Some years ago, I bought a pair of monitor arms. I’d picked up one of those IKEA Jerker desks and wanted to suspend the monitors in mid-air, like something out of a 90s or early-2000s hacker movies where the person types way too fast to navigate a 3D file interface without a mouse. I used that configuration for years, but getting everything set up just right ended up being kind of a nightmare. The arms were heavy and tough to move around. Worse, if I had to take them off for some reason, getting them back in place was a nightmare. I eventually removed them and just used the monitors’ built-in stands.
Echogear’s dual-arm mount
When Echogear asked whether we might look at some of its monitor arms, though, it got me curious. Has the technology behind monitor arms improved since six or seven years ago? A short visit to the Echogear home office—located in my home base of Minneapolis, Minnesota—ended with me taking home two of the company’s monitor arms to set up in my home environment and compare with my existing gear. Back then, I was working with two monitors. These days I’m running three, for reasons I can’t really justify even to myself. To fit my config, Echogear sent me home with two pieces of hardware: a gas-spring dual-arm mount plus a single-arm unit.
Echogear’s single-arm unit
A monitor mount should be about function first. Despite its claim that these mounts are aimed at the “gaming” market, Echogear resisted the temptation to clad them in LEDs or bright-red finishes—a move that will endear them to users of all stripes, not just those who might sit on an esports stage. They’re just chunks of black steel, and they disappear into the background of an office like they should. Out of the box, the mounts feel heavy and well-made. The parts that move do so with buttery smoothness, and you won’t find a sharp edge anywhere. As with any weight-bearing system, however, it’s hard to say how these features of the mounts will hold up without much more time with them.
To arms, to arms
First, an admission: I took a chunk out of my desk while setting up the first mount, but that was entirely my fault—I hadn’t read the instructions closely. Not wanting a repeat of that experience, I dug into the manual before trying to set up the second one.
The “before” shot. Frank Castle disapproves.
The instructions themselves are the clearest evidence that Echogear is targeting the gaming market with these products. The actual details of how to install the hardware are in the vein of Ikea’s language-free pictorials, and the instructions help make sense of what is actually a pretty complex piece of hardware. However, the jocular text is more reminiscent of Guy Fieri’s Flavortown than of the way gamers speak to each other. For example, the “tools you’ll need” section includes not only common items like a Phillips screwdriver, but also a BFG and a Mini-Nuke. Some people will smile at that, but this kind of flippant writing made the instructions a little grating for me to get through.
I should take a moment here and note that despite the company’s gamer-friendly marketing, everybody can benefit from the advantages Echogear promises from these arms. Easy adjustments of monitor height and angle to maintain neutral posture, quick switching of height and angle for multiple users, reclaiming desk space from bulky monitor stands, and adding adjustability to monitors with subpar stands are universal benefits. Gaming may be the buzzword of the moment, but Echogear’s arms will serve everyone equally well.
Setting up these arms was pretty easy once I read the manual. Each step of the installation process can be accomplished with the included hex keys and a bring-your-own Phillips screwdriver. After tightening the clamp that holds the mount to my desk, I dropped some washers into place and tightened a few bolts between the base and the pre-assembled mounting arms.
Well, that was easy.
Getting the monitors onto the arms is one of the most improved parts of the process compared to my experiences of yore. Most monitors these days have standard 100-mm VESA mounts, and the stands have holes for both these and the 75-mm type. To get the monitor onto the mounts, you screw the top two screws directly into the monitor and then hang it picture-frame-style into the two nooks meant to house those screws. To complete the process, you just screw the bottom two screws in while the monitor sits patiently.
Too often, mounting a screen to an arm involves putting the screen face-down on the floor or holding it up in the air while you try to make the screws thread. Echogear’s system, in comparison, was effortless. The only further improvement I might suggest would be to offer a set of thumbscrews as a toolless option. The screws have a low profile and get the job done, so that doesn’t feel like a noticeable omission.
