Why Should You Not Use a TV as a Monitor? A Simple Explanation

Tv with a woman showing on the screen

You have a little extra cash, and you are about to treat yourself to a new television. But, before you press buy, your computer monitor dies. The situation now turns tricky, as you need to decide the best course of action. Should you get a new monitor or stick to your guns and get the TV? After all, the advertisement says that it also accepts computer inputs. You are saving lots by getting a screen that will serve both functions, right. 

You are not alone in this dilemma. Many consumers fall into this trap and end up regretting their decision over time. Regardless of what the TV manufacturers say, most of the TVs you will find are unsuitable as computer monitors. Before you dismiss this as some conspiracy theory, here are the reasons why you should not use a TV as a monitor. Bear in mind that the comparison is between a regular smart TV and a conventional computer monitor.

Do You Have the Correct Connection Ports?

Firstly, there is an issue with the connection ports. Your computer uses a graphics processing unit (GPU) to transmit images to a screen. Depending on the year of manufacture, it can feature either a DVI, VGA, or HDMI connection. As you embark on your quest to replace your ‘obsolete monitor,’ you should check if your dream TV supports any of these connections. Most of the TVs you will find only support HDMI and wireless display connections. 

If there is an incompatibility issue, you can purchase an adapter for your TV to function as a monitor. Although the adapters do exist, they can prove challenging to find. Therefore, ensure that you have the relevant connection ports before making the switch.

What Are They Not Telling You?

So, you have the latest desktop, and it supports HDMI connections. Why should you not use a TV as a monitor? Well, it goes beyond a compatible connection. Each of these displays comes with unique specifications that make it the best for its setting. Below are some of the areas where TVs fall short as monitors.

1. Pixel Density and Native Resolution

Pixel density and resolution are the measurements you use to determine image quality. Pixel density (PPI) is the number of individual illumination units within an inch of your screen. Native resolution refers to the maximum number of pixels that a screen can accommodate. It is the actual number of pixels across the width and height of the viewing panel. 

Keeping this in mind, advancements in display technology have made screen resolution less of a differentiating factor. You now have televisions capable of displaying images well beyond their build dimensions. However, the main difference is in pixel density. For example, a 40-inch TV only has 40 pixels per inch, whereas a 27-inch monitor has 140. Despite the resolutions being similar, images will be sharper on your monitor than on the TV.

2. Screen Refresh Rates

Another thing to look out for is the screen refresh rate. It refers to the speed at which a display switches between frames every second. Most of the TV content available is at 20 to 60 frames per second. Consequently, most TV manufacturers offer models that top out at 60Hz. 

Computer games run at frame rates of around 120Hz, making your general use TV incapable of handling such speeds. Should you choose to press on, be ready for some perennial image stuttering and screen tear. You can get TVs that can accommodate higher refresh rates. However, these come at premium prices.

3. Response Time and Input Lag

You can also judge your display’s capabilities by assessing its response times and input lag. Response time is how quickly it can switch between colors, and it is measured in milliseconds (ms). Computer monitors often clock at 1ms, which is unheard of in the majority of TVs. The delay in TV response times from computers results from the picture conversion process. For example, you will notice a difference in the transition of colors when duplicating your laptop screen to a TV. 

Input lag refers to how quickly your display can process a command. For example, if you are typing an email, how quickly do your words appear on the screen? Pairing your computer with a monitor significantly reduces this lapse. However, not all TVs have this capability. You can expect a delay of 2-3 seconds when using a standard TV as a monitor.

4. Sound Quality

It may sound like a non-issue. But, monitors will almost always produce better sound than your TV. In a bid to make you spend more, TV manufacturers will include speakers as an afterthought in their devices. Consequently, you need to explore their available sound options, which means more crunch on your wallet.

5. It Is Extremely Uncomfortable

An unwritten rule for the best viewing experience is to allocate at least a foot for every ten inches in screen size. Not only is this beneficial to your eyes, but also your posture. Furthermore, the distance allows you to observe the entire screen. 

Since most of the tasks you do on a computer require you to be close to the screen, having a 55-inch TV as your monitor is impractical. Going by this rule, you will need to be more than 5 feet away to do anything meaningful. Even if you have a wireless keyboard and mouse, the distance may create a signal loss, further adding to your frustration.

a lady using a tv as a computer monitor

Are There Any Exceptions to Why You Should Not Use a TV as a Monitor?

Using a TV as a monitor all depends on your user habit. There are certain instances where the choice of display device is inconsequential. Here are some scenarios where you can make an exception.

1. General entertainment

If your purpose is to watch movies and TV series, a TV will serve you fine as a computer monitor. The difference in picture quality is barely noticeable. For example, you can use your computer’s OS and its internet connection to make your gigantic screen smart. Furthermore, it offers more functionality than the other Smart TV platforms you will find on budget TVs.

2. Large audience presentations

Most businesses now use TVs for their conference rooms instead of projectors. They are more stylish and do not cost as much. Additionally, they cost far less than comparable projector models.


So, can you use a TV as a monitor? Yes, you can. But, it involves more than just buying the next available model. You need to align your user habits with the television’s capabilities for it to be a worthy investment. Finally, here are some recommendations for the best 4K TVs to use as a computer monitor.

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