Categories
Interior

How to play pc games on your tv

Looking to hook your non-4K PC up to a 4K TV? Here’s how to set up your gaming rig and customize settings in order to get the best resolution and performance possible.

How to play pc games on your tv

Gaming monitors are great, but it’s hard to beat that beautiful 4K television you have in the living room. With a good controller and Steam Big Picture mode, you can have a great PC gaming experience right on your TV.

But most TVs today are 4K, and that presents a few challenges—especially if you don’t have the money to throw down on a 4K-capable gaming rig. TVs released in 2021 will see more gaming-centric HDMI 2.1 features than ever, like variable refresh rate and automatic low latency mode. But even without one of those sets, you can get your games looking (and performing) great with a few simple tweaks.

Plug Into the Right Ports

Before you do anything else, make sure you plug your PC into the right HDMI port. Some TVs only support 4K at 60Hz on certain inputs, and even if your computer can’t support 4K games at 60 frames per second, you’re still going to want as much bandwidth as you can get. So check your TV’s manual or the input labels on the back, and plug your PC into a port that supports 4K resolutions at 60Hz, ideally through HDMI 2.0 or (if available) 2.1.

If you have trouble, you may want to try a different cable as well—preferably one labeled Premium High Speed or 18Gbps for HDMI 2.0, and Ultra Premium High Speed or 48Gbps for HDMI 2.1, as described in our cable guide.

Turn on Game Mode

I recommend setting your TV to Game Mode. This can seriously decrease input lag, so your controls feel fluid and responsive instead of like slogging through molasses. You may have to dig around your TV’s settings to find it, since it’s different for every TV (and some cheaper sets may not even have the option), but Game Mode is generally worth the effort.

If you have an newer TV, it may have an option to switch into Game Mode automatically, but if you don’t, there are a few ways you might be able to imitate this feature. For example, if you have your PC and consoles plugged into a receiver with dual outputs, you can plug both those outputs into your TV—with one of your TV’s inputs set to Game Mode and the other set to the classic movie mode.

If you have a universal remote like one of Logitech’s Harmony series, you might be able to program a series of button presses that turns game mode on and off when you invoke the activity for your gaming machines. Imitating auto-game mode will vary from setup to setup, but it’s worthwhile if you don’t want to turn it on manually every time.

Set Your TV’s Input Settings

Every input on your TV has a few of its own special settings, and you may need to tweak a few for optimal output. For example, if you label the input as “PC” instead of “Game Console,” you may get better picture quality (though how this is implemented varies from set to set, so try it on and off to see which you prefer).

You will also probably want to turn on HDR mode for that input (which may be called HDMI UHD Color, HDMI Deep Color, or something similar), even if you don’t plan on playing any HDR games. For more on HDR gaming on PCs, check out our guide to using HDR in Windows 10.

If you find that the taskbar is getting cut off along the bottom of the screen, you will also want to turn off any overscan settings on your TV. You may have to do a bit of Googling for your specific TV model to figure out its best PC settings, but the results are worth it. Aspect ratio and picture size might also be the culprit; set the TV to Just Scan, 1:1, or As Is.

Use Resolution Scaling, if Available

Here’s where things get interesting. Not everyone has a PC powerful enough for 4K gaming, but if your TV is 4K, you don’t want to just set your PC’s resolution to 1080p, since certain things will look fuzzy. Instead, you’ll want your PC to output a 4K resolution at all times, after which we can use a few tricks to scale your games up from a lower resolution—similar to what the Xbox One X and PS4 Pro do. You will get a better overall picture than just running your PC at 1080p, but with similar performance.

First, right-click the Windows desktop and choose Display Settings. Scroll down to Display Resolution and set it to 3,840 by 2,160 (it should say “Recommended” in parentheses next to it). This will ensure your PC is outputting a 4K signal.

Launch a game and enter its video or display settings. Ideally, it will have a setting called Resolution Scaling (sometimes called Render Scale or something similar). This setting is usually a percentage value, and it will render the game’s graphics at a lower resolution while keeping other parts of the UI at a super sharp 4K.

For example, you would set your game’s resolution to 3,840 by 2,160, then change resolution scaling to 70%, which will give you the performance of running the game at 2,688 by 1,512 with sharper mini-maps and HUD elements.

