When they look the same and have similar functionalities, then what’s the difference? Yes, we are talking about TV vs. Monitors, and the question has baffled many and more so when one has to make a choice between a monitor and a TV.
Long answer short; fundamentally, they are the same. Both are screens meant to produce a visual output. While the function may be similar, both TVs and Monitors differ in specifications and performance.
TVs are more for a visual treat, mainly focusing on the display quality. While monitors do take the visuals into consideration, they are more of a balanced approach between image quality and performance.
To understand the differences between TV vs. Monitor and which is better, let’s put them both in daily use scenarios as well as for gaming and see which comes out better.
Table of Contents
- TV vs. Monitor: Which is Better For Everyday Use?
- TV vs. Monitor: Which Is Better For Gaming?
TV vs. Monitor: Which is Better For Everyday Use?
The most important factor that the majority of people consider before buying a TV is the screen size. While monitors do come in multiple sizes, TVs offer much more size options. You will mostly find monitors in the range of 24 to 27 inch and the UltraWide range could go as wide as 49 inches.
On the other hand, TVs come in sizes between 32 to 85, and some can go as large as 120 inches. The benefit of a larger screen is the better clarity and higher quality of the display output when viewing from a distance.
However, in a desk setup, where users are generally closer to the screen, a larger size could be distracting and may downgrade the visual experience.
A larger size may not always convert to a higher quality display output. The size has to be complemented by the display resolution too.
The screen resolution is the number of pixels displayed on the screen and generally goes side-by-side with the screen size. Consequently, larger screen size with lower resolution could make the screen pixelated and produce low-quality visuals. Similarly, higher resolution on a smaller size display may not produce any noticeable effect.
TVs normally come in 720p or HD, 1080p or Full HD, 2160p or 4K and 4320p or 8K. Meanwhile, monitors have an extra value of resolution, namely QHD or 1440p.
For TVs, the most preferred choice is the 1080 full HD resolution. However, more and more people are going for a 4K resolution these days. It’s because the larger size of the TVs could fully exploit the higher resolution and display superior quality visuals.
For most of the monitors, the 1440p QHD resolution is ideal as it provides a more immersive experience for a close-range desk setup while being easy on the GPU at the same time. 4k or 8k resolution may look great, but they can only be a viable option for a high-end GPU that can handle these higher resolutions.
HDR is the most significant advancement in display technology in recent years. With HDR-compatible screens, you get more brightness, more contrast, and a much more comprehensive color range. In terms of HDR compatibility, TVs have the edge over monitors.
While HDR technology is readily available in TVs, HDR-compatible monitors are just beginning to emerge. There is a catch in that too – most manufacturers project HDR signal processing capability as the true HDR image rendering.
Apart from true HDR capability, TVs also support local dimming, extremely essential to achieve higher contrast. On the other hand, some of the monitors that claim HDR support do not have a local dimming feature and rely on signal processing to achieve HDR.
If you want to experience the truly immersive experience of HDR, TVs provide far better and many affordable options than monitors.
Interface options are also very different in monitors than in TVs. You will find several input ports on monitors to connect other peripherals, while the TVs may not provide the same number of options.
Most modern-day monitors come with Display Port, HDMI, USB, and DVI ports. While TVs primarily rely on HDMI and USB ports for data transmission and audio, video inputs.
That being said, while choosing a monitor or TV, keep in mind the bandwidth requirements too. As the refresh rate and resolution move to higher values, you will need more bandwidth for data transmission between the gaming rig and the display.
As a general rule, for both TVs and monitors, always aim for HDMI version 2.1 or the Display port version 1.2 or higher.
TV vs. Monitor: Which Is Better For Gaming?
The smoothness of the gameplay is an essential aspect for gamers, and it’s no hidden fact that gaming monitors excel in this department. You can have a gaming monitor with a refresh rate as high as 240 Hz, enabling them to achieve higher fluidity and smoothness in gaming. That’s not the case with the TVs, though, mostly they can work up a refresh rate of 60 Hz.
However, there are certainly TVs with a refresh rate of up to 120 Hz; but they can only take as much as the 1080p resolution. Another thing is that the monitors are capable of producing refresh rate natively. It means if you have a 120 Hz refresh rate monitor, you will get the true frequency of 120 Hz refresh rate.
