Monday, July 22, 2024

Best 8K TV 2021: The Sharpest Televisions You Can Buy

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You might be hearing a lot of buzz about 8K, but when it comes to that actual TVs on the market, the pickings are still a little slim. Manufacturers are still pumping out 4K TVs with only a small trickle of 8K TVs coming alongside them. That said, the 8K TVs that are coming out are truly something to behold. The only way to really benefit from 8K is to sit close and have a really big screen, and the manufacturers haven’t failed to build around that second point.The best 8K TVs are coming in at well over 70 inches, with some even pushing toward 90-inch diagonals. Along with that size, you’re also getting some of the best features that TV manufacturers offer. You’ll see OLED displays that will offer a stunning crispness thanks to their unbeatable contrast ratios, and you’ll find no lack of HDR support. If you’re a gamer planning to hook up a PS5 or Xbox Series X to see what kind of 8K capabilities they’ll have, these TVs will be ready and waiting.

Just be prepared, these 8K TVs don’t come cheap. If your budget isn’t substantial, you might also consider some high-end 4K TVs, which shouldn’t disappoint unless you’re sitting unreasonably close. You can even find good quality from some cheap 4K TVs.

TL;DR – These are the Best 8K TVs:

1. Sony 85″ Class Z8H Master Series

Best 8K TV

Our Pick

Sony XBR85Z8H

On Amazon

If you’re going for an 8K TV, you may as well plan on going big and getting the most out of it. The Sony Z8H Master Series will let you do just that with its incredibly bright and gaming-ready 8K panel measuring 85-inches across. That size will ensure you see all the extra detail you’re getting at 8K. It’s going to cost you, but when you want the best, you have to be ready to pay for it. On the plus side, it’s actually under $10,000, showing that 8K and massive TVs are slowly becoming more affordable.

The 85-inch Sony Z8H Master Series offers a stunning 2,500-nit peak brightness that won’t ruin the black levels thanks to full-array local dimming. So, you’ll be able to enjoy the HDR content it can support through HDR10 and Dolby Vision. And, if you want to game on it, you’ll have the option of either 8K at 60Hz or 4K at 120Hz, and you get support for variable refresh rates and auto low-latency mode.

2. LG 75″ Class NanoCell 97 Series

Best Budget 8K Gaming TV

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It may be surprising, but $4,000 can actually get you a whole lot when it comes to TVs in 2020. You can get the 75-inch LG NanoCell 97 Series with an 8K display, and that won’t leave you wanting for much. This TV offers plenty of screen with the features you’ll want, whether you’re streaming the latest movies or trying to game.

The LG NanoCell 97 Series includes full-array local dimming to makes its visuals that much more impressive in Dolby Vision or HDR10 Pro. And, while gaming, you’ll have the option of going for that lofty 8K visual target (something you’ll need a monstrous GPU to do), or you can switch down to 4K and take advantage of the display’s 120Hz refresh rate.

3. LG 75″ Class NanoCell 99 Series

Best Smart 8K TV

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LG’s webOS helps its smart TVs stand out from the pack. Paired with the powerful internals of LG’s TVs, webOS runs incredibly smoothly, giving you a great experience switching between streaming apps to find your favorite content. And, if you’re looking to pair that great experience with a great screen, you’ll want the 75-inch LG NanoCell 99 Series TV.

This 8K behemoth delivers that picture backed by some serious sound as well, with a 4.2-channel sound system built in – an upgrade over the NanoCell 97 Series. Given the smarts of this TV, you don’t need to worry about plugging in an external set-top box to enjoy content, so you can save all of the HDMI ports for gaming systems.

4. Samsung 75″ Class QLED Q900T Series

Best HDR 8K TV

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Samsung QN75Q900TSFXZA

On Amazon

Want truly dazzling HDR to round out your 8K picture? Then you’ll want the Samsung 75-inch Q900T Series. It’s not only supporting HDR10+ for a high dynamic range that’ll adjust scene by scene, but it can also make the HDR shine on another level with a peak brightness of 4,000 nits that’ll light up your room. Using direct backlighting, the Q900T can still deliver deep black levels even as it shines super bright on another area of the screen.

