Best 4K TVs for gaming: 8 TVs that pair nicely with your PS4 and Xbox One

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Best TVs for Gaming Buying Guide: Welcome to TechRadar’s round-up of the best 4K TVs for PS4 and Xbox you can buy for any budget in 2018. 

If you’re like us, you use the Xbox One X and  PS4 Pro every single day. And while you could hook them up to any old 1080p TV, if you want the best picture quality, you’re going to have to net yourself a nice 4K TV

When the original Xbox One and PS4 consoles came out, it looked like video games – on consoles, at least – had opted to sit out the 4K revolution that was already sweeping the TV world: Both consoles were originally resolutely HD-only, and there wasn’t so much as a sniff of support for the high dynamic range (HDR) technology that was just joining 4K on the TV scene.

Skip forward three years and mid-generation hardware updates have given us consoles capable of outputting both 4K and HDR for video and gaming purposes. 

While this is all brilliant news for the quality of our gaming experiences, though, it puts ever more pressure on your TV. A console can have all the power in the world, but if it’s attached to a TV that can’t harness that power it might as well be a ZX Spectrum. Well, not quite, but you get our point.

Unlocking the good stuff

So what exactly does a TV need to be able to do these days to unlock your full gaming potential? Let’s start with arguably the most basic requirement: 4K.

Resolution revolution: The Xbox One S outputs all of its games in 4K, achieved via surprisingly good built-in upscaling. 

The PS4 Pro outputs games in 4K too, using a mix of upscaling and in-game enhancement. The Xbox One X, meanwhile, has been designed with enough power to drive more games than ever before with native, game engine-integrated 4K support. Yes, you can still get non-4K Xbox One and PS4 consoles, and the Nintendo Switch isn’t interested in 4K either. And yes, non-4K games will have to be upscaled by a 4K TV, so won’t be totally ‘pure’. However, upscaling is remarkably good on the best 4K TVs now, and can be done without adding significant delay to the time it takes a TV to render pictures.

4K resolution can be transformative, especially on big screens. And basically 4K is just the way everything is going now (both in the gaming and video worlds), so not being set up for it with your new TV just doesn’t make sense.

Change your range: Sitting right alongside 4K in today’s video world is high dynamic range (HDR) technology. This delivers pictures with a much wider light range than the standard dynamic range pictures we’ve been living with for decades in a bid to get the pictures we’re seeing on our screens looking closer to the way our eyes see the real world.

The Xbox One S supports HDR on some of its games, and via some of its streaming apps. The same situation applies for both the PS4 and PS4 Pro, and naturally the Xbox One X will deliver HDR too. Most people would say that HDR done well delivers more impact than 4K, especially on small screens. 

The only problem is that HDR puts a lot of pressure on a TV, since it demands both much more brightness than SDR, and better contrast so that the extra brightness and deeper blacks can potentially share the screen simultaneously. In fact, HDR done badly can look worse than SDR done decently well; something to think about if you’re considering buying a very cheap TV.

Let there be light! One of the most important elements of a good HDR performance is brightness. Many movies and games target 1000 nits or so for their brightest elements, so if you have a TV less bright than that it won’t unlock HDR’s full potential. Especially in a video game environment, where graphics can be more stark in contrast terms than ‘real life’ tends to be.

It’s perfectly possible for TVs to deliver great HDR pictures without reaching 1000 nits and more of brightness. This is particularly true with OLED screens, for instance. But the darker a screen, the harder its processing is going to have to work to try and figure out how to resolve picture information in HDR areas above its capabilities.

Lag? Lame! If you’re a really serious gamer – especially when it comes to reaction-based online games – you need to care about input lag: The time it takes for a particular TV to render image data received at its inputs. Obviously you’re looking for low numbers if you don’t want to be shot in the face by an opponent your TV hasn’t even shown yet!

Again, manufacturers don’t tend to provide input lag figures in their provided specifications. However, we generally measure input lag on the TVs we test. Also, I’ve provided the input lag measurements for all of our recommended TVs.

Roger that – over and out: Sound design has always played an integral part in a great gaming experience. It’s getting taken to another level these days, though, with the arrival of surround sound gaming. In fact, the Xbox One S and Xbox One X consoles even support Dolby Atmos: Dolby’s most advanced sound system yet, which introduces a height channel and ‘object based’ precision to the soundstage.

With impressively good timing, LG is about to roll out support for Dolby Atmos over HDMI to its 2017 OLED TVs (some of which ship with integrated sound bars) any moment now. Also, while integrated Atmos support isn’t found elsewhere yet, this year has seen a surge in TVs featuring really powerful sound systems. So unless you’re thinking of investing in an external sound system, it will certainly pay you to have sound as well as picture quality in mind when you buy your gaming TV.

Things to pay attention to are whether speakers are facing forwards (as this will almost always give you a more direct, clean sound); rated power output; whether there’s a dedicated bass speaker (often found on a TV’s rear); built-in soundbars; and the number of individual speakers used.

The chosen ones

OK, now that the essential buying advice done and you’re an AV expert, let’s now pick out our selection of the best gaming TVs you can currently buy, taking in a combination of price and sheer quality.

1. Samsung Q9FN QLED TV Series

The best gaming TV ever? Could be!