Wednesday, January 20, 2021

Best 4K TV for Gaming 2021: Ultra HD Screens to up Your Gaming Experience

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If you’re going to buy a TV right now, there’s virtually no reason not to go with a 4K TV. Almost all TV manufacturers are putting their best efforts into 4K TVs, and you can now find them at nearly any size and price point. A good many 4K TVs are also strong options when it comes to gaming. Beyond the incredibly sharp images that are the hallmark feature of 4K TVs, many support faster refresh rates, have low-latency game modes, and can deliver stunning imagery through their HDR modes.Sony and Microsoft have consoles geared toward 4K, and the upcoming PS5 and Xbox Series X are going to be all about 4K. Gaming PCs are also becoming increasingly capable when it comes to rendering games at higher resolutions. Even if the hardware you have right now can’t game easily at 4K, getting a 4K TV for gaming will just set you up for the future, plus you’ll get to enjoy plenty of streaming content in the meantime. If you’re browsing in the UK, click here to find out where you can to find the best 4K TV for gaming.

TL;DR – These are the Best 4K TVs for Gaming:

1. Vizio 65″ Class P-Series Quantum

Best 4K TV for Gaming

Our Pick

Vizio P65Q9-H1

On Best Buy

For just a little over $1,000 you can get a TV that’s ready for the latest in gaming. We’re talking 4K. We’re talking high refresh rates. We’re talking HDR. We’re talking low latency. The 65-inch Vizio P-Series Quantum TV (P65Q9-H1) offers it all. The display features a brilliant, colorful panel with local-dimming backlights capable of over 1,000 nits and Quantum Color for a 10-bit color depth. That lets this TV deliver on HDR, which you’ll get plenty of thanks to support for two of the higher-end formats, Dolby Vision and HDR10+.

When it comes to gaming, the Vizio P-Series Quantum has you covered with HDMI 2.1 ports for a full 4K signal at 120Hz without chroma subsampling. You also get support for VRR (variable refresh rates) and FreeSync, so you can enjoy your 4K image without tearing. And, the TV can automatically recognize games and minimize lag. Even audio gets the premium treatment by way of eARC and Dolby Atmos passthrough.

2. TCL 55″ Class 6-Series QLED Roku Smart TV

Best Budget 4K TV for Gaming

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When it comes to gaming TVs, there aren’t really any that can compare to the newest TCL 6-Series (55R635) with what it offers at its price point. You’re getting a wonderfully bright and colorful QLED panel that’s backed by hundreds of Mini-LEDs. That Mini-LED technology enables highly effective local dimming across the panel, so the TCL 6-Series can achieve deep shadows even in a scene that contains plenty of bright spots.

Then, when it comes to gaming, the TCL 6-Series can kick into a gaming mode developed by THX. This will help deliver lower response times and activate variable refresh rates (VRR) with supported platforms. You’ll also get the choice of gaming in 4K with a 60Hz refresh rate or lowering the resolution to 1440p to game with a 120Hz refresh rate. While some TVs with HDMI 2.1 may offer 4K at 120Hz, there’s not a lot of hardware that can target that lofty spec, especially for budget-minded gamers. So, TCL is striking a nice bargain with flexibility for clarity in some games and speed in others.

3. Hisense 55″ Class H8G Android Smart ULED 4K TV

Ultra Cheap 4K Gaming TV

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The Hisense 55H8G is pretty much the most affordable 4K HDR TV for gaming you can buy and it comes at one helluva bargain at just $600 for a 55-inch. While you might assume it’ll only be able to achieve the bare minimum specs for HDR, it actually gets fairly bright at 700-nits. What’s more, it features 70 local dimming zones to keep your picture looking contrasty with inky blacks.

Combined with Quantum Dot technology, the Hisense H8G is designed to support a variety of HDR standards including Dolby Vision, HDR10+, and HLG. Gamers will also appreciate this TV comes with a low input lag gaming mode, and you get a clean version of Android OS, so you can download any of your favorite streaming apps and even a few games.

4. LG 55″ Class CX Series Smart OLED 4K TV

Best High-End OLED 4K TV

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If you want to get truly stunning visuals in your games by kicking on HDR features, then an OLED is a great bet, and the LG CX series is perfect for this. The 55-inch LG CX OLED will deliver rich blacks and stunning 10-bit color, and it can do all of that flawlessly in your games.

Since OLEDs can skip past the processing to sync up local dimming zones with the picture that other TVs rely on for HDR, you can enjoy the high-quality picture without introducing a bunch of latency into your games. That OLED panel also features a pretty fast response time with a native 120Hz refresh rate. All of this is piped over at a 4K resolution and thanks to the ample bandwidth provided by HDMI 2.1, you won’t have to suffer through any chroma subsampling. Screen tearing while gaming is also a thing of the past thanks to FreeSync and G-Sync support, making it effective for gaming on consoles and high-power PCs alike.

