The best gaming TV is your best bet for big-screen PC gaming, and the best 4K TVs can deliver an experience that will rival the best gaming monitors out there for fidelity. And sometimes even surpass them. At the moment your choices for the glorious OLED panel technology, in PC terms, are limited to high-end gaming laptops or the best gaming TVs.
And now that the Nvidia RTX 3080 has launched, if you can find one, it makes 4K gaming utterly accessible. And will look great stretched on the sort of screen sizes you simply don’t see in the world of monitors. Well, with a few exceptions. The new Ampere GPUs can nail 120fps at 4K in all but the most challenging games, and with many gaming TVs offering high-end refresh rates that makes them a perfect match.
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While a regular PC display is certainly fine for your average build, if you’re thinking about upgrading to an RTX 3080, or even the monstrously powerful Nvidia RTX 3090, you could easily make the most of that power by using one of the best TVs for gaming instead.
There are a couple of benefits to picking a TV as your primary display. For a start, a gaming TV, with a 120Hz refresh rate and high quality HDR, will be noticeably brighter than your typical gaming monitor. And then there’s the size—you’re likely to get a much bigger panel than you would with almost any of the traditional gaming monitors out there. Many high-end TVs also come with game-focused features these days too, so you can enjoy technologies such as FreeSync or even G-Sync compatibility on many models.
One of our favorite TVs for gaming is the LG OLED E9 series which also packs G-Sync support, thanks to an update rolled out last year. And while the one we have listed in this guide is last year’s model, we still think it is well worth the investment, and a great choice for regular movies and TV too. We’re getting into deals time soon, with Prime Day kicking off soon, and Black Friday typically being all about the TV deals, so now’s a great time to start thinking about whether you might want to go down the 4K TV route for gaming.
We’ve made our pick for the best gaming TVs and listed them below. There are also a handful of bullet points to help you reach a decision on the best panel for your needs. If you’re not totally sold on using a TV as your primary display, our guide to the best 4K monitors for gaming may have just what you’re looking for.
The first OLED TV under 50-inches was always going to be a watershed moment for PC gaming. Sure, strapping a 65-inch monster to the wall so you can game on your couch is appealing, but this is the first OLED TV to actually retail in a 48-inch form factor you could realistically use on your desk.
It’s going to have to be a pretty big desk, and sturdy too, but you’d be surprised just how rapidly you will adjust to having such screen real estate in front of you. And given that actual OLED monitors are rare as pigeon teeth right now, this is arguably your best bet for PC gaming on an OLED panel.
And though it is a TV, it’s certainly not devoid of PC sensibilities. LG is now adding AMD FreeSync Premium support to the existing Nvidia G-Sync compatibility the company added to last year’s models. Sadly it’s not updating those models with FreeSync too, making the latest OLEDs the way to go for the Radeon faithful.
In terms of picture quality, no other technology can match the contrast and black levels of the self-emissive pixels in an OLED screen. Match it with a 120Hz refresh rate and superior HDR chops, and this is almost the perfect PC gaming screen.
Read the full LG OLED48CX – 48″ 4K TV review.
With each year, LG’s OLED panels get stronger and stronger for gaming. The E9 is 2019’s model, and it packs in many of the same features from the previous year’s E8 (our favorite gaming TV for so long), albeit with some key changes. The panel is still among the thinnest of all 4K TVs, and it brings unrivalled black levels thanks to the OLED tech, allowing individual LEDs to be completely switched on and off. That’s how you get such deep blacks and the clarity and sharpness of image with them. It makes the E9 panels perfect for darker games like Metro: Exodus and Resident Evil 2: Remake.
Even better news is that G-sync is enabled on all E9-series TVs when you have Game Mode active, so you no longer have to suffer through skipped frames and torn pictures when playing at higher frame-rates. Unless you’re gaming on an AMD card… LG has recently stated it has no plans to support FreeSync on 2019 OLED screens at all.
Away from frame-syncing, HDR isn’t toned down in LG’s Game Mode either, so you still get that vibrancy while benefiting from a better response and refresh rates. Unfortunately, you can still only play 4K at 60Hz on the E9-series (as it was with the E8), but the response rate has been boosted over the previous year, and now sits at a handsome 6ms for 1440p and 13ms for 4K.
The LG E9 is also capable of Dolby Atmos 4.2 sound, which is perfect for 4K movies if you run them through PC, and while its HDR brightness isn’t quite on a par with the QLED panels from Samsung (which favor color vibrancy over deep blacks), the Dolby Vision here is superb. As with most OLED panels, the thinness of the screen means sound output itself is never going to be as rich as a separate speaker system (speaker size is sacrificed for aesthetics), but the E9 still manages surprisingly good audio too that surpasses the E8. We’d recommend a premium gaming headset to really set the experience off, or a top-class audio system, but it’s by no means a deal-breaker.
While OLED is best for the inkiest of blacks, Samsung’s QLED tech leads the way when it comes to vibrant colours and vivid contrasts. The Q9F is 2018’s best 4K TV, and consequently one of the best gaming TVs. While it has now been replaced as the flagship model by the Q90R, it remains a showstopping panel. What’s more, you can now pick it up for half the price, making this elite TV actually affordable, and it has almost all the features present in the newer (vastly more expensive) Q90R.
