Updated June 2018
With the PS4 Pro on the market, HDR gaming and 4K video on the Xbox One S and Xbox One X, this is a good time to consider upgrading your gaming TV. Now that the best 4K TVs have finally become relatively affordable, that big quality leap over 1080p doesn’t have to decimate your bank account.
There are many qualities to consider in choosing the best 4K TV for gaming. Color accuracy, contrast, color gamut, viewing angles, power utilization, screen reflectance, smart TV features, and more. Since we’re primarily concerned about gaming here, it is crucial that each 4K TV we recommend have a “gaming” mode with low input latency (ideally, 35ms or less). As HDR is also important for games, all our TV picks have to provide this low input latency while in 4K 60Hz mode with HDR enabled. That’s something many older 4K TVs really struggled with. The site RTings has a good chart of available TVs showing measured input lag in various modes on the best 4K TVs for gaming.
Outside of playing games on 4K capable consoles like the PS4 Pro and Xbox One X, where can you find 4K and HDR content? You won’t get it from your cable or satellite hookup. 4K and HDR content lives primarily on streaming services. Most new Netflix original series and movies, (outside of animation and kids stuff) are in 4K, some with HDR as well. Many Amazon Prime Originals are also in 4K, again with HDR in some cases. YouTube has a surprisingly large amount of 4K content, too. And Microsoft’s game streaming service Mixer can stream in 4K, too. Streaming in 4K requires a pretty good internet connection, as Netflix recommends at least 25Mbps. If all that is a bit confusing, we’ve posted a summary of them all right here for you.
We’ve broken down what to look for in a 4K HDTV below, why HDR matters, and several excellent models to consider. But the bottom line? The Sony 900E is the best 4K TV for gaming. Great specs at a great price make it an excellent option for most gamers looking to upgrade. Read on if you want to know more!
To take advantage of 4K content you need a streaming box or console capable of streaming in 4K, or you can use the integrated smart TV app. The Xbox One S and Xbox One X support 4K streaming apps, as does the PS4 Pro, but the last time we checked the YouTube app on the Xbox platform still needs an update to enable it. You can also use streaming boxes like the Roku (Roku Premiere only does 4K but not HDR, while Premiere+ and Ultra do both), a 4K-capable Android TV box (like the Nvidia Shield TV), or the Chromecast Ultra. At the time of this writing, there is no 4K capable Apple TV. Of course, if you don’t want to stream, you can buy 4K UHD Blu-ray discs. This is the costliest option, but provides the best picture and sound quality. The Xbox One S and Xbox One X support the format, while the PS4 Pro does not.
A quick note on HDMI: You’ll need HDMI 2.0 compatible ports (on your console, receiver/switch, and TV) to take advantage of 4K 60fps HDR goodness. You may see cables labeled as “4K certified” or something like that, but that’s nonsense. There are only two real types of HDMI cables: Standard Speed (with and without Ethernet) and High Speed (with and without Ethernet). As long as you have a High Speed cable, you should be good to go. That doesn’t mean all cables are the same, but you shouldn’t pay a lot more for a bunch of marketing.
Making sense of HDR
High Dynamic Range is a technology that greatly increase the range of brightness levels displayed by your TV, making a bigger difference between the brightest bright areas and darkest dark areas than non-HDR technology. It’s a huge upgrade in visual quality, and one of the best things about 4K TV sets. But it’s also a little complicated.
There are two major HDR standards supported by TVs today: HDR10 and Dolby Vision. Most 4K TVs that support HDR have support for HDR10, with a select few of the higher-end sets supporting Dolby Vision. When it comes to gaming, HDR10 is all you need, as that is what is output by the PS4, PS4 Pro, Xbox One S, and Xbox One X. A TV that supports Dolby Vision would only be useful if you have a standalone 4K Blu-Ray player or a streaming media box with Dolby Vision support; it will not give you HDR gaming with your console.
With the exception of a couple of brand new (and hard to find) Sony TVs, all HDR-capable HDTVs are 4K TVs. For all practical purposes, there are no 1080p HDR TVs. So if you want to buy an HDR capable TV set to play PS4 or Xbox One S games at 1080p, you’ll be buying a 4K TV. Hey, it’s good to be future-proof anyway, right?
