TVs and PC Monitors are very similar in function. When looking at TVs to use as a PC monitor, you need to consider two major aspects: viewing angle and supported resolutions. Viewing angle is the most important, especially if you use it traditionally from up close. The other aspect is the resolution support. You're looking or the ability to output at full resolution with chroma 4:4:4 for smooth text and support for 120hz refresh rate for gaming. TVs that cover both these aspects are rare, but a few are a part of our lists.
Best TVs for a PC monitor (40"- 43")
The Sony X830C LED TV is the best 40 – 43 inch TV to use as a PC monitor. It offers a great experience for general computing as well as when playing video games.
The Sony X830C excels when used as a PC monitor. The excellent viewing angle from the IPS LCD type provides a much better experience when sitting close. For gaming, a combination of excellent response times, pretty good input lag and support for 1080p @ 120fps make it a great candidate. This TV is also capable of outputting 4K @ 60hz @ Chroma 4:4:4 for general desktop use and higher resolution gameplay.
Even if it doesn't have the best blacks and contrast, the X830C is the best buy in this category.
If you like to watch movies on your computer, the Samsung UN40KU6300 UHD TV is better at it than the Sony X830C while still being a very capable PC monitor.
High contrast is the biggest difference. Because of that, movies watched in the dark look a lot better. For text, it properly supports 4k @ 60Hz @ Chroma 4:4:4. Input lag on this TV is excellent, as good as higher end models from Samsung. Expect very smooth and sharp gaming at that resolution.
It’s important to note that this TV flickers when in use at a darker environment, as long as it is set at 10 or higher in the settings, it should not cause problems.
Best high-end TVs for a PC monitor (Large)
If you want something bigger and play a lot of video games - look for the Sony X850D LED TV. It might not have as good image quality as OLED, but it’s still the best TV to use as a PC monitor.
Motion blur and input lag are good. No TV beats this one for PC gaming, particularly as it supports 1080p @ 120 fps. For more general use, it has a wide viewing angle which helps when you’re up close. The TV also supports 4K @ 60Hz @ Chroma 4:4:4 for clear text.
As usual with Sony TVs, the 120 fps mode has a slight bit of artifacts. It can, however, be mitigated by using the “Graphics” picture mode.
If you're looking for the prettiest picture, you might want to consider the LG B6. As usual with OLED TVs (see our article about OLED vs. LED), the B6 is at the top of our rankings for picture quality. Thanks to OLED, there is next to no motion blur, and the blacks are incredibly deep, with better uniformity than last year’s models and best in class viewing angle.
While the B6 supports 4k @ 60hz @ Chroma 4:4:4, it doesn’t allow for 1080p @ 120 fps. Input lag is good at only 28ms, so no major issues there.
There is one thing that makes it less suitable for this use. As seen in our video review, the B6 will retain a static image for a couple of minutes. This isn't too major, but it might annoy some people.
Best budget TVs for a PC monitor (Large)
If you’re looking for a large PC monitor that doesn’t break the bank, look for the Sony XBR55X700D. It performs close to our high-end LED pick for quite a bit cheaper.
It has wide viewing angles, which is perfect for a monitor of this size. Input lag is also at a reasonable 31ms, and that number is consistent across all resolutions. While it doesn’t support 1080p@120hz, 4k @ 60hz @ Chroma 4:4:4 functions without issues.
In a larger size, this is the go-to TV for most people looking for a PC monitor.
If your TV is not going to be exclusively used as a PC monitor, the Samsung UN55KU6300 is a good alternative.
It uses a different LCD type than the Sony, so It has a lot better contrast at the cost of viewing angles. This can be a problem if sitting up close; if you’re using it from a couch in a living room, however, it won’t be a problem. It supports the same resolutions as the X700D, but with even lower input lag. The better contrast helps make it a better choice for movie watchers.
For most people, It’s not a better choice than the Sony as a PC monitor. If you’re going to be watching a lot of movies, though, it’s a good alternative.
What is Chroma 4:4:4?
