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Using a TV as a monitor (43" 4k 60Hz $200)

yawumpus

5 months ago

I've considered this idea for a while, and finally went and done it. I'm using a TCL 43" 4k TV as my monitor [see retro footnote]. The motivation was that I was perfectly happy with the dot pitch and frequency of my old 26" 1080 monitor, but was eager to stretch a slightly better dot pitch over a huge area. 4k TVs made that an option.

Pros:

*extreme amount of screen real estate/field of view

*price (similar to "barely above budget" monitors)

*1440 resolution is possible (I also bought a Vega56 on sale to go with it, I don't trust it to run 4k on everything...) this might not matter so much to others, or in the future.

Cons:

*60Hz max (available at 4k, but don't expect any other resolution to get better than 60Hz). Note: I'm old enough to to have used a TV as a monitor on a 8 bit computer, so younger viewers might get more out of higher frequencies than me).

*High def is unavailable at 4k@60Hz (took awhile to find that option on the GPU to get the thing to run @60Hz) [this might be a limitation the GPU, but doesn't appear to be. Changing the option puts the TV in 30Hz mode].

*It doesn't automatically turn on with the computer (hopefully I can find this option. It hasn't been a big enough deal to bother the fuss I put in to get 4k@60Hz working).

Other options to look into when using a TV as a monitor:

*60Hz is said to be mandatory (although I didn't hate my desktop before I fixed the settings, this plus lack of gaming mode may have doomed earlier TVs as monitors). Expect some kind of "120Hz effective" marketing to be splashed on there (you won't use this with your PC or console).

*VA/IPS options are available: I have a VA model, but IPS are available as well.

*Freesync doesn't appear to be available at this price point. Maybe next year (or at least once consoles that support it are announced).

*1440 isn't always available. If your GPU might not be willing to do 4k on your latest and greatest game, you will probably want this option. 1080 (and lower "standard" options) should be available.

*~40" is about as small as 4k TVs go. Any smaller and you drop down to either 1080 or are buying a "real monitor". And expect a ~32" 1080 TV to cost similar to a 40" 4k TV (the cheaper ones are 720).

[on the GPU side] make sure you have HDMI 2.x available. I know my old GPU couldn't supply 4k even to the desktop, and without 2.x enabled [on the TV] the new was stuck @30Hz.

I found this website to appear useful (really didn't check too hard for accuracy), but it seemed to make some effort reviewing TVs as monitors/PC gaming devices: https://www.rtings.com/tv/reviews/tcl/s-series-s405-4k-2018

[retro footnote:] As an odd historical note, my father was willing to part with the old 12"? NTSC color TV we used as a monitor for the Atari 800 for my first PC, but I already knew it wouldn't be compatible (and couldn't resist a 12" "1024x768" [really could only resolve 800x600] interlaced monitor). Back in the 1990s I also owned a "TV Blaster" (or possibly "Game Blaster") that connected to my notebook and allowed me to use a NTSC TV as a monitor. It was somewhat useful, but didn't get much use.

[retro footnote2] https://www.xkcd.com/732/ after a few decades of having a monitor with wildly higher resolution (I took my good old time switching to LCD: it took a long time for them to catch and surpass my 1600x1200 21" trinitron) than a TV, the TVs have finally caught up.

There seems to be an issue with the "bullet formatting". I can't figure out how to get it to work (following the example seems to insist on making things italics).

Comments

  • 5 months ago
  • 1 point

The Vega 56 should have no problem running at 4k. It's a good GPU.

One thing to try is go into the AMD driver program and create a custom resolution. In that you will be able to change the refresh rate to 60hz. Once you have that done go into Windows display settings and look for a "Display adaptor properties" option. Go into and find the menu with refresh rate. 60hz should now appear as an option.

  • 5 months ago
  • 1 point

The problem didn't seem to be on the GPU side. The issue was that you had to set the TV to HDMI2 (done in the TV settings) and feed it a signal no deeper than 8 bits (done via the GPU settings). Then and only then would the TV default to 60Hz (presumably a limitation of the HDMI input, or possibly how it outputs high definition).

The "difficulty running 4k" is largely for more modern games. I suspect I'll be more willing to move sliders down than drop the resolution, but the option will be there. On the other hand I wanted to see what DDO (Dungeons and Dragons Online, originally launched in ~2006) looked like in 4k and the GPU was capable of >200fps at max settings (other than supersample antialiasing).

  • 5 months ago
  • 1 point

The problem didn't seem to be on the GPU side. The issue was that you had to set the TV to HDMI2 (done in the TV settings) and feed it a signal no deeper than 8 bits (done via the GPU settings). Then and only then would the TV default to 60Hz (presumably a limitation of the HDMI input, or possibly how it outputs high definition).

Oh okay I misunderstood. I should have read your op with more attention. Thought you were still having trouble.

For games from the past year or so you may run into some trouble getting 60fps at 4k but in most games from the past few years you will be fine running at 4k. Another thing is that if you do want to drop the resolution, a lot of games from the past few years give you the option to lower the render resolution by a percentage. But it's still displaying in 4k so it's not being stretched to fill the screen. Instead it's being upscaled from say 1800p to 2160p in the rendering process. So if you don't want to drop other settings like AA, textures, lighting, etc. Just drop this one a bit.

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