May 22, 2024


Sapiens Digital

The Best TVs for Gaming

Go Big or Go Home

Serious gamers play in one of two ways. PC gamers usually sit at a desk and use their keyboard and mouse, staring at a monitor that’s just a foot or two away and usually measures between 20 and 30 inches. Console gamers, on the other hand, often sit on a couch with a gamepad and headset, staring at a TV that’s six or more feet away. The greater distance needs a bigger screen, and that means monitors won’t cut it. You want a good TV for gaming. Ideally that means getting a good TV in general, but there are other important elements to consider as well.

We judge TVs on a variety of factors. Our biggest focus is on picture quality, measuring the contrast and colors so everything looks as bright, dark, vivid, and accurate as the director (or game designer) intended. We also consider how easy the TV is to work with, taking aspects like remote ergonomics and interface design into account. Those are all good for when you want to watch your favorite movie or TV show, but for gaming you need to take an additional factor into consideration: input lag.

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What’s Input Lag?

Input lag is the amount of time between when a TV receives a signal and the display updates. Fighting games, character action games, and other types of games that are timing-focused play best when input lag is very low. It can make the difference between feeling like you have precise control over everything happening, and needing to constantly compensate for what amounts to very tiny pauses throwing off your game.

Input lag generally ranges between 15 and 80 milliseconds for TVs. We consider 30 to 40 milliseconds to be acceptable, and sub-20ms input lag as excellent.

How We Test Lag Time

We test input lag using an HDFury 4K Diva 18Gbps HDMI matrix with an Xbox One S as a source. The matrix processes the source video to 4K, then transmits the picture to the TV with a black box overlaid on the center of the screen. A light sensor placed on the screen measures the box as it flashes, determining how long the TV takes between when the signal is sent and the picture changes, down to the tenth of a millisecond. The Diva can measure input lag with both 1080p and 4K pictures, though so far we’ve seen deviations between the two resolutions of only two or three milliseconds at most; resolution doesn’t appear to affect input lag when image processing features are disabled (as they should be if you want to get the lowest input lag on your TV).


Related StorySee How We Test TVs

We record lag times both in the picture mode in which we perform standard picture tests (Custom, Movie, or User modes with very simple dark room calibrations for contrast, and color temperature set to the warmest preset), and in any Game or Computer picture modes available (or with the applicable feature enabled, if it’s separate from the picture modes).

Game and Computer modes and features can often improve input lag significantly over modes that prioritize picture quality over responsiveness, with some trade-offs in the form of color accuracy and noise reduction. We note both lag times in our reviews, and mark the fastest numbers between them in our charts and product profiles.

4K and HDR Gaming

It’s currently the standard for most new TVs, but 4K resolution (3,840 by 2,160) is still pretty new for gaming, and is generally reserved for only high-end game consoles and PCs. High dynamic range (HDR) is also a feature that’s been steadily growing in adoption and usefulness. Whether your games will have true 4K resolution and HDR contrast and color depends on the platform and the game.

The standard PlayStation 4 doesn’t support 4K, but instead output 1080p video to the TV, which then upconverts it to 4K resolution on the panel. The Xbox One S supports 4K resolution, but that’s primarily for its 4K media playback support, and games are generally rendered at 1080p and upconverted to 4K in the system. The Xbox One X and PS4 Pro, however, are able to render some games at 4K, or at a resolution higher than 1080p and then upconvert to 4K in the system itself. The Xbox One S, Xbox One X, and PS4 Pro all support HDR content, but HDR gaming depends on each game being programmed to output in HDR.

If your PC is powerful enough, any game that supports the resolution can be rendered in native 4K. However, like on consoles, HDR support depends on each game.

For the Hardcore: Gaming Monitors

If you want input lags consistently below 15ms, you need to turn toward smaller screens in the form of dedicated gaming monitors. These are designed specifically for gaming, and emphasize responsiveness at least as much as picture quality. Input lag between 10 and 15ms is common on gaming monitors, and they can also include PC-friendly features that further improve performance, like syncing with graphics cards.

The drawback with gaming monitors is that you’ll be spending much more per square inch. Monitors are generally smaller than TVs and designed to be used from only a foot or two away, at a desk. They have fewer inputs and don’t always have speakers, and rarely have any kind of remote control. If you want to game from your couch, a gaming monitor simply isn’t feasible.

