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Computer Monitor Arms: All You Need to Know to Choose the Right One

Woman using a Kensington monitor arm for two monitors

A monitor arm is an awesome piece of equipment that allows much more than a comfortable working posture and wonderful relief for the eyes — through proper desk ergonomics.

Because it is part and parcel of healthy office ergonomics in how it encourages movement, it contributes to greater productivity and wellness that serves beyond just ensuring physical comfort.

Besides, if you’re working from home, setting up a home office is essential for maintaining the right balance. You’ll want a dedicated space that helps you concentrate when you need to focus and collaborate with the team when required.

It could be challenging just finding the right place in the home that allows for these comforts. Once you do, you’ll want to make sure that you use the latest ergonomic accessories to optimize your space for productivity, convenience, and support.

A monitor arm for your desk is an excellent way to help you improve your setup on all three of those counts.

If you're completely new to the arena, this article will tell you everything you need to know about how they work and will help you figure out what style of monitor arm is best for your particular needs.

Table of contents:

  1. What Is a Monitor Arm?
  2. Why Do I Need a Monitor Arm?
    1. Reason #1: Find Your Most Comfortable Position
    2. Reason #2: Eliminate Computer Eye Strain
    3. Reason #3: Declutter, Organize, and Optimize the Working Space on Your Desk
    4. Reason #4: You Can Choose a Solution to Match Your Environment
    5. Reason #5: Increase Your Productivity
    6. Reason #6: Collaborate More Easily
    7. Reason #7: Increase existing flexibility
  3. What You Need to Know as You Shop for Your Ergonomic Monitor Arm
    1. How much does my monitor weigh?
    2. Is my monitor VESA compliant?
    3. How many monitors do I plan to use?
    4. How deep is my desk?
    5. What style of monitor arm mount is right for me?
  4. Best Monitor Arms to Suit any Home Office Environment

What Is a Monitor Arm? (and How Does It Work)

A monitor arm is a somewhat robotic looking arm that attaches to your desk, wall, or ceiling and raises your monitor to your personal ideal height. It adjusts easily according to your working style — whether you stand, sit, or do a mix of both throughout the day.

Why Do I Need a Monitor Arm?

Reason #1: Find your most comfortable, ergonomic working posture.

Different tasks require different sitting positions. When you read, you may want to sit back, and while you write, you may be leaning in.

A standard position suits either one (or neither) of these activities.

With a monitor arm, it’s easy to adjust the screen to eye level and keep it an arm’s length away no matter what task you’re busy doing.

Raising your monitor to the ideal, ergonomic height is critical for finding your most comfortable working posture.

Great posture relieves any strain through the upper body and back, that was previously caused by hunching over or leaning awkwardly back in order to view your screen.

A monitor arm also allows you to adjust the height, depth, and angle of your monitor in order to find the setup that works perfectly for your body and workflow.

Reason #2: Eliminate computer eye strain.

Computer eye strain is also called digital eye strain or computer vision syndrome. If you've been working at the computer for years it's no news to you that digital screens can cause your eyes to tire by the end of the day.

Without proper care and ergonomic adjustments, strain, fatigue, dryness, and even blurred vision can result.

Monitor arms help eliminate these ailments by allowing you to position your monitor screen at the optimal viewing height, angle, position, and distance, so that you aren't straining your eyes to view your work.

Digital eye strain symptoms list

Eyestrain symptoms you may experience include:

  • Dry, itchy, or burning eyes
  • Squinting more than usual and eye twitches
  • Blurred or double vision
  • Increased sensitivity to sunlight
  • Reduced concentration and headaches

If you’re straining your eyes to see your screen, you’ll also start developing pains in your neck muscles and knots, making the problem worse.

Adding a monitor arm mount to your home office desk will reduce the effects and give you neck and shoulder pain relief.

Reason #3: Declutter, organize, and optimize the working space on your desk.

Monitor arms create virtually no footprint (because they attach to the back of the desk, the wall behind it, or the ceiling above) — while clearing a vast empty domain beneath the area where your monitor used to sit, having lifted it up and out of the way.

This is a tremendous win-win! Having this extra workspace is an absolute game changer for those who enjoy having a flat surface in front of them to write on, or just wide, open space.

And if you decide to start with a simple monitor stand (a stand that sits on your desk and raises your monitor to the correct height), there are certain models that come with all kinds of compartments and drawers for extra storage.

A monitor attached to a Kensington monitor arm

Relatedly, high quality monitor arms come with a cable management system that takes care of unsightly cords. Take our SmartFit® One-Touch Height Adjustable Single Monitor Arm which keeps cables organized and tidy, held within the arm itself, as an example.

Reason #4: You can choose a solution to match your environment

A monitor arm is the perfect companion to a standing, adjustable-height, or active desk.

If you move through sitting, standing, walking or biking postures throughout the day, a monitor arm is the perfect companion to your ergonomic workstation — easily adjusting to each position, as you move.

The critical spec to look for here in order to experience that ease of adjustability is a gas or spring lift system that allows for one-touch height adjustments.

The built-in gas spring within our SmartFit® One-Touch Height Adjustable Dual Monitor Arm, for instance, makes adjustments between monitor positions smooth, easy, and virtually effortless.

In addition, if you use two screens, you can opt to use monitor arms with dual mounts. This allows you to arrange both screens in a stable and comfortable position while keeping track of a lot of information.

