While building my new monster rig I thought about gaming on my telly…
After all, I had spent a small fortune on a spectacular LG OLED – sat pride of place in my living room playing host to my current crop of consoles. I knew picture quality would be first rate but was keenly aware of the potential drawbacks compared with a decent gaming monitor.
Input lag, response time, refresh rate – the usual suspects. Fortunately 2019 LG OLED TVs do extremely well in all these categories, for a telly at least. And as I’m not really a competitive gamer and have always valued graphics fidelity over refresh rate my decision was made.
The fact that LG announced G-Sync support shortly after I committed to my plan was merely icing on the cake.
This could be a best of all world’s solution. State of the art gaming rig meets top of the line screen tech. All from the lazy laid-back comfort of my squishy sofa.
It was time to enact my great plan. I felt like a trail-blazer, venturing boldly into uncharted waters, excited by the discoveries that lay ahead. This my friends, for better and for worse, is what I have learned:
Big screen bliss
Make no mistake, PC gaming with a monster rig on an OLED TV sporting G-Sync is a near-erotic experience.
Perfect blacks, great colour accuracy, excellent HDR, perfectly low input lag for most types of gaming and no, burn-in on these 2019 sets really isn’t an issue you need to worry about.
I am no longer constrained by console graphics/frame rate limitations. Although I can’t get more than 4k/60Hz the TV can support up to 120Hz it as it has HDMI 2.1 ports. 2020 graphics cards are bound to support the new standard and will solve this problem. In the meantime, I can always bump down to 1440p/120Hz. Excellent.
Cable management woes
Using a flashy wired mechanical keyboard and mouse (despite the obvious advantages to your gameplay) is a pain in the arse when you’re sitting 8 feet away from your desktop case.
USB extender cables aren’t much of a problem when run around the walls, it’s the wires tangling around your feet and the lack of any decent lap trays you can buy that support a full size keyboard that sucks the biggest balls.
There is one lap option big enough on amazon called the Couchmaster (see above) but it’s fucking huge. I mean, where would you store it when you’re not playing?? It’s also £129. So yeah. This is a problem.
Wireless connections can be shite
Bored of tripping over keyboard and mouse cables? Going wireless has caused me a load of minor connections problems. The peripherals obviously weren’t designed with couch play in mind – 2.4Ghz dongles crap out if you block their line of sight and Bluetooth (even 5.0) suffers interference – so even high-quality kit flakes out regularly at these distances.
I’ve tried using extender cables to move dongles closer to me but again, dangling wires around the sofa is messy – and is potentially hazardous when you try to stand up after a few beers!
Productivity is surprisingly good (but not as good as a desk setup)
As well as playing games I do a lot of writing, editing and graphics work on my rig. I was concerned that sitting so far away from the screen would make it difficult to do all of this without eye strain. Although it’s not as bad as I had feared, it can get quite challenging after several hours of intense work. If dry eyes is an issue for you you’ll need to compensate more than you would if the screen were only a matter of inches (rather than feet) away.
On the plus side Windows 10 has very decent scaling nowadays, as do most apps (Origin excepted, no surprise) so as long as you have a big and bright enough screen (I have 55”) then you’ll be fine most of the time.
Comfort is king
Getting the right gaming chair has been, at least for me, a lifelong journey of disappointment. I don’t know what it is but said chairs just don’t stay comfortable for long, at least not for me.
When you’re sofa gaming you don’t have this problem. You don’t even need to sit up. In fact, you can lounge like the laziest bastard and still game like a god.
You will get food all over yourself though.
Despite some irritating niggles I truly believe my great experiment to be a success. The quality of the experience from a fidelity point of view is second to none, and that matters most to me. I also happen to have what is considered the best gaming TV you can get right now – due to its industry-leading low input lag and G-Sync support. But granted this won’t apply to everyone.
It’s easier to use a mouse and keyboard sat at a desk, and gaming monitors offer a much wider variety of panel and form factor options – as well as faster response times for you competitively minded players.
This does feel like the start of a PC gaming on TV breakout moment though…*sniff (fighting back the proud tears of achievement as I write this).
You may get connection issues, enrage your OCD with cable management problems, struggle to find the right seating position and go blind straining to see what you’re doing.
But! If you’re anything like me – a mostly casual and somewhat lazy gamer – it’s all worth it my friends. There’s just no more stunning and comfortable way of playing games than lazing on a sofa in front of an OLED. game on. Z