The display is one thing, but the TV also sets itself apart with style. It has an elegant look, relying on a simple, angled stand to hold up the display unit, which is comprised of a single, flat panel that measures just an inch thick and has virtually no bezel in sight. If you’ve got the room for it and need an ultra-bright screen, this TV is for you.

5. LG 88″ Class OLED Signature ZX


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On Best Buy

If you want to get really over the top with your TV by not only getting the sharp 8K resolution at a massive size but also seeing to it that each and every one of the pixels on your TV is self-lit for the best contrast ratio you can get, then you’ll want the 88-inch LG OLED Signature ZX. Though some LED TVs achieve great black levels through local dimming, they tend to only offer hundreds of local dimming zones, which can’t quite compare to OLED’s ability to turn off each and every pixel (which is over 33 million on an 8K display).

Not only will the LG OLED Signature ZX make for a stunning cinematic experience, but it can also deliver some capable gaming chops. It can run at 8K/60 or 4K/120 over its HDMI 2.1 ports, has a fast response time, and it offers features like auto low-latency mode and variable refresh rates through FreeSync or G-Sync.

What’s next for 8K TVs?

It’ll likely still be a while before we see 8K TVs start to take over the market. 4K TVs are proliferating, but 4K and HDR content is still catching up, which will leave many consumers with little reason to jump beyond 4K. That said, TV manufacturers aren’t stopping at 4K. 8K panels are where we’re seeing big manufacturers show off some of their latest technologies.

Samsung has introduced it’s Neo QLED technology in the Samsung Neo QLED QN900A 8K TV. This new display technology uses small LED backlights, called Quantum Mini LEDs, for full-array local dimming. These backlights are smaller than those found in Samsung’s current TVs, letting the company pack more of them behind the display for finer control of local dimming to compete with OLED displays. But, since the Quantum Mini LEDs aren’t made of organic materials, they won’t face the same burn-in risks. They also don’t require much room height-wise, so Samsung will be able to make even thinner displays with them.

Sony’s new Bravia XR Z9J Series won’t be changing as much in terms of the physical hardware delivering an 8K image. Instead, these new displays have an emphasis put on their intelligence. Sony is using a new Cognitive Processor XR that will enhance visuals based on where viewers are likely to be focused. The processor is intended to take non-8K video and upscale it to 8K in a more effective and lifelike way. It aims to smooth out motion and color gradation while also enhancing clarity. And, Sony will be applying those smarts to audio as well.

No doubt LG will have more to show soon in the face of these advancements from Samsung and Sony. More budget-friendly manufacturers like TCL and Hisense are sure to have some new 8K displays on the horizon as well.

The Gaming Features That Matter in an 8K (or Any) TV

Right now, 8K TVs only occupy the absolute top end of the market, so there’s not a lot to consider when shopping around (especially when there are only a handful of models anyway). Still, if you’re wondering whether these TVs will be good for gaming, here’s what you need to know.

Size: 4K TVs already provide an incredibly sharp picture, so 8K is, frankly, a small step up for most screen sizes. If you want to go 8K, go big. Because the resolution of 8K TVs is so high, you can go for some truly large screens, like 80-inches and up, before you can start discerning the individual pixels on a display.

Both Samsung and Sony offer their 8K TVs in gargantuan sizes, so if you want to make sure that money is going toward something noticeable, buy the biggest panel you can—you won’t be disappointed.

High Dynamic Range (HDR): Any of the current 8K TVs will excel at HDR, thanks to their high peak brightness and wide color gamuts—allowing them to produce a more vibrant image than the standard dynamic range TVs of yore. There is, however, a difference between the models I’ve listed above: while both support the common HDR10 and HLG standards, they differ in their support for higher-end HDR formats.

Sony’s Z9G supports Dolby Vision, which is currently available on some Blu-ray discs and streaming services. Dolby Vision supports more colors, brighter highlights, and scene-by-scene information for a more dynamic image. Samsung, on the other hand, has put all its eggs into the HDR10+ basket, a new competitor for Dolby Vision that is more open, but not as common at the moment.

