You might have thought about using a projector as a computer monitor because a projector has a much larger viewing area.
But is it possible? Are there any issues you can run into? What are the pros and cons of using a projector as a computer monitor?
I decided to take out my projector and test using it as a monitor for you.
Can You Use a Projector as a Computer Monitor?
You can use a projector as a computer monitor by connecting it to an available video output port on your computer.
However, using a projector as a second monitor is not the best idea because the projection quality will degrade as the bulb’s lifespan decreases.
In most cases, the lifespan of a projector bulb is between 1,500 to 5,000 hours, which is much shorter than the lifespan of a good LCD monitor.
Projector bulbs are pretty expensive to replace. In most cases, it’s better to buy a whole new projector than it is to replace the bulb on an old projector.
After all, projectors were designed for watching movies and shows from time to time, not for daily, constant, use.
To summarize, in a pinch, a projector can work as a main or secondary display for a computer, although it’s not the best solution.
I’ll expand on the pros and cons of using a projector as a monitor later.
How to Connect a Projector to a Computer
To connect a projector to a computer, treat it as you would a monitor. First, examine the available ports on both the projector and the computer, HDMI is the most common connection type.
Run an HDMI cable from your computer to the projector. If your projector is powered on, your computer will automatically detect it and recognize it as a new external display.
Many projectors also support alternative connection types such as VGA, Wireless Display, DVI, USB, and others. Most budget projectors have VGA as the only option.
A quick note here:
Most PCs by default will use their dedicated graphics card for video output. Make sure that you connect the HDMI cable to the ports on the graphics card.
Some PCs have video output ports on the motherboard but you likely won’t get a signal from them.
You can change the default video output on a PC from within the BIOS but you won’t be able to access the BIOS without a display.
This is a common mistake people make when setting up a new display!
Using a Projector as Wireless Display for a PC
Is your projector in a different room than your PC? Can’t find a long enough HDMI cable? The solution is to use your projector as a wireless display.
It’s very convenient and you don’t need to worry about cables. There are a couple of ways to do this, depending on the features available.
Projector Supports MiraCast over Wifi
If your projector supports MiraCast, you can cast movies and images from your PC to the projector using the local wifi network. You can also share your entire PC screen wirelessly using this method.
First, power on the projector, enable MiraCast/Screen Sharing in the settings, and connect the projector to your Wifi network.
Next, make sure your PC is also connected to the same Wifi network.
From there, hit Windows Key + P and you should see a text link that says “Connect to a Wireless Display”. Your projector should be on the list of nearby devices.
You can also type “Connect to wireless display” in the start menu to find the option. Another way to find that feature is to click on the notification bar in the bottom right corner of the screen, click on Expand, and choose Project.
If you don’t see the option to connect to a wireless display, it’s likely because your PC does not support Wifi.
To solve that, buy a Wifi adapter (I like this TP-Link 300 Mbps adapter), they’re very cheap and can come in handy down the line.
Windows did release an update allowing MiraCast over ethernet, but it still needs Wifi to identify the wireless display.
In other words, you need to connect to the display once using Wifi, and then you should be able to connect to that display later on using an ethernet cable.
Projector Does Not Support Wifi
If your projector does not support Wifi, what you can do is buy an external device that does have the casting features you need. For example, Chromecast and Roku both offer wireless screen-mirroring features.
I personally recommend Roku Streaming Stick+ because it uses Miracast which is built-in to Windows.
Just connect the Roku to an HDMI port on your projector, power it on, and go through the same steps mentioned above.
Using a Projector as a Secondary Monitor for a PC
You can use a projector as a secondary monitor for a PC by connecting it to one of the spare video ports.
Windows will automatically register the projector as a second screen and enable landscape mode.
To adjust the settings and arrange the layout, right-click on the desktop and select Display Settings. You can also access these settings by pressing Windows Key + P.
Pros and Cons of Using a Projector as a Computer Monitor
Pros of Using a Projector as a Computer Monitor
- Large viewing area
- Good for watching movies and shows
- Portable (most projectors come with a carry case)
- Possibly reduce eye strain for backlight-flicker-sensitive people
Cons of Using a Projector as a Computer Monitor
- The lifespan of the bulb can run out quickly with extended use
- Projectors can overheat
- Noisy, when compared to monitors which are completely silent
- Clarity may be an issue (most projectors can’t do native 4K or even 1440P)
- Projectors have high input latency
- For ideal results, a projector screen is needed
- Can be tricky to find the correct height and angle for optimal image quality
- Good quality projectors are very expensive and bulky
The Bottom Line
To summarize, a projector can be used as a monitor for a computer but it’s not the best choice.
It would be better to buy a good quality monitor for your computer because it will perform much better (higher resolution, longer lifespan, faster response time, quieter, low latency, clear images, brighter, etc).