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Measurements and considerations for attaching monitor arms to desks

The successful installation of a monitor arm depends upon a number of factors which should be taken into consideration before you purchase.

Monitor Weight

All monitor arms have a range of monitor weights which they can accommodate. If the monitor is too heavy (exceeds the upper tolerance limit) then the monitor will sink down to desk level no matter how much you tighten the tension. Similarly if the monitor weighs less than the lower tolerance limit then the monitor will drift upward. Check your monitor weight in your monitor manual or look it up on-line. When all else fails weigh the monitor on a scale. Make sure that it falls within the weight tolerances of the arm you are considering.

Monitors that are a combination of monitor and computer are heavier than just a monitor. A heavy duty arm will probably be required in these situations.

If you are considering a dual monitor system, be sure that each monitor is within the weight specifications of the arm. Monitor arm specifications will say something like “allowable LCD weight per monitor.”

Monitor Size

Monitor size will be a factor in dual arm mounts. Monitor arm specifications will often say something like “must not exceed … of actual horizontal width”, where actual horizontal width is the physical horizontal measurement, including the frame (not just the screen).

Dual monitor mount

VESA Compliance

VESA stands for Video Electronics Standards Association, and a VESA mount refers to the method of mounting of the LCD monitor onto the arm. Most monitor arms require the attachment of a VESA plate to the back of a monitor. To do this the monitor must be VESA compliant – have the necessary screw holes to accept the VESA plate. The most common VESA plates have holes either 100 mm or 75 mm apart (measuring from the centre of the holes). So your monitor must not only have screw holes they must have the same distance apart as the VESA plate of the monitor arm.

VESA Plate

An example of a VESA plate. The four screws shown are in the 100 mm holes and would attach to the back of the monitor. The four holes towards the centre of the plate are where the plate would attach to the monitor arm.

VESA plate mounted to monitor

An example of a monitor with the VESA plate attached to the monitor and mounted on a monitor arm.

Not all monitors are VESA compliant. The best way to ensure VESA compliance is to check the documentation that came with your monitor or look up the monitor specifications on-line. If that is unsuccessful then check the back of your monitor for the four screw holes. Unfortunately, you often have to remove the monitor pedestal to expose the holes.

Sometimes the screw holes for the VESA plate are recessed within the chassis of the monitor. In situations such as this grommets and longer mounting screws are required to mount the VESA plate.

Pedestal mount

Removing the pedestal (by removing the four screws) should allow the attachment of a VESA plate to this monitor. If the recessed portion is too deep you may need to use grommets (as spacers) and longer mounting screws.

Desk Mount

Most monitor arms mount by either clamping to the lip of the desk or through a hole you drill in the desk. Clamp mounts have the advantage that they can be moved without affecting the desk. However, adequate lip space is required to accommodate the clamp. Generally speaking, mounts are larger for monitor arms that have a long reach and accommodate heavier monitors.

If you need to mount your monitor arm through the desk then do some careful planning before you drill – the hole is permanent.

Deskedge mount

Clamp on mount; you must have adequate clearance on the underside of the desk “lip” to allow proper mounting. The surface also has to be flat to allow for a secure mount.

Grommet hole through the desk

A through the desk mount; you must drill a hole to attach the mount through the desk.