In this article we'll talk about why you would want to connect your PC to your TV, exactly what you need, and how it all works.

Our most common question these days is "How do I connect my PC to my TV?". With so many different connectors, converters, cables, adapters, and who knows what else out there things very quickly get confusing. Our aim is to answer all your questions and make it easy for you to know exactly what you need to connect your PC to your TV!

If you just want to take a look at a simple chart that will show you what you need without having to read this article then then you can take a look at the Ultimate PC to TV Chart. But, if charts aren't your thing or you'd prefer a more detailed explanation then just continue reading.

Why?

First, let's talk about the "why?". Why would you want to connect your PC to your TV? There are a lot of compelling reasons, believe me! I'll make a list to give you a few ideas:

  • Watch movies and TV shows off the internet
  • View your family photos without having to crouch over a tiny computer monitor
  • Read your e-mails from the comfort of your couch
  • Work on assignments for school or job
  • Play video games on the big screen (my personal favorite!)
  • Anything else you can think of!

Where do I start?

Ok, to start we need to know two things. What kind of connection(s) do you have on your PC and what kind of connections do you have on your TV?

PC Connections

You'll need to find out what kinds of video connections your PC has first. On a desktop computer they will be located on the back of the tower, and on a laptop they will be located on the sides or back. You might have to disconnect the monitor from the computer to get a good look at the connection. Many of these connections can be converted to other types of connections if needed, and that is noted as well. Here are the common connectors:

VGA connector

VGA

This is the most common monitor connection found on computers today.

DVI-I

DVI-D

DVI

This is a newer computer monitor connection than VGA. With this DVI to VGA Adapter you can convert your DVI-I output to VGA if needed. If you have a high definition TV then you can use something like this DVI to HDMI adapter to connect directly to the TV. Please note: there are several different types of DVI. We've pictured the two most common types, and the DVI to VGA will only work with the one labeled DVI-I (but the DVI to HDMI will work with either of them). If you have DVI-I and you get the VGA adapter then everything said in this article about VGA also applies to you.

HDMI

HDMI

Many newer laptops are including this connection. Desktop computers don't often come with this connection currently but you can check just in case.

S-Video

S-Video

This connection is getting less and less common, but formerly was very frequently found on laptops. Sometimes it's easy to miss so you might want to double check to see if your computer has one. Please note: don't confuse this connector with the purple and green keyboard and mouse connectors. Although they look similar they are completely different connections.

Mini DVI

Mini-DVI

This connection is found on many Apple laptops. If needed you can convert this connection to VGA, DVI, or HDMI (<-- click on the links to see the adapter).

Mini DisplayPort

Mini DisplayPort

This is another connection found on many Apple laptops. You can also convert this connection to VGA, DVI, or HDMI (<-- click on the links to see the adapter).

TV Connections

Now that you know what kind of connection is on your computer, it's time to take a look at your TV. These connections will be located on the back of the TV (although some of these can often be found on the front as well). Here are the common connections:

HDMI

HDMI

This is found on newer HDTVs and is used for connecting high definition sources such as Blu-ray players, newer DVD players, and computers.

DVI-D

DVI

This is often found on older HDTVs that came out before HDMI was standardized, but can still be seen on some newer HDTVs.

VGA connector

VGA

Many newer HDTVs have this connection on them, and can be used to connect the PC directly to the TV.

Component

Component

Component is found on both HDTVs and standard definition TVs, but can support different resolutions depending on the TV. If you have an HD-Ready TV that doesn't have HDMI, but does have component then you'll want to see what resolutions are supported over component (most likely 480p or 720p).

Composite

Composite

This has been the standard video input for a long time and is found on almost all TVs

Coaxial

Coaxial

This is the connection typically used with cable or an antenna and some older TVs may only have this connection. If that is the case you'll need an RF Modulator, which will convert the coaxial connection to the standard composite video and audio (the yellow, white, and red connections pictured above). With an RF Modulator anything said about composite video also applies to you.

I know what connections my computer and my TV have, what next?