It’s also important that the peak brightness of an HDR TV be quite high in order to produce a big difference between dark and light areas in HDR mode. If a TV supports HDR but isn’t very bright, you won’t really see much of an improvement in image quality.
Every 4K TV in this guide supports HDR10, and has sufficient peak brightness to make it look good.
Sony X900E – Best Overall 4K TV for Gaming
Sony’s X900 series can be a little confusing. First you have the X900E at sizes ranging from 49 to 75 inches. But there’s also the X930E (55 and 65 inches only) and the X940E (75 inches only). Overall, the X930E and X940E are nice upgrades. They’re much brighter, which is great for HDR, and they have really low input lag. However, they also cost hundreds or even thousands more than the X900E at a comparable size. And while you give up a little bit of picture quality (especially peak brightness) and the input lag is just a little worse on the X900E, it’s still a great 4K TV for gaming and well worth the money. For most gamers, the price premium of the X930E or X940E will just be a waste of money.
If there’s a real shortcoming for gamers on the X900E, it’s the mediocre sound quality. If you’re picky about audio, you’ll want to use headphones, a sound bar, or a receiver and speakers.
Another Great 4K TV for Gaming – Samsung MU9000
Last year’s Samsung KS9000 was a great overall option for gamers looking to upgrade to a 4K set. It had really low input lag and great image quality with high peak brightness, a wide color gamut, and low screen reflections. The MU9000 is this year’s replacement for that line, and it’s just as good. There are some minor improvements to image quality, but nothing to get too excited about.
If you happen to find the KS9000 still on sale and steeply discounted over the MU9000, that’s probably your best bet. Odds are, they’re going to be hard to find, and the MU9000’s price-to-performance ratio is still quite good. It’s got enough features and picture quality to satisfy all the non-gamers who just want to watch movies and TV, too.
Sony X800E – 4K on a Budget
If you’re going to bother upgrading from your 1080p set at all, you want a certain measure of picture quality, not just any old panel with 3840×2160 pixels. Sony’s X800E is probably the most affordable readily-available 4K TV that meets those minimum standards while still offering low input lag.
TCL 55S405 4K Ultra HD Roku Smart TV – A Really Affordable Option
TCL is rolling out its 2018 models currently, so last year’s model’s can be snagged at a great price. This 55″ model is currently going for less than $400, making it a pretty sweet deal. It’s got built-in Roku and is a “smart” TV, so you can access all the popular streaming services as well. Despite its lowish price it’s still a 4K TV with HDR and a fast 120Hz refresh rate. Viewing angles aren’t the best, but if it’s just you and a few friends in front of it you’ll be fine.
TCL 55R617 – Quality 4K for Cheap
Speaking of the latest model TCL 4K TVs for gaming, he TCL 55R617 is the best low-cost TV around right now, period. Make sure to check out our TCL 55R617 review to really understand what makes the TCL 55R617 so great. It’s Roku-enabled, which is basically standard for TCL sets right now. Throw in the fact it’s a 55-inch TV set, has a great picture, and costs much less than comparable 4K HDR sets, and the TCL 55R617 one of the best TV for gaming, without a doubt.
Best High-End 4K TV – LG C8
If you want the best image quality for gaming (or other fast-moving action like sports), you want an OLED TV. Unlike LCD panels, OLEDs emit light from the pixels themselves instead of using a backlight. That means a nearly infinite contrast ratio (since black pixels are literally off) and there’s no flickering backlight. Also, OLEDs switch color many times faster than even the best LCDs, so pixel response is super fast and there’s no motion blur at all. OLEDs also have really excellent viewing angles, so the colors and contrast don’t look weird if you’re off to the side on the far end of the couch.
The LG C8 supports both HDR10 and Dolby Vision HDR modes (Dolby Vision matters more for movies and TV content than for gaming), and has a screen coating that does a really great job of cutting down screen reflections.
The downside? It’s really, really expensive, but you probably already knew that.