How to Use a TV as a Computer Monitor

This article explains how to connect your TV to a Windows computer and use it as a monitor. It also discusses the benefits and drawbacks of doing so.

Transform your television into a monitor

Assuming you have the correct cable and that your TV and PC can handle each other’s resolution(s), all you have to do now is connect them and turn them on. Make sure the TV is connected to the correct display port, depending on how you connected it to your PC, and your login screen should show in a few seconds.

If the resolution isn’t quite what you expected, or if it appears blurry, you may need to manually adjust it. To do so, take the following steps:

  1. Search for Advanced display info 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 Display adapter properties for Display X (our example says Display 1).

    Where to change the resolution of an external monitor in Windows.
  4. Select List all modes.

  5. Use the list to find your TV’s native resolution, select it, and then select OK.

What To Do Before Turning Your TV Into a Monitor

First, double-check that you have the correct cable. Most new TVs use HDMI connections, but check your TV’s inputs to be sure you’re using the right one.

Then compare that to your PC’s visual output settings. While most recent graphics cards support HDMI and DisplayPort, older graphics cards may only support DVI-D or even VGA.

You’re not completely out of luck if your computer and television aren’t compatible. To convert one connector to the other, you may always use a converter or adapter.

This will compromise picture quality, and you won’t be able to convert a VGA connection to HDMI if you’re connecting to a 4K TV (since VGA doesn’t support that resolution), but as long as your PC and TV aren’t too old, you should be able to find a solution that works.


Your PC’s GPU will need to support the resolution of your TV as well as the resolution of the cable. Type Device Manager into the Windows search box and select the Device Manager option to find out what GPU you have. Then look for Display adapters and click the arrow next to it to choose it.

The Display adaptors section of Device Manager in Windows.

If your GPU isn’t mentioned, right-click (or tap and hold) the result and select Properties. Then look at the Details tab for further details.

To make sure they’re compatible, do a Google search for your GPU to see what resolutions it supports and compare them to the native resolution of your TV.

Why You Shouldn’t Use Your TV as a Monitor

Most people use monitors as monitors, and TVs as TVs, for the same reason that they’re advertised as such: they’re meant for distinct content and viewing distances.

The Pixels Are Visible

Because you’re expected to sit six feet or more away from the screen, TVs are often larger than monitors with the same resolution. Unless you’re talking about smaller 4K screens or some of the latest 8K TVs, sitting at the standard monitor distance of two to three feet means you’re far more likely to be affected by the screen door effect, which VR users are all too acquainted with.

This isn’t an issue if you’re sitting at a standard TV viewing distance.

Response Time, Refresh Rate, and Input Lag

If you’re going to use your TV-connected PC for gaming, there’s one more thing to think about besides resolution: speed. Because most TVs aren’t built for high-speed gaming, they can only offer 60Hz or even 30Hz refresh rates (if limited by older connector standards). This can result in a poor gaming experience, especially if you’re used to playing on a gaming display with higher refresh and frame rates.

Response times — the time it takes for a pixel to change color – are typically slow on TVs that aren’t meant for gaming. Anything over 5ms can cause image ghosting, resulting in a poor visual experience.

High refresh rates and reaction times can contribute to a lot of input lag, which is the amount of time it takes for your input to appear on the screen. That can be an issue in fast-paced games, and it can be downright frustrating in competitive ones. If you’re intending on playing multiplayer games head to head, a minimal input latency can make all the difference, and it may be worth it to avoid using older TVs as monitors altogether.

Newer TVs, on the other hand, frequently contain a “gaming mode” that can help with these issues, or have high refresh rates and low response times built in to better accommodate gamers. Check your TV’s handbook to see what it can do and how it can affect gaming.

Color Compression

There’s also a risk that, depending on the TV and the connector you use to connect it to your PC, it will utilize color compression to conserve bandwidth and processing. Whereas your TV should employ 4:4:4 color subsampling in ideal conditions, compression that results in a 4:2:2, or even a 4:2:0, might make a picture look significantly worse.

Check to see if your TV supports 4:4:4 at the resolution you want before deciding if it’s the correct fit for your PC.

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