Connecting your PC to your TV

One “brute force” method of becoming a cord cutter is to connect your PC or laptop directly to your television.  This means you’ll be using a keyboard instead of a remote control but you’ll  be able  to send anything e.g. Hulu (free version), YouTube,  streaming sports, to the TV. The connections used depend mainly on the age of both devices.    Here are the options in order of preference:

HDMI Cable
Modern TV’s and PC’s both have this interface, in fact the first one they’ve had in common.  An HDMI cable is the best choice if available as it handles both video and audio in a digital format. Most of the other schemes below (except DVI) are  analog, and inferior in quality of transmission.

HDMI Cable


DVI, or digital video interface was designed to transfer non-compressed digital content.  These connectors are mostly found on PC’s and PC monitors but occasionally might show up on a TV. Note there are three variants, DVI-I,  DVI-A and DVI-D so make sure both devices are compatible. You can also purchase an inexpensive DVI to VGA converter that will work to connect  the DVI-I or DVI-A types to a VGA (analog) device.

DVI Cable












SVGA is the 15 pin connect on your PC/laptop intended to power a remote monitor. Some TV’s may have one. Note that no audio rides over this cable. Get a SVGA male to male cable if this works for your setup.

SVGA Connector

S-Video was made for TV video, a typical application would be connect a game console or VCR (remember those?). But some computers including the antique IBM Thinkpad I’m typing on have one. Again no audio rides over this scheme.

S-Video Connector



Composite Video (RCA)
Composite video, aka RCA connectors are probably still on virtually every TV made, considered a notch below S-Video in quality.  I haven’t seen many computers with one of these but there are a few. Note the yellow indicates video.  White and red cables like these are for audio.

Compsoite Video (RCA)


Connecting Audio
If you use anything other than HDMI and want audio from your PC to your TV you’ll need to use another adaptor cable just for that. The most obvious choice would be to go from the line out on your PC to red and white RCA connectors. This cable has a 1/8 ” phono plug on one side and splits to two RCA connectors on the other.

PC to TV Audio Cable


PC to TV Converter 

If you have an older PC or older TV you might opt for the easy way out and buy a convenient PC to TV converter. Make sure you get one with integrated audio. I’ve seen a lot of cheap models that handle only video for reasons I don’t understand. The one shown deals with the audio, bundles all the cables into one, and gets good ratings on Amazon.








General Advice

For any of the cables above make sure to buy a good quality cable of 25+ feet so you can operate the laptop comfortably from your couch. By far the cheapest and easiest source for any of  these is online, e.g. eBay or Amazon. Retail stores will seldom have the exact cable you need and will be overpriced.