Introduction: Use an LCD Monitor As a TV Without a Computer

Picture of Use an LCD Monitor As a TV Without a Computer

LCD TVs have come down in price, but not enough. If you have a cable box, than your tv tuner is in the that box, not in the tv, so then why buy a tv with a tuner you will never use? Believe it or not you can save almost $200 when you buy a computer monitor instead of a tv.

Step 1: Make Sure You Have All the Necessary Things

Picture of Make Sure You Have All the Necessary Things

To start, make sure that your cable or satellite provider offers a cable box with DVI or HDMI output. Next, you need speakers. Any kind will do, but it needs to accept RCA audio cables (or digital, whatever kind of sound cable your cable box uses). I used a small sony stereo with a remote. If you picked a cable box with an HDMI output you will need an HDMI to DVI Cable (If your monitor has HDMI input you don't need that, but most do not).

Step 2: Choosing a Display

Picture of Choosing a Display

Now for the most important step, choosing a display. There are a few requirements for the monitor. First, it MUST be HDCP Compliant (High Definition Content Protection, think TV DRM). Next, it must have a DVI or HDMI input. It doesn't have to, but I recommend getting a widescreen monitor. Also, make sure that it can display at Least 720p (use This image to make sure). I used a dell E207WFP which I will be using as an example for setup. It can display up to 720p and is cheap with a picture rivaling most high end HDTVs.

Step 3: Setting It All Up

Picture of Setting It All Up

The exact cable setup will be different for everyone, but the diagram below is the basic idea

Now the setup. If you don't see a picture on your display do not panic! Your cable box is probably trying to display a resolution which your monitor can not display. Find out how to enter HD setup mode, or change the maximum resolution (for Explorer cable boxes turn off the box and hold guide and info at the same time). After you find the instructions, Follow the them to change the maximum resolution to the resolution of your monitor (most likely 720p). Also, if the cable box says your monitor is not HDCP compliant, either you bought the wrong kind of monitor, or it is like my setup which flashes that message everytime I turn on the monitor, but only for half a second or so.

Step 4: Other Things

Picture of Other Things

You can wall mount your monitor, tiger direct has a good mount, but it doesn't swivel. I got it, and it was easy to setup and install. Also you can connect your computer to the monitor for an extra usage. I also chose to connect the power cable of my monitor to my cable box so I could turn it off and on by turning my cable box off and on via remote. This may not be a feature on all cable boxes. My monitor also happens to return to its last state when it is plugged in (So if I turn the cable box off when it was on, when I turn the cable box on again, the monitor will turn on). This also may not be true of your monitor, but it is easy to test. Just leave your monitor on and unplug it, if it turns back on when you plug it in, then this trick will work.

Step 5: Downsides and Conclusion

So far there are only two downsides. One, you are limited to the consoles you can attach, but a switch or a cable box with inputs will fix that. So far, the combination of my cable box and computer have allowed me to watch pretty much anything on my display.

Also, you can not turn the TV on and off with a remote unless your cable box features a built in plug (or you buy a remote control surge protector, I think Belkin makes one). Everything else (volume, channel, etc) is on the remote which controls my cable box.

So, if you want an LCD TV without the price, and can deal with some minor inconveniences, this is a great option but if you want a lot of inputs, 1080p and a huge 50" TV this is probably not for you.

Check me out on flickr if you liked the project!


TaraS91 (author)2017-01-24

I have no cable, just using a router &modem with a roku. what else will I need?

DarklingGolem50 made it! (author)TaraS912017-08-10

Note: That Middle Box is an HDMI Audio Extractor

If Your Roku has a Composite Out. Plug the composite Red and White to the Speakers. if your monitor has a Headphone Out. Just Plug it to the speakers if you cant buy an HDMI Extractor Thingy

ChristianM276 (author)2017-06-11

As a movie enthusiast, I would choose a big screen TV with a built-in USB player and surround system. But if I'am only a TV enthusiast, I'm willing to choose a PC monitor with speakers over small TVs. This idea is perfect for those who can't afford flat screen TVs, just to save energy or want a TV just to watch TV shows using external TV tuner, but its more complicated to set up. Converters or adapters made PC monitors usable as TVs and old TVs as PC monitor.

185Patel (author)2017-04-24

I have LCD moniter with VGA, DC, AUDIO port only how can convert into tv plz reply soon

JaviS54 (author)2017-01-29

I have a monitor with only one HDMI input, I have all inputs connected through a receiver and output to the monitor, no issues.

TaraS91 (author)2017-01-24

I only have a router and modem for wifi, no cable box. will I still need a stereo? my monitor has built in speakers.

