One of the best things that a dedicated gamer can buy to enhance their playing experience is a great TV and, with the Playstation 4 Pro and Xbox One X both pumping out properly high-end visual fidelity, it’s important to invest in a screen that will give you the best experience on offer. Each of these newer consoles, for example, supports both 4K and HDR content and, after splashing out on the first part, you don’t want your display to be the thing that lets you down.
Sets compatible with 4K and HDR resolution all offer more detail, a brighter image and better colours than your standard Full HD TVs, but experienced gamers will know that there are other important considerations to take into account. These include motion clarity, image contrast and bold colour handling, which are great things to have for any television, but essential if you want the very best gaming experience.
Far and away the most important thing, however, is input lag – or the delay between giving a command and its outcome appearing on the screen. The higher the lag, the worse your experience, and that goes especially for first-person shooter (FPS) and racing games.
Manufacturers have thankfully taken note of this potential problem, and so a lot of modern sets come with something called ‘game mode’ or similar, which automatically shifts the latency and refresh rates to better suit gamers. So to limit lag, you should be on the lookout for Auto Low Latency Mode (ALLM) and Variable Refresh Rate (VRR).
We’ve taken a look at some of the biggest TV brands – Samsung, LG and Sony – to see how they measure up. Let’s get started…
Samsung ended up coming top overall in our 2019 rankings, and of its offerings, we chose the QE65Q90R as the best of the bunch for gamers. For one, the Samsung QLED technology really surpasses OLED for things like detail and depth. It also sports Ultra Viewing Angle – basically another screen layer – and full-array local dimming (FALD), putting it cleanly over the top.
The Q90R is very strong on input lag, too, hitting a super-low rate of 14ms for content in 4K HDR while switched to gaming mode. The set also has Game Motion Plus technology that reduces motion blur while keeping input lag to a still-low 30ms. Additionally, ALLM and VRR are present and correct, giving you pleasingly low latency and the best refresh rates without fiddling about with settings at all.
Burn-in from static images and logos can be a real issue for OLED TVs, but this risk has been pretty much eliminated for QLED TVs. For some, that’d be enough to recommend the Samsung QE65Q90R on its own.
Which is the best Samsung TV for gaming?
While we wouldn’t hesitate to rate the Q90R the best of the Samsung TVs for gaming, we’d have to admit that not all of us have space for a 65 or 75-inch screen in our living room or office. That’s before you even look at the price, which is steep by anyone’s standards.
For those who don’t have quite that much spare cash to splurge, there’s the equally impressive QE55Q9FN with its ALLM and VRR support, One Connect Box, no burn-in, and 15.5ms of lag when in game mode. Best of all it’s around half the price of the QE65Q90R, yet doesn’t sacrifice too much where specs are concerned.
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LG has been no slouch when it comes to catering towards gamers in recent times, and its range of OLED TVs proves that. These sets have brilliantly low input lag at about 21ms whether in 1080p SDR and 2160p HDR Game mode, and the fast pixel response times of the OLED technology helps create a clean motion on-screen that can’t be rivalled.
We should note that LG’s LED and LCD televisions create nowhere near the same experience as its OLED sets, as the former use IPS LCD panels that are known for their inferior black levels and contrast. While this might do fine for a standard TV, gaming can be significantly hindered due to HDR’s brightness levels.
That said, the OLED TVs from LG are genuinely great, with their wide angles, vibrant colours and deep blacks creating the perfect virtual environment in which to play.
Which is the best LG TV for gaming?
Of all the TVs LG has to offer, we’d probably go for the LG C8 as the one to beat. Just to start, the price is a huge plus point, coming in far lower than competitors without a huge dip in quality. In fact, it’s LG’s lowest-priced offering to include its Alpha 9 processor, and its game mode includes dynamic tone-mapping that goes some way towards counteracting the often murky look of many HDR games.
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Sony was traditionally the go-to choice for gamers when 1080p was the best on offer and, while that’s not necessarily the case nowadays, the company still has a heck of a lot to offer. The drawback in recent times has been a high input lag that can’t compete with newer TV manufacturers lower offerings but, now Sony is seemingly ready to compete again.
The KD65-AF9 Master Series OLED, for example, is one of the best Sony TVs to come out in a handful of years. The input lag comes out at around 27ms in SDR and 4K HDR ‘game mode’ so, though it’s still not leading the race like it used to, it’s certainly back in the game (so to speak).
Which is the best Sony TV for gaming?
The AF9 is a hugely pleasant surprise when it comes to fantastic image quality, dynamic tone-mapping and brightness levels. We also have to highlight the sound quality, which uses Sony’s Acoustic Surface technology to make the TV one big speaker that impresses in areas such as bass and clarity more than you might expect for built-in audio.
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