Desk setup dilemma - what would you do?

I’ve got a bit of a dilemma and could use some advice.

I had my eyes set on an Apple Studio Display, mainly because of the 5k and integrated speakers and webcam. The plan was to pair it with a 16-inch laptop as a secondary display. However, I ended up going for dual 27-inch displays instead, because they were on sale and I figured having more screen space would be useful. But honestly, I’ve been frustrated with this setup ever since.

Long story short:

I use a Mac for personal stuff and a PC laptop for work. Switching between the two has become a chore. You need to press a button on the back of both monitors to change the input, then switch the mouse and keyboard button to toggle between Mac/PC. I’m doing this multiple times a day, and it’s starting to get on my nerves. I’m using a Hyperdock to run the displays - Thunderbolt for Mac and HDMI for the laptop. The Logitech keyboard and mouse have a toggle for multiple devices. Is there a more seamless way to switch between the two computers? I’m even considering Parallels and just using the Mac if my workplace will allow it.

The bigger issue is that two 27-inch screens are just too big for me. I’ve tried arranging them horizontally, then one in portrait, but no luck. My desk is a standard size, but these monitors make it seem tiny. I got a dual monitor arm with a crossbar, thinking it would make the setup clean and seamless. The monitor arm has limitations. The monitors can’t be pushed back any further, so they’re uncomfortably close. The only adjustments I can make are the height and a slight side-to-side movement. Do I put up with the displays, get a bigger desk to accommodate them, or sell and go for the single Apple Studio Display?

I can’t help but feel a bit frustrated about sinking money into this setup. Where to from here?

  • Sell displays and buy Apple Studio Display. Use Parallels for work.
  • Keep displays, but buy two independent monitor arms for more flexibility
  • Keep displays, but buy deeper and wider desk to accommodate them
  • Other

0 voters

Seems to me that your solution might be two smaller displays. Here is a photo from 2014 of the corner of my former work office where I’ve got a large Windows PC, a Mac mini (hidden in the corner), two full size keyboards, two mouses, and three 17" monitors (two used with the Mac), and a digital picture frame. I’d say this is very compact and functional and I never had to share peripherals between the two computers.


Do you use both monitors? Is there a reason that 2 monitors work better for you? If so, I’d agree with @tomalmy

If you only want or need one, stick with one.

I’m very much one for maximising desk space (as much surface are as you can get) and using the tools which make you productive,

Which do you want?


I would consider using one monitor for each machine. Probably the cheapest alternative.


Have you considered a Hardware-based or software-based KVM switch? Those would like be much more convenient than your current setup for sharing a keyboard/monitor/mouse.


I recently went through a similar type of setup change. I had an LG 5K and a 27” Dell QHD. I eventually just got rid of the Dell which work had given me as I tend to prefer the single monitor lifestyle. Let’s me stay more focused. With a dual monitor arm, I still couldn’t get a great layout that didn’t also cause my neck stiffness issues.

So a couple of months ago, I caved and spent too much money on the Studio Display. It can connect to my work PC and 14” MBP. If you’re to go the 5K route though, make sure the PC can actually work with it. I actually needed to get my company to send me a newer laptop because the old one wouldn’t support the Studio Display. Many PC laptops, to this day, still can’t display 5K, let alone do it over Thunderbolt so please please please make sure you’ve got a new enough machine. Best situation would be to test it out at an Apple Store to make sure it works.

Now, for the peripherals, this is where USB dongle based wireless keyboard/mouse peripherals end up being better than bluetooth. Plug those into the back of the monitor (or your dock) and they’ll switch machines automatically as you connect your display to a different laptop.

If I could, I would absolutely try Parallels on my personal machine running a work issued VM but alas, that’s never going to happen. I’m also not sure if the performance penalties of running x86 based workflows on ARM machines would work well. It’s doubly tough as I’m a developer and these types of variable can drive you nuts when debugging issues.

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If you can configure your PC laptop for remote access I would install Microsoft Remote Desktop on your Mac and use your Mac keyboard and mouse for both computers.

I controlled servers this way for years and gave accountants, that wanted iMacs but required Excel for Windows, access to their PCs that I moved to the server room.


I’m glad to see that Wayne commented on Remote Desktop. Would actually recommend that in this scenario.

Another consideration may be to get arm mounts for the displays so they can move around and give you potentially more room.


Out of curiosity, if you want to keep the monitors/your current setup, are there KVM solutions out there that might work for you? I don’t know the market and/or cost, but I have 3 different computers at work where using my KVM I can switch between the three with a press of a button on the switch and the monitors, keyboard, and mouse all flip between them. Works like a charm.