Some games might have even more options for bridging this gap, like Watch Dogs 2’s Temporal Filtering or Doom Eternal’s Adaptive Resolution, which can adjust resolution on-the-fly to keep you at a certain framerate. Experiment with these options, when you find them, to see what you like best. Just make sure Windows and the game are set to 3,840 by 2,160 before you go tweaking other stuff.

Create Custom Resolutions

Sadly, not all games have the above scaling features. For games that don’t, you can fall back on a slightly more complex trick.

By default, your TV probably only recognizes a few 16:9 resolutions: 1,920 by 1,080 (aka 1080p), 2,560 by 1,440 (aka 1440p), and 3,840 by 2,160 (4K). By creating a few custom resolutions in between these standards, though, you can make the graphics look nicer without tanking your performance.

I recommend picking a few resolutions from this list. If your graphics card can handle 1080p gaming but struggles at 1440p, for example, you might choose to add 2,176 by 1,224 or 2,432 by 1,368. If your computer can handle 1440p but 4K is just too much, 2,944 by 1,656 and 3,200 by 1,800 are popular options that look almost as good as 4K without as big a performance hit.

What card you have will change how you set custom resolutions:

Nvidia: If you’re using an Nvidia card, right-click on the Nvidia icon in your system tray and click the Nvidia Control Panel option. Under Adjust Desktop Size and Position, change the Perform Scaling On drop-down to GPU, set the Scaling Mode to Aspect Ratio, and check the Override The Scaling Mode box.

How to play pc games on your tv

Both Android TVs and Samsung TVs now let you play your PC games on a smart TV via the free Steam Link app. Here we’re going to show you how you can play PC games on your Smart TV.

Steam is the dominant platform of PC gaming. And while some may be wary of its tight grip on PC, it’s justified that position through a steady rollout of great gamer-friendly features. One of the best developments of recent years is Steam Link and Remote Play.

The former lets you stream PC games from your PC to other devices, including your smart TV, while the latter lets you play your PC games on other devices even when you’re not on the same network!

  • For best performance, you should have both your main PC and your TV connected to the internet via an ethernet cable. That failing, you should consider a homeplug adapter, which will still offer a more stable connection than Wi-Fi.
  • You can also use this method to play non-Steam games (and even emulated console games) by adding them to your Steam library.

Enable Remote Play and Steam Link

First, make sure that Remote Play is enabled on the PC from which you want to stream your games. Open Steam on that PC, click “Steam -> Settings -> Remote Play” and make sure the “Enable Remote Play” box is checked.

How to play pc games on your tv

At this point, if there are any non-Steam games you may want to play through your TV, add them to Steam by clicking “Add a Game” at the bottom left corner of Steam, and “Add a Non-Steam Game”. Select all the games you want to add, then click “Add Selected Programs”.

How to play pc games on your tv

Next, download the Steam Link app on your TV. If you have an Android TV, download the Steam Link app through the Play Store on the TV. On a Samsung TV, you’ll find the Steam Link app in the Samsung Smart Hub.

Connect Controller to TV

Connect Controller via Bluetooth

Now it’s time to connect your gamepad to your TV. Most TVs have Bluetooth, and you should be able to go to your TV’s Settings, find the Bluetooth option, then search for your controller. Your controller will need to be in pairing mode for your TV to find it.

How to play pc games on your tv

  • To put an Xbox 360/One controller into pairing mode, press the Xbox button so it’s slowly flashing, then hold the pairing button on the top side of the controller until the Xbox button light starts flashing more rapidly.
  • To put a PS4 controller into pairing mode, press and hold the PlayStation and Share buttons on the controller until the light bar starts flashing rapidly.

Your controller should appear as discovered on your TV screen. Select it using your remote control, and it will connect to your TV.

Connect Controller Another Way

How to play pc games on your tv

If your TV doesn’t have Bluetooth, an alternative is to plug your controller into it using a USB cable. Or, if you’re really set on going wireless you can get a wireless dongle like the 8Bitdo Bluetooth Adapter, which plugs into the back of your TV then transmits a Bluetooth signal to your controller.

Conclusion

With your PC on, Remote Play enabled and a controller connected, you should now be able to go into the Steam Link app on your smart TV and play your PC games. If the quality isn’t right or performance choppy, consider turning down the Quality setting from Beautiful to Balanced or Fast in the Steam Link app on your TV.

Content Manager at Make Tech Easier. Enjoys Android, Windows, and tinkering with retro console emulation to breaking point.

