Fancy a new TV for gaming, but struggling to figure out which models will let you take full advantage of the PS5 and Xbox Series X/S’s next-generation tech?
We don’t blame you. Both the PS5 and Xbox Series X are incredible bits of kit full of features traditionally reserved for high-spec gaming PCs. And while these added features are great, the downside is that they require specific TV hardware and connectivity to run at full power.
On top of that, even if the TVs theoretically support modern gaming features such as VRR and 4K/120Hz (more on both below), having tested more gaming TVs than we care to mention, we can confirm that not all of them perform as they should.
All too often a TV’s spec sheet may report that it has all the correct ports and features to take advantage of the new consoles’ hardware, but in our test rooms, they completely fail to deliver the goods when playing games.
Common issues include everything from poor HDR performance, robbing games of the pop and contrast they should have, to terrible input lag, which can make playing reaction-based games online a rage-inducing experience.
Here to help save you from poor picture quality, and the financial ruin of replacing broken controllers, our team of experts has created this guide detailing the top-performing and best-value gaming TVs we’ve tried and tested.
Every set on this list has been tried and tested in our viewing and listening rooms by our team of expert reviewers, so you can trust our buying advice.
How to choose the best gaming TV for you
Why you can trust What Hi-Fi? Our expert reviewers spend hours testing and comparing products and services so you can choose the best for you. Find out more about how we test.
There's a huge amount to consider when choosing a gaming TV, to the extent that you'll find a very long explainer at the bottom of this page (to jump straight to that, click here), but here's a slightly more condensed version.
The most crucial factors at play are which console you play games on and to what extent you want to take advantage of its most advanced features.
(If you're unsure what the acronyms below mean, click the links or scroll to the bottom of the page for more information)
The Xbox Series X (and, to an extent, its sibling the Series S) is the most advanced of the consoles, thanks to its support for 4K/120Hz gaming, Dolby Vision gaming, VRR, ALLM and HGiG. A TV that supports only some or none of these can still be great for gaming, but if you want to be at the bleeding edge of gaming tech, these are the specs to look for in a gaming TV. 4K/120Hz can even give you a competitive advantage in games that support it.
The PS5 also supports 4K/120Hz gaming, ALLM, HGiG and, thanks to a recent update, VRR. Dolby Vision gaming isn't supported and there's no indication that it will be added, so you don't need to worry about that.
With gaming PCs things are much more complicated. Many of the technologies mentioned above are supported by some graphics cards but you also have even higher refresh rates, custom resolutions and ultra-widescreen ratios to consider, which is why many PC gamers prefer monitors to TVs. This guide is primarily aimed at console gamers.
If you're using an older console or a Nintendo Switch, almost any modern 4K HDR TV will have the specs to make it sing (though the Xbox One X and One S do support VRR, which is less common), but with all consoles you should be looking for a TV with low input lag, which dictates how long it takes for your button presses to be reflected as on-screen actions.
Finally but very importantly, you also want a TV with excellent core picture quality: sharp, bright, with excellent blacks and vibrant, accurate colours. Arguably, those elements are more important than the specs mentioned above, which should really be considered the icing on the cake.
The best gaming TVs you can buy
The LG C2 is one of the best TVs we’ve tested and its stellar value-to-performance ratio rings true for gamers too.
The 42- and 48-inch models are the sets we’d recommend to most buyers for a few reasons. First is their price, with them sitting at the lower end of the C-range, making them the most cost-effective option if you want an OLED gaming TV.
OLED is important as its pure blacks, coupled with the excellent max brightness we encountered playing games such as God of War and Elden Ring, let the C2 offer brilliantly detailed picture quality and wonderfully immersive HDR performance.
This was especially true when we switched on its HGiG mode. During our checks, we found the mode produces more accurate results playing HDR games, which were spared the overcooked and saturated look you find on TVs that lack such a setting.