From there, getting the monitor to hang where you want is just a couple of wrench twists away. The manual’s indication that hex keys would be needed for this step had me a little worried about holding up the monitors with one hand while juggling tools with the other, but my fears were quickly assuaged—no upper-arm endurance was required. On the top of one of the arms is a spot for a hex key to adjust the gas-spring tension. If you have a heavier monitor, you’ll have to tighten this to get your display to float just right. Each arm is rated to hold monitors up to 20 lb (9.1 kg), but the Echogear team told me it tested them with much heavier weights, too. When hanging my 27″ vertically-oriented monitors, I did have to tighten the arms, but at that point I could simply rest the monitor on the desk while I set the tension. Once I had that tuned up, I was able to lift the monitor and let it float like magic.
The finished product. Neat, eh?
That result is exactly what I’d always hoped for, and it paid off immediately. The next day, I was re-cabling my computer desk to account for a new set of speakers and ended up stripping out every single cable. When I went to put the monitor cables back in place, I just moved each monitor aside and it stayed there. I twisted one a bit, and it didn’t move a millimeter, either. Immediately, this arrangement felt better than either using the old mount setup or leaving the monitors sitting on their included stands. Once I got to gaming and typing with this config, everything continued to feel sturdy. My monitors don’t shake in response to my movements, either—whatever shaking occurs is almost imperceptible.
Cable management for dummies
The only downfall of the Echogear mounts, I would say, is their cable-management capabilities. It’s not that they’re absent—just somewhat lacking. Each arm has two spots to hide cables. On the upper arm sits a pre-attached guide that you can unscrew and work a pretty good amount of cabling into. On the underside is an optional attachment that you can bolt on after the fact. Making good use of the upper guide requires you to unscrew it, an operation that requires—you guessed it—a hex key. The required key is tiny, though, and not only is it easy to lose, it’s nearly impossible to actually remove the guide’s screws without looking directly at them. This process is made worse by the fact that the screws aren’t captive, meaning you can end up losing a screw and its washer behind your desk as I nearly did.
The optional guide on the lower part of the arm, meanwhile, is a different style that lets you tuck the cables inside. However, it doesn’t seem like Echogear really has a sense for how thick power, HDMI, and DisplayPort cables can be, especially in a bundle. After gauging the precious little room I had to work with from this underbelly guide, I ended up leaving the cables off the lower guides and stuck to the upper ones. I’ll eventually pick up some spiral cable wraps and just wrap them around the arms with hook-and-loop ties.
The cable management difficulties are an incredibly minor shortcoming, though, more than made up by the fact that I can move my monitors around fluidly. If I want to switch a screen from portrait to landscape or move a monitor up to get it out of the sun, I can. It’s a simple operation, and I’m finding myself tweaking my setup to fit my sitting angle rather than changing my body position to fit my monitors. That freedom falls right in line with Echogear’s promises for its hardware.
If I was going to pick up a set of monitor arms for myself, would I pick up Echogear’s? In a word, yes. With the monitor arms in place, I have extra desk space and flexibility in monitor positioning. When I need to get at my tower, I can simply slide the adjacent monitor out of the way. When I accidentally set one of my vertical monitors as the default one that the PC boots with, I can rotate it. If the sun’s in my eyes, a little tilt will get me comfortably back to work. Setting up these arms was easy, and taking the monitors off when necessary is simpler than I imagined.
Echogear Dual Monitor Desk Mount With Dynamic Gas Spring Adjustment
If Echogear goes back to the drawing board, there are few changes I’d want to see, as the mounts tick nearly all the boxes I can think of already. I’d love to see better cable management options, as well as a bit less reliance on hex keys. It’s also hard to gauge whether these arms will hold up with time after just a few weeks of use, as monitors tend to be one of the less-frequently updated parts of a PC setup, and it’s possible that these arms might slacken after holding a monitor up 24-7-365. Even so, Echogear warrants these arms for five years, so I’m reasonably confident that the company would have my back if such a thing were to happen.
While I haven’t had the chance to compare Echogear’s offerings to the competition, I can say that both mounts I’ve spent time with feel worthy of their price tags. The dual-arm mount goes for $199, while the single-arm goes for $129. They aren’t cheap, but they do exactly what they advertise and do it without compromise. If you’re interested in adding flexibility to less-flexible or totally inflexible monitors, and you want a monitor-mounting system that you can continue using with future screens, I’d heartily recommend Echogear’s single- and dual-monitor mounts.