Two employees sitting a desk and using Kensington monitor arms to display their monitors

Also, if your workstation is active in some regard, make sure that your chosen monitor arm guarantees stability and steadiness in its design.

Reason #5: Increase your productivity

Dual and multi-monitor arms give you total command over the visual display of your work, enabling a whole world of possibilities in terms of how you want to setup your screen(s) for the most comfortable and natural working experience. Whether side-by-side, one monitor on top of the other, portrait or landscape, or three monitors horizontally lined up for an almost panoramic experience, this creative command equates to an awesome increase in productivity.

Relatedly, curved displays are proven to increase productivity while contributing greater comfort, because the curvature brings the sides and corners of the screen closer to your eyes, reducing the amount of movement needed to navigate.

Reason #6: Collaborate more easily

A computer monitor arm allows you to easily shift your screen, sharing your work with coworkers. If this feature is important to you, make sure the model you opt for promises 180° of horizontal rotation and is easy to swivel from side to side.

Reason #7: Increase existing flexibility

When choosing your chair, desk, and footrest, you’ll want them to come with adjustable settings. With the Kensington SmartFit® System, you can improve the flexibility of your entire set up with adjustments that perfectly suit your build.

What You Need to Know as You Shop for Your Ergonomic Monitor Arm

How much does my monitor weigh?

This will define the weight capacity to look for in your product.

Is my monitor VESA compliant?

VESA compliance is the technical term to describe the compatibility between a monitor arm mount and the back of the monitor itself.

A VESA compatible monitor has standard mounting holes drilled into the back that allow for any mount to be screwed in — these are typically drilled directly into the frame of the monitor itself and look like a square hole pattern.

The pattern, sometimes hidden behind the computer's attached stock monitor stand, is either 75mm X 75mm or 100mm X 100mm, though larger monitors may have larger patterns. Take a look to identify what kind of monitor arm mount you need to fit your monitor.

Two monitors attached to a monitor arm

If your monitor isn't VESA compliant, consider aftermarket brackets which wrap around the corners of your monitor or a VESA adapter which secures to the back.

How many monitors do I plan to use?

This will identify whether to look for a single, dual, or multi-monitor arm. Though you can set up multiple monitor arms for multiple screens, setting up one that accommodates all of your screens is the best way to optimize the space on your desk.

How deep is my desk?

This will identify how long you need your monitor arm to be.

What style of monitor arm mount is right for me?

The most popular monitor arm mounting styles are either desk clamps or grommet mounts, followed by wall or ceiling mounts. The style right for you depends primarily on how permanent your workstation is. The brief below will help.

  • Free Standing Mount: This is the simplest mount style — the mount base, weighed securely down by a heavy plate, sits at the back of your desk and supports the arm.
  • Desk Clamp Mount: This is a more sophisticated style equally fit for a short-term, semi-permanent solution. It's also called a C-clamp or edge clip, which clamps to the back edge of your desk (measure this edge to ensure the clamp will hold securely).
  • Grommet Mount: This is a more permanent solution. The supporting arm feeds through a grommet hole, which you'll need to drill if your desk doesn't have one, and secures the base of the arm on the ground. This style is an equally stable alternative to a C-clamp if the edge of your desk is too shallow for one.
  • Wall or Ceiling Mount: These are the most permanent mounting styles, securing to wall behind the desk or ceiling above.

Note that some products come with both a desk clamp and grommet mount. Take our SmartFit® One-Touch Height Adjustable Dual Monitor Arm with both mounting styles built into the product to fit and adapt to your workstation, in case your setup changes, as an example.

Because monitor arms enable a higher level of productivity, comfort, and collaboration, investing in one is a direct investment in yourself — your work and your well-being.

And figuring out which style is right for you is a simple matter of taking stock of how you naturally work best, and picking the product that supports and elevates your unique working style.

Best Monitor Arms to Suit any Home Office Environment

Every home office will be set up differently. To find a monitor arm that works for your environment, Kensington has a variety of models that remain highly adjustable yet suitable for any monitor configuration or home desk.

All our solutions come with the SmartFit System that uses your hand size to match the perfect height setting and comfortable position you need to remain productive.

Our range of versatile monitor arms include:

  • SmartFit Ergo Single Extended Monitor Arm – Provides for easy installation (with a C-Clamp and Grommet Fastener) that requires less desk space and delivers maximum flexibility. The monitor arm can extend to a distance of 399mm (or 15.7”) and provides 90° swivel, 180° rotation, and 45° monitor tilt adjustment.
  • SmartFit Ergo Dual Extended Monitor Arm – Providing similar convenience and adjustment capabilities as the single-screen platform, the monitor arm for dual screens is compatible with sizes of up to 32” and supports up to 8kg (or 17.6lbs) of weight.
  • SmartFit One-Touch Height Adjustable Single Monitor Arm – This platform (for a single monitor set up) delivers full-motion articulation and excellent stability for screens of up to 32”, weighing up to 19.8lbs. It has a built-in gas spring and is suitable for both curved and flat screens.
  • SmartFit One-Touch Height Adjustable Dual Monitor Arm – For situations where you need full-motion articulation for more than one screen, this platform is easy to install and comes with quick-release using VESA mounting monitor plate as a detachment system. It’s perfect for keeping a sophisticated workspace tidy and simplifies adjustment between 170mm to 550mm (or 6.7” to 19.9”).

Designed with ergonomics in mind, these platforms are versatile, durable, and provide superior comfort while working behind any monitor.

See the entire Kensington Monitor Arms portfolio and get yours