The right TV can add so much to the hours you dedicate to gaming – whether that’s giving you an edge over the competition so that you’re quicker on the trigger in Battlefield, or simply having a more immersive Assassin’s Creed experience.
As games become more finessed, more technical, you need them to perform on your TV as their creators’ intended, with fluid gameplay, and a new wave of panels loaded with console-friendly technologies aiming to do exactly this.
Most of the TVs we looked at were capable of running with a 120Hz refresh rate, allowing games to run at 120 frames per second, which translates to smoother visuals as the TV is able to keep up with the game and refresh itself faster.
However, we didn’t discount 60Hz gaming either and have included any that caught our eye during testing, which involved us sitting down and grinding on our favourite first person shooters, real time strategy and role playing titles.
TVs that support two further technologies, Variable Refresh Rate (VRR) and Auto Low Latency Mode (ALLM), through an HDMI 2.1 port, were also considerations.
The former allows a TV to automatically adjust its refresh rate in real-time, in order to sync with the frame rate coming out of the console. The next-gen Xbox features VRR and it’s coming soon to PS5, so it’s a worthy feature to have in your TV. Similarly, ALLM switches your TV to the most appropriate picture mode available and is also a must-have for next-gen gamers.
Most of the TVs in our line-up have at least one HDMI2.1 port and support 4K 120Hz, VRR and ALLM to deliver smoother gaming at higher frame rates.
We also researched the TV’s input lag (or input latency) which is an indication of how long it will take a button press on a controller, or the movement of an analogue stick, trigger or paddle to register with a character or weapon on screen. We used a lag tester to get the most accurate readings, not just the ones supplied by the manufacturers themselves, looking for anything below 50ms where you won’t even notice the difference.
Gaming visuals are generally very rich and pure, so we judged the TV’s on how well they represented this and whether they were able to handle bright, flashy images and deep black levels, so you can see plenty of black detail in the shadows, which will add to the atmosphere of action adventure games.
While we’re on the subject of the TV’s black depth we also graded TVs on their ability to show shadow detail – which is a gamer’s visibility in darker areas of an image, so you can see who’s lurking in the shadows.
Finally, HDR (High Dynamic Range) is always a factor when looking for a TV these days, and this is no different if you’re a gamer as sophisticated HDR will increase the contrast between light and dark in an image, offering optimised contrast and increased realism.
So whether you’re playing an FPS, an RTS or an RPG, here are the real game-changers worth splashing out on.
The best gaming TVs for PS and Xbox players for 2021 are:
- Best overall – LG OLED65C114LB: £2499, Currys.co.uk
- Best for immersive gaming – Samsung QN95A: £1899, Samsung.com
- Best for first person shooters – LG OLED77CX6LA: £3499, Lg.com
- Best for crisp HDR – Samsung QE55Q90T: £999.99, Smartappliancesuk.com
- Best for budget gaming – Hisense roku R50A7200GTUK: £379, Argos.co.uk
- Best for overall picture quality – Sony bravia XR XR-55A90J: £2699, Johnlewis.com
- Best for smooth gameplay – LG OLED65G1: £2999, Johnlewis.com
- Best value for money – Sony bravia KD55XH9005BU: £769, Centresdirect.co.uk
- Best for future-proofed gaming – Samsung QE65Q80T: £1199, Hifix.co.uk
- Best for quick-fire gaming – Panasonic TX-50HX800: £699, Amazon.co.uk
LG have been at the forefront of bringing OLED technology to the mainstream, while managing to keep prices sensible, and the 65in C1 is an excellent example (although it’s also sized at 48in, 55in, 77in and a whopping 83in). There are four HDMI 2.1 ports and the TV supports 4k 120Hz, and we measured the TV’s latency at a lowly 9-13ms, which will be music to a dedicated gamer’s ears. That means we experienced super responsive gaming at both 60Hz and 120Hz refresh rates with HDR that was superbly rendered.
Extra support for next-gen gaming is offered with ALLM and VRR and there is even a “fine tune dark areas” option within VRR that keeps dark areas truly dark, but nicely defined. Another feature of the C1, that will particularly interest gamers, is LG’s “game optimizer” menu, which lets you access console-orientated features and a “game genre” feature. We particularly liked this because it allows the TV to adapt to the game genre, adjusting picture processing accordingly, so real time strategy games can have image quality boosted, while first person shooters will focus on response time.
In terms of picture quality, just wandering through the cities in Assassin’s Creed Valhalla was enough to appreciate the totally immersive qualities of OLED and its ability to light each individual LED on the screen, which results in some breathtaking brightness that’s truly full-screen.
Best: For immersive gaming
This TV is already garnering some buzz for being a gamer’s best friend thanks to its 4K gameplay, crisp HDR, 120Hz refresh rates, one HDMI 2.1 port and ultra low input lag. In addition, there’s a gamer-orientated menu, called “game bar” that allows for quick gameplay adjustments, from checking input lag to alternating the aspect ratio you’re playing in. Game play is judder-free and the picture pops with vivid, bright colours and deep blacks with excellent HDR contrast, so that you feel totally immersed in your gaming experience.
And speaking of these two features, we measured input latency at 10.9 and made full use of the option to change screen ratio between 21:9 and 32:9 to present a wider view that can really bring out detail and depth. VRR and ALLM are available and the QN95A recognises what console you’re playing on and routinely adds it to the input, which switches on “game mode” when that input is selected in the future.
