Most TVs are designed for watching video, but gamers have different needs. We’ve rounded up the best TVs on the market for getting your game on.
Top 4 TVs for Gamers
|TV||Our Reccommendation||Input Lag*||Contrast Ratio||Screen Size||Resolution||Price||See on Amazon|
|LG OLED65C7P||Best of the Best||21.1ms||Infinite||65"||4K UHD||$$$$$$|
|LG 49UK6300PUE||Lowest Input Lag||11.3ms||1,096:1||49"||4K UHD||$$|
|Samsung UN55NU8000||Best Midrange||18.4ms||5,458:1||55"||4K UHD|
|TCL 49S405||Best Budget||14.9ms||4,171:1||49"||4K UHD|
Data current as of 12/05/2018. Pricing and features subject to change.
*Input lag stats courtesy of RTINGS.com.
If you want a gorgeous picture, you want an LG OLED TV. The panel on this smart TV is simply stunning. Thanks to OLED technology, every color will look deeper and brighter, so you can experience the full beauty of your games the way the designers intended. (Imagine Breath of the Wild!) This TV also has a very respectable 21ms input lag, which makes for a smooth gaming experience. The one downside? There’s quite a price to pay for all this majesty.
If minimizing input lag is your number-one priority (looking at you, Counter-Strike: Global Offensive players), this is the smart TV for you. With an astonishingly low 11.3ms lag time at 4K resolution, you’d be hard-pressed to notice any delay on this set. The picture quality doesn’t quite live up to some of the other TVs featured here, but the reasonable price could make up for it—especially if you’re playing games where you pay with your virtual life for any delays.
The Samsung NU8000 series of smart TVs strike a very nice balance of picture quality and price. With great contrast ratio, a fast refresh rate, a healthy 55-inch size, and an attractive design, it’s hard to go wrong. If you want to spend enough to get something you’ll be happy with for a while but don’t want to go above and beyond, this is your TV. The NU8000 series also supports FreeSync for even quicker response times. Our biggest complaint is that the viewing angles could be better, but if you’re a gamer who’s used to sitting front and center on the couch, you probably don’t care about that.
This wallet-friendly LED TV offers excellent picture quality and almost unnoticeable input lag for gamers. Although it lacks fancy features like local dimming, the 4K screen display is vibrant and clear enough to see every gritty detail play out. It also features a built-in Roku smart TV platform for streaming your favorite non-game content for whenever you’re ready to switch from gamer to streamer. We’ve highlighted the 49-inch model, but it’s available in 43-inch, 55-inch, and 65-inch sizes as well.
What to Look for in a Gaming TV
When choosing a TV for gaming, the two things we’re looking for are responsiveness and picture quality. When we press a button on our controller, we want the TV to register it instantly and look great doing it. If you don’t want to go with one of our recommendations, here are the specs to watch for to find another TV that’s great for gamers.
Input lag is the response time between when you press a button or provide other input and when the TV registers it. Input lag is especially important in multiplayer and first-person shooter games like Call of Duty, where the action is fast-paced and competitive.
In these games, anything slowing down your reactions is a major disadvantage. That’s why most TVs include a “game mode” that adjusts various settings to reduce lag time while maintaining picture quality.
Contrast ratio is the ratio of the brightest white to the darkest black a screen can produce. Perhaps more than any other property of a TV, contrast ratio has the potential to make or break a picture—a poor contrast ratio makes the image feel washed out and shallow.
For the best possible contrast ratio, you want an OLED (organic light-emitting diode) TV. These TVs only light up the individual pixels needed to display an image, leaving the others off. The result is deep, silky blacks and infinite contrast.
Screen size is really a personal decision based on the size and layout of your room, how far you want to sit from the TV, and how much money you have to spend. With modern consoles supporting 4K resolution, you can generally go as big as you want and not worry about losing picture quality.
TVs (and screens in general) don’t actually display moving images. What you’re really seeing is a still image updated many times per second, to give the illusion of a moving picture. Refresh rate is the rate at which those updates occur. Refresh rate is measured in Hertz (Hz), with the most common rates these days being 60Hz and 120Hz, though these are increasing. (A 60Hz screen refreshes 60 times per second.)
High Dynamic Range (HDR)
HDR was touted as the next big thing in TV a couple years ago, and it’s on most of the popular models nowadays. Dynamic range is the contrast between light and dark areas, and HDR is a technique to enhance that contrast and produce a more lifelike picture. Does it work? In a word: yes.
The picture on any TV (or any screen, for that matter) will always appear more clear and vibrant when viewed head-on. Any shift to the side, above, or below the screen will cause the picture quality to degrade. This is true of all screens, though some TVs suffer more than others.
A wider viewing angle means that viewers can sit further to the side of the screen and still get a good experience. A narrow viewing angle means that you’ll have to sit directly in front of the TV to get a crisp picture.
Local dimming is a feature on LED TVs that helps them get closer to the infinite contrast and perfect blacks of an OLED TV. With local dimming, the LED array that lights up the screen and produces the picture is divided into zones.
Zones closer to dark areas of the picture are dimmed, making those areas even darker. That’s a very basic explanation, but the idea is that only the areas of the screen that need to be are lit up.
Motion blur is exactly what it sounds like: fast-moving objects on the screen appear blurry or streaky, sometimes with trails behind them. This is most apparent in sports and video games. And since we want the best TV for gaming, we want a TV with as little motion blur as possible.
LED TVs tend to suffer from motion blur more than OLED TVs due to the way the technology operates. If you do end up going with an LED TV, choosing a model with a higher refresh rate can help minimize motion blur effects.
Whether you’re looking for a cheap gaming TV for your bedroom or want the best of the best for your media room, these picks should serve you well. Already have a gaming TV you love? Let us know which model you have in the comments.
If you’re tired of switching the inputs on your TV, get a console that can do it all. Check out our review of the best gaming consoles for streaming to get the one for what you want.