The best gaming TVs rely on much more than just picture quality to make them the best buys to pair with your console or PC. There are specific features we're looking for – some of which are unique to making the most of the PS5 or Xbox Series X, some are useful for PC, but some are essential for any kind of gaming. In this guide, we'll explain exactly what these mean, and what TVs you should buy to take advantage of them.
The best TVs will suit console or PC gamers right across the budget range, but pick the wrong picture preset when using these TVs and your experience will start to feel off immediately. That's because image processing makes a gigantic difference when it comes to input lag – that’s the time between when you push a button on your controller and when you see the results on-screen.
So why does selecting a dedicated Game mode make such a huge difference? Simply put, Game mode bypasses a lot of the picture processing used when you’re bingeing The Simpsons on Disney+, and picture processing really slows down response time. By disabling it, you can gain valuable microseconds, which in turn plays to your advantage in fast-moving games.
Of course, there’s an obvious price to pay when engaging low latency Game mode: picture quality suffers. Images can look less sharp, there are more obvious noise and banding, contrast can also take a hit.
For this reason, we advise you don’t engage Game mode for all gameplay – some TV brands will prompt you to select game mode when it recognizes a console, so ignore this. Animal Crossing really doesn’t benefit from Game mode, nor does Minecraft. It’s most useful for high octane shooters, racing sims and the like, where the winning edge can be measured in milliseconds.
And, of course, we’re still going to be using these as TVs much of the time too, so we expect movies and shows to look their best too. It's that in our list of the best OLED TVs, for example, movie performance is the biggest factor and games are secondary, here it's games first and movies second.
Best gaming TVs: Which is the best gaming TV?
The best TV for gaming overall is LG’s scintillating CX OLED range, which is a powerhouse for features and offers jaw-dropping image quality. It includes support for ALLM and VRR (we'll explain what these mean in a moment), plus 4K at 120 frames per second on all four HDMI ports, so it will serve gamers well into the next generation of consoles: the PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X are both set to support all three of these technologies (the Xbox already does, the PS5 is waiting on an update to include VRR and ALLM). The CX range also has Nvidia G-Sync support to boost PC gaming, and features remarkably low delay in its response times.
Our pick for the best LED TV for gaming is the Sony X900H, which gives you bright and vivid HDR pictures, and supports all the major features of next-gen gaming (though, like the PS5, it's waiting on an update for VRR and ALLM). It comes in a little cheaper than the LG CX.
• OLED vs QLED: what they are, and which is right for you
If the CX and XH900 are both too rich for your blood, then there’s some genuine competition at the lower end of the price spectrum. Our favorite midrange model is the TCL 6-Series, which delivers a fantastic image and supports next-gen game console features, all while costing less than $1,000 for a 65-inch model.
What to look for in the best gaming TVs
Let's start with the simple and obvious thing: we want our TVs to look great on current consoles as well as performing well with regular HD and 4K HDR sources.
We want TVs that really make the most of the color and lighting in HDR games – what's the point of incredible vistas and artsy locales if you don't get the full effect?
But we're also looking to balance that image quality, which often takes a lot of processing to achieve, with response times. The more work a TV does to spruce up an image, the longer it takes – the console sends the frame over to the TV, but there's a delay while the processing happens – this is known as 'lag' or 'latency'.
The problem is that you can only respond to things happening in the game when you see them on-screen, and if the TV is adding lag, you're responding slightly late. This isn't much of an issue in some games, but in fast-paced action games, it means you're literally responding slowly.
Most TVs have a 'Game' mode that cuts back on processing to minimize lag, so we measure the lag using devices such as the industry-standard Leo Bodnar video input lag sensor, which measures latency at a median 1080p/60 signal. This calculates the delay between a video signal passing from input to display. The lower the latency figure, the better. As a rule of thumb, 30ms or less can be considered a solid performance for consumer TVs, but our sets do much better than that.
A feature to help make sure that you're not suffering unnecessarily from lag is built into next-gen consoles. It's called Auto Low-Latency Mode (ALLM), and the idea is that it's a standardized signal the console can send that TVs can receive, and know they need to switch into a gaming-friendly mode that reduces latency. The crucial part is that it's all-platform agnostic – as long as your console and TV both support it, it all happens seamlessly even if they're from different manufacturers.