JoeV67 (author)2016-10-14

Hi, i have philips led monitor but it has on 2 cable outlets .. 1 is power and another for VGA cable .. how should i convert it into tv..

AleksandarP29 (author)JoeV672016-11-11

did you get it to work i have the same problem

AleksandarP29 (author)2016-11-11

hi i have a philips pc monitor with VGA cable i want to buy the V88 tv box the v88 has a hdmi and usb ports where to find vga to hdmi 10 meter cable or should i use vga to usb cable for the ports thanks

MarkR262 (author)2016-06-28


I just got a new box with HDMI out and a new LG monitor with HDMI in. When I hook it up the video comes in great but I can't get the volume to work. I tried plugging the box into another tv and the volume works fine. I tried changing the HDMI cable still with no luck. I know that HDMI should work for video and volume but doesn't in this case - any thoughts?

acymar (author)MarkR2622016-06-29

Check whether your monitor has build in stereo speakers. If it doesnt, even if the hdmi carries sound, the monitor will not play it

Lousywizard036 (author)acymar2016-07-27

What do I do then

DanielD4 (author)Lousywizard0362016-08-31

Get some external speakers. Your video source might have audio output jacks.

Or it might not. If you're using something like a Roku stick or a Chromecast, you will first have to plug it into an HDMI audio extractor. and then connect the audio output from that to your external speakers.

DivyJ (author)DanielD42016-09-19

What to do if my Samsung 933 LCD (HDMI only) has no built in speakers? I don't even have a separate audio jack in my PS-2 to play audio through it ;__;

Lousywizard036 (author)acymar2016-07-27

Cause my monitor doesn't have built in speakers

DivyJ (author)2016-09-19

My old monitor is HDMI supported, doesn't have inbuilt speakers but I want to use it as a TV for my old PS-2. What should I do??

MariN6 (author)2016-09-15

No audio
I have a hp 2009m monitor,i have connected it to directtv cable box without computer GREAT PICTURE ,but no audio..Is it possible use built in speakers? and if so how do i do that. ?

DanielD4 (author)2016-08-31

If you don't have cable and want to get OTA signals through an antenna, you can get a DTV converter box. Be sure to get one that has HDMI output, and then you can connect that to your monitor. (You might need an adapter if your monitor only has DVI or VGA inputs. DVI > VGA...HDMI = DVI plus audio.)

MahfuzulR (author)2016-08-06

I have a Samsung monitor and want to use it as only TV.... I have a tv card and other necessary things...but I have not UPS...In this case UPS is necessary or not??? Ans me plz...

NabinG (author)2016-07-11

I have a Samsung LCD monitor, and it's very basic, it has Display, power port and it has tv port on the back side of this monitor but when I connect cable to this monitor -doesn't work. I would like to convert into a TV. Please suggest me how do I convert along with what are the requirement's need to have.?

Lousywizard036 (author)2016-07-08

Some one help me please

Lousywizard036 (author)2016-07-08

My monitor doesn't have built in speakers but I have speakers hooked up to it but I can't here the sound of the tv shows

raymondjones (author)2016-06-13

i have a dvd player with a VGA ouput but my monitor keeps on giving me "no sync available"

NainglinnP made it! (author)2016-03-12

acer,model no.2387
i've tried but not me.

NainglinnP (author)NainglinnP2016-03-12

with that hd receiver

suniljack (author)2016-03-08


I have a Samsung LCD monitor, and it's very basic, it has Display and power port on the back side of this monitor. I would like to convert into a TV. Please suggest me how do I convert along with what are the requirement's need to have.?

sriachar (author)2015-09-29

if set top box didnt hvhdmi or vga port ????

BenakaK (author)2015-09-04

hi, I am not sure whether my monitor is HDCP or not. How to check this? it is an Acer monitor - X223W, 22" wide screen.

Thank you

af2005 (author)2015-09-03

Hi, I am using an aoc monitor as a tv for games but it keep turning off what can I do.

loren.topness (author)2015-02-22

Can I use a hdmi to vga cable?

joshs8 (author)loren.topness2015-03-10

Seems like you didn't get the response needed, but yes you should be able to use HDMI to VGA, granted you have the HDMI to VGA converter. HDMI and VGA are just versions of data transmission in a sense. You will still need an audio cable for sound though. There are tons of converters online and some that will come with slots for all components and digital.