There’s one big exception, and we mean that literally. Nvidia’s BFGDs, or Big Format Gaming Displays, put gaming monitor technology into 65-inch screens. We’ve already tested one, the HP Omen X Emperium 65, which supports 144Hz refresh rates and can connect to PCs over DisplayPort. Those are two features you won’t find on any standard TVs. Of course, those PC gamer-friendly features will cost you; the Omen is $5,000, more expensive than most of LG’s OLED TVs (which also have excellent input lag, but no DisplayPort or 144Hz refresh rate).

Here you’ll find our top picks for TVs for gamers. For smaller, even more gaming-oriented alternatives, check out our list of the best gaming monitors. If you want the best picture available, look at our roundup of the best TVs. And if you’re looking to save some money, head over to our list of the best cheap tvs, which has some models that are good for gaming.

  1. Hisense 55H9F

    Pros: Fantastic color. Excellent contrast. Inexpensive for its performance. Runs Android TV software.

    Cons: Contrast processing can occasionally be overly aggressive. Somewhat dull remote.

    Bottom Line: The Hisense H9F series is one of the best budget TV lines we’ve seen, with strong contrast and extraordinary color range and accuracy.

    Read Review

  2. LG Signature OLED88Z9PUA

    Pros: Fantastic picture. Elegant design. 8K. Very good 4K upconversion with AI Picture. Low input lag in Game mode.

    Cons: Incredibly expensive. No consumer 8K content to watch on it.

    Bottom Line: LG’s $30,000 88-inch Signature OLED88Z9 TV is strictly for well-heeled early 8K adopters, but it’s an awesome sight to behold.

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  3. TCL 55R625

    Pros: Inexpensive. Bright panel. Wide color. Attractive design.

    Cons: Magentas run a little warm. HDR Bright mode is a bit oversaturated. Roku voice features are underdeveloped.

    Bottom Line: The 2019 TCL 6-series of TVs offer a bright, colorful picture for a very reasonable price, with lots of streaming options thanks to Roku TV.

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    Pros: Perfect black levels and excellent contrast. Wide color reach. Powerful smart TV platform with Google Assistant.

    Cons: Expensive. Colors are slightly cool out of the box. Limited selection of streaming services.

    Bottom Line: LG’s OLEDC9 series of OLED TVs offer fantastic contrast with perfect black levels and vivid colors, in a remarkably thin and attractive design.

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  5. Sony Master Series XBR-55A9G

    Pros: Excellent picture with perfect black levels and strong contrast. Clear stereo audio. Hands-free Google Assistant. Attractive design.

    Cons: Expensive. Colors are less than ideal out of the box.

    Bottom Line: Sony’s pricey Master Series A9G line of OLED TVs offer perfect contrast, vivid color, and Android TV with hands-free Google Assistant commands.

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  6. TCL 55R617

    Pros: Affordable. Excellent contrast and color. Plenty of streaming apps and services on Roku TV.

    Cons: Power hog. Only three HDMI ports. No headphone jack in remote.

    Bottom Line: TCL’s 6-Series of 4K TVs is a worthy successor to last year’s excellent P-Series, and stands as one of the best values currently available.

    Read Review

  7. Hisense 50H8F

    Pros: Very bright panel. Excellent contrast and color. Android TV offers lots of features. Stylish design.

    Cons: Light bloom can hurt effective contrast and shadow detail.

    Bottom Line: Hisense’s H8F line of TVs terrific contrast, color performance, and loads of Android TV features for a very reasonable price.

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  8. Hisense 55R8F

    Pros: Inexpensive. Excellent contrast and color performance. Very low input lag.

    Cons: Notable light bloom.

    Bottom Line: The Hisense R8F line offers Roku TV accessibility and surprisingly strong 4K picture quality for a very reasonable price.

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  9. TCL 43S425

    Pros: Affordable. Fairly accurate colors. Roku TV platform has lots of features.

    Cons: Dim panel. Color range isn’t particularly wide.

    Bottom Line: If you’re looking for an affordable 4K TV in a variety of sizes, TCL’s 4-series is the line to beat.

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  10. TCL 65Q825

    Pros: Very bright. Excellent contrast. Vivid color.

    Cons: Much more expensive than any other TCL TV. Doesn’t quite match competitors in contrast performance.

    Bottom Line: The TCL 8-Series of 4K LED TVs features a bright picture with vibrant color, at a price just a bit lower than comparable flagship models.

    Read Review

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