The TV is available in 50, 55, 65 and 75in screen sizes, has a nice sleek finish and looks great on its stand, as well as being easily mounted on a slim-fit bracket.
Best: For first person shooters
The TV comes fully featured with four HDMI 2.1 ports so you’re never short of connections and you’re able to make full use of the Xbox X’s ALLM, as well as VRR to sync your console’s frame rate with the TV.
The CX can revolutionise your gameplay with seamless 4K at 120fps and latency measured at less than 20ms, so you never have to worry about in-game lag regardless of your game of choice. The shadow detail was absolutely superb, so it was easy to spot any one lurking in the shadows trying to get the jump on a character in a first person shooter, and if this model doesn’t quite fit your budget then there are two smaller versions, measuring 65 and 55ins, respectively.
Best: For crisp HDR
This 4K 120Hz model offers ultra fluid gameplay with latency that clocks in at less than 10ms, which eliminates the motion blur and ghosting that we experienced on inferior TVs – the bane of serious game hounds. The panel was one of the best at optimising HDR peaks, like reflections of sunlight on axes for example, and everything we played had a realistic edge to it that is crucial for enhancing your enjoyment of a game.
In darker scenes, the contrast between bright and dark was similarly punchy, offering a real level of depth. There’s VRR and ALLM support, good shadow detail and the TV is available in 65 inch and 75 inch sizes for anyone who wants a bigger gaming window on their wall.
Hisense roku R50A7200GTUK
Best: For budget gaming
If you’re more than happy with your current PS4 or Xbox then there are plenty of options out there, but we were particularly impressed with this lower price point model, which has a motion rate of 60Hz, but still delivers really responsive gaming at that refresh rate. The HDR was very impressive and turned blacks properly black, rather than the washed out grey that you often see on budget TVs, as well as rendering whites nice and bright.
The manufacturer has also included a manual “game mode”, which suppresses latency to around 12ms, which gives you a much tighter sense of control over in-game actions. The Hisense also comes in a range of 50, 55 and 65in sizes, but there’s also a desktop-friendly 43in version, which means that you can sit closer to the screen, or it’s a good option if you’re a bit tight for space in the room that you game in.
Sony bravia XR XR-55A90J
Best: For overall picture quality
This 55-incher comes with two HDMI 2.1 sockets as well as 4K 120Hz and ALLM, although there’s currently no VRR, which might put off some Xbox X players. Input lag is very low at around 16-18ms to help your reaction times in fast-twitch or racing games that are crying out for smooth inputs, and the shadow detail was better than on some similarly priced TVs, which will be a real advantage to players of games like Call of Duty Black Ops Cold War.
Colours were rich, clean and defined and all the games we played were rendered really naturally with impressive HDR that contributed to an enhanced sense of depth and space. The TV is also available in 65 and 83in incarnations and it’s easily mounted on a stand or the wall.
Best: For smooth gameplay
What you’ll notice first about this next-gen screen is how bright and bold your current game of choice is without it bleeding into the darker recesses of the game. This makes for life-like, detailed images, which is largely down to LG’s Evo panel technology that’s designed to make the most out of the HDR experience offered by the next-gen consoles.
Underpinning this is four HDMI 2.1 ports, 4K 120Ha, VRR and ALLM, and 12ms game lag to make sure you can keep up with the competition when playing DIRT5. LG’s “game optimizer” menu adds to the gaming specific usability of the TV to tailor your experience according to your current obsession. Finally, the LG G1 is specifically designed for wall mounting, and only ships with a wall-mount bracket, but it goes up with ease.
Sony bravia KD55XH9005BU
Best: Value for money
Another TV in the Sony line-up that’s designed with next-gen gaming in mind, with 4K 120fps and an update that Sony has promised will soon be available which will add ALLM and VRR to the technologies that it already supports. We measured the input lag at 18ms to give you a vital edge over that online nemesis that you’ve been going head-to-head with in Borderlands 3.
The TV boasts very impressive HDR with well-defined brightness and darks that will immerse you in the game, as well as offering good shadow detail. Offered in 55, 65 and 75in versions, you’ll be able to find a size that suits your wall, especially as the Sony comes with one of the most straightforward mounts on test.
Best: For future-proofed gaming
An excellent all rounder no matter what console you power up for a gaming session, as it supports 4K 120Hz as well as 4K 60Hz and 2K 120Hz. That means the panel will service a PS4 gaming session well, but will be able to step up to the faster refresh rates available from the newer consoles when you decide to upgrade.
It comes with ALLM, VRR as standard and latency won’t be a concern with lag recorded at just 10.6ms, so your gameplay won’t miss a beat. We liked playing with the “games motion plus” mode, which optimised a whole range of games to give them a naturalistic feel without impacting on the very low lag.
Best: For quick fire gaming
This is the only TV from this particular manufacturer in the line up, but it deserves a place because even though it doesn’t support VRR or 4K 120Hz, it does come with an outstanding latency measurement of just 9.2, which is incredibly good considering the price the TV retails for.
Of course, you’re not going to just buy the panel because of a respectable lag time, which is why we’re also recommending it because it offers impressive HDR, with vibrant colours, deep blacks and bright whites and shadow detail that was as good as some TVs that were double the price.
The verdict: TV for gaming
Crystal-clear and with gorgeous gaming detail the LG OLED65C114LB allows you to play the gamut of games knowing that you’re going to have them displayed just as the developers intended. It comes equipped with all the vital next-gen gaming features as well as being feature-packed to ensure games always look great and play frustration free with no blurring or tearing of the on-screen image.
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