Jackbox, a purveyor of party games, is best seen on a TV for the excitement of watching your silly drawings, clever wit, and inside jokes play out on the big screen. And whether you realize it or not, you likely already have access to one of many methods available for playing a Jackbox party pack or standalone game on a TV.

But before you learn how to play through your TV, you’ll want to confirm which games are compatible with your device. This will help you make the best decision setting up play through your big screen. To do this, just click on the game or party pack you want to purchase and scroll to the compatibility section beneath the game or pack’s description. If you see your platform or device listed, you’re ready to buy.

Once you’ve made your purchase, ensure you also have a device like another iPad, computer, or smartphone available to log into Jackbox.TV, as that’s how you’ll enter your answers, make your drawings, and vote on the best of the bunch each round.

Here’s how you can play Jackbox on a TV.

How to play Jackbox on a TV with a gaming console

If you own a Nintendo Switch, Playstation 3, 4, or 5, Xbox One, or Xbox Series S/X, these consoles all support hosting some or all of the games in the Jackbox catalog through their respective stores. Download Jackbox games to your console and, if an HDMI cable is required, connect it from your TV to your console to play — just like you would with other games.

How to play Jackbox on a TV with a streaming device

Jackbox can also be played directly on Apple TV and iPad with the app version. To play the game on your iPad, you want to mirror it to your Apple TV using AirPlay. For iPad users with Google Home, you can also cast the game on your TV through the app’s built-in mirroring tool.

Amazon Fire TV users can simply purchase the Jackbox app from Amazon and play straight from their TV, while Android TV users can also purchase the Jackbox app in the Google Play Store and start having fun through their compatible TVs.

How to play Jackbox on a TV with a computer

The Steam, Humble, and Fanatical gaming platforms all have Jackbox available to download for PC, Mac, and Linux users. Epic Games also offers Jackbox for PC and Mac devices. Once purchased, you’ll be able to access the games from your purchase library.

To play games from these platforms on your TV, you’d just need to connect your computer to your TV with an HDMI cord, use screen-mirroring tools from AirPlay on your Mac, or cast from your Mac or PC with Chromecast.

We’ve shown you how to build a living room PC , but where do you go from there? Early last week, while playing Borderlands 3 with some friends, it dawned on me: I basically use my PC like a console—and that’s really weird! Seriously, I’ve got an MSI Trident X Plus with an Intel Core i9-9700K and an Nvidia GeForce RTX 2080 Ti and it never leaves my living room. Because I spend all day sitting at my desk during the week, I’d rather avoid hanging around this shithole (my desk!) after work.

By the time my shift ends and I am once again free to wander around the apartment, I’m tired of looking at Bad Screen and SO ready to get to my couch and start looking at Good Screen. And, to be honest, I mean it when I say Bad vs Good screen because my monitor legitimately sucks compared to my TV. While it does have 4K and HDR capabilities, I bought it on a whim one Black Friday two(?) years ago and neglected to consider the panel tech. Needless to say, it’s a TN (twisted nematic) display and the viewing angles leave A LOT to be desired.

It’s telling that Amazon no longer sells the monitor I’m referring to, the BenQ EL2870U, and has swapped it out for what seems to be a superior model. I’m talking about the BenQ EX2780Q, a 1440p 144Hz IPS (bless) gaming monitor with a built-in 2.1-channel speaker and 5W subwoofer—whaaaaaat. Oh, what I’d trade for an IPS monitor right now as I’m looking head-on at my TN writing this. The 4K resolution is first on my personal chopping block. There are few things less necessary for a 27-inch screen to have.

As for the display I use now, if you can find one on sale, the 65″ Vizio M-Series TV is my weapon of choice . Its native SmartCast operating system is slow, clunky, and terrible to navigate (like most smart TVs if we’re being honest), but once you’re equipped with a proper set-top box , it’s smooth sailing from there. Just plug it into your PC via HDMI and you’re good to go . sort of. Once you’ve switched inputs, you might then realize using Windows with the same mechanical keyboard you use at your Gamer Station is not fun and actually pretty cumbersome.

To some extent, you can solve this problem by setting your PC to boot straight into Steam Big Picture mode at launch; friend of the blog Eric Ravenscraft taught us all how to do this back in 2014. Although you might say it’s kind of dated now, this six-year-old guide from Lifehacker will show you how it’s done. He’ll also tell you how to bypass the password login screen. Not sure that part is up to date, but if you need some help, leave a comment or hit me up directly on Twitter . We’ll figure this thing out together.

