Knowing how to connect your computer to a TV is an essential skill, especially in this era of cord-cutting and 4K gaming. There are a few methods you can use, each with their own advantages and disadvantages, so we’ve gone ahead and put together a quick guide that should help you get your PC and TV working together in harmony.
First off , you’re going to need an HDTV, which is to say, a flatscreen TV — here are some of our favorites. If you have an old CRT, one of the big ones with a heavy glass tube inside, you’re pretty much out of luck and chances are your desktop or laptop monitor is already a higher quality display.
The simplest solution is often best
Hands-down the quickest, easiest way to get your TV hooked up to a desktop or laptop is to just plug them right into one another. You have a couple options here though, so let’s walk through them.
First, using a plain old HDMI cord will get the job done just fine. Chances are your PC or laptop has at least one HDMI port, and your HDTV should have at least one as well. If you’ve ever plugged a game console or cable box into your TV, you should have at least one HDMI cord handy.
Here’s what HDMI cords look like. There are a few different HDMI standards out there but the ports themselves are shaped the same no matter how old or new they are. For our purposes, you won’t really need to worry about things like HDMI 2.0, unless you’re planning on getting some 4K gaming on. In which case, check out our breakdown of what all you get when you invest in the latest HDMI technology.
One other quick note here, all HDMI cables are created equal. If you need to go pick one up at an electronics store, don’t be taken in by extravagant claims by companies like Monster Cables. That $5 store-brand cable achieves the same result as one that runs $80 and will get the job done just as well. For a deeper look at HDMI cables, we spoke to an expert on the subject.
Now that you have a cable, all you need to do is plug it into your TV, then plug the other end into your desktop or laptop. Most laptops have HDMI ports nowadays, but if you have a super-thin ultrabook like the Asus Zenbook 3 Deluxe or MacBook Pro, you might need to plug that HDMI cable into an adapter like this.
Otherwise, you should be good to go. Use your TV’s remote to cycle between its HDMI ports, till you find the one you plugged your PC into. Most TVs have an HDMI or Input button that will list all of the ports currently in use on your TV, so just cycle through them till you find your PC. There you go, that’s it, you’re all set.
Wireless, but limited
Sometimes a long cable just isn’t enough. Maybe you have an unusual TV setup, or your desktop is just too big to lug around, and you really need to get this done wirelessly. In that case, you have a few options available to you, but they’re each a little tricky.
First up, you can use the Microsoft Wireless Display Adapter, if you’re running Windows 10 on your PC. It’ll run you $40 or $50, depending on where you get it, but it will get the job done if all you need to do is share your desktop screen. It’s quick enough to watch movies, but gaming is pretty much out of the question. Anything that runs at more than 30 frames per second gets garbled and quickly becomes unwatchable or unplayable.
That said, it’s easy enough to set up. Just plug it into your TV’s HDMI port, and plug its little USB jack into one of your TV’s USB ports. Then, from your computer (which should be running Windows 10), click on your notification center on the bottom-right corner of your screen, from there click on the Connect button.
The Microsoft Wireless Display Adapter should show up as a remote display in the next menu that pops up, from there just click connect and you’re all done.
Additionally, you can do something similar using a Chromecast, to cast directly to your TV from Google Chrome on MacOS or Windows 10. All you need to do is plug your Chromecast into your TV, make sure it’s all setup — here’s our guide on how to get that done — and then fire up Chrome on your computer.
Click the little sideways ellipses at the end of your search bar, and then click Cast. From there, select your Chromecast, and that’s it!.