But what sets the C2 apart from other OLEDs we’ve tested this size and price – including the Sony A90K and Philips OLED807 – is the C2’s perfect set of gaming features.
Unlike its rivals, the LG boasts four 48Gbps HDMI 2.1 sockets that can handle 4K/120Hz signals from the Xbox Series X, PS5 and flagship PC graphics cards. The vast majority of TVs, particularly those at this sort of size, have two HDMI 2.1 sockets at most, and one of those always doubles as the eARC port, which means that if you have a soundbar, you’ll have just one 2.1 socket left that will get the most out of a console or PC.
The C2 is also the only set at this price and size to support Dolby Vision gaming in 4K/120Hz. Only the Xbox Series X and S support Dolby Vision gaming, but it’s a great feature to have if you do game on one of those consoles, with a handful of games looking even better in Dolby Vision than they do in the standard HDR10 format.
The only downside is that the C2’s in-built speakers are pretty weak, even by the relatively low standards of small TVs. Playing games, we found the C2’s maximum volume levels were a little low, and the speakers couldn’t handle the bassiest frequencies of games such as Gears 5. Rumbling vehicle engines in CoD didn’t have the weight we experienced on competing sets, such as the Sony A90K. There isn’t a small TV out there that shouldn’t be partnered with at least a soundbar, but that’s more the case with the C2 than it is with some rivals.
While we firmly believe that an OLED TV is the best option for gamers looking for the best experience, there are those who are still nervous about the potential for burn-in. While the chances of burn-in are, in our extensive experience, very rare, they’re not zero, so if you are concerned, you should consider the Samsung QN90B QLED instead. This is also a good option if you tend to game in a bright room.
Read our LG OLED42C2 review
If you don’t fancy spending a grand or more on a gaming TV then the TCL 55C735K is the set to get. Despite its more affordable price tag, the mid-range set manages to deliver a surprisingly competitive gaming experience, based on our tests.
The 55-inch unit (it’s also available in 65-, 75- and 85-inch versions, though we’ve not tested these) looks nice for a TV at this price. More surprisingly, it also boasts all the features you need to fully take advantage of the PS5 and Xbox Series X’s next-generation features.
For starters, two of its four HDMI inputs are capable of playing games in 4K/120Hz.
On top of this, there’s support for ALLM switching, compatibility with the FreeSync Premium VRR system, and a Game Bar screen, which we found particularly useful. The screen gave our testers quick access to the TV’s gaming settings, letting you tweak it on the fly as needed.
Picture quality is also a cut above what you get on most of the TVs we’ve tested at this price if you make a few optimisations to its settings. Out of the box, the TCL 55C735K’s Vivid picture setting delivers mixed results, offering overbaked colours and fairly poor blacks that strip a lot of detail out of dark scenes, which was a pain when we played multiplayer CoD on nighttime maps.
Thankfully, once we increased the black level setting to around 56, turned the Dynamic Colour option off and changed the Adaptive Contrast to Low, things radically improved. Once done, the TV offered wonderfully natural, consistent and immersive pictures while playing games.
Be warned, though, despite it being the best set at this price, the picture still isn’t anywhere near as good as that offered by a more premium set such as the LG C2. Switching from the C2 to the TCL, blacks in particular aren’t as deep and don’t contain the same level of detail. This was especially noticeable when running horror games in HDR. However, considering the difference in price this is more than forgivable and the TCL remains the best “cheap” gaming TV you can currently buy.
Read our in-depth TCL 55C735K review
If you have a bigger budget and want a big-screen gaming experience, the larger versions of the LG C2 are where you should look. We’ve reviewed the 65-inch and 77-inch versions, but we have seen the 55-inch in action and are comfortable recommending it alongside its even -larger siblings.
Like the smaller 42- and 48-inch C2 models at the top of this list, the bigger versions have a flawless gaming feature set. There are four HDMI 2.1 inputs, all of which support 4K/120Hz gaming, VRR and ALLM. HGiG for greater HDR accuracy with games is also present and there's a Dolby Vision Game mode for Xbox Series X/S.
