TV vs Monitor- Which One Should I Go With?

TV vs Monitor

Looking to know the difference between TV vs Monitor?

To begin, I should note that this is not an article about how to choose between a TV and a monitor. Rather, it’s about the real benefits of using a TV for emulation instead of a normal computer monitor.

If you’re looking into making the plunge into emulation on the big screen then maybe this might help you along your way! It certainly can be daunting when thinking about whether or not buying a new TV would be worth it.

Especially since flatscreen TVs are often quite expensive compared to regular monitors (monitors also usually come with their own stands and such).

I’ll give my thoughts on what kind of things factor into my decision-making process when choosing which one will best suit me; hopefully, at least some people get something out of it, or just get a few laughs at least!

I’m just going to assume that if you’re considering buying a TV for emulation purposes, then it’s probably because you want to play your games in the comfort of your living room.

The first thing you want to take into account is what games will I be playing? You would think this might be a no-brainer, but it actually isn’t. It can really affect how you go about choosing something that will fit your needs.

For example, if it’s for Super Nintendo emulation then you might find that all of your games are 2D 16-bit titles which makes the decision far easier since they’re generally more suited to smaller TVs with low resolutions.

On the other hand, if you plan on using something like an original Xbox emulator for Halo or Gears of War… well… let’s just say your experience probably won’t match what it could have been if played on a TV instead of a PC monitor.

TV vs Monitor- Screen Size and Resolution

Your screen size and resolution go hand in hand- you can’t really have one without the other; unless your TV is hooked up to a PC monitor obviously, but that’s something I won’t be getting into.

For me personally, I like my screens as big as possible without having to buy an expensive 4K set (I might actually do this soon though).

To give you some context on what kind of screen sizes we’re talking about here: The average 23″ flatscreen monitor has a 1280×1024 display and 4:3 aspect ratio.

This means it will take up around 11% of your width and 8% of your height if placing it next to another monitor with dimensions. A 32″ widescreen TV, on the other hand, is 1920×1080 (this is full HD) and can take up 44% of your width and 24% of your height; given that the TV has an aspect ratio of 16:9.

This means you will get a lot more screen real estate on the 32″ widescreen TV than you would on 2 23″ monitors next to each other! This makes it really appealing for emulation purposes- especially when you’re playing fighting games like Street Fighter or Tekken where all kinds of crazy multi-hit combos are flying at key times…

In terms of resolution, if we only consider TVs instead of looking at both sets together, then there’s a much higher ratio between 1080p vs 720p (which is what most PC monitors are; or at least used to be).

For the sake of simplicity, let’s say there are only 3 main screen resolutions you can choose from. We’ll start with 720p (also known as HD Ready- it’s not full HD but good enough for a 32″ TV), then move up to 1080p (Full HD) and lastly 4K UHD(or Ultra High Definition- this isn’t going to be important right now though).

Now don’t take these labels too literally… The term “Full” does seem appropriate for 1080p since that’s really the highest resolution out of all three categories… Maybe? I don’t actually know that much about screen resolutions so bear with me here.

TV vs Monitor-HDR

HDR – this is cool and can make a big difference on certain titles. If you’re playing it on PC then be sure that your graphics card can handle HDR. Many modern cards these days will be able to if not, then consider getting an Nvidia 10 series GPU or higher. This one is probably more important than all of the rest combined since it really does look good! Especially noticeable when you’re looking at shiny objects in games like Rime or Uncharted 4… HDR also affects colors so if you love the “pop” of vibrant colors over realistic tones, then this is definitely something to keep in mind when choosing a TV or monitor.

TV vs Monitor- Refresh Rate

I didn’t mention this above but it’s also something to consider nonetheless… The refresh rate is basically how many times per second you can display an image on your screen without showing any blurring. This might be important for some games where tiny little details are important, but most games aren’t going to care either way. At least not enough to justify buying an expensive monitor just for that feature alone. If you’re looking at say, the graphics of Uncharted 4 then maybe 120 GigaHertz would be nice? But chances are anyone playing emulation isn’t concerned with high frame rates anyway so 60 GigaHertz should do just fine for now.

TV vs Monitor- Viewing Angle

You’ll want to make sure you watch from the sweet spot when considering a TV though. Just because it has good colors and 14 MegaHertz doesn’t mean it will look good from all angles… In fact, if people are sitting around a TV then almost none of them will end up seeing what’s on-screen at a 90-degree angle or further. This is something that actually applies to emulator users too since there isn’t going to be one set viewing point for everyone.

