Rant If another customer talks about wanting a PC to connect to an LCD TV, I'm gonna cry / flat-out refuse / something

mikeymikec

Lifer
May 19, 2011
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I've had two recent run-ins that would make me pull my hair out if I wasn't already bald.

Both were new desktop computer builds by me (Ryzen-G), and I'm pretty sure both models of TV were the cheap and nasty sort, which probably plays a large role in this.

In my experience there are usually two factors in getting an LCD TV to talk correctly to a computer:

1 - colour reproduction (full RGB vs limited)
2 - resolution, overscan, underscan, wtfscan.

One problem particularly with the cheap and nasty sort of TV is the lack of information available about them, such as useful spec sheets to tell you what the native resolution is, but another in this respect is that on both occasions, if I attempt to set the resolution in Windows, the display sometimes just completely ignores the resolution change, or even when the resolution is set correctly the focus is still manky (fuzzy edges of fonts, for example).

On the previous occasion (I'm guessing in the last 12 months), the TV would accept resolution changes up to a point then decided that it was going to ignore the setting change just when it was set to something really atrocious. Luckily an AMD Adrenalin control centre setting ('virtual resolution' or something similar) miraculously set the resolution to something fairly decent, but I'll be damned if I know what really was going on there.

Today the customer had two identical LCD TVs (which he produced after we had finalised / ordered the PC spec). The computer had VGA, DVI and HDMI ports. To begin with the VGA connection was working fine, not even needing auto-adjust.

My original plan had been to use a a DVI to HDMI setup for one TV (and straight HDMI for the other) so entirely digital signalling would be in use, but thanks to the design of the back of the TV there was no way I was getting any kind of adapter in there (and I didn't have a DVI to HDMI cable). With that plan out of the window I fell back to a HDMI to HDMI cable, at which point the edges of the desktop were outside the edges of the screen and the text was looking fuzzy.

I faffed around a bit and found the HDMI scaling setting which got the edges of the desktop aligned with the edges of the screen but the text was still fuzzy and it was definitely doing 1080p native according to both PC and screen. Weird. Then suddenly (IIRC when I connected the second TV via VGA), it reverted on the HDMI connection and the option for HDMI scaling was gone. I also noticed that the AMD software was labelling that connection as DisplayPort rather than HDMI which was weird (especially since the PC has no DisplayPort). VGA connection all OK at this point.

I faffed around some more trying to get this "DisplayPort" connection to do my bidding which would make both monitors flash off and on with each change but ultimately making little difference until the VGA TV started fucking up as well in a different way (as if it needed some severe adjustments to get the desktop to match up to the display borders, more severe than any manual adjustment would ever manage).

I then realised that the AMD software was labelling the VGA connection as DisplayPort, so I switched to the other connection (labelled HDMI once I clicked on it), and voila HDMI scaling was back again. Fonts still fuzzy but a fully visible desktop trumps focus issues.

Nothing I tried was fixing the VGA display (including TV resets), so I thought "screw it", removed the display driver, reinstalled it, and then both displays were up (VGA was perfect, HDMI still fuzzy though). I showed it to the customer at this point, he was reasonably happy and was saying his eyesight isn't great anyway. I said my recommendation would always be to use proper monitors for virtually zero faff and perfect display clarity.

I then had to connect the VGA display back to the old PC (which worked fine), then when I plugged it back into the new PC it screwed up the screen alignment again. Reinstalling the driver would do the trick, but I got the impression that every time I shut down the computer it would screw up the alignment of the VGA display.

I wish I understood why HDMI scaling is a necessary thing with TV screens; I mean surely TV says to PC, "I'm 1080p", PC says, "here's a 1080p signal", job done? In the case of the HDMI connected TV and the VGA connected TV, the resolution info was sent through, just that weird things happened afterwards.
 

AdamK47

Lifer
Oct 9, 1999
14,999
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My LG G1 OLED works just like a monitor when set to PC mode. Full 4K 120Hz with 4:4:4 chroma (HDMI 2.1). It does have some odd TV resolutions that I do not use that can mess some games up. I delete those from the EDID with Custom Resolution Utility (CRU). Display is perfect with response times as low or lower than a regular PC monitor.

pKuK7ge.jpg
 
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akugami

Diamond Member
Feb 14, 2005
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At least some of the customers at the company I work for only ask if they can plug in two monitors so two people can use it at the same time...you know...because they don't want to have to buy two computers.
 

pete6032

Diamond Member
Dec 3, 2010
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Is there really money to be made in custom bulding computers as a small business?
 

