Can You Use a Monitor Without a PC? (No, But…)

Can You Use a Monitor Without a PC

Monitors are a crucial part of desktop computer systems. They display visual data that has been generated by a computer and transmitted through the computer’s graphics card. These output devices often comprise a circuitry, a power supply unit, a screen, ports, and buttons. Some models come as all-in-one (AiO) computer models, embedded with CPUs.

A monitor cannot work or process information on its own, and it requires to be connected to a PC or laptop for it to work. However, without a PC, a monitor can work as a display for various devices like TV, gaming console, or android devices. Most monitors feature multiple connectivity options, including USB, VGA, DVI, and HDMI. Some come with built-in Bluetooth technology for clutter-free, wireless connectivity to smart mobile devices. 

Using Your Monitor Without a Computer

For monitors to work without computers, they need a device that will feed them a signal. HDMI connectors facilitate the swift transmission of audio and video signals through one cable. They reflect signals from compatible sources to the monitor, eliminating the need for a PC.

The two main options of using your computer monitor without a PC are:

  • Using it as an external display
  • Using it as an HD TV

How to Use a Monitor as a TV

Whether you have an old or new monitor model, converting it to a TV is easy. You simply need to connect your monitor to a TV device like satellite or cable receivers. Ensure that your TV service provider offers a box with compatible output. Monitors that support use as TVs should be High Definition Content Protection (HDCP) compliant.

Does your monitor have an HDMI port? If not, use an HDMI to VGA converter to link the monitor to a setup box. To experience apps on your display, consider connecting it to an android box. Android boxes offer access to the internet, applications, TV channels, and games. You can also use cable internet like Xfinity, Cox, and Spectrum to convert your PC monitor into a smart TV.

Connect the display to external speakers to enjoy immersive entertainment. You can mount your monitor to the wall to save space and optimize your viewing experience.

Using a Monitor With a Laptop

Do you work primarily on a laptop? Using a monitor as an external display ensures you sit at the right posture to minimize neck and back strain.

Having an extra screen also extends your display for optimal productivity. Link your laptop and display using a VGA table. After detecting the display, your laptop will automatically duplicate the screen image on the monitor. You can customize display options through your laptop’s display settings.

Related: Best laptop that supports multiple monitors

How to Use a Monitor With a Gaming Console

While some people are satisfied with playing games on smartphones, Esports and gaming enthusiasts often set up their gaming rigs with HDTVs or monitors. Most monitors come with HDMI ports that facilitate swift attachment to consoles like the PS4 or PS5. If your monitor lacks audio, hook up your headphones or speakers to the gaming console.

Related: How to connect 3 monitors to a PC

Using a Monitor With Android Devices

There are two ways to connect your Android devices to monitors: wired and wireless connection. Use an HDMI cable and a connector or adapter to link your display to a smartphone. Some Android devices feature built-in software that enables you to mirror content to the monitor.

What Are All-in-One Computers?

AiO computers are devices that have a CPU and display, combined into a single unit. They feature all the essential components of a conventional desktop computer for added convenience. However, they lack extras like mouse and keyboards.

Manufactured in a compact format, All-in-One computers like the Lenovo IdeaCenter AIO 3 save desk space and are user-friendly. Some models feature touch-screen interfaces that eliminate the need for using external input devices. Others, like the Dell Inspiron 7700, have built-in webcams for social and work video calls.

If you work on demanding workloads such as video rendering, consider options with ultra-fast solid-state drives (SSDs) like the HP 24” All-in-One Desktop.

The Bottom Line

Monitors are simply displays that require video sources to work. Monitors aren’t just for use with PCs. These output devices are capable of displaying output from different peripherals, like game consoles and TV boxes.

While you cannot use monitors on their own, connecting them to other external devices unlocks a wide range of display possibilities.

Hopefully, you can now explore the full potential of your monitor.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Here are some commonly asked questions about using monitors.

Does a monitor have a memory?

Yes. Modern monitors do feature memory. However, the built-in memory only helps control monitor functions rather than store data.

Does a PC power a monitor?

No. Monitors obtain power from their own sources using a power cable.

Do you need a PC for a gaming monitor?

No, you do not. Ranging from HDMI to USB-C ports, gaming monitors have a wide variety of connectivity options for versatility.


Tom is a network engineer and a tech consultant. He spends his time solving networking problems while keeping tabs with the latest in the technology field.

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