5. Samsung 65″ Class Q90T Smart QLED 4K TV

Best QLED 4K TV for Gaming

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Samsung QN65Q90TA

On Amazon

When it comes to displays, OLED and QLED are about as good as it can get, and Samsung has a champ on its hands with the Q90T. This massive QLED display offers a stunning brightness level of 1,500 nits. When it comes to gaming in HDR, that can make the action on your screen really sizzle.

The 65-inch Samsung Q90T uses local dimming zones not only to create those bright highlights, but also to keep them from ruining the details in dark sections of the screen. So, you can get an excellent picture even in high-contrast scenes. And, with a 120Hz refresh rate and FreeSync support, this 4K TV is ready for smooth gaming.

6. Sony 65″ Class X900H Smart LED 4K TV

The more affordable LED option

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Sony XBR65X900H

On Amazon

If you don’t want to chance it with OLEDs, you can get great performance out of the Sony X900H (read our review). This TV uses a 10-bit VA panel with full-array local dimming to deliver exceptional color quality, punchy highlights, and contrast that won’t leave shadow details washed out.

As a gamer, you’ll have plenty to love about the X900H as well. It offers the new HDMI 2.1 spec, which will support 4K at 120Hz in a future firmware update. Alongside that, the spec will support variable refresh rates and an automatic low-latency mode. And we can confirm that latency will be low, as we’ve already seen the X900H get just 17.2ms of input lag in game mode.

7. Samsung 65″ Class RU9000 Series Smart LED 4K TV

Best 4K TV for Gaming with Freesync Support

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Samsung UN65RU9000FXZA

On Best Buy

If you want to game on the big screen with FreeSync, the Samsung RU9000 Series has your back. This model starts out at 65 inches, so you’ll be able to make the most of the sharp 4K resolution offered by this series. This display may not have the highest peak brightness levels, but it does offer a 10-bit color depth for rich color detail. That makes its support for HDR10 and HDR10+ that much more valuable.

When it comes to gaming, the display will give you some options. You can run this display at 4K and 60Hz without any chroma subsampling, letting you enjoy a clear picture and benefit from VRR between 48Hz and 60Hz. But, if you’re after speed, the display also supports 1440p at 120Hz and a much wider VRR range. So, you can enjoy the best of both worlds between high-resolution for casual titles with impressive graphics and high-refresh for fast-paced titles where every millisecond counts.

8. Vizio 55″ Class OLED 4K UHD SmartCast TV

Best Budget OLED 4K TV for Gaming

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Vizio OLED55-H1

On Best Buy

LG and Sony might have the market on high-end OLED TVs cornered, but Vizio has just come in with a more budget-friendly option with the Vizio OLED55-H1. With this TV, you can get the perfect black levels of OLED to make the 4K picture that much more detailed, and the 55-inch model only costs $1,300 – a fair bit cheaper than the comparable LG model.

Vizio doesn’t miss out on any opportunities to make this a gaming-grade TV either. It features two HDMI 2.1 ports to support 4K/120Hz, variable refresh rates, and auto-low latency mode. The low latency paired with OLED’s naturally fast response rate will make for the highly responsive gaming experience you should expect from a gaming TV.

9. Vizio 75″ Class P-Series Quantum X HDR Smart 4K TV

Best 4K HDR Gaming TV

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Vizio P75Qx-H1

On Best Buy

Vizio makes going big more affordable than a lot of its competition, but you won’t miss out on premium perks. That means you can combine a 75-inch panel with all the razzle and dazzle of serious HDR performance. The 75-inch Vizio P Quantum X 4K TV offers a massive QLED display, meaning you’ll get a vibrant picture to let the details in your game really pop.

Making that image all the better is the 480 local dimming zones. These will provide you with an extra level of contrast to help make highly dynamic scenes in movies and games maintain deep shadows for a more cinematic experience. The flip side of that is that the backlights can actually get incredibly bright, allowing the Vizio P Quantum X to shine at a monumental 2,700 nits. When you see fire, lightning, or muzzle flare in your games while playing in HDR, getting ready for them to stun you. Best of all, the Vizio P Quantum X combines all those features in a gaming-ready package that includes HDMI 2.1 ports, so you can enjoy the experience while gaming at 4K and 120Hz.

Where to Get the Best 4K Gaming TV in the UK

Since next-gen systems are right around the corner, everyone is looking to take full advantage of the incredible new visuals on offer. There are plenty of brilliant options for 4K gaming TVs in the UK, and we’ve managed to find the majority from this list as well.

What’s Next for 4K TVs for Gaming

Now that we’re past CES 2020 we have a pretty good picture of how 2020’s lineup of TVs looks and wow is it impressive.

Vizio introduced a new stack of TVs that will be brighter and feature more local dimming zones than ever before—plus we also can’t wait for Vizio to unveil its first OLED TV. TCL, on the otherhand, announced it was bringing Mini LED technology to its mainstream 6-Series TVs and outlined its plans to bring even brighter Viridian, which promises to add tens of thousands of micro-meter class mini-LEDs.

It’s going to be a few months before we even start to see companies announce pricing on their latest sets, so we’ll have to hang tight until they arrive. Of course, we’ll be reviewing them all so you know what to buy this coming year.

What to Look for in a 4K TV for Gaming

There are many qualities to consider in choosing the best 4K TV for gaming: Color accuracy, contrast, color gamut, viewing angles, power utilization, screen reflections, smart TV features, and more.

However, since we’re all primarily concerned about gaming here, a built-in “gaming mode” with low input latency (ideally, 35ms or less) is crucial here. Without it, you’re guaranteed to have your head in your hands wondering why you can’t pull off Scorpion’s spear move in Mortal Kombat 11 or track targets in Apex Legends.

Input lag is a critical spec to pay attention to when considering a 4K TV for gaming, and RTings has a very detailed chart showing the results of its input lag testing on all the best 4K TVs in various modes.

OLED vs LED (or QLED)

In your search for the best 4K TV for gaming, you’ll come across two primary types of TVs: OLED and LED. While they might be very similar in name, they are worlds apart as separate panel technologies.

OLED TVs are categorized as an emissive screen technology, which means the pixels generate their own light by using an electric current to excite its compounds. As the pixels on an OLED TV generate both the picture and produce their own light, they can achieve true black simply by running zero current through them. No energy, no light.

In contrast, LCD/LED displays have separate image generating and backlight layers that produce the final picture you see. In this relationship, the backlight (LED) illuminates the pixels (LCD), which generate the actual images you see. To achieve the same level of true black with LED/LCD sets, TV manufacturers have implemented fully array backlighting systems, which split the backlighting layer into zones known as “local dimming zones.” When you run across this specification, know that the more local dimming zones a TV has the better it is.

Samsung brands its TVs with the company’s proprietary QLED (or quantum dot LED TV) technology. These QLED TVs essentially contain an extra layer of quantum dots that enhances the brightness and color spectrum of traditional LED panels.

In this way, quantum dots essentially act as an enhancement filter to produce brighter and purer light than LEDs can. This is exactly why Samsung TVs can hit peak brightnesses that are often a thousand or several thousand nits brighter thank OLED panels.Vizio

A look at the local dimming zones under Vizio’s 4K TVs

Only OLED displays can achieve true black. No energy. No light.


Ultimately you get a largely identical image from either display, but there are some unique drawbacks and advantages to each panel type.

LCDs can produce much higher peak brightness levels, but they can suffer from narrower viewing angles and muddier blacks as the display can’t fully turn off its backlight like an OLED pixel can just go to black.

OLED displays, on the other hand, are often dimmer than LCDs and can suffer from potential image retention (also called burn-in) problems. This issue occurs when static elements, such as a network logo or health bar, on the screen become temporarily or permanently imprinted onto the screen.

The good news is television manufacturers are constantly improving their respective display technologies. In the last year, LCD/LED technology have been squeezing more and more local dimming zones into their displays, meanwhile, OLED displays continue to get brighter every year.

Making sense of HDR

High-Dynamic-Range is a technology that greatly increases the range of brightness levels your TV can display, making a bigger difference between the brightest bright areas and darkest dark areas than non-HDR technology. It’s a huge upgrade in visual quality, and one of the best things about 4K TV sets. But it’s also a little complicated.

There are two major HDR standards supported by TVs today: HDR10 and Dolby Vision. Most 4K TVs that support HDR have support for HDR10, with a select few of the higher-end sets supporting Dolby Vision. When it comes to gaming, HDR10 is all you need, as that is what is output by the PS4, PS4 Pro, Xbox One S, and Xbox One X.

A TV that supports Dolby Vision would only be useful if you have a standalone 4K Blu-Ray player or a streaming media box with Dolby Vision support; it will not give you HDR gaming with your console.

Except for a couple of hard to find Sony TVs, all HDR-capable HDTVs are 4K TVs. For all practical purposes, there are no 1080p HDR TVs. So if you want to buy an HDR-capable TV set to play PC, PS4 or Xbox One games at 1080p, you’ll be buying a 4K TV.