How to Roll Your Own Steam Machine with Windows and Big Picture

Ever since Valve introduced SteamOS, the PC gaming community has been eager to see what a video…

For the purpose of toggling between launchers, sorting through your games, pressing the big button that says ‘Play’ and literally nothing else, I recommend the Corsair K83 . Designed to be used in tandem with your living room PC, the K83 keyboard comes with a USB dongle you can secure directly in your motherboard or stick inside your case ports. Either way, its connectivity over Bluetooth or 2.4GHz wireless is pretty fickle to say the least. Deffo hold onto that wired cable extension cable just in case. Otherwise, this thing sure beats slapping an unwieldy mechanical keyboard and SEPARATE mouse on your lap every time you want to boot up a game. It’s expensive, sure, but well worth the convenience.

Like I said, though, you don’t want to use the Corsair K83 for gaming unless you’re playing something like Disco Elysium in which case quick reflexes don’t matter as much, so WHO CARES if you’re playing with a shitty trackpad. No one will ever find out. Your secret is safe with me. For everything else, like Borderlands 3 co-op for example, you’ll want a controller. I know, I know, gaming mice are better for aiming in first-person shooters and essential gear for competitive RTS and MOBA players.

But if you’re a certified Pro Gamer™, why did you keep reading past the part where I said I bought a pre-built PC? Check and mate. As far as controllers go, you can’t go wrong with the Xbox Elite. Whereas I’m stuck in the past like an old man who simply can’t get with the program, hanging on for dear life to my OG Elite series uno, I’m told the Elite Series 2 is now all the rage. To pair it with your PC wirelessly, you’ll need a special adapter. I’ve been through 4-5 of these at this point and it never gets easier to not break these little guys. However, it’s entirely possible I’m just too reckless with the boys to keep my dongles intact.

Today’s Best Tech Deals

Picked by PCWorld’s Editors

Top Deals On Great Products

Picked by Techconnect’s Editors

Playing games on your PC is fantastic if you have the right hardware. Sure, playing console games on a big-screen HDTV is convenient when you have a group of friends gaming together, but games will always look better on a gaming PC with a beefy graphics card and plenty of extra RAM. Hooking your PC up to your TV is also a great way to play pixel-perfect re-creations of classic console games on your HDTV, the way they were meant to be played. This guide will walk you through what to do to get those pixels in order, no matter the emulator or the TV.

Using an HDTV as a Monitor

Let’s begin by assuming that you’ve just plugged your TV into your Windows 7 PC as an additional monitor. For this step, usually all you have to do is connect an HDMI cable from the HDMI port on your graphics card to the HDMI input on your HDTV. If you don’t have the luxury of owning a PC and a TV with HDMI ports, however, you’ll need to buy an adapter cable that accommodates your unique hardware situation.

Once your TV and PC are connected, turn both on, and then right-click anywhere on your Windows 7 desktop and click Screen Resolution. In that dialog box you should see one more monitor icon than you’re used to, which represents your HDTV; if your PC does not detect your TV as an additional display, you may need to configure your TV for HDMI-out or PC-out mode.

In the Display drop-down menu, select your TV as a monitor (the name can vary, but if it’s the only display other than your main one, it will be numbered as ‘2’). Next, change the ‘Multiple displays’ setting to Extend desktop to this display. Now take a look at your TV–if you see an improperly stretched version of your desktop wallpaper, you’re on the right track.

Hook your TV up to your PC, and extend your desktop to it just as you would do for any other monitor.

Next, make sure that your TV is set to the highest possible resolution, which likely will be either 1280 by 720 (720p) or 1920 by 1080 (1080p). You should perform this step because LCD and plasma HDTVs do not look good at anything lower than their native resolution. It’s a no-brainer for playing modern PC games such as Civilization 5, but even if you’re emulating classic console games on your PC and you’re (understandably) concerned that a Sega Genesis game designed to run in 320 by 240 will not look right in 1080p, turn your HDTV up to its maximum resolution. Trust me: You’ll get much better fidelity by doing the image scaling in software rather than trying to force your TV into a resolution that approximates the native resolution of classic games.

The only instance in which you might not want to max out the resolution is if you have an HD CRT (you lucky, lucky person with your 90-pound piece of furniture, you), in which case lower resolutions may look just fine.

