Choosing one of the best gaming TVs as part of your PC set-up might at first seem like overkill, maybe just a little extra. But if you have a rig capable of pushing a solid 60fps or 120fps at 4K resolution and you have to space for it, why not go for something a little more extravagant than a regular gaming panel? And while a regular monitor is certainly fine for average builds, if your PC houses an Nvidia RTX 2080 Super, or even a GeForce RTX 2080 Ti or two, you could easily make the most of that power by using one of the best gaming TVs instead.
There are a couple of benefits to picking a TV as your primary display. For a start, you should get a 120Hz refresh rate and the HDR will be noticeably brighter. And then there’s the size—you’re likely to get a much bigger panel than you would with almost any of the traditional gaming monitors out there. Many high-end TVs also come with game-focused features these days too, so you can enjoy technologies such as FreeSync or even G-Sync compatibility on many models.
One of our favorite gaming TVs is the LG OLED E9 series which also packs G-Sync support, thanks to an update that rolled out last year. And while the one we have listed in this guide is last year’s model, we still think it is well worth the investment, making it a great choice for regular movies and TV too.
Another solid choice are the Samsung QLED models which are excellent for all types of viewing. And if you have success in locating the 2018 Samsung Q9F model—it’s placed at number two on this list—you’ll find it’s a great TV and comes pretty close in terms of performance to the more recent Q90R model.
We’ve chosen our favorite gaming TVs and listed them below. There are also a handful of bullet points to help you reach a decision on the best panel for your needs. If you’re not totally sold on using a TV as your primary display, our guide to the best 4K monitors for gaming may have just what you’re looking for.
1. LG OLED65E9PUA – 65″ 4K TV
The best 4K TV for gaming you can buy
Screen size: 65-inch | Resolution: 3840 x 2160 | Panel technology: OLED | Smart TV: LG AI ThinQ | Dimensions: 35.5 x 57 x 8.7 in | Weight: 75 lbs
Incredible black levels
Pin-sharp, ultra-thin panel
Comes with G-sync
4K game mode only 60Hz
QLED colors are richer
With each year, LG’s OLED panels get stronger and stronger for gaming. The E9 is 2019’s model and it packs in many of the same features from last year’s E8 (our favorite gaming TV for so long), albeit with some key changes. The panel is still among the thinnest of all 4K TVs, and it brings unrivalled black levels thanks to the OLED tech allowing individual LEDs to be completely switched on and off. That’s how you get such deep blacks and the clarity and sharpness of image with them. It makes the E9 panels perfect for darker games like Metro: Exodus and Resident Evil 2: Remake.
Even better news is that G-sync is enabled on all E9-series TVs, when you have Game Mode active, so you no longer have to suffer through skipped frames and torn pictures when playing at higher frame-rates. HDR isn’t toned down in LG’s Game Mode either, so you still get that vibrancy while benefiting from better response and refresh rates. Unfortunately, you can still only play 4K at 60Hz on the E9-series (as it was with the E8), but the response rate has been boosted over the previous year, and now sits at a handsome 6ms for 1440p and 13ms for 4K.
The LG E9 is also capable of Dolby Atmos 4.2 sound, which is perfect for 4K movies if you run them through PC, and while its HDR brightness isn’t quite on a par with the QLED panels from Samsung (which favor color vibrancy over deep blacks), the Dolby Vision here is superb. As with most OLED panels, the thinness of the screen means sound output itself is never going to be as rich as a separate speaker system (speaker size is sacrificed for aesthetics), but the E9 still manages surprisingly good audio too that surpasses the E8. We’d recommend a premium gaming headset to really set the experience off, or a top-class audio system, but it’s by no means a deal-breaker.
Picking up older models like the E8 and C8 will net you a picture that’s almost on a par with the E9 for less money but, beware, they’ll be missing that G-sync tech and won’t have the same response rates.
