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How Does an Expensive Monitor Arm Compare to a Cheap One?

Pictured: Kanto Dual-Monitor Desktop Mount
Photo: Eric Ravenscraft

Monitor arms let you position your display (or displays) at any height or angle, and re-position them as you see fit (and as proper ergonomics dictate). The best ones, however, can also get really expensive. Are they worth the extra money, though? We compared a few to find out.

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To get a general feel for how much extra money really gets you for a dual-monitor arm, I tried out this Huanuo mount ($70) compared to this Kanto mount ($230). For my two monitors, I used a 27" Dell gaming monitor and a 22" Sceptre display.

Minor Design Improvements Are Nice, But Not Dealbreakers

Mounting this bracket is a pain when it’s attached to a giant metal arm.
Photo: Eric Ravenscraft
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At first glance, it doesn’t seem like there’s much room to improve on a monitor arm. However, after trying out both, there were a few design differences the Kanto had over the Huanuo that might sway a savvy buyer one way or the other:

  • The Kanto can be installed and adjusted without rummaging around underneath your desk. Most of the Huanuo’s adjustment points are accessible from above, but several of the installation screws are hard to get to unless you crawl underneath.
  • The Kanto uses separate VESA mounts that you can attach to the back of the monitor, then slide onto the arms so you can attach and detach the monitors with ease. The VESA mounts on the Huanuo are directly attached to the arms, which makes it harder to attach them or change monitors.
  • The Kanto comes with plastic cable guides attached to the arms that make it easier to keep your cables organized as you re-position your monitors. On the Huanuo, cables just tend to dangle.
  • The Kanto looks nicer. It’s a frivolous thing, but if I’m going to spend $230 on a monitor arm, it sure as heck better look slick in my office.
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Would any of these be deal breakers on their own? Probably not. Taken together, are they worth an extra $160? That depends on your needs. Cable management guides are nice, but there are cheaper solutions. The Kanto looks better, but the arm sits behind a glowing rectangular portal to the wide world of the internet. Who’s going to be looking at it very often? However, your priorities may vary. If you’d rather save the cash than splurge on the bells and whistles, then the Huanuo might be more your speed.

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More Money, More Freedom, More Stability

After a fair amount of fiddling, this monitor still looks crooked on the Huanuo mount.
Photo: Eric Ravenscraft
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The build quality of the arms, however, matters a lot more. In my office, I use a convertible standing desk, and frequently re-position my monitors throughout the day. The Kanto uses a gas shock on the lower portion of the arm, and it’s remarkably sturdy. I can just grab my monitor, move it where I want, and it stays there with almost no wobble or resistance.

The Huanuo was more difficult to position precisely. Not impossible, but it took more fiddling with the joints and springs to get my monitors to sit just right. It also curiously places the gas shock on the upper segment of the arm instead of the lower part. It feels like having a buff forearm, but scrawny biceps. It’s not wrong per se, but it feels off. And it makes adjustments a little more difficult.

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Since my monitors are different sizes, it also felt difficult to balance properly. The two arms of the Kanto are attached to the base independently, so the weight of one won’t affect the other. However, the Huanuo arms attached to a single piece, with two posts connected to the base. If this piece isn’t tightened properly, it can tilt just slightly, but that tilt becomes noticeable on large monitors. This is especially frustrating since the monitor joint on the Huanuo can only tilt forward or back, or pivot left to right. It can’t rotate left and right to correct a crooked monitor. The Kanto, however, uses a ball joint that can easily correct this.

Once again, none of these are insurmountable problem, but it might require more effort on your part to get your monitors positioned just right with the Huanuo mount. That might also mean you’re less likely to move your monitors on a whim. If you don’t need that flexibility, and don’t mind a little extra work, though, you can save a lot of money.

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With $160 to separate the two models I looked at, I was ready to assume there was no way the Kanto could possibly be worth the extra money. I could buy three of the Huanuo mounts for the same price and still have cash leftover to buy a nice burger.

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However, all the little benefits of the Kanto add up to a meaningfully better experience. The kind that you might not realize you were missing out on if you only bought the cheap version. Nothing about the more expensive monitor arm is strictly necessary. The Huanuo does a perfectly serviceable job for 1/3rd of the price. But if you decide to treat yourself, you’ll at least be glad you did.

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About the author

Eric Ravenscraft

Freelance writer for The Inventory.