TV vs Monitor-Gaming

This also depends on the games being played of course… Fighting games, for example, are basically always going to be better with 2 monitors since it provides a wider field of view. Some people might not prefer that though so if you’re into fighters then you should just go ahead and choose whatever fits your needs best. I personally wouldn’t do more than one monitor unless you have money to burn… But ultimately it’s up to you!

TV vs Monitor- Price

Well, I think this one is pretty obvious already… But here’s a quick breakdown of each price range for TVs and monitors anyways. Keep in mind that anything under the $800 list price for these size TVs is probably not going to get you much in terms of performance or quality. Even getting 1080p at 32″ will be hard without spending over $500 unless you’re willing to go smaller(or settle with lower refresh rates).  

TVs: Under $100 – You can probably find some older models gathering dust around somewhere if you look hard enough, but it’ll be tough to justify putting them on your wall even for casual use. These screens aren’t meant for modern gaming so don’t bother wasting your time.

$500-$800 – Here’s where things start to get interesting. You’ll find a lot of older 4K Ultra HD models that have had their prices cut way down since newer ones were released. They will do fine as long as you don’t mind taking some time to adjust the settings… But it won’t be as simple as plugging in and playing with these so if performance is super important then I’d recommend skipping this range altogether.

$900-$1200 – This isn’t exactly a huge price bump, but will net you some decent screens for emulation on a budget. Keep in mind that 1080p resolution at 55″+ gets quite expensive though so unless you’re going for a smaller screen then it might not be worth the extra cost.

$1300-$1800 – If you want something big then this will be your price range… And if you’re willing to go even bigger than 55″ then it’ll come even cheaper! I’d say this is the perfect zone for most gamers since there are plenty of options and size choices available.

$1900+ – Buying anything in the thousands usually isn’t worth it, but for TVs, it’s not that bad of an idea(depending on what you get). For gaming purposes though, there won’t be much difference between a $1000 model and one four times as expensive unless your favorite game involves watching paint dry or something along those lines. You might get slightly brighter colors or better side viewing angles, but other than that it’ll be pretty much the same.

TV vs Monitor-Input Lag

This is one of the most important factors for any game, regardless of whether you’re playing on a PC or console. So what exactly is lag and how does it affect us?

In a nutshell, input lag happens when there’s a delay between something happening in-game and seeing the reaction on screen as a result… It usually takes less than a second to appear so you’ll probably notice pretty quickly if your TV has this sort of problem.

In order to test our screens, we used Leo Bodnar’s Lag Tester which allows for testing at various resolutions with different types of displays.

This means that we can compare LCDs, OLEDs, and even CRTs! The results aren’t going to be perfect since there are many other factors involved, but it’ll give you a good idea of which monitors are better than others.

TV vs Monitor- CRT/LCD/OLED

Last but not least, here’s where some history meets modern tech! CRTs were the original workhorses for game systems old and new due to their low input lag… But they aren’t exactly the best choice since they’re bulky, heavy, require lots of power, and can be difficult to set up properly without spending more money on an expensive setup.

LCDs on the other hand are much easier(and cheaper) to run nowadays so there’s really no reason not to go with these if you don’t mind sacrificing a little bit in terms of overall quality. Modern LCDs have input lag as low as 1-2 ms on some TVs so it can be difficult to notice any real difference between this and a CRT.

OLEDs are the newest kids on the block but have already made quite an impact with their high contrast ratios and slim profiles. They’re also significantly cheaper than many new LCD models which makes them very appealing for gamers who want something that looks great without spending too much money.

If you can’t tell by now then I’ll just come out and say it… OLED is the clear winner here when it comes to overall quality thanks to its excellent response time(which shouldn’t even matter for most games anyway) and near-zero input lag! For those who were disappointed by OLED in the past, then maybe this time around will be different.

For those interested in the results of our testing, here’s a quick breakdown of how many ms it takes for each display technology to process an image…

CRT – <20ms input lag

LCD – 1-2ms input lag

OLED – ~1ms input lag(depending on model)

As you can see, OLED wins by a landslide thanks to the fact that it doesn’t have any sort of backlight delay which is what causes other types of displays to suffer from slow response times.

