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TV as Monitor, 4k/60Hz - MisterAcoustic - 2019-02-08

Hi All,

I splurged and bought a big 4k TV that I wanted to use as a monitor for my computer. I'm posting this to help others that might be in the same situation.

I bought a Vizio V505-G9, available at my local Costco, BestBuy, and I'm sure other places. I had to dig quite a bit, but I eventually convinced myself that it had full support for what I wanted to do.

In order to drive the TV from the computer, I needed a video card that supports 4k/60Hz at a reasonable price. I decided the option most likely to work was an Nvidia GeForce GT 1030. The important thing to know about this card is that there are two versions with the exact same name. Sometimes even the same price. But one works significantly better than the other. The distinguishing factor is the type of video ram used on the card. Some versions use DDR5, and others use DDR4 - though they are all called GT 1030. You have to look at the details. The DDR5 version scores much higher in many benchmarks, and people are questioning how the manufacturers can get away with the naming confusion. Check your specs, get DDR5.

I have a windows machine, but I elected to try to get it running on my linux (ubuntu MATE) box first. I installed the card, plugged in the cables, and had 4k immediately. However, the highest available frequency was 30Hz.

Then I begin a quest for 60Hz Smile.

I figure it's one of three things: The video card drivers, the HDMI cable, or settings on the TV.

For linux newbies like myself out there, I went off on some tangents before finding something easy. (tl;dr: don't do this first thing Smile ) I found a driver download on nvidia's site, which is a '.run' file. In order to try to run this, I had to chmod the file to allow it to be executable. Once I did that, I tried to execute it. A first error occured because I neglected to use 'sudo' to allow the file to run with administrator permissions. After fixing that, another error occurred, saying that I was still running an x-server. Great - I had very little idea what that meant, but I found some instructions on the internet. They were very confusing, not all applicable to my situation, and generally I thought they would break my machine beyond my ability to repair it.

I consulted a friend, and while I could have continued down that path, he mentioned a better way. In Ubuntu, there is a 'Software and Updates' utility (not to be confused with the ridiculously similar 'Software Updater', and slightly less similar 'Software Boutique'). This utility has a tab labeled 'Additional Drivers'. Opening the tab loaded up several driver options for my new video card, including a recent version of the (proprietary) nvidia drivers. I selected that driver, and it took care of the whole install process without a hitch.

Unfortunately, everything worked great. Except I was still stuck at 30Hz.

I had a nice, but older HDMI cable that I wasn't certain would handle the bandwidth required for 60Hz. Apparently there are cables rated at 10Gbps, or newer ones rated at 18Gbps. Some newer cables claim support for HDCP 2.2 (facilitating newer digital rights management schemes). Maybe I needed one of those.... but first I decided to check my TV settings for the twentieth time, to try to see if I'd missed something.

While I was looking at HDMI cable specs, I noticed that some cables claimed to support both 30 and 60 Hz 'at 16-bit color depth', and gave some numbers like 4:4:4, and 4:2:0. I haven't found out what those mean yet, but I did remember that the Input Settings on the TV had options for 'Full UHD Color' and 'Full Chroma 4:4:4'.

I thought, hmm, this looks vaguely similar... so, I changed the settings to turn on both of those things - and lo and behold, 50 and 60Hz options appeared in my display settings dialog.

I switched to the available 60Hz rate, and everything seems to be working!

I am very pleased with my new setup. Now I have to choose a window manager of some sort for linux to get things set up as 4 HD monitors on the same screen. And I have to see if I can get an HDMI switch and hook up my windows box as well.

I'll update here if anything interesting happens. Good luck to anyone out there trying to do something similar.

Stan

Edit: Oops, I totally forgot to mention that I was able to find the DDR5 version of the GT 1030 for $53 at my local Microcenter. They had several open box ones at a reduced price. They are usually in the neighborhood of $80.