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    How to use a TV as a computer monitor

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    Judit Llordés
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    What you need to know about using your TV as a monitor. TVs and monitors could be designed with different viewing experiences in mind, but at the core are high-definition displays with similar input types. While there are some extra considerations to take when using a TV as a monitor, it's more than doable.


    Can you use a TV as a computer monitor?

    Yup! But there are some things you need to check first. First, make sure you have the right cable. Most modern TVs use HDMI connections, but check your TV's inputs. Then compare the ports to your PC's video output options. Most modern graphics cards support HDMI and DisplayPort, but older ones may only offer DVI-D or even VGA.



    If there's a mismatch between your PC and TV, you're not entirely out of luck. You can always use a converter or adapter to transform one connector into the other. This can affect picture quality and you won't be able to turn a VGA cable to HDMI if you connect to a 4K TV (as VGA doesn't support that high resolution), but as long as your PC and TV aren't too distinct by ages of each other, you should be able to find a solution that works.

    In addition to getting the right resolution for the cable, your PC's GPU will need to support the resolution of the TV. To find out which GPU you have, type Device Manager in the Windows search box and select the Device Manager option. Then look for Display Adapters and select the arrow next to it.


    Your GPU should be listed there, but if it's ambiguous, right-click (or tap and hold) the result and select Properties. Then check the Details tab for more information. Do a Google search for your specific GPU to find out which resolutions it supports and compare them to your TV's native resolution to make sure they are compatible.



    • How to connect a laptop to a TV via HDMI

    How to use a TV as a computer monitor?

    Assuming you have the right cable and know that your TV and PC support each other's resolutions, all you need to do is plug them in and turn them both on. Make sure your TV is set to the correct display connector, depending on what you used to connect it to your PC, and you should see your login screen appear in seconds.

    If you feel the resolution isn't quite what you expected, or if it looks blurry, you may need to manually set the correct one. To do this, follow these steps:


    1. Search for advanced display information in the Windows search bar and select the corresponding result.
    2. If you have multiple displays connected, use the drop-down menu to select your TV.
    3. Select the video card properties for Display X (our example says Display 1).
    4. Select List all modes.
    5. Use the list to find your TV's native resolution, select it, then select OK.
    • How to connect phone to TV

    Why might you not want to use a TV as a computer monitor?

    There are many reasons why most people use monitors: because they are designed with different content and viewing distances in mind.

    1. You may see the pixels. TVs are typically larger than their counterparts of monitors at the same resolution, because you are expected to sit six feet or more away from the screen. Unless you're talking about smaller 4K screens or some next-gen 8K TVs, then sitting at the typical monitor distance of two or three feet means you're much more likely to be affected by the screen effect. - something VR users know all too well. If you are sitting at the normal distance of the TV, this is not a problem.



    2. Response time, refresh rate and input lag. If you're planning on using your TV-connected PC for gaming, there's another factor to consider besides resolution: its speed. Most TVs aren't designed for high-speed gaming, so they can only support a refresh rate of 60Hz or even 30Hz (if limited by previous connector standards). This can make the gaming experience sub-par, especially if you're used to playing games at higher refresh rates and frame rates on a gaming monitor.


    TVs that aren't designed for gaming also tend to have rather slow response times - the time it takes for a pixel to change color. Anything over 5ms can lead to ghosting of images, making the viewing experience worse.

    Together, high refresh rates and response times can also lead to high input lag - this is the time it takes for an input from the user, the user, to register on the screen. This can be problematic in fast paced games and very inhibiting in competitive ones. If you're planning on playing head-to-head multiplayer games, low input lag can really make a difference and could mean avoiding using older TVs as monitors altogether.


    Newer TVs often include a "game mode", however, which can alleviate these issues or have high refresh rates and low response times as part of their specs to better support gamers. Check the manual to find out what your TV is capable of and how it might affect games.


    3. Compression of color. Depending on the TV and the connector you use to connect it to your PC, there is also the possibility that it uses some form of color compression to save bandwidth and processing. Where in ideal circumstances the TV will use 4: 4: 4 color subsampling, compression leading to 4: 2: 2, or even 4: 2: 0, can make a picture look noticeably worse. Check if your TV can offer the resolution you want before deciding if it's the right TV for your PC.

    Further Reading:

    • The best curved monitors
    • How to connect two monitors to your Windows PC or Mac
    • How to connect multiple monitors at the same time in Windows 10
    • How to connect Chromebook to the monitor
    • How to connect 3 monitors to the laptop
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