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How to Select the Best Monitor Arm for your Desk

Posted by D Pflaum on

Hands down, the most common scenario for getting stuck with the wrong monitor arm is to search for one online, click on one of the less expensive ones and then purchase without fully understanding which one fits you best. Every now and then we all find great deals on the internet, but we shouldn't make the mistake of assuming the cheapest products are the best values because they are not. Often the monitor arm assemblies that look like the best value can't be set up or attached to your desk without special expertise, collide with your wall or with other monitors, or don't offer the range of motion which makes integrating such an assembly into your desk system a good idea in the first place. And that’s just for starters.

Unfortunately, with so many choices out in the marketplace, it becomes nearly impossible for the average person to select one. Thankfully, Applied Ergonomics has over 25 years of experience creating ergonomically sound workspaces, and we’d like to share what we’ve learned.

Here are our tips for successfully picking a monitor arm for your workspace:

  1. Make sure it can be attached to your desktop. The two most common ways to attach a monitor arm assembly to a desktop are 1. with a clamp base which uses a vise-like mechanism to attach it directly to the desktop, and 2. by affixing to the desktop by inserting part of the base through a grommet hole and then tightening it from underneath. A clamp assembly is the easiest way to attach your assembly; however, for trading applications, for example, the weight and positioning of multiple monitors may push the center of gravity so that your desk becomes unstable. If you're using a grommet-style attachment, you'll obviously need a pre-drilled grommet hole, or you'll have to drill it yourself, and on today's high-pressure laminates that is not an easy proposition. Also, you need to make sure that there is not hardware on the underside of your desk that may make it difficult to attach.
  2. Make sure your monitors can be properly connected to the arm assembly. The most common monitor mount is the VESA mount, and nearly all monitor manufacturers offer it as a standard option. Another common mount is the QuickChange mount--with QuickChange, a small custom-fitted bracket is attached to the back of the monitor so that the user can press a tab and easily connect or remove it. The QuickChange mount is a MUST for those whose users change their monitor configuration (or cubicle location) often.
  3. Make sure your monitor arm allows an appropriate amount of motion. Many people with desk depths exceeding 30" deep make the mistake of mounting their monitor arms too far back on their desk so that they must crane their neck to be able to see them. Wrong! Select a monitor arm with ample arm length and adjustment which will allow the easiest viewing from a comfortable sitting position, and, if you have room, add a little extra wiggle room for sharing with collaborators in front of or behind you. One problem we've seen many times with dual and triple monitor arm configurations is that the monitor arm assembly doesn't allow enough room for individual monitor adjustment so that the monitors collide or just can't be installed together. Conversely, you can find monitor arm assemblies where the freedom of movement can be limited to help prevent accidental or unintended motion that may damage your monitors.
  4. Make sure your monitor arm assembly supports an appropriate amount of weight. Many monitors being manufactured today are built from super-sophisticated lightweight materials, but you should be careful--there are some monitor arm assemblies which are built for heavier monitors and your lightweight monitor may not settle into a position where it's usable. Conversely, some monitors being manufactured, particularly for high-tech industries, are often quite heavy and may cause a monitor arm assembly to "bottom out" on the desktop. Check your monitor's weight before you buy--if you don't have a scale handy, you can usually find it on the manufacturer's website.
  5. Make sure your assembly is scalable. If you lock yourself into a monitor arm system with little flexibility, well, that's exactly what you're doing. Choose a system which allows you to add additional components and monitors that grow along with your business. There are also accessories or other features such as USB ports that could be an invaluable addition to your constantly-evolving office space.
  6. Make sure it looks nice. Even if you've successfully navigated the previous suggestions, you’ll definitely want your monitor arm assembly to be compatible with your office aesthetics. Make sure to match monitor arms you've already installed to ensure everything looks professional and well put-together.

One reason Applied Ergonomics is a great place to create a monitor arm assembly for your desk is that we have 25+ years’ experience in the ergonomic furniture space, and we know what works best. We know what works best because, as with all the furniture we carry, we proactively solicit feedback from our clients to that we can better learn how to serve them.

That feedback has definitely been inspiration for our newest line of ErgoAdvantage Monitor Arm assemblies, which takes the above points into account. Here is a chart which explains all their various features:

As comprehensive as this list is, we still realize that a significant number of our clients have special needs, whether they’ve constructed a complex monitor array or simply have different posture characteristics than most people. In either case, Applied Ergonomics wants to be your trusted resource for making this important decision. CALL US!