Dr. Detroit

Diamond Member
Sep 25, 2004
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My Sony XBR-930E - Phenomenal picture when plugged into a computer or any source...
 

mikeymikec

Lifer
May 19, 2011
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Is there really money to be made in custom bulding computers as a small business?

Building PCs, selling laptops and other equipment are just extra things I do, I mainly fix computer problems on-site.

I don't try to undercut the competition because I have scruples and the competition doesn't. I try to build something that will last as long as the customer needs it to both in reliability and performance terms.

At least some of the customers at the company I work for only ask if they can plug in two monitors so two people can use it at the same time...you know...because they don't want to have to buy two computers.

I think Microsoft could have done something interesting here with say a terminal services configuration for the main family PC; it would have helped further if thin clients came down drastically in price too, but perhaps they would have done if there was a greater demand for them because of a feature like this.
 

[DHT]Osiris

Lifer
Dec 15, 2015
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Building PCs, selling laptops and other equipment are just extra things I do, I mainly fix computer problems on-site.

I don't try to undercut the competition because I have scruples and the competition doesn't. I try to build something that will last as long as the customer needs it to both in reliability and performance terms.



I think Microsoft could have done something interesting here with say a terminal services configuration for the main family PC; it would have helped further if thin clients came down drastically in price too, but perhaps they would have done if there was a greater demand for them because of a feature like this.
I mean, you can remote with two sessions if it's windows server. They don't do that with win client though, for a reason ($).
 

mindless1

Diamond Member
Aug 11, 2001
7,912
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I've used multiple 4K TVs as computer monitors over HDMI and had no problems. It was using nVidia drivers, IDK if that's your issue, just sayin'.. no problems. I don't know what fits the definition of "cheap and nasty" but they were cheap, low end TV models from multiple brands... like Seiki, Hisense, then for other reasons I started using Samsungs more often... could have something to do with my oldest still-working LCD TV is a Samsung and they don't have glaring OS faults, at least not that have affected my use as a TV as computer monitor. Granted I don't game on them, that's a different topic.
 
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spacejamz

Lifer
Mar 31, 2003
10,745
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My Sony XBR-930E - Phenomenal picture when plugged into a computer or any source...
I have a Sony XBR-65X860E as my primary monitor and Hisense 55" A4 as a secondary monitor and I think the picture on the Hisense is better than the Sony. Using a GTX 1660 Ti card....The Hisense is connected with display port to HDMI adapter :eek:
 

Tech Junky

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Jan 27, 2022
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@mikeymikec

When it comes to more than a single output I think the issue you're running into is the bandwidth of the GPU causing the issues you're seeing. When I upgrade the panel on my laptops to 4K from whatever they ship with it's good to double check the bandwidth options of the system before finding a panel. Wen using multiple outputs eDP / HDMI / DP / etc. it alters the bandwidth allocation similar to what you would see if PCIE slots when adding a 2nd card it drops the x16 to x8 automatically.

The clue here is that most / all GPUs have 3 x DP / 1 x HDMI. I haven't bothered with multiple displays though on my server since 99% of the time I'm running it headless and only use a display on it to fix something when needed.


Another thing that pops into mind is the cable being used. I run into this with USB / TB cables where they're marked or sold for top speeds and underperform when tested. I find cheap cables that do just as well as 2-3X higher priced options but, at the same time some cheap cables are just that and don't perform well. When I had my stuff all hard wired I made a point of testing a couple of options before settling on one cable but, have since dropped the cable all together with a self contained option that does everything over WIFI instead. It still has HDMI 2.1 as an option though.

Using a projector though for your customers would allow them to scale the size of the screen based on the distance from the wall. I move my PJ out ~1 ft from the wall and it covers the entire wall. In some cases cheaper than a TV and others are quite a bit more depending on the features wanted / needed.
 

mikeymikec

Lifer
May 19, 2011
16,907
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@Tech Junky

Bear in mind that the first example I gave wasn't a multiple display situation.

The second example involved 2x 1080p displays. Frankly if a GPU from 2023 can't handle 2x 1080p then why even bother listing multiple displays in the specs.
 

mindless1

Diamond Member
Aug 11, 2001
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@mikeymikec

When it comes to more than a single output I think the issue you're running into is the bandwidth of the GPU causing the issues you're seeing.

The clue here is that most / all GPUs have 3 x DP / 1 x HDMI.

Seems like more of a design and HDMI licensing issue as long as the performance tier of the card is midrange or higher. There are cards like GTX 1660, 3050, and others higher tier and newer that have two HDMI 2.0-2.1 ports and should at least be capable of 4K @ 60Hz to two displays simultaneously. Granted, could still be running into the issue of a lesser/older GPU than these.