Transforming Your TV into a Computer Monitor: A Brief Guide

Using your television as a computer monitor – the idea can be enticing. Imagine the expansive workspace and the cinematic gaming experiences. But, is this concept as enticing in reality as it is in your imagination? Here’s a detailed exploration of the ins and outs of utilizing your HDTV as a computer monitor. A common thought that may cross your mind is whether your sleek TV can transform into an expansive computer monitor. And indeed, wouldn’t that make gaming and multi-tasking immensely appealing? A sizable monitor, after all, could mean better productivity or a more immersive experience. But as the size of the monitor goes up, so does its price.

Contrarily, a high-definition television (HDTV) could be lying around your living room, beckoning to be used as a giant monitor. But is this large-screen device truly just a PC monitor in a different guise? Not quite. While you can certainly use a TV as a computer monitor, it’s not always the optimal solution. Indeed, this endeavor might not be as appealing, handy, or cost-effective as you’d think.

TV computer monitor

The mystery behind 32-inch HDTVs not becoming a staple for those seeking affordable, jumbo screens reveals itself here. Regardless, the feasibility of using an HDTV as your PC’s display exists. It can also serve as an emergency second screen. Below, we’ve laid out everything you need to comprehend about configuring a TV as a computer monitor, and why you might prefer not to.

Can Your TV and Computer Monitor Pair?

The short and simple response: Yes. Your PC’s outputs and your HDTV’s inputs might need a special cable, along with a few settings tweaks. But, most modern PCs and HDTVs should pair up without much fuss. Contemporary HDTVs feature HDMI outputs. Certain older models might have DVI inputs, or even VGA inputs tagged for “PC use.” If your graphics card possesses an HDMI output, an HDMI cable will seamlessly connect your PC to your HDTV.

For older hardware with only a DVI output, an inexpensive DVI-to-HDMI cable should do the trick. However, keep in mind that VGA, being an analog signal, yields a lower-resolution and less sharp image than what an HDMI or DVI cord would provide. Suppose you’re considering using your HDTV as a second or third monitor. In that case, you may have to resort to a different port like your graphics card’s DisplayPort output. Here, you’ll need a DisplayPort-to-HDMI cable. The advantage of HDMI and DisplayPort is their ability to transmit both video and audio signals. On the other hand, VGA only transfers video. So, using DVI or VGA would likely require an additional connection for audio.

Prepping Your PC

Checking whether your graphics card or your PC’s integrated graphics can output at your HDTV’s resolution is also essential. You can find your HDTV’s resolution in the manufacturer’s manual. Note, not all HDTVs use standard resolutions such as 720p, 1080p, or 4K. You’ll also need to verify the maximum resolution that your graphics card or integrated graphics can support. Once you’re set, decide if you’re using the HDTV to supplement a standard computer screen. If so, follow the guide on setting up two monitors to instruct Windows how to handle both displays.

TV with Computer Monitor | The Aesthetics

The image quality on your HDTV turned monitor will depend on how you use it. If the television will primarily function as a multimedia hub, driven by your PC, and you plan on viewing it from a few feet away, it should look fine. However, trying to fit a 60-inch HDTV on your desk might lead to discomfort like headaches and eye strain. Several factors should be considered when planning to use an HDTV as a computer monitor:

Pixel Density & Input Lag

Pixel density (the number of pixels in one square inch of screen, measured in pixels per inch or PPI) is crucial. The further you sit from the screen, the lower the PPI needs to be for a comfortable viewing experience. A typical user sits about two to three feet from a desktop monitor, and for such distances, you should aim for at least 80 PPI. For 1080p resolution, your screen should not exceed 27.5 inches diagonally. For 4K sets, aim for no larger than 55 inches. Input lag (the delay between your input device and the displayed action) might not seem to matter much, but even a few milliseconds can make a significant difference in activities like competitive online gaming. Aim for an input lag of less than 20 milliseconds for a smooth experience.

TV with Computer Monitor | Response Time

Response time is the period it takes for a display’s pixels to switch colors between scenes. HDTVs tend to have longer response times as they prioritize rich colors, higher contrast, and wider viewing angles. In contrast, computer monitors favor faster response times, even at the cost of color accuracy and contrast. A longer response time can lead to “ghosting,” where previous images linger on the screen. For general computing or movie-watching, this may not be an issue. For gaming or video editing, however, it can be very distracting. Aim for a response time of 5 milliseconds or less if these activities are central to your usage.

Aspect Ratio & Color Accuracy

Most computer monitors adhere to the 16:9 or 16:10 aspect ratios, while HDTVs might include additional or slightly different aspect ratios. This discrepancy may lead to a less-than-optimal viewing experience, depending on the content. For consistent results with your existing computer display, ensure that the aspect ratio of the HDTV matches that of your monitor. HDTVs are often calibrated to enhance the vibrancy of movies and television shows but may not provide the accuracy needed for tasks like photo editing. Specialized calibration tools can help correct this, but it’s a complexity that wouldn’t be necessary with a typical computer monitor.


If your HDTV has built-in speakers, they may or may not provide satisfactory audio for your needs. High-end gaming or an immersive movie experience might demand external speakers or a sound system that’s capable of delivering a richer sound. Utilizing your HDTV as a computer monitor could also lead to increased energy consumption compared to a standard monitor. Plus, the bulkiness of the HDTV might make it challenging to find an appropriate and ergonomic place on your desk. Consider a wall mount if space is a concern.

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Using your HDTV as a computer monitor can be an enticing prospect, especially if it saves you the cost of buying a new, large monitor. However, the considerations above highlight that it’s not a one-size-fits-all solution. For general use or as a secondary screen, an HDTV might be suitable. For tasks requiring precision, speed, or ergonomic comfort, investing in a dedicated computer monitor might be the wiser choice.

In the end, the viability of using your HDTV as a computer monitor depends on your specific needs, the quality of your HDTV, and how you plan to use it. Experimenting with your settings and setup could lead to a satisfactory solution, or it might highlight why a dedicated computer monitor would serve you better. Either way, understanding the complexities involved will guide you to the optimal decision for your individual needs and preferences.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can any HDTV be used as a computer monitor?

Most modern HDTVs can be used as computer monitors, provided they have compatible inputs like HDMI, DVI, or VGA, and the computer’s graphics card can support the HDTV’s resolution. However, performance may vary based on the specific TV and its features.

Is an HDTV suitable for gaming when used as a computer monitor?

While an HDTV can be used for gaming, factors like input lag and response time may affect the gaming experience. Competitive gamers should look for an HDTV with less than 20 milliseconds of input lag and a response time of 5 milliseconds or less.

What size HDTV is optimal for use as a computer monitor?

The optimal size depends on the resolution and how far you’ll be sitting from the screen. For 1080p resolution, the screen should not exceed 27.5 inches diagonally, while 4K sets should be no larger than 55 inches for a pixel density of at least 80 PPI.

Can I use the built-in speakers of my HDTV when it’s connected to my PC?

Yes, you can use the built-in speakers of your HDTV when it’s connected to your PC. However, the quality may vary, and for a richer sound experience, you might need external speakers or a sound system.

Will using an HDTV as a computer monitor consume more energy or cause ergonomic issues?

HDTVs might consume more energy compared to standard computer monitors. Ergonomically, the size and placement of the HDTV might lead to discomfort if not positioned correctly. A wall mount or careful consideration of desk placement may be necessary to create a comfortable workspace.

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