Nikkicorrea (author)joshs82015-05-27

Can i use rca to vga ? I use t220 syncmaster samsung. But it seems not working. I have tv converter too. I think the problem is in yhe cable! Can u pls help me? Thanks need asap response

JenniferM7 (author)2015-01-22

Dumb question here - can a DVD player be hooked up? Is Blue Ray an issue?

joshs8 (author)JenniferM72015-03-10

Yes a DVD player can be hooked up...Dvd players are usually set one way and only have video/audio out, in which you can hook it up to any display that recognizes Conponent or Digital

JenniferM7 (author)joshs82015-03-10

Thank you! (author)2015-02-26

is there any displayer that just only displays what it is connected? I want small one, like a smartphone sized... and it doesn't have to have like menu button to control like sounds etc.. I just need to turn it on and off. :)

myadav3 (author)2013-02-13

Hi, I am looking to turn my dell monitor into a tv.without using cpu is that possible if yes than plz tell me how....

i have something perfect for that you might be interested with. also
very affordable price. find me at

awilliams90 (author)2013-08-26

i need a simple way to use my acer x163w widescreen monitor as a tv that will connect to a DVD Player or something simple? Please can anybody help???

i have something perfect for that you might be interested with. also very affordable price. find me at

SreejithE (author)2014-08-14

can i use i ball claro tv model no ctv 27 tuner with 27" LED monitor to use as LED tV which monitor is suitable for it..?? pls suggest which one is the cheapest 27"/32"LED monitor

girishta (author)2013-07-29

Hi Atomic16,

I need to make a TV setup for using a monitor. Give me the best configurations with brands which to opt so that my purpose is met. Will the LG 3D monitor suit ? Am in India .. please share your valuable opinion.


scvetkovski1 (author)2013-07-05

Ok.I have this problem now.
I have a Cable box which has only SCART and Composite video outputs.It also has 2pin stereo output for the sound.I only want to get a clear picture.On my 24' lcd monitor i have 3 inputs.2 x hdmi and 1 x vga.What do you suggest for me?Can i use scart to vga cable to accomplish this or?

wizard31 (author)2013-05-05

Would a simple Roku not be the best way?

myadav3 (author)2013-02-13

Hi, I am looking to turn my dell monitor into a tv.without using cpu is that possible if yes than plz tell me how....

midwesth (author)2012-04-21

Yeah but theres a common misconception. Most HDTVs arent really "HD" without "HD" channels. A monitor still gives the better edge in this regard. Btw, I found this on eBay: LG 42" LCD FHD starting at $500. Retails for $1400 brand new.

Any thoughts on this?

The link is:

IdahoErnest (author)2011-01-23

The best bet today is a HDTV with everything built in ready to go, shop around and you will be surprised at how low priced they are.

DiamondBack (author)IdahoErnest2011-05-21

Agreed. Compare 42 inch LCD's - both monitors and HDTV's. I can buy a tv for ABOUT $2-300 cheaper.

But, for those wishing to use what they already have, understandably, the person would only need to re-read this instructable, to know what they need. Basically, it comes down to needing an HD cable box, your LCD monitor, and something to use for speakers

Cable box will have either, or most likely both, a DVI output and an HDMI output. Choose one to connect to your monitor, with the correct cable (and one that's also the correct length, of course). IF YOU DO NOT HAVE AN HD CABLE BOX, you WILL need an HDTV decoder. FYI, I actually thought I'd give it a try, with my basic cable box, and ordered a component RCA-to-VGA cable. All I got was green. IN OTHER WORDS, there isn't a cable made that will convert a video signal to use with your monitor

Speaker attachment will be via the RCA outputs on the cable box. RCA cables will attach directly to the speakers (if your cable box is amplified), or more likely to a receiver of some sort, which will then be connected to your speakers. This is where I would take advantage of today's technology, and attach a 5.1 or even a 7.1 surround receiver

A good read -

adavila3 (author)DiamondBack2011-09-12

"FYI, I actually thought I'd give it a try, with my basic cable box, and ordered a component RCA-to-VGA cable. All I got was green. IN OTHER WORDS, there isn't a cable made that will convert a video signal to use with your monitor"

I bought a YPbPr - Composite video cable to VGA and hooked up my cable box and LCD monitor together and got the green screen you spoke of but then I went into the monitor settings and changed the color format option to YPbPr and the colors then displayed the way it should. So far my LCD monitor has been working with my cable box this way for a couple of months.
Only thing is your monitor has to have that option in the color format section for YPbPr, I know some monitors do not have that feature.
This is the cable I bought:
It cost me $1.00

aman81 (author)adavila32012-02-28

i bought same cable but i can not got display on my lcd moniter.please tell me how to set i need to attach a computer.please.thanks

About This Instructable




More by atomic16:Use an LCD Monitor as a TV Without a Computer
Add instructable to: