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.
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
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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
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).
See 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
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
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
If your PC is powerful enough, any game that supports the resolution can be rendered in native 4K. However,
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
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.