Can you use a TV as a computer monitor?
The big screen gaming monitor experience is becoming more and more popular as hardware continues to advance, with the latest graphics cards and next-gen consoles delivering excellent performance at wide screen resolutions. Unfortunately, buying a new large-screen gaming monitor is not feasible for many, with prices often exceeding their budget needs.
Fortunately, there is a solution – and it’s probably right in front of you. With modern GPUs offering far more versatility than ever before, you can now easily use your TV as a computer display if you want a taste of that big screen experience. Multitasking, browsing, consuming content and gaming become much more intense on a large 4K TV – so why not use it as a PC monitor?
Well, many do – however, there are some factors you need to consider before unplugging your TV and using it as a monitor. While it might sound daunting, never fear, in this guide you’ll learn everything you need to know about using a TV as a computer monitor, including all the major specs that affect visual performance.
Can you use a TV as a computer monitor?
In short, yes, you absolutely can use a TV as a computer monitor. Even better, you’ll probably be surprised at how many TVs are compatible with today’s GPUs.
Ultimately, as long as your TV has a compatible HDMI input, you will be able to connect your PC to your TV and use it as a monitor. Unfortunately, you won’t be able to use a DisplayPort with a TV, because virtually all TVs use HDMI, not DP.
How to use your TV as a PC monitor?
This is the easy part – all you have to do is plug your GPU’s HDMI cable into the TV. In modern TVs your PC can be detected instantly – however most of the time you will need to use your remote to cycle through the available input sources to find the PC signal.
This button is often labeled “Source” or “AV” – depending on the age of the TV. Alternatively, you can find a small arrow symbol that works the same way.
Once done, we recommend labeling this input in the TV settings. This will allow you to easily establish which entry is which.
TV vs monitor: which one to choose?
One of the big questions we get asked about widescreen monitors is: Should I choose a TV or a monitor? Unfortunately, the answer isn’t as simple as either – as both offer a unique set of pros and cons. Deciding which one is best often comes down to your specific needs and requirements.
That being said, monitors are often considered much better for PC gaming as they generally offer faster refresh rates, faster response times, and less input lag. Additionally, the monitors also offer higher levels of versatility through the features they are equipped with, which may include the following:
- Overclock refresh rate
- ULMB (blur reduction)
Alternatively, TVs often offer better picture quality and a more affordable price, especially when you compare the best 4K TVs on the market to 4K monitors. TVs also have the versatility of being TVs, which means they have decent speakers and built-in tuners for general use.
Things to consider when using a TV as a computer monitor
With that in mind, we’ll look at some of the fundamental characteristics of any screen to give you a better idea of just how great TVs are.
Refresh rates refer to the number of times your TV or monitor refreshes its image, per second. Refresh rates are measured in hertz (Hz) and have a direct impact on the overall smoothness and smoothness of the video.
Unfortunately, even the best gaming TVs on the market only offer refresh rates as high as 120Hz. In comparison, the monitor wins hands down – with the best gaming monitors featuring refresh rates of 360 Hz.
Response time refers to how quickly the pixels in a display change color – usually using the GTG (gray to gray) transition. Response times impact image quality and the perceived blurring of moving objects in a video. If your TV has a slower response time, you’ll often experience annoying screen artifacts like ghosting, smearing, and blurring.
Although response times can vary widely, you really want to aim for the lowest average response time possible. Response time is measured in milliseconds (ms) and, on average, most TVs fall into the 5ms category. That said, modern OLED TVs now offer near-instantaneous response times that go down to 0.5ms.
Input lag refers to the delay that can occur between mouse movements and your screen. Of course, with the naked eye, most people won’t notice any input lag. However, if you’re a competitive gamer, it can be the difference between winning and losing.
Try looking for a TV that has low input lag – usually around 20ms.
Resolution and pixel density
A screen’s resolution is the number of pixels it physically displays. It is often listed as one of the following:
- 1080p (1920×1080)
- 1440p (2560×1440)
- 4K (3840×2160)
- 8K (7680×4320)
The numbers in parentheses correspond to the physical dimension of the pixels, which gives us a better indication of the sharpness of the image quality. To calculate the maximum number of pixels for a screen, simply multiply the two numbers together.
For example, 1920 x 1080 = 2073600 total pixels.
Pixel density is slightly different, referring to the number of pixels per inch of screen size. Pixel density refers to the overall sharpness of image quality, with a higher PPI (pixels per inch) being preferable.
As you may know, larger TVs often have small PPIs – however, this shouldn’t be too much of a concern – as most TV users sit farther back than monitor users.
HDR, or high dynamic range, refers to the range of colors found between a panel’s brightest white and darkest black. HDR is found in almost all modern televisions, however, the same cannot be said for monitors. While HDR400 is quoted quite often, this HDR certification does not offer what is classified as “True” HDR.
With that in mind, TVs on average are much better at HDR reproduction, especially the latest QD-OLED, OLED and QLED TVs.
Although not an extremely important specification for the general user, HDMI 2.1 plays a major role when it comes to gaming scenarios.
HDMI 2.1 is the latest HDMI interface standard, providing support for [email protected] gameplay – a feature that older HDMI standards cannot support.
For PC gamers, 120Hz is probably lower than what they’re used to. Unfortunately, this is the highest refresh rate offered on modern TVs – and only HDMI 2.1 offers it at 4K screen resolution.
Best HDMI 2.1 Monitors
How far to sit from a TV?
Since eye care is more common on modern screens, it is worth discussing the reasonable distance between seats and a TV used for a computer screen. Let’s be honest, if you’re using a TV as a monitor, you’ll be sitting much closer than you used to.
On average, we recommend sitting between 1.5 and 2.5 times the screen size away from the screen. So if you have a 43-inch TV, we recommend sitting around 5.5-9 feet, depending on your preference.
Of course, it’s not just about your eye care – it also takes into account your field of vision and pixel density.
Below is a brief table that explains the most common TV sizes and the corresponding seating distance:
|Screen size||Recommended sitting distance in feet|
|40″||5.5 – 8|
|45″||6 – 9|
|50″||6.25 – 10|
|55″||6.75 – 11|
|60″||7.5 – 12.5|
|65″||8 – 13.5|
|70″||8.7 – 14.5|
|75″||9.3 – 15.6|
|80″||9.9 – 16.5|
|85″||10.5 – 17.5|
So there you have it, our quick guide to whether or not you can use a TV as a computer monitor. It turns out you can, and it’s incredibly easy to do. In fact, as far as guides and frequently asked questions go, this has got to be one of the easiest yet.
All you need to do is plug your HDMI cable into your TV of choice and select the correct source from the available options. If you’re having trouble setting up a TV as a monitor, feel free to ask us a question in the section below and we’ll be sure to give you a full answer on the issue.