While you have the Screen Resolution dialog box open, here’s one last tip you ought to know. See the ‘Make this my main display’ option? You may need to enable that when you’re trying to run some console emulators in full screen on your PC, as they’ll function only on the primary display. Making your HDTV your primary display can be a pain, but it’s something you just have to tolerate.

Next page: Adjusting settings in an emulator

Thanks to Miracast technology, it is possible to project your Windows 10 desktop onto your TV, so that you and others can view your desktop on your TV screen instead of crowding around a laptop screen.

This process is called casting to a device, and it’s helpful to use during presentations, get-togethers, or movie nights. Here’s how to cast your Windows desktop to your TV.

What you’ll need to do before casting a Windows desktop to a TV

Before you begin casting, a few requirements must be met for the process to work.

1. Your television must be a smart TV and have its Wi-Fi capabilities turned on in order to successfully cast your computer screen to your TV. Your smart TV must also be connected to the same Wi-Fi network as your computer. (The only exception is if you’re using an HDMI cable to project your desktop – more on that later.)

2. Both your smart TV and your computer should have Bluetooth enabled.

3. Make sure that your smart TV and your computer both support Miracast. You can check this using the Connect app, which can be found under the Start menu on your Windows 10 computer.

4. Update your TV’s and computer’s drivers to make sure they are the most recent version.

5. Make sure your TV isn’t an Apple TV – the method to cast on an Apple TV is different from that of other smart TVs, and this guide won’t be completely applicable to an Apple TV.

Once you’ve met all of these prerequisites, you can start casting.

How to cast a Windows 10 desktop to a smart TV

1. Depending on the type of TV remote you have, press the “Home” or “Input” button.

2. Using the remote, select “Screen mirroring” or “Project” depending on which kind of casting you wish to do. You may need to select “Apps” first, depending on your TV model.

3. On your computer, go to the settings menu, and select “Devices.”

4. Underneath “Bluetooth & other devices,” click on “Add Bluetooth or other device.”

4. Click “Wireless display or dock.”

5. In the menu that appears, click on your smart TV to begin casting.

Another method to cast to a smart TV

1. On your computer, make sure both “Network discovery” and “File and printer sharing” are enabled.

2. Right-click on the media you wish to cast, such as a video file.

3. Click on “Cast to Device” and then click on the device you wish to cast to. Keep in mind that this method doesn’t work with every smart TV, though.

Other ways to cast your desktop to your TV

If all else fails, you can still cast your Windows desktop to your TV using an HDMI cable, a third-party Miracast adapter, or a Google Chromecast device. The HDMI cable and Chromecast plug-in options also don’t require that your television is a smart TV, unlike other methods.

It’s cheap and simple to get a lot more screen real estate for your PC or Mac. Here’s everything you need.

If you’re getting bored or annoyed with your laptop’s tiny screen during the coronavirus lockdown, maybe you should try using your big TV as a monitor instead. It’s great being able to sit back on your sofa and surf the web, play PC games or stream video from apps not available on your TV. Or maybe you just want a bigger view for video chat while you’re stuck at home.

Using your TV as a monitor has downsides too. Text might be too small to see, input lag might ruin your gaming scores, and while the couch may seem comfy, it may turn into a neck ache when put into service as an office chair. And then there’s the mouse, trackpad and keyboard to worry about. But going PC-to-TV works well in many situations, and the best part is that it’s cheap (or free) depending on what gear you already have.

Mirroring vs. extending

Mirroring means putting the same content on both your laptop’s screen and the TV. It’s more common and generally easier than screen extending — where you see different content on both, making the TV an extension of your laptop’s screen. Extending is useful for things like having a YouTube video running on the TV while you’re working on a spreadsheet on your laptop. It’s a bit more involved but still possible depending on your equipment. Mostly we’ll be talking about mirroring in this article.

Read more: Best TV for 2020

The easiest way: Wired HDMI

The most basic PC-to-TV connection consists of running a wire from your computer to the HDMI input on your TV. If you have an older TV and an older laptop, there are options like VGA, but that’s basically the Dark Ages at this point.

Laptops and PCs have a bunch of different connections, so which wire or adapter you’ll need to run depends on what computer you have. If you’re not sure, check the manual or Google the model to determine its specs. Here’s the rundown.

From top to bottom: HDMI, DisplayPort and Mini DisplayPort connectors.

