How to use a HDTV as a PC Monitor

pc-hdtvYou know you want to learn how to  use a HDTV as a PC monitor. HDTV technology has meant a lot to our movie watching and console gaming. PC gamers overlook that the average HDTV is really a large LCD monitor just waiting for input.  Most HDTV models sold today have the ability to serve as really large lcd monitors for your PC. How you go about using a HDTV as a PC monitor is simple, just hook up that 55″ Vizio to your laptop for some Hulu or Starcraft II action.

Difficulty: Basic
Tools:

  • PC with HDMI, DVI or VGA Video Out
  • HDMI, DVI or VGA video cable
  • HDTV with PC/VGA or HDMI or DVI inputs
  • Wireless mouse & Keyboard(optional)

Time to Install: 5 minutes

Table of Contents

Official Disclaimer:

Step 1: Preparations
Here is the cold reality: The modern HDTV LCD is really a lower resolution, larger picture LCD monitor. You can use a HDTV as a PC monitor very easily, provided you have the right cables and connections.

Most quality HDTV’s from Sony, LG, Toshiba and Vizio come with a number of inputs and options that go unused every day. While we spend hundreds of dollars on our home theater setups we never really consider how easy it actually is to add the Laptop or desktop PC to the huge LCD monitor we bought last year to watch the Superbowl and play Uncharted 2 on.

Gamers are a lucky bunch because for a number of years high-end video cards sporting ATI and Nvidia gaming chipsets have come standard with DVI outputs and newer hardware possibly includes HDMI ports as well. These output types are the bread and butter of modern entertainment TVs so there is nothing stopping you from playing your favorite PC game or reading your e-mail on a huge display.

Step 2: Identifying the Input on your HDTV
Even if you didn’t buy your TV with a PC in mind, it’s likely that you have an input that will come in handy for connecting your computer and your entertainment center. Simply by looking over the available inputs you will know very quickly if your PC and TV can work hand in hand as a PC monitor.

PC video cards often use VGA or DVI connectors to push the signal to your PC monitor. Luckily these are distinctive and easy to recognize. Simply take a few seconds to look at the back of your graphics card for one of the following ports:

r9500-ports

Or you might even be lucky enough to see this:
600

Next we need to look at the back of your HDTV LCD monitor for connections. Depending on your model you should have at least an HDMI port, Composite RCA connectors and hopefully a VGA connection. Newer HDTVs do not usually use DVI directly but you can buy a DVI to HDMI conversion cable for about $50.

Here is the layout of a Sony HDTV , also note that many HDTV LCD monitors include many different interfaces on the side as well as the back of the unit.

Sony_KDL-52W5100_Panels

Step 3: Connecting the Video Cable
Once you’ve identified your HDTV LCD monitor interface the next steps are simple.

  • Power off the TV and PC/Laptop computer
  • Connect one end of the video cable to the PC video card output.
  • Power up the PC and TV
  • Connect the opposite end to the HDTV
  • Select the appropriate input using the TV

If the PC connected properly to the TV, the PC monitor probably flickered and you now see a mirror version on your HDTV.

Step 4: Optimizing your Video Output
HDTVs do not always default to the same screen resolution as your PC monitor. Even 17″ laptop displays tend to have higher resolution than the average 50″ HDTV but with a little tweaking in the control panel of your PC, you should soon have a very large and fairly attractive HDTV display.

Step 5: Connecting Your Audio System to Your Home Theater
head2rcaThe next step in using a HDTV as a PC monitor is to connect your PC to the home theater for audio. Most sound cards use headphone-style jacks to push sound to headphones or speakers while Home Theater AMps tend to use RCA or optical inputs. To connect your PC all you need is a headphone to RCA splitter cable. These cables can be bought just about anywhere from Walmart to Radio Shack and run around $5.

Connect the RCA plugs into a spare input on your receiver and you should be good to go.

Closing
Large HDTV’s really change your perspective on gaming. Laptops and Home Theater-ready PCs make for great additions to the Man cave. Gaming on a projector or 55″ HDTV LCD screen may not quite have the resolution of that 32″ PC monitor but it definitely makes an impression, especially when teamed with a wireless mouse and keyboard allowing you to play from the recliner as well.

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3 Comments on How to use a HDTV as a PC Monitor

havoc of smeg

On July 2, 2010 at 7:45 am

I’ve Got my PC hooked up to my 32in HDTV, through a PC port it has on the back at the moment, but i did use my 360 HDMI cable briefly, and it is definitly worth having it riged up as such. Or to put It another way, it’s made a few people jelous.

Computer Parts Dwight

On July 8, 2010 at 5:37 am

This is a really good explanation of how to hook up to most Microsoft Windows computers and I have actually done just that! I am still wondering how I hook my macbook pro up to the TV though. I can’t quite figure that one out.

Shawn Sines

On July 8, 2010 at 5:49 am

Well it depends on the interface you have for the Macbook.. if it’s a Pro you can buy converters from DVI-HDMI or if it’s display port I believe there are similar conversion options. I’ve hooked up my Macbook Pro to my TV more easily in the past than I have my PCs – MacOS does a really good job of handling multiple or non-standard displays.