Small TV vs PC monitor: what’s the very best show expertise?

The TV versus PC monitor query was a traditional horses for programs conundrum. For computing of any form you needed a monitor; for watching motion pictures and taking part in console video games, a TV was a no brainer. 

However is that also true? On this age of multi-platform media and all-digital connectivity do small TVs now make sense to be used with a PC? And are screens now extra versatile as all-purpose shows fairly than as units for consuming uncooked information?

Definitely most of the core options and functionalities of the 2 show varieties have converged. Every little thing from resolutions to refresh charges, panel varieties to pixel efficiency and interfaces to enter lag are extra carefully matched than ever – but not solely equal. Right here’s what it’s worthwhile to know when weighing up a small TV versus a monitor as your show of selection.

Does measurement matter?

Small TVs are typically these sized as much as round 32 inches, which places them on the higher finish of the mainstream monitor market, size-wise. Given the low value of even fairly giant TVs, the smaller possibility is usually thought of not solely primarily based on value but additionally when house is at a premium. There’s solely so huge you’ll be able to go on the desktop.

Nonetheless, smaller TVs do are usually lower-end fashions with restricted options and spec. In order for you a extremely high-quality small show, a monitor is your greatest wager. In fact, sheer scale is only one side, and form is kind of one other. Just about all TVs are 16:9 side ratio, matching the format of typical TV content material, although movies are usually wider nonetheless. Displays, in the meantime, can be found in a much wider array of kind elements.

16:9 remains to be the preferred side ratio – which means that, for each 16 pixels alongside the horizontal axis of the show, there are 9 pixels alongside the vertical – however 21:9 and even 32:9 screens just like the monstrous Samsung Odyssey Neo G9 can be found, plus a number of oddball panels with taller ratios like 3:2 together with the Huawei MateView. For watching video and taking part in most video games, 16:9 stays the very best general compromise.

Wider panels will be nice for multi-tasking when computing, as an illustration viewing a number of net pages or paperwork aspect by aspect. They will additionally add immersion for sure gaming situations like driving video games and journey titles. Nevertheless, not all PC video games work nicely with ultra-wide screens and console gaming help could be very restricted certainly.

(Picture credit score: Future)

Sub-pixel construction

A much less mentioned and but essential difficulty involving the comparability between TVs and screens is sub-pixel construction. Each pixel on any full-colour show is made up of various sub-pixels. The most typical construction is named RGB, which signifies crimson, inexperienced and blue subpixels in that order.

Nearly all PC screens are RGB – certainly, for computing, something apart from normal RGB is an issue. That’s as a result of working techniques like Home windows depend on sub-pixel construction to render fonts precisely and easily.

Many TVs additionally use RGB, however some stick to BGR (blue, then inexperienced after which crimson), and it means computing purposes and browsers largely aren’t perfect – whereas extra complicated RBGW techniques discovered on some TVs additionally have a tendency to cut back element and sharpness. 

If a TV makes use of an IPS panel, it’s most likely RGB, whereas a VA panel may very well be both RGB or BGR – however as TV makers don’t at all times record sub-pixel data, this may be a lot tougher to discern with small TVs than with PC screens.

HDR efficiency

HDR or excessive dynamic vary rendering needs to be the trickiest present show expertise. It’s a minefield of competing requirements, of complicated and generally deceptive claims.

In its easiest sense, a HDR show can present each very shiny and really darkish picture parts on the similar time and with out compressing any particulars. If that’s the concept, the fact is extra difficult. When it comes to panel expertise, OLED shows are higher at rendering darker parts, whereas the very best LCD panels are superior in the case of hitting these eye-popping peaks. 

It’s all a little bit of a shifting goal as OLED panels get brighter and LCD screens enhance their distinction and low-light efficiency. All of which begs the query of how TVs and screens examine in the case of HDR. For starters, there are virtually no OLED screens and equally few small TVs with OLED panels. So in apply, it’s LCD versus LCD – simply keep in mind that TVs and screens offered as ‘LED’ fashions are literally LCD shows with LED backlights.

Within the TV market as much as 32 inches, few if any units provide true HDR efficiency courtesy of native dimming. The identical applies to most so-called HDR screens, which are usually VESA DisplayHDR 400 licensed. In each circumstances, they’re not very shiny and lack native dimming.

A number of the very newest high-end PC screens, such because the Asus ROG Swift PG32UQX, have mini-LED backlights with hundreds of dimming zones. However these are extraordinarily costly shows costing upwards of $1,000 / £1,000. Lengthy story quick, correct HDR efficiency stays out of attain on small TVs and most screens.

Asus Rog Swift PG32UQ PS5 Xbox Series X monitor

(Picture credit score: Asus)


One space the place screens provide much more selection is decision. You may have something from 1080p to 1440p and 4K from only a 27-inch 16:9 side ratio monitor, not to mention different sizes and shapes. In different kind elements, you’ll be able to have something from 3,440 by 1,440 pixels to five,120 by 2,160.

The small TV market, in the meantime, is dominated by 1080p units. That retains pricing down and it’s arguably superb for watching TV and taking part in console video games. However for critical PC gaming and basic PC productiveness use, 1080p lacks element and precision.

There are exceptions. The Samsung Q50R is a 32-inch TV with full 4K decision. It’s not precisely low-cost at $500, however an inexpensive possibility if you’d like full sensible TV performance in a compact bundle.