Full-sized HDMI: If you’re lucky, your laptop has a full-sized HDMI output, so you can use a standard HDMI cable to run to your TV.

Mini- or micro-HDMI: These smaller versions of HDMI just need an adapter, or a cable that has a regular HDMI at the other end, to connect directly to your TV.

Thunderbolt, DisplayPort or Mini DisplayPort: All of these usually work with HDMI as well. Thunderbolt is found on many laptops. The first two versions of the connector were the same as Mini DisplayPort, so Mini DisplayPort-to-HDMI cables or adapters should work. Newer versions use the same connectors as USB-C (see the next section). Full-sized DisplayPort is common to Windows PCs. Again, you’ll need an adapter or cable with this type of connection on one end and HDMI on the other.

USB-C port: Many modern laptops have only this kind of connection. Usually you’ll just need an adapter (USB-C to HDMI) and it will work fine, but sometimes it might not work at all. MacBooks from the last few years should work, as will Microsoft Surface laptops and many others. Note that USB-C uses the same physical connection as Apple’s Thunderbolt 3 . Check your computer’s specs to double check what connector/adapter you might need.

A USB-C-to-HDMI cable, and the various devices that it’s possible to connect.

More wired tips: There are so many varieties of laptops out there, we can’t make a blanket statement that a particular adapter will work for your PC. If you’re not sure, Google your brand and model before you buy any kind of adapter.

Also, in some cases the quality might be diminished. You also won’t likely get HDR or 4K resolution, for example, so if you want the best image quality for videos, you should use a different method to get the videos to your TV, like a Roku or Blu-ray player.

From sharing photos with the whole family to epic gaming, using your TV as a computer monitor is awesome.

How to play pc games on your tv

So you want to share photos, watch videos, or play computer games on the expansive screen of your HDTV? On one hand, this is a really simple how-to: use HDMI!

That, of course, isn’t the whole story. Not all computers, and not all TVs, can output or input a signal via HDMI easily. There are also a few tricks to consider.

The easy
Many modern video cards have an HDMI output. This is the easiest way by far to connect a computer to a TV. I do this all the time, with my gaming home-theater PC running through my receiver to my projector. There are few things better in life than Battlefield 3 on a 102-inch screen in full surround sound . The newer video cards even output audio over HDMI, allowing single-cable hookup.

Slightly older video cards have DVI. This larger connector uses the same video transmission tech as HDMI, but lacks audio. So you’ll need audio cables to run from your PC to your receiver or TV. Some older TVs had DVI connectivity, so you can use that, too, obviously.

Any HDMI cable will work , and most new video cards come with an adapter to go from their Micro-HDMI output to a normal HDMI connector. These adapters are cheap if your computer didn’t come with one.

Still easy, less awesome
If your computer doesn’t have HDMI or DVI, it will likely have VGA (RGB-PC) analog outputs. This is the old-school computer monitor connection, and honestly, you shouldn’t use it. It will work, but rarely does it look as good as HDMI or DVI. Fine details like text (on icons, especially) can blur, making it hard to read. Still, if VGA is all you’ve got, go for it.

The trick, of course, is finding a TV with RGB-PC inputs. If your TV doesn’t have them, you’re out of luck. Despite the component input having red, green, and blue connectors, you can’t easily convert RGB to component. There are a few converter boxes out there, but they’re not cheap. A simple cable or adapter won’t work, as the video itself is different.

Related stories

  • LED LCD vs. plasma vs. LCD
  • Why all HDMI cables are the same
  • Why all HDMI cables are the same, part 2
  • Is plasma HDTV burn-in a problem?
  • Is LCD and LED LCD HDTV uniformity a problem?
  • Geoff Morrison’s HDTV and home theater resource center and infotacular

Less easy
There are numerous products available that use the USB connector to send computer video to your TV. This certainly works, but if you’re planning on using the PC for gaming, know that this method is sure to introduce lag. With first-person games, there will be a slight delay between your mouse input and what you see on screen. Personally, I find any lag unacceptable, but then I’m a pretty hard-core gamer.

It’s possible that the lag won’t be enough to distract if all you want to do is watch videos. And if you just want to show pictures, then any method will work.

Not all of these products work the same way. Read any user reviews carefully; in a quick scan of products available, I saw many users complaining of hard-to-read text, resolution problems, and other imperfections. Also make sure the product can handle a 1,920×1,080-pixel resolution.