Despite the tech and overall experience being very similar to that of the smaller models, the larger C2s offer even better picture quality thanks to them having brighter panels. During testing, we found that HDR games had greater impact thanks to those brighter peaks, and that there was more punch and dark detail across the image.
Blockbuster AAA games predictably benefit the most from the extra scale and brightness of these larger C2 models, with the lush greens and blues of the Alfheim section of God of War popping from the screen in stunning fashion, but even more muted, indie titles such as Stray seeing a lift across the board, despite the SDR-only presentation.
Input lag is as excellent as we’ve come to expect from OLED TVs, with our reviewers measuring it at under 10ms. It won’t be the TV’s fault if you keep seeing the respawn screen.
Like the smaller models, the only real downsides we experienced with the larger C2 models relate to the audio. As is the norm with TVs, these bigger sets go louder than their smaller siblings, but we noticed some rattle from the speaker cabinet when the set was challenged by loud bassy thumps. This is particularly noticeable if you play very bass-heavy games, such as online shooters where there are frequent explosions. You should really invest in a soundbar to go alongside the C2, but there are almost no TVs out there that don’t require the same advice.
We’ve tested the C2 alongside numerous models, including the Samsung S95B and QN95B, the Sony A80K and A95K, and LG’s own G2, and it’s comfortably the best performance-per-pound option. It’s worth bearing in mind that the C2 will be replaced in the coming months by the new C3, but the discounts now being offered on the existing model only make it an even better buy than before.
Read the full LG OLED65C2 review
How we test
How we test gaming TVs
To put it plainly, manufacturers aren't always as honest or forthcoming about gaming specs as they might be, so we ensure that we test every TV to find out whether it supports the next-gen specs we're looking for and whether it does so properly and effectively. We also measure input lag ourselves and don't simply reprint the figure given by the manufacturer.
But specs only tell half the story, so we also test each TV's real-life performance with a number of games from a number of genres, on both the Xbox Series X and the PS5. Here, we're not only making sure that the TV lives up to its spec sheet, but also that it delivers the core picture quality we're looking for, from sharpness to responsiveness, contrast to colour vibrancy.
We're also testing the sound here: while most gamers will (and should) connect their TV to a dedicated sound system (such as a soundbar) or their console to a gaming headset, there are those who will rely on the in-built speakers, so we need to ensure those deliver a clear, spacious and engaging sound.
All of our testing is comparative, so every gaming TV is compared side-by-side with the best gaming TV at its size and price, and every test we conduct is collaborative, so no one member of the What Hi-Fi? team rates a product in isolation. The end result is a completely unbiased, exhaustively thorough review.
How to choose the best gaming TV
Important gaming TV features to look out for
Broadly speaking, a TV that's great for TV and movies should also be great for games but, if you're looking for the very best TV for gaming, there are a few gaming-specific features to look out for, particularly if you've got or are planning to get a PS5 or Xbox Series X.
The big one is input lag, which tells you how long your gamepad button presses will take to appear as on-screen actions. Lower is better, but anything below 40ms will be imperceptible to almost all gamers, and 20ms or less is lightning-fast.
There are now a number of next-gen gaming features to look out for, too – Variable Refresh Rate (VRR), Auto Low Latency Mode (ALLM) and 4K/120Hz are all part of the HDMI 2.1 spec but, somewhat confusingly, aren't all necessarily supported by a TV even if it has HDMI 2.1 sockets. There are also plenty of TVs that will support some of these features even though they're HDMIs are certified as 2.0. In short, you need to check which specific next-gen gaming features are supported by the particular TV in question.
VRR matches the TV's refresh rate to the frame rate being output by the console in real-time, resulting in a smoother, faster gaming experience. The Xbox Series X, Series S, One X and One S (and certain PCs) can all output VRR, and it's even now supported by the PS5 thanks to an April 2022 software update.