However, TVs mostly increase refresh rate through a technology known as interpolation. Consequently, you do get smoother visuals, but sometimes they seem unnatural, which is commonly referred to as the soap opera effect. While there are high-end TVs that support a faster refresh rate, they are generally very costly. In any case, if you are looking for a speedy native refresh rate, monitors are the best option to go with.
Another crucial factor while determining a better choice between TV vs. Monitor is the response time. The pixel response time is the time taken by a pixel to shift to a different color. It impacts gaming because it determines the clarity and smoothness of visuals in a fast-paced scenario, like the camera movement. If the response rate is high, a fast-moving object will leave a trail of pixels behind, which could not adjust to the color change with the same speed. It will result in significant ghosting and motion blur.
The gaming monitors, of course, are designed to keep the ghosting and motion blur to the minimum. In the process, they gain an edge over TVs. Most monitors have a refresh rate around 1ms to 4ms; however, it is primarily determined by the panel in use. The TN panels offer the lowest response rate, and gamers generally stick to it for better gaming performance.
In contrast, TVs mostly have IPS panels, which have a relatively higher value of response rate. Generally, in the range of 5 ms to 10 ms, it can also go as high as 16 ms. Consequently, they have a much slower response than monitors. Visual defects like ghosting and blurring will be much more noticeable on TVs. It’s apparent that response time has a significant effect on the gameplay, and monitors provide the lowest response time, so they seem to be a much better choice for gaming.
Besides the refresh rate and response time, another determining factor for smoother gameplay on monitors than on TV is the input lag. It’s the time taken by the display to process the input signal and show it on the screen. As TVs are more inclined towards picture quality, they have several filters to keep the quality at the maximum. However, the process consumes extra time, which results in a higher input lag. In the case of monitors, the signal processing is done mainly at the console level, so they do not suffer from higher input lag.
Higher input lag will slow down the gameplay, like a button press will take more time to have an effect on the screen. Monitors with low input lag will not have any such issue. Any input signal like button press will instantly reflect on the screen, thereby making the game fluid and actions smoother.
As far as TVs are concerned, they tackle the higher input lag with the game mode feature. When enabled, the game mode can bring the input lag from 50 ms to 20 ms. While a significant reduction, it’s still very far from any standard gaming monitor, which generally have an input lag value of around 10 ms.
So the lower the input lag, the better it will be for gaming. If you are a hardcore gamer and looking for high-performance, monitors beat TV and provide a much better gaming experience.
Gaming monitors employ adaptive sync technology to reduce tearing and stuttering. The adaptive sync technology maintains a balance between the screen refresh rate and the GPU’s frame rate, thereby keeping the gameplay smooth and eliminating and tearing or stuttering.
The AMD Free sync and NVIDIA G-sync offer the adaptive sync functionality but are dependent on the graphic card in use. Handling of tearing and stuttering on TVs are very different from monitors and also not as effective. However, you can find some high-end TVs which offer adaptive sync technologies, but you would have to spend considerably to get one for yourself.
Moreover, the newer breeds of gaming consoles like the Xbox Series x and the PS5 will heavily employ adaptive sync technology. Therefore, if you are gamer, your choice of gaming monitor or TVs should also take into account the future viability of the display.
Both TVs and monitors have their fair share of positives and negatives. That said, TVs do come in a more premium price range than monitors. This could be due to the higher demands and larger size as compared to monitors.
While TVs and monitors both have the premium and economy price range, the features vary significantly. You can have a high-end feature-packed monitor of a smaller size in the same budget as a TV with a larger size but unremarkable features. For those in for extensive gaming performance, monitors provide a better choice and come at a much lower price than TVs.
Based on the above comparison, monitors with their high refresh rates, lower response time, and lower input lags are clearly more suitable for gaming purposes. They are far more geared for gaming performance and have much more features to make gaming highly smooth and immersive.
However, TVs are not entirely irrelevant, and there are scenarios where TVs are a far better alternative to monitors. For example, if you are in for a visual treat on a larger size, TVs will be a better option.
Lastly, it all comes down to personal use and preferences. If you are into high-end gaming and want to take your gameplay to the next level, go with gaming monitors. Other than that, TVs are a much appropriate option for casual gaming and entertainment purposes.