First, let's get the easy ones out of the way. If you're lucky enough to have the same connector on both your computer and your TV (either directly or through an adapter) then all you need is a cable to make the connection! Here are some quick links to cables by type: HDMI, DVI, VGA, S-Video. If the connections are different (as they likely are) then you'll need to read the next part to see what solution is available for your specific set-up.

This is where things can get a little complicated. For that reason we're going to divide this section into two parts. First we'll talk about standard definition TVs and then we'll talk about high-definition TVs. You'll need to know if your TV is standard definition or high-definition and if it is high-definition you'll also want to know what resolution it's capable of displaying: 720p or 1080p.

Standard Definition TVs (SDTVs)

Converters for standard definition TVs are best for watching videos or viewing photos. The reason for this is that standard definition TVs just aren't capable of displaying high resolution content like your computer monitor is, so when you're converting from the PC to the TV small text will appear fuzzy.

If your computer has a VGA output then you'll almost definitely want our standard PC to TV converter. This is our most popular converter by far. You connect to your TV either through the yellow composite video output or the S-video output, whichever your TV has. This converter includes a VGA passthrough, so you can have your monitor AND the TV connected at the same time if you're using a desktop computer that only has a single output.
If you have a VGA output and only have component inputs on your TV, or prefer using the component input, you should take a look at this converter. I've used both converters and I find the quality of this converter to be just a little bit higher than the standard PC to TV converter. It also includes a splitter cable to connect both your computer monitor and your TV at the same time.
If you have VGA output on your computer and composite or S-video inputs on your TV and prefer using a wireless adapter then this is the one to use.

High Definition TVs (HDTVs)

High definition TVs work great as an alternative to a regular monitor or as a secondary monitor because they are capable of displaying nice crisp images. You'll be able to do things like e-mail, internet, and word processing as well as watching movies or viewing photos. Let's take a look at the high definition PC to TV converters that we offer.

VGA to HDMI at 720p

If your computer has a VGA output and and your TV has an HDMI input then you'll probably want our most popular VGA to HDMI converter. It will give you a nice, crisp, 720p picture on your TV and works great for browsing the internet, reading e-mails, and more. This unit will also pass the audio over the HDMI, meaning you only need to run a single cable to your TV to get both picture and sound. This comes with everything needed except for the HDMI cable.

VGA to HDMI at 1080p

If your computer has VGA and your TV has HDMI and supports 1080p we recommend that you consider this converter. It works very well and will give you the highest possible quality on your HDTV. This unit also passes sound over the HDMI, so you don't have to worry about any extra audio cables. Although it is more expensive than the previous converter, if you are looking for the most flexible and powerful converter this is the one you want!

DVI to HDMI

If your computer has a DVI output and your TV has HDMI then you can actually get a simple DVI to HDMI cable to connect directly to your TV. You can see a list of DVI to HDMI cables here: DVI to HDMI Cables.

VGA to Component

If you have VGA and your HDTV only has component inputs then this is the converter you'll need. It converts the image to 720p. You could also use the VGA to Component adapter mentioned in the standard TV section, but it would only give give you a standard definition picture.

InternetVue PC to HDTV

If you have component inputs on your TV and prefer a wireless solution then you should take a look at this InternetVue PC to HDTV converter. This unit works over a wireless network so you'll have to have a wireless router or a computer with a wireless card to be able to use it. It converts up to 720p in "Photo" mode and 480p in "Video" mode and also has both composite and S-video outputs, making it compatible with just about any TV. The great thing about this one is that you don't need anything connected to your computer for it to work. You just have to install the included software on your computer and then connect the receiver to your TV and you're all set.

Now that I know what adapter I need for the video, what about audio?

You'll need one other cable to connect the audio from your computer to your TV, unless you're planning on using on of the converters shown above that mentions supporting sound. There are two cables that are most common for this:

Most people will need this standard Mini Stereo to RCA cable, which converts a headphone style plug to the standard red and white RCA( ) audio plugs.
The other common cable is a standard 3.5mm Mini Stereo cable.

Congrats, you made it all the way to the bottom!

Well that wraps up the Ultimate PC to TV guide. If you have any questions that weren't covered in this article feel free to give us a call at 801-356-3823 (Mon-Fri 8am-5pm Mountain Time).