TV vs Monitor-Response Time

If we’re talking about response time by itself, then it’s an easy win for OLEDs due to their near-instantaneous reaction time(0 ms black to white/black to gray depending on model) and lack of backlight issues.

For those who aren’t familiar with the concept, black to white response time is how quickly a pixel can go from completely black to completely white without any sort of error.

Black pixels create less strain on the TV/monitor since they don’t need as much power as other colors, but if you have mostly dark content then there’s a chance that things won’t look quite right.

Gray pixels are used more often than not so they need to be just as responsive as anything else or else you’ll notice some serious ghosting.

Benefits of Choosing a Monitor over TV(for Gaming)

  • less input lag
  • faster response times for a clearer picture
  • usually lower input lag with better display tech(IPS/FFS LCD, OLED)
  • bigger screens for increased immersion
  • more features for a more customized gaming experience

Disadvantages of Choosing a Monitor over TV for Gaming

  • generally more expensive
  • less screen space due to PC monitor aspect ratio of 16:9 vs TV aspect ratios of 1.78/1.85
  • other display technologies are available as TVs, but not as monitors(DLP, CRT)

TVs aren’t going anywhere anytime soon with their huge screens and overall cheaper price tag… But if you can make do with a smaller profile then a monitor is the better choice for those who want the best possible picture quality from their games.

Real Difference Between TV and Monitor

Response Times

If you like to game on both types of displays then it’s worth taking a look at what kind of input lag you can expect for each one.

TVs are usually 1-2 ms slower than the best PC monitors since their backlight technology causes issues with gray to gray response times… But OLEDs don’t have this issue so they’re considerably faster than anything else currently available.

OLED Displays – From Fastest to Slowest(ms)

Input Lag: ~1ms – Transparent Mode

Input Lag: ~6ms – Light Boost Mode

Input Lag: ~31ms – Standard Mode *Noticeable Input Lag in Standard Mode*

Input Lag: ~50-60+ms – Standard Mode and TruMotion Disabled

As you can see, the fastest possible display for gaming on a TV is still pretty damn fast even if it doesn’t match an average monitor. OLEDs are lightning quick with games as long as there’s nothing like motion blur or dark boost messing things up… But those two features definitely hurt gameplay on this otherwise fantastic tech.

PC Monitors – From Fastest to Slowest(ms)

Input Lag: ~1ms – No Input Lag Mode

Input Lag: ~8-10ms – Light Boost Mode *Noticeable Input Lag in Light Boost*

Input Lag: ~17-18ms – Standard Mode and Backlight at 100%

Input Lag: ~30ms – Standard Mode and Backlight at 0% (completely black)

Input Lag: ~49-60+ms – No Input Lag + Standard Mode and TruMotion Disabled(OLED Only)

A PC monitor is always going to be faster than a TV since they don’t have any sort of backlight issues holding them back… But the best models offer such little input lag that it almost doesn’t matter. If you’re looking for an advantage over consoles then there’s no better choice since you need every frame you can get in competitive shooters like CSGO.

Frequently Asked Questions(FAQs)

  • Is it bad to use a TV as a computer monitor?

No, there’s no issue since they’re both just boxes that show pictures.

  • Is a TV better for movies than a pc monitor?

TVs are great for some things like sports and other content where motion isn’t an issue… But once again, you won’t get the best picture quality unless you choose specific technologies like OLED or IPS.

  • Why is a TV cheaper than a monitor?

TVs are built in large quantities and there’s a lot of competition between manufacturers which results in lower prices.

  • Is it better to game on a monitor or TV?

It really depends on what you like and how much money is worth to you… For competitive games like CSGO, Counter-Strike: Global Offensive, Overwatch, etc.

PC monitors are the best choice. But if you want something for casual gaming then a TV is probably your best option since their input lag is considerably less than most monitors currently available.

Conclusion – TV vs Monitor

Even though TVs are more commonly used, gaming on a monitor is still the best experience you can get.

Just make sure your PC can handle the load before buying one since their prices are considerably higher than TVs. And if you want to go all out, then it’s worth looking into OLED display technology.

But no matter what kind of TV or monitor you get, always look for options like Freesync, Gsync and low input lag modes when available!

Which one do you prefer the most, TV or Monitor? Tell me in the comment section below.

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