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The best TV for a computer monitor in 2021: top televisions to use as a PC/Mac display

best tv computer monitor
(Image credit: Samsung)

Welcome to our guide of the best TVs you can use as a computer monitor.

Using a TV as a computer monitor used to involve sourcing obscure cable adapters and putting up with a pathetically low VHS-level screen resolution. But with the vast majority of current TVs now offering 4K resolution and multiple HDMI ports, using a TV for a computer monitor requires little to no hassle, and you can be hard-pressed to see any image quality compromises.

So why doesn't everyone use their TV as a computer monitor? Well, when you're sitting on the couch, balancing a keyboard and mouse on your lap isn't ideal, and neither is trailing a long HDMI cable across your living room floor. There's also the issue of viewing distance, as trying to control your computer and navigate its operating system and software menus over a typical TV viewing distance can be tricky. Put simply, most Windows and Mac OS apps are designed to be used at close, desktop distances, so they have small buttons and icons as a result. 

For this reason, we're recommending slightly smaller TVs - 50 inches or less - as these are more suited for use at shorter viewing distances, and consequently offer a better compromise between conventional TV viewing and computer use. Furthermore, with smaller TVs usually offering the same 4K (3840 x 2160) screen res as their larger-screen siblings, you get an improved pixel density by picking a smaller 4K TV. Oh, and they're also cheaper than bigger screens!

Using a TV as a computer monitor makes most sense for extending your laptop's screen, enabling a more immersive movie-watching or gaming experience. However, a word of caution with gaming. While computer monitors are designed with gaming in mind, the additional video signal processing that some TVs apply can result in a noticeable delay between making a control input and the movement actually happening on-screen. TVs with a dedicated picture 'game mode' can alleviate this, but for really competitive gaming where every millisecond counts, a proper computer monitor with a fast response time is a must.

Then there's color accuracy, contrast and viewing angles to consider. All of these are vital for serious image or video editing, but TVs naturally prioritize punchier colors and contrast, possibly at the the expense of a truly accurate image/video preview. sRGB, Adobe RGB, and video color space coverage is simply not a concern for TV manufacturers, so using a TV for color-critical image/video editing isn't advisable either. What's more, while computer monitors tend to be based around IPS-type LCD panels, LCD-based TVs usually use VA panels, which offer superior contrast and black depth, but with more restrictive viewing angles, which in turn compromises color and contrast consistency across the screen.

With all this in mind, we'd only recommend using a TV as your sole computer monitor if you really have no choice due to budget and space constraints - for image or video editing, there's still no substitute for a dedicated computer monitor. However, if you want to link your laptop or desktop computer to a TV for movie watching, gaming, or simply displaying your photos to visiting friends and family, then go right ahead - a TV works great for this. Here are our top TV picks right now...

The best TVs you can use as computer monitors in 2021

Recommended

(Image credit: Sony)

1. Sony XBR49X950H / KD-49XH9505

The very best TV that can double as a computer monitor

Screen Size: 49-inch | Resolution: 3840 x 2160 | Panel type: VA LCD | Connectivity: HDMI: 4, USB: 3, Optical: 1

Top-end image processing
4 HDMI ports
Local backlight dimming
A little pricey
Viewing angles not OLED-wide

The XH9505 comes in various screen sizes, but our preferred option for use as a computer monitor is the smallest (49-inch) offering. All sizes have a 4K resolution, so the 'baby' 49-incher has the highest pixel density in the range, and therefore a sharper image when viewed from closer distances. The image quality benefits continue with the inclusion of Sony's top-end X1 Ultimate image processor, as well as direct LED backlighting with local dimming resulting in inky blacks and minimal backlight bleed. What's more, Sony’s X-Wide Angle technology improves viewing angles to maintain better color and contrast consistence across the screen, regardless of your viewing angle. This means you can watch it from off-centre angles without pictures losing too much color saturation or contrast - useful when used as a computer monitor. You even get four HDMI ports, so there should be at least one spare to take an input from your computer. All this quality doesn't come cheap, but if you're after a great TV first and foremost, which can occasionally double as a computer monitor, this is a superb choice.