One of the most exciting new features of the next consoles is that they can output video in 4K at up to 120 frames per second – current-gen consoles offer 60 frames per second maximum. Higher frame rates mean two things: one is that you see the games responding to your inputs twice as fast (because a new frame appears in half the time); the other is that everything on-screen looks extra clear even in motion, because you're seeing its movement happen in smaller increments. Basically, for games that support this (which won't be all, by any means), you'll be able to react more quickly and accurately to action, and motion will look much smoother and more realistic.
Related is another key next-gen feature: Variable Refresh Rate (VRR), which is designed to help keep games looking smooth in balance with visual quality. The idea here is to sync how quickly your console generates a new frame with how often your TV is expecting to show a new frame – if the two aren't in lock, you can end up with what's called 'screen tearing', where you see a half-finished frame, making everything look off.
In order to keep things in sync, games have usually locked their output to 30 or 60 frames per second, because this will reliably stay in sync with a TV. But this causes restrictions on how much graphical wizardry can be put into the game, because these frame rates are inflexible. With VRR, the console and TV can stay in sync even if the frame rate needs to (for example) dip a little below 60fps so that an especially graphically impressive scene can happen. Everything will still look smooth and correct, but games can have more flexibility.
You might also have seen that Sony is advertising some of its TVs as "Ready for PlayStation 5". To qualify, TVs need to have a really low response time – under 7.2 milliseconds – and support 4K video at 120fps over HDMI. Note that the TV doesn't need to support VRR to qualify, but based on what we're seeing in early PS5 games, VRR is definitely preferable to have. Also, right now, the TVs need to be made by Sony – we don't know if Sony will allow others to get this branding, but we wouldn't bet on it, so don't be surprised not to see this advertised on other sets.
The best gaming TVs
• Read our full LG CX review
The LG CX is a gaming dream – so much so that it won our T3 Awards 2020 award for Best Gaming TV. It's absolutely packed with features ready for the PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X: there's support for auto low-latency mode (ALLM) for keeping the lag low, there's variable refresh rate compatibility to make sure that what you're seeing stays stutter-free, and you'll be able to play 4K games at 120 frames per second, which is going to be a (forgive us) game-changer in games that ask for quick reactions and have lots of action.
On top of that, there's support for Nvidia G-Sync for making PC gaming with Nvidia graphics cards look smoother, and LG promises that AMD FreeSync support will come later in 2020 too, which will make Xbox One X games and AMD PC GPUs run smoother on it, too.
Perhaps most importantly, we get extremely low input lag from it – running in its gaming mode (which still has a bunch of processing improvements for the image going on, so everything looks better), you get just over 13ms of lag, which is among the best we've seen in those circumstances.
The TV itself is LG's best OLED panel to date, and improvements to how it handles detail in dark areas make it one of the most impressive sets ever for cinematic action. The nuance and realism are second to none, and the way it perfectly handles subtle variances across its entire contrast range is great for seeing everything that's happening in the frame.
Being an OLED screen, there is the theoretical potential for burn-in of graphics that stay on-screen for an incredibly long time without changing. This is not something the average gamer needs to be concerned about – it will only apply to games that have interface elements that don't change at all, and only if you're playing for extremely long amounts of time without anything else appearing on-screen. LG also employs a dimming technology in these OLED TVs, which looks for static elements and makes them slightly darker, reducing the risk of burn-in drastically.
• Read our full Sony X900H review
This Sony is a direct competitor to the Samsung Q80T (further down) – at least, it is at 55-inch and 65-inch sizes, coming in with near-identical feature sets at the same kind of price. At 75 inches, this is the best bang-for-buck TV on the market in 2020, undercutting the Samsung by a lot, but delivering really special image quality. If you want to see the full quality of PS5 and Xbox Series X on a BIG screen, this is the way to do it.
This is one of two TVs branded as 'Ready for PS5' by Sony, which means that a TV has to have a fast enough response time, and must support 4K at 120fps over HDMI inputs. This high refresh rate feature was added via an update, so if you buy a new TV, make sure you let it update itself to ensure it has the latest features!