Like I said, it’s a commercial solution so not sure if there is something like that for home use or how cost prohibitive it might be.


I went through a similar process were I have a Mac and windows machine that I need to use (I may get rid off the windows machine after negotiating with my current project manager :blush:). I tried to go with a 32“ Dell and tried everything to make it work for me with an Ergotron monitor arm and whatnot. But in the end I bought a studio display hooked up to a 16“ Macbook Pro and I couldn’t be happier. For me the 32“ was too big and my desk and I figured IF I should need more screen estate than the standard resolution of the studio display I can temporarily increase it :blush:. The display and colors are just sooo much better to me than the Dell and it’s a joy to use - now my desk looks clean again :blush:. And as for the windows machine, I simply Remote Desktop onto the laptop which is put in a corner - this way I can use my Magic Keyboard, Magic Trackpad, Keyboard Maestro and Stream Deck with my windows machine as well :blush:.


Thanks everyone!

I just tried Remote Desktop, which is an interesting solution I hadn’t considered. The only downside is that the text is blurry to the point of being unusable for long periods of time. I also experienced issues with my web cam and I worry how video meetings would go via Remote Desktop. Would Parallels provide a better user experience for longer work sessions?

KVM could be an option, but I’m hesitant to spend more money with no guarantee. It’s unclear how they would fare with multiple displays and peripherals. I’ve already spent money on two docks/USB hubs because one wouldn’t work. It would either work on Mac side or PC side, but not both … alas, I’m not as savvy in this area. Apparently my Dell displays have limited built in KVM functionality, but I couldn’t get it to work.

Unfortunately, there are trade-offs with every option. :smiley: To the point where I’m leaning toward abandoning the PC altogether if my work will allow it… it shouldn’t be an issue as we use Outlook and Sharepoint which is all credentials based?

Do you just swap the cable from the studio display to each laptop when you need it, or do you use a thunderbolt dock?

Totally understand that. While I can’t vouch for any specific equipment, I use a KVM that swaps 2 monitors (3 total, but certain ones switch so I can keep two systems visible at once), keyboard/mouse, and speakers across 3 different systems (2 desktops and 1 think client).

I’m glad someone mentioned this. I’ve gone one step further. I found out a few years ago that my company offers remote access to our laptops via Citrix. My laptop never comes home now, but stays on my desk in the office and I use Citrix Workspace to access it on my Mac with Studio Display.

Now… there are some downsides to this, but it seems there are downsides to all of the options. For one, Windows key combos can be problematic and for the last few versions, the remote desktop does not take my menu bar into account so goes behind it. But… and this is possibly something to look into with the plain Remote Desktop… the screen I see remotely is sized for my local monitor. Even to the extent that when I was using 3 displays at work (two external plus built in), I would still get one large display at home.

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Are you using wireless? Wired? A wired hub between the two computers or a mesh system with a node in the same room tends to help with resolution and such. That, and using the Remote Desktop in full-screen mode and making sure that you’re not scaling the resolution.

KVM switches with buttons are hardware-based, and generally don’t need drivers for whatever connects to them. The only real variable is how your operating system handles suddenly having its display, mouse, and keyboard vanish, or suddenly appear. Budget options are likely available for $50-ish on Amazon, so you could try one and not have a huge issue.

If you can run everything on one machine, sure. But it chews up resources, so your one machine needs to be higher-spec.

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I used to have dual monitors; two 27” 4k. I switched to the LG 40WP95C-W and love it. It’s a 5k2k monitor; max resolution is the same size as 1.5 27 inch 4k. I have mine on an arm that can handle the weight.

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Good deal. That sure beats having to set up and tear down twice a day.

As I recall Citrix wrote the original remote access software for Microsoft. In the early 90’s I had Citrix servers at each of our remote locations and connected to them using leased T-1 lines at 1.544 Mbps. Great software.


This was my immediate thought as well

No dock. I used a dock with my LG because the USB ports on it were unreliable. Thankfully, I don’t have many USB peripherals (keyboard, mouse, mic) so I can just barely meet my needs. Makes it much cleaner and has fewer points of failure.

I loved the suggestion that people had here about using Remote Desktop and just tried it for myself, sadly my work machine is locked down and doesn’t have it enabled. The only way for me to remote into a work machine is through our Citrix Gateway but the latency with that is really abysmal so my dual machine setup will just have to persist :smiley:

A little while back I tried asking our Citrix team why the performance was sub-optimal. Ping tests showed latency to be acceptable so networking wasn’t the problem but they always just said that it was working within acceptable parameters and that I just use my work provided laptop. I don’t know about them, but seeing letters show up on screen very noticeably after you’ve typed them doesn’t seem acceptable to me.