2. Samsung Q9F 65″
A superb 4K TV for gaming, now at a mid-range price
Screen size: 65-inch | Resolution: 3840 x 2160 | Panel technology: QLED | Smart TV: Samsung QSmart | Dimensions: 48.5 x 30.7 x 9.8 in | Weight: 44.1 lbs
The best TV picture available
Has HDR 2000
Freesync compatible, and has a great Game Mode
Limited viewing angle
While OLED is best for the inkiest of blacks, Samsung’s QLED tech leads the way when it comes to vibrant colors and vivid contrasts. The Q9F is 2018’s best 4K TV, and while it has now been replaced as the flagship model by the Q90R, it remains a showstopping panel. What’s more, you can now pick it up for half the price, making this elite TV actually affordable, and it has almost all the features present in the newer (vastly more expensive) Q90R.
The headline feature is its HDR 2000 tech, which is the most vivid HDR of any commercially available TV. It’s all very well boasting about it, but you can actually see a significant boost in vibrancy over every other TV set, with a noticeably bigger range of colors. 4K content looks stunning, but the TV also does a fantastic job of upscaling regular HD pictures and even SD content, making them more colorful and with smoother motion and edges. It’s a fantastic all-rounder, thanks to direct full array LED picture display, and the anti-reflection screen is the icing on the cake.
What’s more, the sound is very good too, which is unusual for TVs that place such an emphasis on soundbars and headsets. Having used external SONOS speakers for years, with other TVs, we finally found that the Q9F delivered superior audio. It’s all finished off with a single-wire set-up, meaning you get no clutter behind the TV, and an ambient mode that lets you display art on the panel (or let it blend into your wall) when you’re not using it. The only downside? The viewing angle is limited, so you get a loss in vibrancy if you’re watching beyond 45 degrees which, with such a large TV that’s designed to be the centerpiece of your room, is such a minor complaint. This is one of the best value TVs right now, and also one of the best you’ll ever own.
3. Sony X900F 49″
A great mid-range 4K TV for gaming
Screen size: 49-inch | Resolution: 3840 x 2160 | Panel technology: LED | Smart TV: Android TV | Dimensions: 43.1 x 27 x 9.4 in | Weight: 30.4 lbs
Exceptional value for a direct-lit LCD TV
Good HDR support
Frustrating Android TV Smart engine
Not the brightest TV for HDR viewing
Although Sony’s X900F LCD TV series came out in 2018, they’re very much still available. And handily, their relative age means they’re still available at massively reduced prices. In fact, if you snap one up now, you’re truly getting an upper mid-range big-brand TV for the price of an entry level one.
The key to their success is that despite their affordability, they use direct LED lighting with local dimming—like the Samsung Q8FN. There aren’t as many ‘dimming zones’ as you get with the Q8FN, but having this sort of backlight configuration at all is remarkable for such an affordable TV.
The result is a far better contrast performance than you can get from literally any other TV in its price class. And as we’ve highlighted throughout this article, a good contrast performance by a display is fundamentally important to an exciting HDR gaming picture.
Also great news for gamers is the X900F series’ Triluminos colour system. This uses proprietary Sony processing to produce a wider and more subtly nuanced colour performance than any other TV in its price class. This means 4K HDR game imagery looks more vibrant, rich and detailed.
Inevitably for its money, the X900F does not support the high frame rates of the LG OLEDE8 series, or the automatic game mode switching and variable refresh rate features of the Samsung Q8FNs. Also, because it uses far fewer dimming zones than the Samsung Q8FNs, you can sometimes see gentle halos of light around bright objects if they appear against dark backgrounds. This becomes exaggerated if you have to watch from an angle. The X900F series can only hit around half the brightness achieved by the Samsung LCD model, too.
The set does partner its still great pictures, though, with a respectably low 30ms of input lag if you use its game preset. And the bottom line is that no TVs as affordable as the X900Fs are going to be perfect. All that really matters here is that the X900F is comfortably the all-round best TV for gaming in its price range.