It’s probably not enough to sway you one way or the other, especially since unsupported standards will just show as HDR10, but it’s something to keep in mind—neither panel currently supports all the HDR standards currently available.

Refresh rate: Refresh rate determines how many times per second the display can refresh the image—the more times it can do so, the more frames it can display, leading to smoother motion. While the major consoles currently run games at 30 or 60 frames per second, PCs—and perhaps future consoles—can run games at higher frame rates for superfluid action.

Thankfully, both Samsung and Sony’s 8K TVs support refresh rates of up to 120Hz for 4K graphics. 8K is only supported at 30Hz even with the highest tier video connections (i.e. DisplayPort 1.4 and HDMI 2.0), though, which means motion will seem a tad choppy (if you can even get a game to run at that resolution). Hopefully, future 8K TVs may push this boundary further.

Good news is a new DisplayPort 2.0 was announced on June 2019, which is expected to boost 8K support. Supposedly this new standard will boast three times the bandwidth of the DisplayPort 1.4 spec at up to 80Gbps max or enough to run two 8K displays at 120Hz. DisplayPort 2.0 is expected to arrive first on gaming monitors in late 2020. This is great news for future 8K TVs, but it doesn’t mean much for the sets that are available today, unfortunately.

Response time: Response time is often confused with input lag, but while both tend to be measured in milliseconds, they affect different characteristics of your monitor. Response time measures how fast a pixel can change from black to white, or between two different shades of grey. The slower it’s able to make that change, the more likely you are to see “ghosting,” or trails behind moving images on the screen. That means games and movies will look blurrier, so low response time is crucial for having a clear image. Thankfully, since 8K TVs are all super high end right now, all the options above have excellent response times for LCD panels.

Input lag: This refers to the delay between pressing a button on your controller and seeing the effect on the screen. Many things can affect input lag, but TVs, in particular, are notorious for having high input lag due to the amount of processing that happens behind the scenes. That’s why you want a TV with a dedicated “Game Mode” that turns this processing off for the least lag possible—below 30-40ms is ideal. Again, since the current crop of 8K TVs is made up of super high-end displays, all the options on this list have low input lag when Game Mode is turned on.

Variable Refresh Rate (aka FreeSync): If you’re using an Xbox One S, Xbox One X, or PC that supports FreeSync, you may want a TV that also supports the variable refresh rate tech. This allows the display to adjust its refresh rate to match the frame rate output your PC or console, eliminating nasty screen tearing.

Right now, Samsung’s Q900R is the only 8K TV that supports this, so if gaming is important to you, that may give it a small edge, despite some of Sony’s other advantages.

Is 8K Even Worth It Yet?

If you’ve read this far, you’re probably yelling at your screen, chastising me for ignoring the elephant in the room—but don’t worry, I was just saving it for last.

Here’s the thing: these 8K TVs may be glorious, but so are this year’s crop of 4K TVs, and there is basically no 8K content to watch right now. (Heck, there’s still a lot of stuff you can’t even watch in 4K—I’m looking at you, HBO.) And even if you did have 8K content, it’s likely to be the most subtle upgrade in picture quality yet.

With 8K TVs costing thousands more than their 4K counterparts, we’re pretty firmly in the realm of diminishing returns right now. By the time 8K content is available, the TVs are likely to be a lot more affordable, meaning there’s little reason to buy one right this second.

I can see an argument for buying a “future-proof” TV now and not having to upgrade for many, many years—and some people may prefer that approach. But just remember that even an 8K TV won’t necessarily be future-proof by the time 8K becomes ubiquitous—just ask early 4K adopters who missed out on HDR.

If you’re extremely flush with cash and want the best TV money can buy, go for it—as I said, you won’t be disappointed by the picture quality these sets offer. If you have any semblance of a budget, you’re probably better off with a super high-end 4K set like the aforementioned Samsung Q90R, Sony A9G OLED, or Sony X950G.

More Expert Tech Roundups

Whitson Gordon is a writer, gamer, and tech nerd who has been building PCs for 10 years. He eats potato chips with chopsticks so he doesn’t get grease on his mechanical keyboard.

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


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