This TV will also support ALLM and VRR, giving it a full suite of features, ready for the next consoles… at some point. Sony is still waiting to confirm full support for these features, and promises they'll come soon (plus eARC, for high-quality audio output to a soundbar).
It includes Dolby Vision and Atmos support, Android TV gives you a wide range of streaming apps and Google Assistant support, and it has better built-in speakers than your average mid-range TV.
It's fantastic for movies and TV as well as games – the only disappointment is that it's not available in smaller sizes than 55 inches.
LG's cheapest OLED TV of 2020 will be a smash hit with gaming fans, and rightly so. It offers excellent image quality thanks to its OLED screen, and all of the technical features and gaming prowess of the LG C9, but for hundreds less.
When it comes to VRR support, ALLM and 4K at 120Hz from every HDMI port, the LG BX is exactly as well equipped as the LG CX (above). That goes for its great smart TV platform, and support for Dolby Vision and Dolby Atmos, meaning it's ready for the more advanced HDR that Xbox games can offer it.
The reason it's cheaper than the LG CX is that the image quality isn't quite as strong. It's a little less bright, for a start – no problem if you place it somewhere where you control the light well, but it just means it'll be a little harder to see and more washed out in bright sunlight, say. It also means its HDR performance isn't quite as dazzling.
The image processing is slightly less clever too, but is still really strong overall – we're talking a step down from LG's most advanced, flagship processing to its second-best, rather than a sudden drop to budget TV quality.
With a latency looking to be comfortably under 20ms (we're still working on our testing), this is the complete package for gaming.
The difference between the LG CX and LG BX is the kind of thing that image quality nerds pick up, but for most people won't matter at all. So given how strong the images from this TV are overall, and what a great price it is for a 55-inch or 65-inch OLED TV, it'll be a huge hit with PS5 and Xbox buyers, and rightly so.
There is one thing to note, which is that as an OLED, it's technically susceptible to burn-in. But LG's dimming tech is again employed to reduce it, and it shouldn't be a problem for normal users.
• Read our full Samsung Q80T review
Samsung's 2020 Q80T TV has basically every bit of software technology the brand currently offers, but with a QLED panel that's not quite as high-end as in the company's top-tier 4K screen (the Samsung Q95T), or its flagship 8K TV (the Samsung Q950TS). And that's all good with us – it makes it a fantastic balance for gaming.
You've got support for loads of features that the PS5 and Xbox Series X will work with, including Auto Low-Latency Mode (ALLM), Variable Refresh Rate (VRR) and 120Hz playback. These make it future-proofed for the next console generation.
But one of the real keys to its success is its astoundingly low levels of lag – when fully optimized, it responds in just 8.7ms, which is incredible for a TV. Even with just the TVs auto Game mode on (which is what most people will use), lag is still a respectable 19.7ms, and that still packs in lots of image improvements, so it's ideal for anything where instant response is less important. For Assassin's Creed Valhalla and its big sweeping landscapes, it's going to look just amazing.
That's partly thanks to this being a QLED, with all of QLED's standard strengths: it's intensely colorful, and it's bright in ways that produce dazzling HDR, with localized dimming of the backlight helping to enrich dark scenes. It doesn't have as many dimming zones as the Q90R (and isn't as bright), so when you have bright and dark next to each other there can be some blooming. And it means it's not as good for nuance in darker games as an OLED set would be.
It comes in a wide range of sizes, from 55 inches right up to a giant 85-inch gaming super-screen. There is also a more bedroom/office-friendly 49-inch model, but it doesn't include 120Hz or VRR, so while it's a great TV, it's not as strong for gaming.
It doesn't support Dolby Vision HDR, however, which is disappointing when the Xbox Series X has now been confirmed as the first console to support Dolby Vision for more dynamic HDR that can be tuned for different scenes.
• Rear our full Samsung Q800T review
Most of the TVs here cover off the really important new console features – 120Hz support and Variable Refresh Rate, in particular – but there's one feature we haven't discussed as much: 8K support. That's because neither console maker has said what their 8K support will be yet, only that there will be some.
If you want a TV that future-proofs you for this (on top of 120Hz, VRR and ALLM) then, the Samsung Q800T is the TV to pick. It starts from the not-unrealistic size of 65 inches, at a not unrealistic price – though it's definitely at the 'premium' end of the market.