(Image credit: LG)

2. LG CX 48"

The best money-no-object TV you can also use as a computer monitor

Screen Size: 48-inch | Resolution: 3480 x 2160 | Panel type: OLED | Connectivity: HDMI: 4, USB: 3, Optical: 1

OLED black depth and viewing angles
Low latency and G-Sync compatible
Well priced... for an OLED TV
Expensive next to LCD rivals
Risk of screen burn-in

OLED displays are the holy grail for image quality, with flawless viewing angles, perfect blacks with no backlight bleed, and stunning HDR. OLED computer monitors are almost non-existent, but thankfully OLED TVs are much easier to come by, and the smallest (48-inch) variant of the LG CX is even bordering on being accessibly priced. This TV is an ideal display for PC gaming, thanks to an auto low latency mode that reduces lag to 13ms - not far off the responsiveness of a proper computer monitor. Nvidia G-Sync compatibility also ensures the frame rate of the CX matches that of your game, therefore eliminating any screen 'tearing' interference. OLED screens do come with the potential drawback of screen burn-in, where a menu graphic could theoretically become permanently etched into the screen if displayed for a very long time without change, but this isn't likely to be an issue unless you continually display a Windows taskbar or Mac OS dock on screen for extended daily periods. Otherwise, the LG CX is the ultimate money-no-object TV that can double as a computer monitor.

(Image credit: Samsung)

3. Samsung Q60T 43"

Image quality which could rival an OLED TV, but for less cash

Screen Size: 43-inch | Resolution: 3840 x 2160 | Panel type: QLED VA LCD | Connectivity: HDMI: 3, USB: 2, Optical: 1

OLED-rivaling image quality
100% DCI-P3 color space coverage
Well priced for a QLED TV
Viewing angles won't match OLED
A bit expensive for its size
3 HDMI ports could be limiting

Samsung's QLED (Quantum dot) TVs set new standards for brightness and color vividness. In some respects they can be considered superior to OLED TVs, and they're not susceptible to possible screen burn-in like OLED TVs. Oh, and the best bit, QLED TVs are significantly cheaper than their OLED counterparts. Our top QLED pick is actually the cheapest model in the current Samsung QLED range - the Q60T. Its 43-inch screen size makes it an ideal balance between TV and computer monitor, with the 4K screen res making computer visuals crisp at fairly close viewing distances. What's more, Samsung claims the QLED screen tech is also capable of displaying 100% of the extensive DCI-P3 color space - something even a high-end computer monitor would struggle to match. The Q60T's HDR and image processing capabilities aren't quite on par with Samsung's larger QLED offerings, and viewing angles won't be a match for a true OLED display. Three HDMI ports could also be a tad restrictive if you want to connect a lot of AV equipment in addition to your computer, but we still reckon this is a great value TV/computer monitor double act.

(Image credit: Samsung)

4. Samsung UE43TU7100

The best budget TV for a computer monitor

Screen Size: 43-inch | Resolution: 3840 x 2160 | Panel type: VA LCD | Connectivity: HDMI: 2, USB: 1, Optical: 1

Well priced
Auto low latency mode
HDR10+ and HLG HDR support
Limited connectivity
VA panel = restricted viewing angles

A 4K screen resolution on a 43-inch TV really requires you to sit fairly close in order to see the improvement in resolution over a 1080p Full HD display. But this is exactly how a TV works best when used as a computer monitor. What sets this baby Samsung apart from similar 'small' TVs is that it gets the kind of features and extras you'd expect to find on more top-end tellies. There's Samsung's Tizen operating system with its advanced user interface and extensive app selection, along with HDR10, HDR10+, HLG high dynamic range support. What's more, if you plan on gaming on this TV, the auto low latency mode really comes into its own, automatically switching the TV to its game mode when a game input signal is detected, thereby reducing input lag. The only downside with this bargain telly is that there are only two HDMI ports, meaning you may need to swap cables around when you want to connect your computer.

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