ALLM is simpler: it just means that your TV will automatically switch to its 'game mode' to reduce input lag when it senses a game signal from your games console. It's also intelligent enough to switch game mode off again if you play a movie or TV show via your console, using the Netflix app, for example. This is a feature of both the Xbox Series X and the PS5.
4K/120Hz has suddenly become a big deal, too, as both the PS5 and Xbox Series X support it. Put simply, this allows a TV to handle 4K games at frame rates of up to 120fps. There aren't that many TVs around that can do this (most are limited to 60Hz), particularly below 55 inches, but there are some and you can expect the number to grow significantly in 2022.
Microsoft has recently upped the ante further by introducing Dolby Vision gaming, right up to 4K/120Hz. Most TVs that support Dolby Vision for movies and TV shows should support gaming in Dolby Vision, but very few will do so at 4K/120Hz and some (including Sony) lack a dedicated Dolby Vision Game mode, and that can have a big impact on input lag. With those TVs you're best off sticking with standard HDR rather than the more advanced Dolby Vision format.
On the subject of HDR, it's also now worth looking out for HGiG. Rather than a fixed standard or certification, HGiG (which stands for HDR Gaming Interest Group) is a consortium of companies that have come together in order to create guidelines and best practices for the implementation of HDR in gaming. Console-makers Microsoft and Sony instigated the creation of HGiG, and members include TV manufacturers such as LG, Samsung and Panasonic, and game developers and publishers such as Activision, EA, Rockstar and Ubisoft.
Put simply, the aim of HGiG is that each game is tailored to the specific capabilities of your TV without the need for endless calibration screens. Samsung, LG and Philips have added HGiG settings to their top sets, and they generally result in a more accurate HDR picture with deeper blacks and more detailed highlights.
General qualities that translate well for gaming
Those specific gaming features are all well and good, but focusing on specs alone really isn't wise: your new TV also needs a broad range of core skills. For example, it needs to have the punch and vibrancy to do justice to brighter, flashier games such as Astro's Playroom, but also a natural balance that doesn't oversaturate tonally subtler blockbusters such as Elden Ring.
Black depth is important for delivering drama, too, but you want to be able to see plenty of detail in shadows, so avoid a TV with a reputation for crushing dark detail and be sure to tweak the brightness/gamma setting for your game – most titles have a specific option for this.
HDR is a must, of course, as the PS4, PS5, Xbox One X, One S, Series S and Series X all output HDR, and you might want to look for one that supports Dolby Vision gaming as well as standard HDR10 if you're an Xbox Series X owner. More obviously, it would be a mistake not to get a 4K screen, even if you don't yet have a 4K console. The good news is that it's now pretty hard to buy a TV that doesn't have 4K and at least HDR10.
8K vs 4K/120Hz
But what about 8K? Both the PS5 and Xbox Series X can handle 8K in theory, but neither has the feature enabled at this point.
It seems that the focus is on higher frame rates in the short term, with higher resolutions potentially coming later. Even then, native 8K gaming seems unlikely. It's broadly agreed that neither console has the processing power to run blockbuster games at that resolution. We might, though, see games appear that dynamically scale at resolutions above 4K before being output as an 8K signal, much as the PS4 Pro and Xbox One X invariably handled 4K on games (truly native 4K games were very rare until this new console generation, and one might argue that they're still a myth).
In other words, while 8K should perhaps be at the back of your mind, it's certainly not essential that you buy an 8K TV right now. Such sets will likely be much, much more affordable by the time 8K gaming becomes a serious concern – assuming it ever does. That said, there is an excellent 8K TV on this list for those who have very deep pockets.
- Looking for more of an all-rounder? These are the best TVs currently available
- Here are the Best cheap TVs for those on a tight budget
- If you're still torn on which console to buy, check out our PS5 vs Xbox Series X shootout