Tips and tricks
If you’re using HDMI, the computer and TV should communicate, automatically setting the computer’s resolution to 1,920×1,080 pixels (or whatever the native resolution of your TV is). There’s no point in outputting a higher resolution than your TV can handle. In fact, forcing your TV to down-convert a higher resolution will almost certainly result in unwanted artifacts.

If you’re not sure what your TV’s native resolution is, a simple Google search of the model number should tell you. If you bought the TV in the past few years, chances are it’s 1,920×1,080 pixels.

If you’re going analog with RGB-PC, dig out your TV’s owner’s manual (or find it online). Quite often, the RGB-PC input won’t accept a full 1,920×1,080-pixel resolution. Your video card will usually detect this, but better safe than sorry.

One last tip for gamers. Running modern games at 1080p is quite taxing for the entire system. If you’re suffering from choppy frame rates and stuttering, you should be able to reduce the resolution of the game. Again, check your owner’s manual for what resolutions are supported. Dropping down to 1,280×720 pixels will probably result in an overly soft image, but it’s always supported. Many TVs might support something in the middle, like 1,360×768 or 1,600×900 pixels. These lower resolutions may look fine, while allowing your video card some breathing room.

Given how much content most of us have on our computers, being forced to watch it all on a tiny screen seems needlessly constricting. Using a large TV screen as a monitor is easy, and–especially with gaming–truly awesome.

An easy way to play PC games on your TV

Share this story

  • Share this on Facebook
  • Share this on Twitter

Share All sharing options for: How to stream PC games and movies to your Xbox One with a free app

How to play pc games on your tv

If you own a Windows 10 PC and an Xbox One gaming console, you might not be aware that those devices have some interesting cross functionality. Using Microsoft’s Wireless Display app, you can easily output the games from your Xbox One to your Windows 10 PC screen. Conversely, it’s possible to stream what’s on your PC to the TV that you’re using with your Xbox One — you can even control it from the Xbox One console. Getting it set up is surprisingly simple.

One note, though: This is a wireless-only feature. Because the app uses Miracast to stream the content from your PC, you’ll need to make sure that both the Windows 10 PC and Xbox One are on the same Wi-Fi network.

How to stream your PC to your Xbox One

Any Windows 10 PC that can connect to Wi-Fi will support casting to a wireless display, but you’ll need to download a free app for the Xbox One.

  • Navigate on the console to the Microsoft Store (or simply click this link) and download the Wireless Display app.
  • Once the app is installed on the console, open it up. It will display a message saying that your console is now ready to be connected to your PC. The app also mentions a very helpful hint to keep in mind: the controller can switch between gamepad and keyboard / mouse control modes by pressing the menu and view buttons (the two buttons beneath the backlit Xbox logo on the controller).
  • Head over to your PC. Once you’re ready to stream some content, press the keyboard combo Windows + P. Alternatively, you can click the bottom right corner to open the Action Center, then click on Quick Actions. Either way, the next screen will show your console’s name.

How to play pc games on your tv

  • From here, you can choose to extend what’s on your PC monitor, duplicate it, or set the display on the Xbox One as your second screen. For my purposes, I set it as a duplicate so that my Xbox One display mirrored my PC monitor.

How to play pc games on your tv

  • Once you’re connected, you’ll see a small, movable task bar located at the top of your PC monitor and your wirelessly connected TV. This lets you adjust the quality setting (accessible by clicking the gear) between gaming, working, or movie modes. During testing, it was tough to discern the difference in visual quality between the three. I found the gaming setting is best if you’re solely playing PC games, as it has the least noticeable latency while using a controller.

How to play pc games on your tv

One tip: if you’ve got better-sounding audio connected to your TV, you can switch the audio to output there instead of your PC.

  • Tap the speaker icon on the Windows task bar.
  • Select “Digital Output [your Xbox One’s name here]”

Finally, Microsoft claims that you cannot use the Wireless Display app to display what it deems to be “protected content.” So, any encrypted video content from apps like Netflix or Hulu won’t work. However, I was able to stream anything I wanted through the Google Chrome browser. If you’re running into trouble trying to get your movie or TV shows from Netflix or Hulu to appear, I’d suggest downloading those apps for Xbox One instead.

Vox Media has affiliate partnerships. These do not influence editorial content, though Vox Media may earn commissions for products purchased via affiliate links. For more information, see our ethics policy.