You can have all the indoor riding equipment you like, but if your screen set up isn’t up to scratch, you are not going to be getting the best out of Zwift.
TVs, laptops, tablets and smartphones are all potential options, but regardless of the chosen device, it must have high enough specs to display Zwift’s beautifully detailed roads and a screen you can see clearly.
>>> What is Zwift?
While riding along Zwift’s virtual roads, there’s a lot of information on the screen that is important for you to take in.
Squinting to see how much time you have left on an effort while you’re panting away is not ideal. Likewise, jittery graphics can cause you to slip out of the draft in a race.
The perfect Zwift set up will be different for everyone. A lot depends on how much space you have and whether you need flexibility for setting up and taking down your turbo.
You may want a full wide-screen and flowing graphics experience, or just something simple to get the training done without fuss.
Best Zwift screen setup
We’ll take you through the four most common set ups and explain the pros and cons of each.
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Pros: Flexibility of location; option to connect to a bigger screen (TV); if you already have a sufficiently powerful laptop you can just get going without any extra costs
Cons: Laptop screen too small to see everything clearly; expensive to buy a new powerful enough laptop if you don’t own one already
A good laptop is a versatile choice for riding on Zwift. There’s the option of propping a laptop up on a stand or table to use its own screen, or it can be hooked up to a TV with a HDMI cable very easily.
A laptop gives you added flexibility of using Zwift in your garage or living room, depending on who else is about in your house. Having a laptop with a long battery life allows you to explore more location options for setting up your turbo trainer and Zwift without having to rely on power sockets.
Zwift requires a powerful laptop, but the good news is quite a lot of us will already own a laptop which meets Zwift’s minimum spec.
However, if yours is lagging behind and you are looking for an upgrade, it’s a good idea to look for laptops advertised as a gaming laptops. Zwift, after all, is a game – albeit a very painful one in real life too.
Dell’s G Series gaming laptops are a reliable option and will offer a great riding experience.
Buy now: Dell G3 15 at Dell for £1099
Without getting too techy with laptop specs, below are some important components it’s worth being aware of when looking for a laptop that will optimise your gaming capability on Zwift.
- CPU: Zwift state that you need an Intel® Core™ 2 Duo for the CPU (Core Processing Unit) to be able to run their software. But for a faster and higher performance Zwifting experience, they recommend going for a laptop with an Intel® Core™ i7 or AMD Ryzen™.
- GPU: Alongside the processing power, the GPU (Graphic Processing Unit) is also very important to be able to run smooth and high resolution graphics. As a bare minimum an Intel® HD 4000 or AMD R5 is necessary. The settings on Zwift can be toggled down if the laptop is struggling to cope but for better graphics an 2GB Radeon™ R9 290 series, or NVIDIA® GeForce™ GTX 970 is recommendable.
- RAM: The Random Access Memory (RAM) is the super-fast and temporary data storage space that the laptop uses to access data quickly. 8GB of Ram is essential for Zwift to operate.
- Hard Drive: 4GB of free space is also needed on the laptop’s hard drive. Laptops often come with two kind of hard drives: a Solid State Drive (SSD) and a traditional hard disc drive (HDD). For Zwift to run at a faster speed, you should install the platform on the SSD. This means you’ll need a sufficiently sized SSD to be able to run other programs including Zwift.
Pros: Inexpensive compared to buying a new laptop, tablet or phone; good graphics
Cons: Only two spare connections; requires a TV
If you don’t have a Zwift-apt laptop that you can connect to your TV, the easiest and most cost effective choice is to buy an Apple TV.
You can find Zwift on the Apple TV app store for models that are 4th generation or higher. It’s quick to set up and you’ll also enjoy top quality graphics that run smoothly on this small device.
The issue with this option is that the Apple TV only lets you have three connection. One is taken up by the remote, and then you have to choose between connecting a smart turbo trainer/power meter, a heart rate monitor and cadence sensor. What you can do to alleviate this problem is to use the Zwift companion app for the final pairing via Bluetooth.
An Apple TV is an additional cost if you already own a laptop, tablet or phone that works with Zwift, but you can leave it set up as it’s not obtrusive.
Pros: You most likely have one already; makes Zwifting on gym Wattbikes easy; when mounted on the handlebars the screen is quite large in your field of vision
Cons: A second phone would be needed to access the companion app; low battery capacity
There’s no real need to have a big screen to see everything clearly on Zwift – you just need to bring a smaller screen closer to you. A compatible phone is perhaps the most likely device for you to own from this list.
Android 7.0 or higher is required as well as 1GB of RAM. A simple check to see if your phone is compatible is just to go onto the Google Play Store and see if Zwift is there for you to download. If you can’t find it, your device is not compatible.
For those in the Apple ecosystem, iOS 9.0 or higher is required and the oldest models you can use are the iPhone SE and the 5S. Anything more recent will work fine.
Quadlock offer a universal smartphone mount for handlebars that can be placed either on the stem or out in front. We rate this a lot, but in this position the screen does appear relatively large in your field of vision.
Arguably the best use of your phone is to allow you to get onto Zwift when outside of your home, such as using a gym’s stationary trainer. It’s quite easy to pair devices with a phone and their small size means they are easy to carry with you.
A downside is that the relatively small size of a phone’s battery means that unless your session is short, you are going to need to rig up some way of charging it while on the bike.
But perhaps the biggest limitation is that you will not be able to access the companion app while riding. Offering a whole raft of features that add to the game experience – including using powerups, selecting events and messaging other people – it would be a pity to do without.
Pros: Easy to set up; flexibility of location; screen is close
Cons: Expensive new; requires a stand
Tablets are a useful option if you have limited space for your Zwifting set up and having a smartphone cluttering your handlebars doesn’t appeal. You’ll need to purchase a stand but these aren’t too pricey; check out this portable universal tripod stand from Amazon for £29.99.
For a compatible tablet, the device needs to be Android 7.0 or higher with 1 GB of RAM; for Apple, iOS 9.0 or higher. Helpfully, Zwift is fast and simple to boot up on appropriate tablets.
Apple’s iPad Air and Samsung’s Galaxy Tab are dependable options that offer smooth, sharp graphics on a 10.5” screen. With the iPad Air’s 10-hour battery life and the Galaxy Tab S6’s 15-hours, you also won’t be needing to charge the device during a ride.
Buy now: Apple iPad Air at Argos from £479