Can You Use an Xbox with a Computer Monitor?

If you own an Xbox, you may have already wondered if you can use a computer monitor to display the console’s video. With all the display connections available on the back of your monitor, it may seem like a sure thing that you could connect your Xbox without too many issues.

You can use an Xbox with your computer monitor. Usually, this is as simple as connecting the two devices with an HDMI or DVI cable. If the image doesn’t look right or doesn’t show up at all, you can manually reset the XBox’s output resolution by holding power and disc-eject buttons simultaneously.

While it might seem like a straightforward setup, there are still a few things to consider. The Xbox system is undoubtedly the heart of your entertainment center, but it is essentially a computer system. The only difference is that it runs an OS optimized for use as an entertainment and gaming system. But even though most systems are connected to a TV, there are plenty of good reasons to consider using a monitor instead.

How To Connect your Xbox to a Computer Monitor

The first detail you’ll need to get right when using a computer monitor with your Xbox is changing the monitor output settings to ensure the Xbox sends the correct information to the monitor. We’ll discuss the cables you might need to use for making the connection below but first follow the steps below to reset your Xbox’s display settings, which will prepare it to recognize and output to monitor with minimal effort.

There’s at least a chance that the monitor and Xbox work magically as soon as you plug them in. In most cases, the Xbox will remember the last screen connected to and try to apply those same output resolution standards. This may mean the screen looks slightly warped when you connect it. Still, usually, you can easily navigate to the menu and modify the output resolution to match the monitor–problem solved!

However, in some cases, the Xbox tries to output to the computer monitor and just gets a bit confused, resulting in a blank screen. This is a problem because you can’t access the menus. The way to fix this is to reset the Xbox’s display settings by first powering the unit down by holding the power button on the console’s front and then holding the power button and disc-eject buttons same time for a good 20 seconds.

This seems a little strange, I know, but this is the way you can manually reset the XBox’s output screen resolution. Turning it off by holding the power button is critical, so you know the console is entirely off and not just asleep. Then, holding power+disc eject for 20 or so seconds, even after the light flashes the first time, will make the console boot in a straightforward 640×480 resolution. That will not match the monitor, but it will be a step forward from starting with a blank screen, allowing you to access the menus and change the resolution directly.

Which Cable to Use

Connecting your Xbox to a computer monitor can be a relatively simple process. What you will need to check for are the correct ports. Even if you don’t have the required connection ports, you might still be able to use your monitor given you purchase the right adapter. Here are a couple of types of connections you might have on your monitor and how to hook them up to your Xbox quickly:

  • HDMI – This type of connection is the main one used for your Xbox. Most modern monitors will have one of these available, and setup is as simple as plugging in each end to the Xbox and your monitor.
  • DisplayPort – If you don’t have access to an HDMI, but you do have a DisplayPort, then you can quickly get things connected with an HDMI to Display Port Adapter (on Amazon).
  • VGA – This is an older style connection, but just like the DP, you can easily purchase an adapter like this one (also on Amazon). However, it is generally not recommended to use VGA to lead to some odd issues with an Xbox.

Benefits of Using a Computer Monitor for Xbox Gaming

Using a computer monitor can significantly increase your gaming experience. A computer monitor is a standard for PC gamers, and with the correct inputs, you can easily set your Xbox up to use with most modern monitors. There are a few advantages to using a monitor, for example, using a monitor instead of a TV can:

  • Help With Eye Strain – Because your TV is farther away in a living room setting, using a monitor can help reduce the amount of eye strain by placing you closer to the image.
  • Increase Pixel Density – a 1080p monitor and a 1080p TV will display the same amount of pixels. Therefore, a smaller monitor will have a higher density of pixels on the screen, and much like the placement issue explored above, it can help with eye strain.
  • Faster Response Time – Compared to a TV, even a cheap gaming monitor will have a higher refresh rate. Fast-paced games like FPS (First Person Shooters) or RTS (Real-Time Strategy) games happen in real-time, so the reduced refresh rates will translate into faster response times for you.

Monitors will also have reduced motion blur, the apparent streaking with lower framerates, and image-ghosting when a slow response time causes artifacts to appear on the screen. These two issues can have some detrimental effects when playing games, especially fast-paced ones. 

A computer monitor can be a great addition to your console’s gaming setup, but be wary about where you are using it. If you plan on gaming up close to the screen, then a monitor can make for a perfect choice. But if you plan to use your console in a bigger room and from far away, you might run into some problems with focusing on such a small screen. 

There is also the price to think about. You can get a high-quality monitor, like this Dell 24 inch Anti-Glare HD Monitor (on Amazon), for a reasonably good price. This price reflects a very high-end example, and there are cheaper monitors out there. In the end, using a computer monitor can do a couple of things for you, including:

  • Help you see enemies on the screen faster.
  • Limit the lag between your controller and what you see on screen.
  • Add more detail to your screen.

But using a monitor is not always the best option. If it were, there would be no need to optimize the Xbox system to work with your TV.

Limitations of Using a Computer Monitor for Xbox Gaming

Before you swap a monitor, there are some things you should consider, like the native resolution of your system, letterboxing, the speaker setup, and the refresh rate. The native resolution of an Xbox One S (link to Amazon) is 1920 x 1080 pixels.

This is 1080p, so if you have a higher resolution monitor, you may be wasting the extra pixels on a system that won’t natively support the display. You might even run into an issue called letterboxing. When the resolution, or aspect ratio, is mismatched, the only way for the Xbox to display its video with black boxes is around the screen. If you have a very high-resolution monitor or a high-quality display, you might run into this issue.

Also, computer monitors usually don’t come equipped with speakers. This means that if you are used to relying on your TV to handle your sound, you will be greeted with silence if you choose to use a monitor and don’t think about how you will get your sound.

Similar to resolution, your refresh rate might be higher than the Xbox supports. Currently, the Xbox system supports a refresh rate of 120 Hz. This is the number of times the system can refresh the image per second. Suppose you have a computer monitor with a higher refresh rate, like the Alienware 25 Gaming Monitor (another link to Amazon). In that case, you will not get to utilize the full potential of your monitor. 

On the same token, if your TV supports a lower refresh rate than the Xbox, you could experience screen tearing. This is when the display tries to output more frames than it can handle, causing multiple frames to “tear” on the screen. A TV will make an excellent choice if you plan to use your Xbox in a large room like a living room. If you enjoy gaming farther away from the screen, then using a TV will be optimal. 

Conclusion

As you can see, regardless of what type of connections you have on your monitor, it can be used to display the video from your Xbox. The setup is simple and can be done even with little tech knowledge. For the most part, once you connect your Xbox, the monitor will automatically detect the feed and display the image. Since most monitors only have one channel, you shouldn’t run into too many problems.

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