There are fancy 4K TVs that cost less than their monitor equivalents
In the market for a more traditional display? Check out our guide to the best computer monitors for work and gaming.
Displays have come along way since the old days of CRTs. Everyone's gone flat, and then there is the curved stuff, which I don't really buy into yet. I mean, even the screen on Jean-Luc Picard's desk was flat, and that's way into the future. If you want a big immersive experience today though, you might consider going with a TV instead of a computer display. Here's why.
Size is a big part of the overall gaming experience. Sure, you regulate yourself to the 20-something inches universe, but why stay small when you can go big? Bigger is, of course, not always better. If you go with a TV, you might not get the response rate you want for competitive FPS gaming, but if you're into a wide variety of games, a big 40-inch TV might suit you well.
There are a variety of TV sizes available, but we recommend going with something within the 40-inch range. If you go to 50-inches, it might be difficult to see everything that's going on all at once, and you might end up with neck cramps. Of course, if you sit back far enough, neck injuries won't be a problem.
4K TVs are all the rage right now, and they're much cheaper per square-inch than 4K computer displays. If you're not doing heavy graphics and design work, true-to-life color accuracy might not be at the top of your importance list, which makes a TV an excellent substitute. Besides, TVs that pump out 4K goodness can stand in just fine as a computer display, since screen real-estate becomes a thing of the past.
We often find that using very high DPI displays at small sizes makes things unreadable. Text and controls becomes ultra small, and unless your OS is HiDPI aware, you'll be squinting a lot. Windows is still not the greatest at handling high-DPI displays, but it's slowly getting better.
Prices of 4K TVs are actually tumbling down fairly quickly, thanks of course to competition. The land of 4K content is still barren, but that's where games come in. Plus, companies like Vizio are driving the prices down, which is good for everyone. In fact, Vizio just announced its M-Series line of 4K TVs. You can nab a 43-inch model for $600. While we haven't had the pleasure of testing this unit out, one couldn't even dream of this kind of pricing just a year ago. This makes a 4K TV an extremely juicy option as a primary display for a gaming rig. Here's Vizio's price sheet for the entire lineup:
M-Series 43" Ultra HD Full Array LED Smart TV $599.99
M-Series 49" Ultra HD Full Array LED Smart TV $769.99
M-Series 50" Ultra HD Full Array LED Smart TV $799.99
M-Series 55" Ultra HD Full Array LED Smart TV $999.99
M-Series 60" Ultra HD Full Array LED Smart TV $1499.99
M-Series 65" Ultra HD Full Array LED Smart TV $1699.99
M-Series 70" Ultra HD Full Array LED Smart TV $2199.99
M-Series 75" Ultra HD Full Array LED Smart TV $2999.99
M-Series 80" Ultra HD Full Array LED Smart TV $3999.99
Vizio is, of course, not the only brand out there, but it is making the cheapest solutions in its class at the moment. And you do get a susprising bundle of good technology with the M-Series: full-array LED backlighting, which helps with black levels by individually turning off zones; built in smart TV apps including Netflix and Hulu; 802.11ac wireless built in; and a 6-core ARM processor. The M-Series also does a refresh rate of 120Hz, which should help with FPS games, provided that you have a beefy enough machine to pump those kinds of frame rates at 4K. But hey, since we're playing in the big leagues now, might as well throw in a few more Benjamins for Crossfire or SLI.
What you lose out on
There are some down sides. First, you can't pivot a TV the way you can with a computer display, so you're really going to have figure something out unless you're fine with your display being totally horizontal. Second, things get big, which means they take up a lot of room if you plan on sitting a 40-something-incher on your desk. You might be better off going really big and turning your living room into a gaming setup. Third, there's no FreeSync or G-Sync enabled TVs. At 4K, FreeSync and G-Sync become really helpful, especially if your gaming rig can't quite keep up the 60 frames per second.
These are some of the things to consider, based on your gaming needs. If you're not playing FPS games, a 4K TV might work out really well.
There are plenty of options for a display, and prices are always getting better, as is innovation and competition. Some say that it's not size that matters, it's how you use [a display]. I find that 27 inches is becoming more commonplace, but is there a ceiling for how big one can go? What do you currently use for your primary display, and would you consider using a 4K TV? Maybe you already do. Let us know in the comments.
Updated. April 15th, 2015: Edited for clarity