Can You Use a Monitor Without a PC?

Though the options are a bit limited, there are a few ways to utilize a computer monitor without it being hooked up to a PC.

I have spent years working with and using all types of computers. My own experience with monitors, paired with additional research on the devices, enabled me to cover all of the topics outlined in this guide.

The following paragraphs look at the various ways a monitor can be used on its own without a computer, as well as how to make those connections happen.

Key Takeaways

  • Monitors need an external device to work properly, but that device does not necessarily need to be a PC. There are plenty of other choices on the market.
  • External monitors can be used with streaming devices, Raspberry Pi, tablets, and media converters to great effect.
  • As long as the monitor has compatible ports, it can be quickly plugged into most popular electronic devices in just a few quick steps.

Using a Monitor on Its Own

Monitors are almost always synonymous with PCs, but they aren’t one-dimensional. Though they have the most functionality when used with computers, they have much more compatibility in today’s technological world. They can be used in a few different ways with different products.

As such, a monitor can work without a computer. However, it can only do so in a few specific scenarios. Turning it on without hooking it up to an external device won’t do anything and nothing will show on the display. Rather, it needs to be connected.

Monitors work by taking information from whatever is sending them signals, and then turning that into a visual display of text, images, or videos. If there’s nothing to send signals, the monitor won’t have anything to display.0

In the past, the only thing a monitor could connect to was a computer. Now, things have changed. There are quite a few devices that allow monitors to work without a PC.

What Can I Connect a Monitor to?

Users are able to repurpose their monitor in a few different ways, but one of the most popular is to use it with a gaming console. Both Playstation and Xbox products work with an independent screen, meaning they can be hooked up to the device just like a TV.

Gaming monitors are perfect towards that end, as they have the necessary power and requirements to run bigger titles. They are also made specifically for gaming systems, which means you won’t experience any latency or large frame drops.

They also come with various ports, which increases their general compatibility. HDMI ports are the most efficient way to connect the devices. They will give you the best results as well.

Another way to use your monitor without a PC is to hook it up to Raspberry Pi. That small device acts like a tiny computer that can be used for a wide array of different functions.

Plugging your monitor into Pi will give you the ability to create a special board that will display useful information, including the date/time, news headlines, and important events. It won’t be the same as using it with a computer, but it’s a handy tool nonetheless. 

On top of that, you can also connect a monitor to a tablet. You will need a special adapter to make that connection work. If you don’t have one, it’s also possible to wirelessly link them by casting your tablet’s data to the monitor too.

Streaming devices allow you to watch shows on your monitor, while a media converter enables you to watch cable TV on it as well. Though it does require a PC, you can even hook a monitor up to a second one to get an extra screen and increase your computer’s functionality.

Connecting Your Independent Monitor

There are a few ways to take advantage of a monitor, but one of the most effective is to turn it into a television screen. If you want that functionality, you just need to follow a few steps.

First, check to see if the device has an HDMI port. Next, get an HDMI adapter and plug in external speakers to the device’s audio jack. Check the screen resolution (you’ll need 1080p). Once it meets the requirements, plug it into any of the above compatible products. 

You can also use it with VGA or DVI ports, but you need a device that supports those plug-ins. If you have it, connect the monitor to the device through the appropriate cable, then hook the FR/Antenna cable to the TV and turn the monitor on. 


These are some of the most common questions computer users ask about monitors.

What Do You Need for a Monitor to Work?

All you need to connect a monitor to a computer or laptop is a power cord and a compatible connection. The power goes to an outlet and allows the monitor to turn on, while the other cord allows the screen to show data from the device it’s plugged into.

Do Monitors Need Their Own Drivers? 

While plug-and-play monitors do not typically need a separate driver, installing a monitor driver or .INF file adds extra support for display resolution, refresh rate, and color quality. It entirely depends on what you want from your device.

Is a Single or Dual Monitor Setup Better?

That comes down to your personal preferences. Multiple displays are better for those who game a lot or who do a lot of multitasking. However, for those who want something a bit more streamlined or simple, a single monitor is more than enough.

Final Words

Though it was once rare to see, external monitors have become much more popular as of late. There are plenty of ways to use them, and it’s getting easier every year. If you want a bigger screen for your device, all you need is the right plug and a few short steps.

Have you ever used a monitor on its own? How did you set it up, and why wasn’t it connected to a PC? Let us know below!

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