Best gaming TVs Buying Guide: Welcome to What Hi-Fi?'s round-up of the best gaming TVs you can buy in 2019.
If you want to amp up your favourite video game, it's worth splashing out on a bigger, brighter telly – one with deeper blacks that will immerse you in the action.
Broadly speaking, a TV that's generally great should also be great for games, but there are a few gaming-specific features to look out for. The big one is input lag, which tells you how long your gamepad button presses will take to appear as onscreen actions. Lower is better, but anything below 40ms will be imperceptible to almost all gamers, and 20ms or less is lightning-fast.
A couple of next-gen gaming features are starting to appear, too – Variable Refresh Rate (VRR) and Auto Low Latency Mode (ALLM) are both part of the HDMI 2.1 spec, but are available via some TVs with HDMIs that are certified as 2.0.
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 – you'll need an Xbox One X or One S, or a PC in order to take advantage, though.
ALLM is simpler: it just means that your TV will automatically switch to its 'game mode' to reduce input lag when it senses a signal from your games console.
But those specific gaming features aren't the be-all-and-end-all. What you really get from the best gaming TVs is the punch and vibrancy to do justice to brighter, flashier games, but also a natural balance that doesn't oversaturate those tonally subtler blockbusters, such as Red Dead Redemption 2.
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 all versions of the PS4 and the Xbox One X and One S output HDR, and 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 HDR. (We'll hold fire on mentioning the possibility of 8K games on the forthcoming PS5.)
Right, that's the broad strokes. Want some specific models? Read on.
If money is no object, Samsung's mighty QE65Q90R ticks all your boxes and then some. Its QLED technology makes it brighter and punchier than its OLED rivals, but it's also naturally balanced and realistic – a best of all worlds approach.
Input lag is very low indeed, both VRR and ALLM are supported, and there are some neat extra features available for the Game Mode, including a motion smoother and black detail enhancer.
It's basically the most gaming-friendly TV out there – and it's great with everything else, too.
Read the full review: Samsung QE65Q90R
The LG C9 is simply the best OLED you can buy right now, and it makes a great choice for gamers. It might not go as bright as the Samsung above, but its blacks are deeper and more dramatic, and overall contrast is stunning. There's a richness to the colour palette that works really well, particularly with brighter, more vibrant games.
The HDMIs are actually HDMI 2.1-certified, so they support VRR and ALLM, and the TV can handle Dolby Vision (a few Xbox games support this). The input lag figure of around 13ms is about as low as it gets, too.
Read the full review: LG OLED65C9
If you need to keep a tight rein on your budget, this gaming TV offers impressive performance at a tempting price. The big news overall with the GX800 is that it offers support for both Dolby Vision and HDR10+, unlike the two more expensive models above.
HDR10+ isn't (yet) a concern for gaming, but having all of the HDR bases covered is no bad thing. What's more, the Panasonic offers low input lag and ALLM support.
This 50in model is great for an immersive gaming experience without completely taking over the lounge (it's also available in 40in, 58in and 65in sizes), and the natural balance makes it a real all-rounder for games. You won't get the punch or crisp three-dimensionality of the TVs above, but for the money, this is a great choice.
Read the full review: Panasonic TX-50GX800B
£2000 is no small amount to spend on a TV, but compared to the Samsung and LG options above, that price makes this Sony a bit of a bargain – particularly as it offers a performance that's not far off flagship-level.
Images aren't quite as deep and involving as those of either the Samsung Q90 or LG C9, and the backlight is a touch inconsistent, but make peace with those comparative flaws and you can have a big, bright and detailed picture for a good deal less.
Read the full review: Sony KD-65XG9505
If you're looking for a budget gaming TV, check out the Philips 50PUS6703, which is a particular bargain at the moment.
That input lag figure might look unimpressive, but it's under the magic 40ms barrier, which means few (if any) buyers will notice any sluggishness, and this TV has the dynamism and detail to get the most out of your games.
What's more, the 6703 gets Philips's proprietary Ambilight tech – hidden LEDs that project the colours of whatever is on the screen onto the surrounding walls behind it. Not only does it look spectacular, it makes the screen seem bigger and draws the eye into the action. It's a brilliant bonus for gaming.
Read the full review: Philips 50PUS6703