Before we even get to the resolution, it's a beautiful-looking TV. It's one of Samsung's brightest panels, and that makes it real bright – for HDR that really dazzles, it's very hard to beat Samsung's high-end QLED sets. The brightness comes from a direct backlight, and this also has a lot of local dimming zones, which really helps it with black levels too – it's not quite as assured as OLED, but it's closer than almost any other LCD set. If you want a TV that really shows off a game's dramatic HDR vistas, this is among the best.
The 7680x4320 display is just astoundingly detailed, and for movies and TV, Samsung's Quantum AI processor does an amazing just of upscaling beyond 4K – things really look more detailed than any 4K TV can manage, even if it's not native 8K content (which it won't be, because there isn't any).
However, the 8K processing doesn't apply to games (it would add too much lag), so you're still looking at 4K when playing, really. Very good-looking 4K, but still. The 8K side of things is a promise that there might be something amazing to come from Sony and Microsoft in the future, so it's up to you whether you want to get ahead of that. This TV won't disappoint, either way.
Discover more great 8K models in our Best 8k TVs 2021.
After you've spent $500 for a next-gen console, you might not have much cash left to spend on a bigger TV that can take advantage of all the features the PS5 or Xbox Series X will bring. That’s what makes the TCL 6-Series so appealing: For around $900 for the 65-inch model, you get tech that you usually find only in sets that cost twice as much.
The 6-Series is the first to receive THX Certified Game Mode, which means it delivers fast responsiveness and excellent overall color along with ALLM and VRR – those key ingredients to getting the most of a PS5 or Xbox Series X. While it doesn’t have the lowest lag time on this list, its respectable 21.5ms should be quick enough for most players.
It’s also just a great TV for watching shows and movies. This QLED screen uses mini-LED backlighting to create great contrast, and it has high color accuracy. It’s a really vibrant screen overall. It runs Roku as its smart OS, so you’ll have access to most of the apps you want and it’s super easy to use. Probably the worst thing about it is the sound, so you’ll probably want to get yourself one of the best soundbars to make the audio live up to the picture (though maybe you'll just be using a headset anyway)
The 2020 version of Vizio’s acclaimed P-Series Quantum line features some excellent improvements that translate well for gamers. First, it has a better lag time than the previous generation. It also is brighter than last year's model – perfect for gameplay in daylight – and has more local dimming zones, which means contrast is better than ever. Best of all, it's much less expensive than TVs with comparable features.
The P-Series Quantum also supports 4K at 120Hz, and has VRR and AMD Freesync to eliminate screen tearing and stuttering – it'll make the most of the capabilities of the PS5 and Xbox Series X.
When you’re watching TV shows and movies, the screen will wow you with its color and HDR performance. Again, it's really bright and great for watching in rooms with lots of light, where an OLED will let you down.
With any Vizio set, you’ll have to put it with a few compromises in exchange for affordability, such as its SmartCast operating system, which isn’t very intuitive or full-featured. The sound is also subpar, but that can be fixed with a soundbar.
The Hisense H8G is a very good TV and you can get the 55-inch model for just $500 –that’s what we call a great bargain. For gamers, it has one standout feature: a lag time better than most TVs on this list and almost as good as the LG CX, our top pick. It has a lot more going for it, too, like a crisp picture and Dolby Atmos sound.
What it doesn’t have is support for next-gen console features such as ALLM and VRR and the refresh rate is capped at 60 Hz. But if you’re sticking with your tried-and-true PS4 or Xbox One, the H8G could be the perfect match.
Beyond gaming capabilities, this set produces excellent color and deep blacks unlike most other TVs in this price range. It supports Dolby Vision and HDR10 (though not HDR10+). It runs Android TV, so you’ll have access to pretty much every app you want, and comes with Google Assistant for voice control. At this price, what more could you ask for?
- The best 32-inch TVs – perfect for bedrooms and offices
- The best 43-inch TVs – great entry-level 4K sets
- The best 48- to 50-inch TVs – beautiful mid-size 4K TV sets
- The best 55-inch TVs – premium TVs that still fit most living rooms
- The best 65-inch TVs – beautiful big-screen TVs
- The best 75-inch TVs – giant 4K and 8K TVs packed with features