The headline feature is its HDR 2000 tech, which is the most vivid HDR of any commercially available TV. It’s all very well boasting about it, but you can actually see a significant boost in vibrancy over every other TV set, with a noticeably bigger range of colours. 4K content looks stunning, but the TV also does a fantastic job of up-scaling regular HD pictures, and even SD content, making them more colourful and with smoother motion and edges. It’s a fantastic all-rounder, thanks to direct full array LED picture display, and the anti-reflection screen is the icing on the cake.
Price is often a huge factor in deciding on a gaming TV. For PC gamers on a budget, trying to find a TV that can do 4K and HDR can be a bit of a daunting task. Hisense has been making pretty decent budget 4K TVs for a while at under $1,000. The 55H8G makes it on our list because it provides excellent color and contrast. It can do 4K at 60Hz (240Hz at lower resolutions) and supports HDR10 and Dolby Vision HDR right out of the box. More importantly, this TV retails for $500, which is a great price.
If 55 inches is still too small for your tastes, Hisense also makes a 75-inch version of the H8G Smart TV in all of its Quantum Dot glory.
Although Sony’s X900F LCD TV series came out in 2018, they’re very much still available. And handily, their relative age means they’re still available at massively reduced prices. In fact, if you snap one up now, you’re truly getting an upper mid-range big-brand TV for the price of an entry level one.
The key to their success is that despite their affordability, they use direct LED lighting with local dimming—like the Samsung Q8FN. There aren’t as many ‘dimming zones’ as you get with the Q8FN, but having this sort of backlight configuration at all is remarkable for such an affordable gaming TV.
The set does partner its still great pictures, though, with a respectably low 30ms of input lag if you use its game preset. And the bottom line is that no TVs as affordable as the X900Fs are going to be perfect. All that really matters here is that the X900F is comfortably the all-round best TV for gaming in its price range.
If you’re looking to buy a 55″ TV on a budget, look no further than the TCL 6-series. This is 2018’s model, but that means you can often find it on sale but, quite frankly, it’s a bargain at full price. While the earlier TCL models suffered from poor build quality, and several screen flaws, the 6-series solved these issues to deliver an ace Roku-powered TV. What’s more, it makes a great gaming TV too. While it doesn’t have the low, low response rate of $1000+ panels, it manages between 6ms-12ms, which is above average for TVs of this size and price. What’s more, it has full-array local dimming, which means the contrast ratios are good (the blacks, especially, are nice and deep).
Where the TCL suffers is in the colour range, which is merely average for 4K TVs of this budget. While it has decent HDR, that can’t quite mask the lower vibrancy of images, although (to be honest) you’re unlikely to notice much of a difference unless you’re playing the most colourful of games. At 55″, it’s less noticeable too, although if you’re looking to go 65″ you need to work out if you’re ok getting a TV that does blacks and dark tones better than colours and light tones. For the price, however, it’s very tough to fault the TCL 617. It even comes with voice control if you’re into that sort of thing.
You can even drop down to 43″ if you’re looking for a 4K TV as part of a PC set-up / second room gaming rig. The contrast remains as impressive, and it’s obviously a little cheaper too.
How we test: gaming TVs
In figuring out what makes the best gaming TV, we have focused on four main performance elements.
First, input lag: how long a screen takes to render image data received at its inputs. This is critically important to gamers. Input lag was checked with HDR, SDR, 4K and HD game feeds to check there were no major anomalies between different sources (there weren’t with any of our selected TVs).
We checked input lag in two ways: using a Leo Bodnar input lag measuring device, and photographically, where we split a video feed of a running timer into the TV we’re testing and a reference BenQ gaming monitor, take a photo, and then see how far the time reading on the TV was behind the reading on the reference monitor.
The photographic method enables us to spot potential moment to moment variations in input lag that some TVs suffer with, and which the Bodnar device doesn’t provide.
Next, we considered contrast. How well a display is able to reproduce the darkest and brightest parts of a gaming image is essential to a truly satisfying game experience. Especially now many games are supporting the expanded brightness range associated with HDR. As part of the contrast assessment, we also looked for issues such as flickering brightness levels and backlight ‘blooming’ around bright objects.
As part of the contrast testing, we measured each TV’s peak light output using an X-Rite i1 Display Pro light meter. This lets us know how far a set can go towards achieving the sort of extreme brightness levels HDR gaming is capable of.
Colour performance was also carefully scrutinized, paying attention to the richness, balance, consistency, freedom from striping noise and authenticity of the tones being shown. Pretty much all HDR material also carries a wider colour range than the old standard dynamic range format we’ve been stuck with for so many years. This can have a transformative effect on game graphics, making them look both more lifelike and more dramatic/three dimensional.
Finally, we looked a motion and sharpness. We mention these together as to some extent they’re related. If a TV suffers badly with judder or blurring when you’re panning around in Fortnite or hurtling into the scenery in Forza Horizon 3, that’s going to affect the picture’s sense of sharpness significantly. We also studied ultra-detailed but relatively static 4K game graphics looking for signs of softness, shimmering noise, ever-enthusiastic edge-enhancements, grain or any lack of depth and three-dimensionality that might be caused by a TV being unable to deliver enough color finesse to ‘match’ the number of pixels in the screen.