The principle advantages of upper resolutions are element and sharpness, which may actually matter for font rendering in Home windows on a PC. It’s much less essential for TV and video, particularly with smaller display sizes. As for gaming, solely the very newest consoles can do something above 1080p.

For PC gaming, greater resolutions give higher picture high quality, but additionally make for way more load in your graphics subsystem. 4K gaming makes for big element, but additionally a lot decrease body charges. At present, many players view 1440p or 2,560 by 1,440 pixels as the very best compromise between element and body charges. So, for critical PC gaming, a small TV most likely isn’t an important selection.

Samsung Q50R PC monitor promotional shot

(Picture credit score: Samsung)


The quickest show tech when it comes to pixel response is OLED. However as we’ve found, few small TVs or screens can be found with OLED panels. So, it’s a query of evaluating LCD panel varieties.

Theses days, most screens and TVs are both IPS or VA panel varieties, with TN panels now fairly uncommon. Sadly, many TV producers don’t quote pixel response efficiency, particularly for smaller units. However as a tough rule of thumb, IPS is quicker than VA, although some innovative VA panels now rival IPS for outright pace.

As for screens, the quickest IPS panels now obtain 1ms grey-to-grey or 0.5ms MPRT response, representing two barely alternative ways of measuring response. Lengthy story quick, the very best gaming PC screens are higher tuned for pixel response than small TVs. That mentioned, a basic function or productiveness oriented monitor could have pixel response similar to a small TV and measuring round 5-8ms gray-to-gray.

The opposite half of the pace equation is refresh charge. It’s what determines how responsive a display feels to inputs when taking part in video games however far much less vital for watching video or basic computing. The quickest gaming screens can now hit 360Hz, whereas small TVs are capped at simply 60Hz.

That mentioned, excessive refresh gaming is a comparatively area of interest concern and 60Hz is ok for many console and PC gaming, particularly given a really highly effective PC or one of many newest consoles is required to essentially profit from a excessive refresh show. Simply remember that some low-cost TVs can endure from important enter, making them unsuitable for something however informal gaming.

Omen 32-inch monitor

(Picture credit score: Omen)


The way you hook as much as a show was a significant difficulty when evaluating screens to TVs. Right now? Not a lot. TVs use HDMI whereas screens usually provide each HDMI and DisplayPort. In different phrases, you shouldn’t have any drawback connecting a TV or monitor to something from a PC to a set-top field or video games console.

HDMI 2.1 and help for 4K at 120Hz refresh is at the moment a sizzling matter within the TV and console gaming market. Nevertheless it’s not massively related to small TVs as much as 32 inches, none of which run above 60Hz. That mentioned, if you’re planning on hooking up a less expensive 4K TV to a PC, be sure that it has not less than HDMI 2.0 to make sure 60Hz refresh working at native decision. 

For screens, in the meantime, the upper refresh charges provided by some fashions are extra broadly supported by the DisplayPort interface, which is a regular interface on just about all latest graphics playing cards. So, you’re unlikely to run into points.

Content material

On this age of multi-platform streaming companies, you’ll be able to watch most content material on virtually any gadget. Nevertheless, a sensible TV might be the only resolution for accessing the widest array of content material. You may have an built-in tuner plus a sensible TV platform with the same old apps together with Netflix, Amazon Prime, Disney Plus and the remainder pre-installed, and in addition plug it right into a PC and console and have actually each possibility coated.

You don’t miss out a lot with a monitor plugged right into a PC. However some streaming companies will be problematical when it comes to accessing the best streaming high quality. Likewise, with out a TV tuner, you gained’t be capable to entry broadcast TV.

What about one thing barely larger?

It’s value noting that going for a barely bigger TV set opens up a whole lot of choices. Numerous low-cost and not-so-cheap 4K TVs can be found within the 40-inch to 48-inch section. For some, that’s too huge for desktop use. Nevertheless, this class of TV presents entry to options like true HDR functionality with full-array native dimming and 120Hz refresh. 

Much more thrilling, LG’s OLED TVs begin at 48 inches and convey with all of them the same old OLED benefits together with per-pixel lighting, infinite distinction and tremendous speedy pixel response. What’s extra, a barely bigger TV doesn’t essentially imply a dearer TV. 40-inch to 43-inch TVs at the moment are among the many very least expensive obtainable.

Viewsonic XG2700 4K monitor

(Picture credit score: Viewsonic)

Small TV vs PC monitor: which is greatest?

So, what makes for the very best general display, a small TV or a monitor? If optimum picture high quality, a monitor wins with ease. Likewise, for simple entry to the widest vary of content material, go along with a TV.

The tough selections lie in between these two poles. A small, low-cost TV could make for a very good all-round show for all the pieces from gaming and watching motion pictures to occasional computing. You get an terrible lot of display for remarkably little cash. Alternatively, the extra typically you’re possible to make use of a given display with a PC, the extra profit you’ll get from a monitor. That’s true for all the pieces from browsing the online to taking part in video games on PC. Some issues, like actually excessive refresh charges can solely be had in a monitor, not a TV.

We’d additionally suggest contemplating barely bigger TV units within the 40-inch vary. For some, that could be impractical when it comes to sheer measurement. However that barely bigger section of the market presents way more selection when it comes to specs and sometimes with out an enormous value penalty.