Monitor Risers vs. Monitor Arms

If you are using a computer monitor, or monitors, or a monitor and laptop – and you want to change adjust the height, angle or depth of the monitor, then you may be wondering what the best way to do that is.

Today’s monitors can range in size from 22 inches all the way up to 34 inches (and growing!), and there are many different work station set ups today (sitting, standing, sit/stand, shared work spaces, desk depth, etc.) – which means that the answers are not so clear cut.  

So, Let’s Take a Step Back

Setting your monitor at the correct height, distance and angle, is fundamental in your ergonomic set up.   A monitor that is too high, too low, too far or two close has a direct impact on a your posture and can expose you to a multitude of risk factors (slouching, craning neck forward, straining to see, etc.) that in turn, can bring on pain and discomfort in your neck, back, shoulders as well as cause you to have unwanted eye strain and headaches.

There are 3 ways to go about getting your monitor(s) in their ideal position:

  1. You can adjust your monitor stand up or down if your monitor comes with a base (stand) that is adjustable.
  2. You can place a monitor riser(s) underneath a monitor(s) to raise the height.  (This could be a commercially bought monitor riser or a makeshift riser using a ream of paper, or large book.)
  3. You can install a monitor arm(s) to adjust the height, angle and depth of your monitor(s)

What Are the Pro’s and Con’s Of Each Solution?

Adjustable Monitor Stand

Pros:

  • No Additional $$
  • No Installation
  • Easy to adjust
  • Height Adjustable
  • Most can adjust monitor angle

Cons

  • No Depth Adjustment
  • May not have angle adjustment

Considerations:

When picking monitor with adjustable base, it is important to choose a base with at least a 4 – 6” height range and allows for angle adjustment.

Monitor Risers

Pros

  • Inexpensive
  • No Installation
  • Can provide additional storage space for Laptop or CPU
  • Easy to repurpose

Cons

  • Height Limits (can’t safely stack more than 2 – 3 monitor risers)
  • Fixed base monitors on risers means no further adjustments can be made without adding or taking away risers
  • No adjustability for sit/stand users.
  • Takes up a lot of space on the desktop
  • Not practical for multiple monitors

Considerations

If you elect to use monitor risers that come in 1” or 2” heights, they can be stacked on top of each other to achieve the desired height.  However, it is important to note that no more than 3 risers should be stacked on top of each other.  Once you exceed 3, there can be a loss of stability.  If you need more than 4″ of height, consider a single monitor riser that is at the height you want to achieve. 

Monitor Arms

Pros

  • Height adjustable
  • Angle adjustable
  • Depth adjustable
  • Accommodates multiple monitors
  • Accommodates laptops
  • Accommodates shared workspaces

Cons

  • More expensive than monitor risers
  • Requires installation

Considerations

If you elect to use a monitor arm(s) make sure it is compatible with your monitor and can accommodate it’s size and weight.

What is the Best Solution? 

In order to weigh in on the best solution for your monitor set up, it’s important to take note of case specific situations such as:

  • Desk Depth: Multiple and / or large monitors can work wonders on large desks.  However, if the depth the of your desk is less than 30” deep, larger (and / or multiple) monitors often can feel too “in your face” and can cause eye strain and headaches. 
  • Sit Stand Desks: If you  alternate between sitting and standing, then you have a unique use case when it comes to your monitor height needs.  When you sit, there is compression of your spine which requires a lower monitor position then when you stand.  Therefore, it is important that your monitor is adjustable to accommodate the changing lines of vision when switching from a sitting to standing position.
  • Vision: If you wear bifocals or progressive lenses, you will fare best when your monitor is as low as possible.  If you are thinking about getting or currently wear computer glasses which set for a specific height and distance make sure you know what that height and distance is.  And maybe it’s time for that eye exam if you are squinting, craning your neck forward or struggling to see.

Multiple Scenarios Means Multiple Solutions

Monitor Risers work well if:

  • You work at a fixed height desk (sitting or standing height)
  • Your desk depth is 30” or more
  • You don’t have a visual need for a low monitor (lower than in it’s current position at it’s lowest available height.)

However the ideal setup would include an adjustable base on these monitors.

Monitor Arms work well if:

  • You work at a height adjustable desk (sit/stand)
  • Regardless of your desk depth, but especially if your desk depth of less than 30”
  • You have a visual need requiring adjustment of the height, depth and angle of your monitor.
  • You greet people in your office (think HR, team meetings, interviews, etc.) and benefit from being able to swing the monitor to the side.
  • If you use multiple monitors and want to preserve real estate on your desk
  • You share your desk with other co-workers or household members.

I hope this post was helpful and please leave us any questions or additional suggestions in the comments below!

Until the Next Time!

Vivienne

 

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