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Can You Use A TV For Sim Racing? Should You?

When it comes to building the ultimate sim racing rig for your personal sim racing needs there are many different things to consider. One of the most important things to consider when building yours is whether to use a TV or a gaming monitor for sim racing.

You can use a TV for sim racing. Whether you should use a TV for sim racing or not depends on what you plan to use your sim racing setup for. TVs tend to have slower response times, lower refresh rates and therefore poorer gaming performance than dedicated gaming monitors.

Many people joining the sim racing community might think that a big TV screen is what they need. It’s not quite that simple though, and down below we will discuss the pros and cons of using a TV for sim racing.

Pros Of Using A TV For Sim Racing

The Size Of The Display

One of the most notable pros of using a TV as a display for your sim racing setup is that TVs generally offer much larger display sizes than monitors. This allows the driver to become fully immersed in the game.

More of the driver’s peripheral vision is being taken up by the game with a large TV. Essentially, you can set your FOV and various other in-game settings in such a way that having a big TV allows you to see more of what’s going on in the game. Whether it be just to enlarge what you already see, or to be able to see in your wing mirrors for example, having a TV can be great for this.

Versatility

TVs are great display options for people that might not have a lot of room to have different setups for each activity they are doing. Being able to use one display for both watching content like movies/shows and a racing sim is exactly what a lot of people are looking for.

TVs also tend to come with decent built-in speakers, which is something that isn’t guaranteed with gaming monitors.Most of the time you will have to purchase a headset or a separate speaker system to listen to your content if you purchase a gaming monitor. Getting a TV can not only offer more versatility, as it can also save you money and space if you were to get an external sound system instead.

Budget

It is probably more likely that you have an old TV laying around unused than a gaming monitor. If this is you, and you are new to sim racing and trying to figure out if you want to dive further into it or not, then this would be a good reason to use a TV. Although sim racing is used as a cheaper alternative to going to a racetrack, it can still be very expensive to get started.

Using a TV (or monitor) that you already have is the best choice in the beginning, regardless of which is better. Sim racing can be hard to get the hang of, and it’s not for everyone. It would be awful to have spent a bunch of money building a sweet setup just to find that you aren’t interested in really practicing on it or using it very much.

You can also usually get some pretty big TVs for around the same price as a high-quality – but smaller – gaming monitor. If you’re not too worried about some of the specs we mention below, but you do put a lot of importance on screen size, a TV may be the right choice for you.

Cons Of Using A TV For Sim Racing

Slow Response Time

TVs generally don’t have very fast response times on their panels.Response time is essentially how long it takes the TV to change the colors of the individual pixels on the screen.

The lower the response time the faster the screen can change the colors of the pixels and therefore the better for your sim racing, as there will be minimal lag between what you see on screen and what’s actually happening as you race. This is key for sim racers, as fractions of a second can mean the difference between reacting to a crash in front of you and ending up as part of it.

TVs don’t really need to have very quick response times, because watching movies and shows doesn’t require that. However, when playing videogames, the monitor doesn’t necessarily know what frame will come next (unlike with a movie), because the frame that it shows next depends entirely on the player’s next input, or the inputs of others in the game.

Competitive online gaming is what makes the slow response time on TVs very noticeable. For story driven, slow-paced games, the increased picture quality on a good TV makes up for the slow response time and is hardly noticeable. However, games that require fast reflexes and inputs where you are competing against others online – like sim racing games – benefit greatly from fast response times.

Lower Refresh Rates

Refresh rates refer to the number of times per second that a monitor or TV can display a new image. This is commonly confused with response time and frame rate, but response time is all about how fast a TV’s pixels can change color, and frame rate is locked to how powerful your sim racing PC or console is.

Refresh rates are measured in Hertz, or Hz, and TVs often have refresh rates of 60 Hz. While this is perfectly acceptable, with many people’s games and setups only allowing for 60 frames per second (fps), if your console or PC is capable of 120 fps for example, you won’t be able to benefit from that on a screen that can only display 60 different images per second.

TVs with 120 Hz panels are quite pricey, while you’ll find many monitors, albeit smaller than many TVs, with refresh rates of 144 Hz, or even as much as 360 Hz, for much lower prices.

Field Of View

Field of view, or FOV, essentially refers to what you see when you’re playing a sim racing game. A narrow FOV will only show you a very small area inside the car for example, with more of the screen taken up by the road in front of you, while a wider FOV might show you more of your cockpit and maybe your wing mirrors.

You can adjust your field of view digitally from within most sim racing games. However, a giant TV display will still be giant no matter how much you tweak your settings. If you are someone who is wanting to build a sim racing setup for competitive purposes, then you will likely be better suited getting a smaller sized monitor that you can sit closer to.

The reason competitive sim racers like using smaller screens isthat they are able to see everything that is happening on the screen all at once while keeping their head in a fixed position. You don’t want to have to crane your neck back to be able to see what position you are in at the top of the screen and then have to move your head down to see how fast you are going.

Budget (Again)

Now, I know that budget was one of the pros for using a TV in your sim racing setup, but it is also a con depending on your situation. The reason it was a pro was due to the consideration of you already having a TV that you could use. If you don’t have a TV that you can use already and must buy a new display altogether no matter what, the aspect of budget friendliness disappears.

TVs can cost a pretty penny.Monitors aren’t cheap either, but generally a mid-range monitor will cost less on average than a mid-range TV. If your budget is tight and all you want to do with your display is to use it for sim racing and sim racing only, then a TV is not a good purchasing decision. A decent gaming monitor will be more than enough to suit your needs.

What To Look For In A TV For Sim Racing

If you have made the decision that a TV is the best choice for your situation,then there are certain specifications to look for when finding the right TV.

Refresh Rate

The higher the refresh rate is, the better the TV will be able to display smooth gameplay. When looking for good TVs for sim racing, look for panels that have a refresh rate of 120 Hz or above. TVs with these high refresh rates will tend to be very expensive, but if you have the money to spend, it will be worth it.

60 Hz is commonplace for TV refresh rates. This doesn’t mean that the TV is bad, it just means that the TV isn’t as well optimized for competitive online gaming. If you don’t have much of an interest in that, or if your hardware and games you play don’t allow for more than 60 frames per second, then 60 Hz will be enough for you.

Display Resolution

Display resolution can greatly impact the amount of immersion that you experience when playing a sim racing game. 1080p is the lowest resolution that I would recommend going with, but if you have a gaming computer or console that can run your games at 4K and above then I would recommend looking at some 4K TVs.

Should You Get A TV Or Monitor For Sim Racing?

Whether or not you should get a TV or monitor for sim racing will largely depend on your specific needs. If you’re into competitive sim racing, and value high refresh rates with minimal response times, a monitor is best. For the more casual sim racer, a TV will absolutely be enough for you.

Making sure you know what your own personal use case is for your sim rig is the most important factor to consider when making this decision. For instance, people who want to invite their friends over and use their sim racing rig in a more causal setting will most likely want something different than someone who wants to try to qualify for competitive tournaments.

Final Thoughts

You can use a TV for sim racing, but whether or not you should depends on your sim racing preferences. If you want to race casually with stunning picture quality, then a TV will do the job. But if you race competitively, and need low response times and high refresh rates, a TV may not be enough.