Televisions, particularly 4K TVs, have had massive jumps in technology over the past few years. However, while movie watching experiences have been better than ever, they have been less than optimal for gaming. Part of that is because of the smoothing technology that makes sports look great but new movies and video games look terrible.
The other problem is the technology in televisions versus monitors. TVs usually have high latency and are locked at 60Hz. This makes for a less than ideal experience for gaming, especially if you are playing competitive online games. However, lower latency, higher refresh rates, and dedicated gaming modes have made modern 4K TVs viable alternatives to monitors in 2020. Here are our picks for the best 4K TVs for gaming.
In terms of gaming experiences, there isn’t anything quite like the LG C9. It’s OLED display is stunning and bright, and it has some unique features that make it particularly ideal for gamers.
The most significant feature is HDMI 2.1, which supports 4K up to 120 frames per second. It’s an important future-proofing feature that will matter a lot to gamers. 4K/120 content isn’t here quite yet, but when it does arrive gamers will have an impressive set to play the latest games on.
The C9 also has an auto low latency mode which makes the tv incredibly responsive. That’s perfect for competitive gamers who need that moment to moment response time.
Like all OLED screens, there is a chance of burn-in, especially if you use the TV a lot over a long period of time. However, as long as you aren’t on it for several hours a day, every day, the LG C9 is by far the best TV gaming experience.
OLED TVs have the best picture quality period, and nowhere is that more evident than Sony’s fantastic Master Series A9G. It’s big competition is with LG, and while the LG C9 is our top choice for gaming, the Sony A9G offers the best image quality. It isn’t quite as bright, but Sony’s handling of shadows and darker colors makes this set an ideal choice. That’s why it edges out the LG C9 in our review.
Sony also stands out from its competitors with impressive sound. Audio on televisions is usually unremarkable, but the A9G has impressive fidelity and a powerful presence. It can’t beat a dedicated sound bar, obviously, but it is impressive enough all on its own.
Gaming capability is also solid on it. It has a 120Hz refresh rate and low latency. However, it doesn’t support a variable refresh rate (VRR). Still, the overall experience is smooth and responsive.
It isn’t quite on par with the LG C9, but the Sony A9G offers an impressive experience with best in class image quality and solid sound.
Samsung makes some of the best panels in the industry, and the Q70R is a prime example of that. The Q70R’s impressive brightness makes it perfect for HDR content, and the AI-powered 4K processor has impressive upscaling capability. That makes the Q70R perfect for top-of-the-line gaming experiences.
It is particularly beneficial for consoles like the Xbox One X or PlayStation 4, which support native 4K and 4K upscaling respectively. However, the AI technology will upscale any HD image, even if your console or PC doesn’t output in 4K. The Q70R’s dedicated Rapid Game mode drops the latency to 10.8ms, which significantly improves the gaming experience. It isn’t quite up to monitor levels, but it drastically closes the gap.
If you’re looking for stunning image quality without shelling out for an OLED TV, Vizio’s P-Series Quantum is hands down one of the best 4K TVs you can get. The Quantum dots in this television have stunning color recreation. The only thing that tops it is an OLED display.
But beautiful displays alone don’t make great gaming experiences. However, the Quantum also has an effective 240Hz refresh rate. That means gaming experiences across the board will be buttery smooth and enjoyable to play. The P-Series can even handle maxed out PC games.
The Vizio P-Series Quantum is a great selection for anyone looking for a top-tier gaming experience that won’t cost you several thousand dollars.
Not everyone has the spare cash to shell out for an OLED TV. Luckily, the price for run of the mill 4K TVs has substantially dropped in the past few years. These cheaper sets are also starting to greatly improve in quality, and that is evidenced by the Hisense 8HG. It doesn’t have all the bells and whistles on higher end televisions, but it has enough features to make it a great 4K TV and a solid gaming setup.
Most notably, the Hisense 8HG is one of the most affordable 4K TVs that supports the latest standards in HDR. That means you get high quality images as well as a certain amount of future-proofing with this set.
The image quality on the 8HG is also top-notch, which is surprising for its price range. Color accuracy is spot on and HDR is quite effective. Gaming is also a pleasant experience with MotionRate240. It doesn’t improve the refresh rate, which is still 60Hz, but it does make the experience smoother.
If you’re looking to get a 4K TV that will last you for a long while, the Hisense 8HG is one of the best options.
Not everyone has the cash for the latest OLED TVs. Many haven’t even made the jump to 4K yet. Luckily, there are plenty of budget options out there. If you’re looking to make the jump to 4K without breaking the bank, the TCL 55 6-Series is an ideal choice. It is inexpensive but still offers key features to make it a solid gaming experience.
One surprising thing about the TCL 6-Series is the inclusion of Quantum dots. Quantum dots improve color gamut, making HDR content really pop. They’re usually reserved for higher end LCD sets, so seeing them on an affordable TV is awesome. You may need to adjust the color settings out of the box, though.
While there aren’t any specific gaming features like auto low latency mode or a variable refresh rate, those aren’t found on this set. However, you’ll be hard pressed to find them on any budget 4K TV. What the 6-Series does have is low input lag, which puts it ahead of the gaming competition. It makes for a serviceable gaming experience that doesn’t break the bank.
Are 4K TVs just as good as monitors?
A few years ago, the answer would have been a hard no. However, thanks to built-in low latency modes and improved response times, 4K TVs are beginning to close the gap between them and gaming monitors. However, despite these improvements, dedicated monitors still edge them out, particularly in response time. However, unless you are a die-hard competitive gamer, the difference at this point is negligible, especially for higher end sets.
Is 4K upscaling good?
4K upscaling will improve the resolution of any game you’re playing, however that doesn’t mean it will improve the quality of the image. 4K upscaling depends on the processor in the TV itself, and as such it can have variable results. Generally, though, the higher end the TV the better the upscaling will be.
Do TVs have refresh rates higher than 60Hz?
The refresh rate of any display is how many times the panel updates per second. This is displayed in Hz. Therefore a 60Hz display will refresh 60 times per second. Higher refresh rates mean smoother performance. A few years ago, most 4K displays were locked at 60Hz, but many televisions have much higher refresh rates now. Some are as high as 240Hz, though the most common top end one is 120Hz.
What about latency?
Latency is how long it takes for an input signal to display on the screen. TVs have usually had much higher latency than monitors, which is why they weren’t ideal for gaming. Latency is usually factored into the response time for any TV or monitor. Anything over 100ms is basically unusable for gameplay. Anything less than 50ms is acceptable, though you really should aim for a TV with 20ms or less.
How did Digital Trends pick the best gaming 4K TVs?
As a note, this post isn’t a rehash of our picks for the best TVs of 2020. To select the best gaming 4K TVs, we looked at a set amount of criteria that appealed specifically to gamers. Those factors include the response time, refresh rate, and image quality. We generally looked for devices with refresh rates higher than 60Hz or had settings that improved smoothness.
Most TVs don’t have an official response time, so we mainly looked at latency. We looked for 4K TVs with a response time around 20ms, though some are lower.
Image quality is variable based on the panel and how much you’re willing to spend, so we mainly focused on quality of life features. We considered the best 4K TVs for gaming to support the latest HDR standards and have accurate color recreation. 4K upscaling is a nice feature, but it wasn’t a major factor in selecting this list.
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