4. TCL 55R617 55″ Roku TV
The best budget 4K TV you can buy
Screen size: 55-inch | Resolution: 3840 x 2160 | Panel technology: LED | Smart TV: Roku TV | Dimensions: 48.5 x 30.9 x 10.7 in | Weight: 38.2 lbs
Great price, and often reduced
Good picture quality
Surprisingly solid response rate
Not as deep colors as QLED or OLED
Panel not quite as fast
If you’re looking to buy a 55″ TV on a budget, look no further than the TCL 6-series. This is 2018’s model, but that means you can often find it on sale but, quite frankly, it’s a bargain at full price. While the earlier TCL models suffered from poor build quality, and several screen flaws, the 6-series solved these issues to deliver an ace Roku-powered TV. What’s more, it’s great for gaming too. While it doesn’t have the low, low response rate of $1000+ panels, it manages between 6ms-12ms, which is above average for TVs of this size and price. What’s more, it has full-array local dimming, which means the contrast ratios are good (the blacks, especially, are nice and deep).
Where the TCL suffers is in the color range, which is merely average for 4K TVs of this budget. While it has decent HDR, that can’t quite mask the lower vibrancy of images, although (to be honest) you’re unlikely to notice much of a difference unless you’re playing the most colorful of games. At 55″, it’s less noticeable too, although if you’re looking to go 65″ you need to work out if you’re ok getting a TV that does blacks and dark tones better than colors and light tones. For the price, however, it’s very tough to fault the TCL 617. It even comes with voice control if you’re into that sort of thing.
You can even drop down to 43″ if you’re looking for a 4K TV as part of a PC set-up / second room gaming rig. The contrast remains as impressive, and it’s obviously a little cheaper too.
How we test gaming TVs
In assessing all of the main TVs around for their gaming capabilities, we focused on four main performance elements.
First, input lag: how long a screen takes to render image data received at its inputs. This is critically important to gamers. Input lag was checked with HDR, SDR, 4K and HD game feeds to check there were no major anomalies between different sources (there weren’t with any of our selected TVs).
We checked input lag in two ways: using a Leo Bodnar input lag measuring device, and photographically, where we split a video feed of a running timer into the TV we’re testing and a reference BenQ gaming monitor, take a photo, and then see how far the time reading on the TV was behind the reading on the reference monitor.
The photographic method enables us to spot potential moment to moment variations in input lag that some TVs suffer with, and which the Bodnar device doesn’t provide.
Next, we considered contrast. How well a display is able to reproduce the darkest and brightest parts of a gaming image is essential to a truly satisfying game experience. Especially now many games are supporting the expanded brightness range associated with HDR. As part of the contrast assessment, we also looked for issues such as flickering brightness levels and backlight ‘blooming’ around bright objects.
As part of the contrast testing, we measured each TV’s peak light output using an X-Rite i1 Display Pro light meter. This lets us know how far a set can go towards achieving the sort of extreme brightness levels HDR gaming is capable of.
Colour performance was also carefully scrutinized, paying attention to the richness, balance, consistency, freedom from striping noise and authenticity of the tones being shown. Pretty much all HDR material also carries a wider colour range than the old standard dynamic range format we’ve been stuck with for so many years. This can have a transformative effect on game graphics, making them look both more lifelike and more dramatic/three dimensional.
Finally, we looked a motion and sharpness. We mention these together as to some extent they’re related. If a TV suffers badly with judder or blurring when you’re panning around in Fortnite or hurtling into the scenery in Forza Horizon 3, that’s going to affect the picture’s sense of sharpness significantly. We also studied ultra-detailed but relatively static 4K game graphics looking for signs of softness, shimmering noise, ever-enthusiastic edge-enhancements, grain or any lack of depth and three-dimensionality that might be caused by a TV being unable to deliver enough color finesse to ‘match’ the number of pixels in the screen.