Hey, it’s good to be future-proof anyway, right?

It’s also important that the peak brightness of an HDR TV will be quite high in order to produce a big difference between dark and light areas in HDR mode. If a TV supports HDR but isn’t very bright, you won’t really see much of an improvement in image quality. For my own suggestions, I’ve ensured that every 4K TV in this guide supports HDR10, and has a sufficiently high peak brightness to make it look good.

Adaptive Sync and You

Adaptive sync used to be one of those features you could only exclusively on a gaming PC and gaming monitor, but all of that’s changing now.

For the uninitiated adaptive sync or variable refresh rate (VRR) are both technologies that enable a display to synchronize their refresh rate to the output of your device. Nvidia and AMD first debuted their respective G-Sync and FreeSync forms of VRR on the PC.

However, in the latter half of 2019 we saw adaptive sync technology trickle down to consoles with as LG and Samsung introduced G-Sync and FreeSync on its respective 2019 TVs. In 2020, everyone started jumping in on the fun. Vizio, TCL, Sony, Hisense, and pretty much every major TV maker you can think of will be adding FreeSync support to their mid-range to high-end sets, which makes them the perfect screens to play the Xbox Series X and PS5 on.

Not to be passed up, LG newest lineup of OLED TVs (including the CX, BX, GX, and ZX series) will support both G-Sync and FreeSync, making them the best all-around TVs for gaming no matter which platform(s) you own.

Getting the most out of your 4K TV

Outside of playing games on 4K capable gaming PCs and consoles (the PS4 Pro and Xbox One X), 4K and HDR content lives primarily on these services below.

  • Cable and Satellite: Providers are slowly rolling out more 4K and HDR content using HLG (Hybrid Log-Gamma) HDR as opposed to HDR10, HDR10+, Dolby Vision, or Advanced HDR. Some newer TVs have HLG support and some older can support it after a firmware update (be sure to check your specific model).
  • Netflix: Most new Netflix original series and movies, (outside of animation and kids stuff) are in 4K, some with HDR as well.
  • Amazon Prime: Many Amazon Prime Originals are also in 4K, again with HDR in some cases.
  • YouTube: The biggest repository of cat videos also has a surprisingly large amount of 4K content, too.
  • Mixer: Microsoft’s game streaming service Mixer can stream in 4K, too.

Streaming in 4K requires a pretty good internet connection and one of the best routers. For example, Netflix recommends users should be able to support at least 25Mbps of throughput on their home network. If all that is a bit confusing, I’ve posted a summary of them all right here for you.

To take advantage of 4K content you need a streaming box or console capable of streaming in 4K, or you can use the integrated smart TV app. The Xbox One S and Xbox One X support 4K streaming apps, as does the PS4 Pro, but the last time I checked the YouTube app on the Xbox platform still needs an update to enable it.

You can also use streaming boxes like the Roku (Roku Premiere only does 4K but not HDR, while Premiere+ and Ultra do both), a 4K-capable Android TV box (like the Nvidia Shield TV), the Apple TV 4K, or the Chromecast Ultra.

Of course, if you don’t want to stream, you can buy 4K UHD Blu-ray discs. This is the costliest option, but it provides the best picture and sound quality. The Xbox One S and Xbox One X support the format, while the PS4 Pro does not.

A quick note on HDMI: You’ll need HDMI 2.0 compatible ports (on your console, receiver/switch, and TV) to take advantage of 4K 60fps HDR goodness. You may see cables labeled as “4K certified” or something like that, but that’s nonsense.

There are only two real types of HDMI cables: Standard Speed (with and without Ethernet) and High Speed (with and without Ethernet). As long as you have a High-Speed cable, you should be good to go. That doesn’t mean all cables are the same, but you shouldn’t pay a lot more for a bunch of marketing.

If you’re in the market for something more affordable, check out my guide to the best cheap TVs for gaming. I also have guides to help your PC get into shape for the new era of 4K gaming, including the best 4K gaming monitors and the best graphics cards.

More Expert Tech Round-Ups

Kevin Lee is IGN’s Hardware and Roundups Editor. Follow him on Twitter @baggingspam

John Higgins has been writing and testing all manner of audio, video, computer, and gaming gear since the early ’00s. He has written for print and online publications including Home Theater, Wirecutter, Sound & Vision, SoundStage!, and Channel Guide. He is also a post audio editor, composer, and musician in Los Angeles.

Mark Knapp is a regular contributor to IGN and an irregular Tweeter on Twitter @Techn0Mark



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