Every pixel in a screen is sent a brightness value, which tells it how bright or dark it should be. There is also a color value that is sent, which tells the pixel which color to be.
A common method of compressing a file is to make groups of pixels share color, or chroma, data. This reduces the size of a file significantly, and with most video, the difference in quality is minimal.
This type of compression, though, doesn’t look great on a computer monitor. In particular, the lack of specificity that you get by making pixels share chroma values leads to blurry text. That’s why, especially for productivity purposes, it’s desirable to have a TV capable of chroma 4:4:4, which is uncompressed.
Above, you can see images illustrating three levels of compression. You can see that from 4:4:4 (uncompressed) to 4:2:2 (compressed a bit), there is a bit of a loss of specificity in the lower text - it's not quite as sharp as with 4:4:4. It’s an even more noticeable drop in quality when you’re looking at 4:2:0 (the typical level of compression). Again, this is only really important for text. It’s very hard to spot this compression with normal footage.
Our recommendations above are what we think is currently the best TVs to use as a PC monitor for most people in each price range. We factor in the price (a cheaper TV wins over a pricier one if the difference isn't worth it), feedback from our visitors and availability (no TVs that are difficult to find or almost out of stock everywhere).
A few examples of TVs that didn't make the cut:
- LG E6. Exceptional TV, but the LG B6 is a very close performer for quite a lot cheaper. See our review
- Samsung KS8000. Best in class image quality and great input lag, but a larger viewing angle and better resolution support gave the edge to the Sony X850D. See our review
- Sony X900C. While it can be had for the same price as the Sony X700D and offers almost the same performance as the X850D, it might not be available for purchase. See our review
If you would like to do the work of choosing yourself, here are the list of all our reviews of TVs. Be careful not to get too caught up in the details. While no TV is perfect, most TVs are great enough to please almost everyone, and the differences are often not noticeable unless you really look for them.
Questions & Answers
Updated answer 2017/02/13: A PC with an HDMI 2.0 port can output 4K @ 60 Hz @ 4:4:4 to a TV without an adapter. A PC with a DisplayPort 1.2 port can output 4K @ 60 Hz @ 4:4:4 to a TV by using a DisplayPort 1.2 to HDMI 2.0 adapter. HDMI 1.4 and DisplayPort 1.0 ports can both output 4K @ 24 Hz @ 4:4:4 and 1080p @ 60 Hz @ 4:4:4.
Your Mac Pro has an HDMI 1.4 port and six Thunderbolt 2 ports that can output DisplayPort 1.2. You can use an adapter on one of the six Thunderbolt 2 ports to output 4K @ 60 Hz @ 4:4:4 to a TV.
Note about adapters: Many adapters marketed as DisplayPort 1.2 to HDMI 2.0 cannot actually output the full bandwidth of HDMI 2.0 and so cannot be used to output 4K @ 60 Hz @ 4:4:4 to a TV. We have had success with the Club3D CAC-1070 adapter.
One thing I would like to point out is that there are a few Korean companies that have slapped on a custom-made controller board on 4K LG IPS models - and possibly TN panels for other major brands - that can take in DisplayPort 1.2 signals that do 4k chroma 4:4:4 @ 60 hz as well. If you do search on eBay or YouTube you will see them. Just FYI for people who have laptops that have cards like the 970M with display port 1.2.
That sounds interesting. Would you be able to email us a link to one of the listings or videos?
Thanks for sharing!
Update: One of our visitor pointed out to the 'Wasabi Mango' and 'Crossover 404K' Korean TV/Monitor.
- Samsung UN40JU7100
- Samsung UN40JU7500
- Samsung UN40JU6700
- Samsung UN40JU6500
- Sony XBR43X830C
- LG 43UF7600
If you care more about contrast, the Samsung UN40JU7500 is the best choice. If you want a good viewing angle (so the corners don't fade out when sitting close for a PC monitor), then the Sony XBR43X830C.
Do you recommend switching between gaming mode and PC mode when gaming or using the desktop?
What is the difference between Input Lag and Response time?
If you really want the absolute lowest input lag for gaming, then yes, it would be good to switch back and forth. You might first want to try using PC mode for gaming and seeing if the higher input lag bothers you.
