computer. If you are using two monitors for these tasks as an office worker or student, you need not worry about performance!
You should be able to use any of the following programs simultaneously on two monitors without notable performance issues:
- Microsoft Office (Word, Excel, Powerpoint, Outlook)
- Web browsers (Google Chrome, Safari, Firefox, etc)
- Web-based apps (Google Suites, Slack, productivity apps like Wrike, etc)
- Utilities (calculator, calendar, file explorers, etc)
Keep in mind, if you have too many programs open at once, your performance will be negatively affected.
Watching Multiple Videos
Similar to video gaming, watching multiple videos at the same time on two monitors can impair the performance of your computer. If for some reason, you like watching two shows at once, beware of possible performance limitations.
Maybe two of your favorite sports teams are playing at the same time, or you want to learn how to bake a cake on YouTube while you watch the latest shows on Netflix. No matter your interests, your performance will likely decrease when you watch two things at once.
Again, if you are watching two videos on one screen your system performance can be impacted negatively as well. However, it is affected more so on two monitors because your GPU has to control two monitors instead of one.
Does FPS Drop When Gaming with 2 Monitors?
The FPS (frames per second) of your video game is critical to making it run smoothly. Ideally, you want as many FPSs as possible, however, if you use two monitors while playing video games you may lose out on those desirable extra frames per second.
You will notice when your framerate drops considerably. The video game will start getting chopping. When you move in the game, it may look as if the environment around you is stuttering. This is what low FPS looks like.
If you do not want your FPS to drop when you are gaming, turn off the second monitor. More importantly, close the extra application you are not using. Every program takes valuable computer resources to keep it open and running. You should prioritize what is most important to you to keep that running efficiently.
Performance with 3 or More Monitors
If you want even more space to do your work or gaming, then you can make use of more than two monitors! If you want to go all out and use 3 or 4 or 12 monitors go for it! As long as your GPU (or GPUs) can support it of course.
Using 3 or more monitors may require additional graphics cards for your computer, the real limit is how many monitors your graphic card(s) can handle.
If you have a beast of a graphics card or multiple graphics cards, you can still run into performance issues! Since there are still other limiting factors within your computer, you may not get the performance you desire.
If your computer does not have enough RAM and processing power, the performance of the computer will still be bogged down by multiple monitors. This is no different than the effects of using two monitors.
If your computer has more than one graphics card (GPU), this is one of the best ways to make sure your performance stays strong with multiple monitors. Just watch out for the other hardware limitations.
Computer performance can be negatively affected by multiple monitors. However, performance problems are typically issues with too many programs being opened at once and not necessarily by just having two monitors.
Performance with two monitors is affected the most during video games, videos, video editing, or a combination of any of the three. These take up a lot of resources from the GPU and could slow things down and decrease the frame rates to a crawl.
Obviously, this is not ideal when you are playing video games. To avoid any performance issue, do not ditch your second monitor! Just close the other programs to free up resources. You will be thanking yourself later when you notice the increased FPS!