The first question I think of when plugging in my new Vizio 50” 4K TV is, “How would it look as a monitor?” I currently have a 42” Vizio 1080p as a monitor which has been running for few years. It’s now time for an upgrade. Using a TV as a monitor is a cost-effective solution for multi-use areas, like a man cave where mine currently lives. They are convenient and playing first person shooters on a 50” 4k TV feels great, especially since your rifle is now the size of a, well, rifle!
Unfortunately, PC gaming with a TV has its downfalls, most significant being the refresh rate which is slower than most monitors. Going to a TV often means going down to 60Hz or even 30hz, which is simply too slow for gaming. Luckily for me this Vizio is rated for 120hz. Let’s see how it works.
Testing With a 7850 Radeon
My first step was to try the TV with my current build. I swapped out my old TV and plugged in the new beast. The first thing I noticed after plugging it in was I couldn’t get past 60 Hz at 1920×1080, which is fine, but not good enough. So I went back to look online for a solution. It appears using a Mini Display port to HDMI adapter can get me to 120Hz. So I picked up an adapter. While in 120Hz mode I saw a lot of artifacts. They weren’t the typical ones you would expect from an overheating video card, but rather strange things: Like the display would blank out for a second. Other weird things showed up while playing Nuclear Dawn. The class selector didn’t display the pictures of the units. There were lines covering text in Chrome which looked like the government was blanking out my shortcuts. So it was time to try something new.
Testing With a GTX 970
Switching to the 970 meant I’d be losing the adapter, and some of the headache with it. Right away the experience got better, no more random blank screens and the odd selector page was back to normal. While this did enable 1920×1080 at 120Hz, I was still stuck with 30Hz at 4k. It seems like this limitation is going to be here until it can be worked out between vendors. In the meantime, going from 60 to 120 Hz makes games much faster. Upgrading the video card improves the Hz and the speed of the games you’re playing.
The Screen Dilemma
The biggest problem is the disconnect between video card and TV manufacturers. While TV makers continue to push out HDMI 2.0 as the latest format, monitor and video card makers are sticking with Display Port. And while most video cards have HDMI, they often don’t mention what version it is. HDMI 2.0 will support 4k Monitors at 60Hz, and also 1920×1080 at 120Hz, which is what you’ll need to enjoy gaming on a TV.
Performance and Lag
While the TV looks great with Blu-ray and cable, getting a proper resolution and Hz is important.
Lag is the enemy of TV upgrades. Going from 60 to 30Hz hurts. Keep in mind you’re fighting against two forces, FPS and Hz. Going from HD to 4k brings Wolfenstein from an average of 60fps down to 30fps, but with a little tweaking of settings it is manageable. Playability depends on the types of games you want to play. Simulation games seem to run and play fine. I don’t think the twitch gamers would like it though. The nice thing is you always have 1920×1080 to fall back on.
What kind of monitor do you use? If you’re using a TV as a monitor tell us about it.