Input lag refers to the amount of delay there is between an input made on a game controller, mouse, etc, and the corresponding reaction onscreen, whereas response time refers to how much time it takes for a pixel to change colors.
I'm very interested in purchasing the Samsung UN40JU7500 for this purpose or possibly the JS9000. I have the Nvidia GeForce GTX 970 graphics card that supports 4K with HDMI 2.0. Is there anything else I should be concerned about with one of these TVs (which one would be best), or should I just try to find an equivalent 4K monitor?
Update: It does indeed support it, confirmed by the visitor that originally asked the question and bought it.
For under $30, it seems worth adding to your article as an update at the very top, where people will see it before they read the whole article (HINT HINT!). Here's an Amazon link.
I'd like to buy a 40" 4K TV for my OPPO Blu-ray player, as well as streaming Amazon Instant Video and Netflix, plus it would be great if I could also use the TV as a computer monitor. I live in a "tiny home" with no room for multiple screens, and though my computer isn't new enough to output 3840x2160 resolution, I'd hate to replace it, because otherwise it is still performing admirably.
Is there a chance that my desktop would "play nice" with a 4K TV like the Sony XBR43X830C, utilizing a lower resolution? The image needn't be beauteous, just functional. Thanks for your help.
I still am lacking the answer to a fundamental question. If I don't care about the TV or gaming features of a TV as a monitor, but just want a bigger monitor that does 3840x2160 @60 hz with 4:4:4, dollar for dollar, am I better off getting a large monitor or a TV?
I am finding the choices of monitors that achieve these specs and that are over 32" to be sparse. The only one I have found in the sub-$1500 price range is the Philips BDM4065UC. Do have any information comparing monitors to TVs as monitors? Do you have any thoughts or suggestions? Thanks.
If you're sure your computer's graphics card can output 4k @ 4:4:4 via HDMI (we list models that do at the bottom of the article), you'll be fine with a TV. If your card can't, but has DisplayPort, you should get a monitor instead.
Most TVs don't go into standby when there is no signal like monitors do. As such, it is better to turn it off with your computer. We don't know how much damage this is likely to cause (if any) but consumer TVs aren't designed to be left on all the time.
CEC is used by TVs and home theater devices to turn off all of the connected devices when you turn off your game console or TV, as an example. Although most PCs don't support CEC, it is possible to buy a box such as this to send a CEC signal to your TV from your PC. As such, you can automate turning them both off at the same time.
-- Would you expect input lag to decrease/increase/stay the same if using a display port 1.2 to HDMI 2.0 adapter coming out later this year?
-- What method are you using to measure input lag, and is there a way to do it without expensive equipment?
-- How does your site make money? I'd like to support it in some way.
We use a Leo Bodnar Input Lag Tester. You can also do it yourself for cheaper by using the process outlined at the bottom of this article.
We make money from the Amazon referral links on our site. If you follow one of those links, we receive a commission on the money you spend on Amazon in the following 24 hours.
I then went to General>Info in the Denon and under video HDMI source info it says 1080p/24 YCBR 4:4:4 12bit, and then 4K/24 YCBR 4:2:0 8bit. This is obviously source dependent, and I was watching a Blu-ray.
It's different when I'm watching Comcast, but I guess my question is, should I turn off IP Scaler?
It's cool to see the UHD logo when I hit source on the JS9000, but am I hurting my picture quality?
If it's weaker, though, then yes, you're hurting picture quality. We don't know how good the Denon is at upscaling, but the JS9000 does a good job on its own. For a safe choice and good picture guaranteed, don't use the Denon's scaler.
1) If I am playing a PC game where the frame rate varies, say, between 70-90 fps (vsync is off), is the TV still running at 120 Hz refresh rate?
2) Can you set the TV's refresh rate to something else? For ex. 60 Hz?
3) You only mention 120 Hz for 1080p, what is the refresh rate if playing a PC game at 4k?
Before asking a question, make sure you use the search function of our website. The majority of the answers are already here.