Tip & How-To about Computers & Internet

Connecting a Computer to your Television

So you want to hook up your desktop or laptop to your television but do not know how well this How to will get those two hooked up in no time.
For the basis of this How-to we will go with the assumption that you are trying to hook up a computer to the television that is prebuilt and we are not adding hardware to the computer.

First we need to figure out what ports that you have on your television to display the video.

Section 1


If you have a LCD, LED, Plasma, etc. type flat screen the most common extra ports that you have are:

HDMI (High-Definition Multimedia Interface)

This is a/v cable which means that both audio and video are transmitted on the same cable.

DVI (Digital Video Interface)

This a Video only cable which means we will need to bring in audio to the television if you want to hear things as well. Now there is a debate on which video cable HDMI or DVI is the best, and honestly there are so many variables like the distance the cable is running to the devices that you are interfacing that there is no sure fire answers without testing both cables yourself.

VGA (Video Graphics array)

This is also a video only cable and we will need to bring sound to your television.
HDMI, DVI, and VGA cable are the cables that will be able to transmit your desktop to your TV in high definition


This is another cable that is video only and we will need to bring sound to your television. This is not a high definition cable and is only 480i resolution so I would suggest only using this one as a last resort.

Now that we have looked over your television we need to look at your computer. Match up the jacks with what is on your computer. Newer laptops are coming with a HDMI jack already in them so if you have one of those then looks like this will be easy for you to hook up. Heck you probably are not even reading this how-to right now.

If you don't have the HDMI jack you will most likely have either a VGA or DVI jack on your laptop or desktop so we will be using that. Older laptops do also have s-video but because it's not a high def cable I won't really be covering that in this how-to



Let's go over our video only options first. These are options if you only want the video to go to your television and do not want audio. If you are wishing for both audio and video then skip ahead to the next section.

As a rule of thumb you want the cables as short as you can so that there is not any signal degradation that can happen on long cables

VGA is the most common kind of connector out there. It has been used since 1987 in one form or another on desktops as well as laptops and the cables are relatively inexpensive. They range in the 5 - 10 dollar range and can be picked up easily online.

DVI output is usually just on desktop computers but can on the rare occasion be found on a laptop. These cables are a bit pricier but range in the area of 9 - 20 dollars.

Now here is the most common problem, "None of my connectors match. For instance, "I have VGA on my computer and not on my TV" etc.
To take care of this problem we need to get some adapters or conversion cords.


Here is an adapter, they look generally like this:

And they cost usually about 5 dollars this will take a VGA cable coming from your computer and connect it with the DVI port of your television.

You can also purchase a VGA to DVI cable that doesn't need an adapter they are about 15 dollars. They look like this:


Currently they only sell VGA to HDMI cables. They are about 15 dollars. They look about like this:


Adapters like below are easy to find and cost about 3 to 5 dollars as well as a fully integrated cable also below for about 10 dollars




If your television has both a VGA and a mini phono plug (headphone input jack) they do make a VGA cable like below that you can interface both the audio and video with.

You can purchase it via Amazon for about 10 dollars


The product pictured above is an Atlona AT-HDVIEW VGA to HDMI Scaler/Converter. What this will do is take the video from your VGA port and sound from your headphone jack and convert it into a signal that can be sent along a HDMI cable so that both audio and video are being displayed on your television. Keep in mind that the audio coming across will only is in stereo. So you can't get the full 5.1 or 7.1 surround sound out of the jack you will be using. This device is also USB powered so you will not need an extra power cable or batteries.

There are several varieties of this kind of device they range from 40 to 100 dollars so do your research before buying.


Now this method will only work if you have a S/PDIF audio output on your computer (it looks like this)

Pictured below is a DVI + Audio (SPDIF & Toslink) to HDMI Converter Adapter. This unit will take the DVI video and encode the S/PDIF audio with it and transmit the signal over a HDMI cable to your television. The retail for about 38 dollars

Phono to RCA

If these audio solutions are not working for you so far than you will most likely have to use a home theater system or stereo to play the sound most stereo systems do have RCA plugs for a audio input, so pick up a 3.5 mm stereo to 2 RCA phono cable like the one pictured below. They are about 5 to 10 dollars. That way you can run the sound through your home sound system and still enjoy the computer on your television. Again keep in mind this will only produce 2 channel stereo not 5.1 or 7.1 surround.

I hope this how-to has solved all of your problems or at the very least pointed you in the right direction. There are more ways to connect your computer to your laptop than this. Heck, if I was to write a complete guide to show every possible way to connect these two devices, this guide would end up being a novel. I encourage everyone out there reading this to do some research because just like everything else, technology moves fast and there are newer and newer ways to do everything.

All of the pictures and costs used in this how-to are used for example purposes and can change from the date in which this was written.

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