Finding a suitable TV for your PlayStation or Xbox used to require a careful look at spec sheets. Today, however, the best TVs for gaming are usually the best TVs you can buy, period. While nobody needs a fancy TV in their living room to enjoy a good video game, the right set can help you maximize your gaming experience. If you’re unsure of where to start, we’ve laid out some helpful advice for buying the right model below, along with a few top picks for well-reviewed gaming TVs you can buy today.
What to look for in a gaming TV
Whether you use it for gaming or not, all good TVs are built on the same foundations. You want a 4K resolution (which is standard nowadays), sufficient brightness, high contrast ratios with deep and uniform black tones, colors that find the right balance between accuracy and saturation, and wide viewing angles. For video games specifically, you want a TV with minimal input lag and fast motion response, with no blur or other unwanted artifacts behind quick-moving objects. Of course, finding a set that has all of these gaming features and fits into your budget can be tricky.
For now, a top OLED TV will offer the best picture quality for gaming or otherwise. Good OLED TVs still tend to cost more than LED LCD alternatives, however, and some may not get bright enough for those who have their TV set in a particularly well-lit environment. If you opt for an LCD TV, an advanced backlight with Mini LEDs and effective full-array local dimming will usually improve contrast and lighting detail, while a quantum dot filter can enhance colors.
One thing you don’t need to worry about is 8K support. Although the PS5 and Xbox Series X are technically capable of outputting 8K video, very few games are made for that resolution, and 8K’s practical benefits are extremely minimal unless you plan on sitting unreasonably close to a massive TV. The few 8K TVs on the market are also very expensive.
All that said, there are a few terms you should particularly look out for when buying a TV for your new game console or high-end graphics card.
To get the most out of a PlayStation 5 or Xbox Series X/S, your TV should have full HDMI 2.1 support. This is the latest major update to the HDMI spec, enabling a higher maximum bandwidth – 48 gigabits per second, up from HDMI 2.0’s 18 Gbps – and a handful of features that are beneficial for gaming performance specifically. These include variable refresh rate (VRR) and automatic low latency mode (ALLM), which we detail further below.
Beyond that, perhaps the chief perk of HDMI 2.1 is its ability to transmit ultrasharp 4K video at up to a 120Hz refresh rate with modern consoles like the PS5 and Xbox Series X, or up to 144Hz with a powerful gaming PC. Not every PS5 or Xbox Series X/S game supports frame rates that high – and some only do so at lower resolutions – but those that do will look and feel especially fluid in motion. HDMI 2.1 also brings support for Enhanced Audio Return Channel (eARC), which allows for higher-quality 5.1- and 7.1-channel audio from a source device connected to the TV to a compatible soundbar or receiver.
The more full HDMI 2.1 ports your TV has, the better. “Full” is the key word there. As reported by TFT Central, because HDMI 2.1 is backwards compatible with HDMI 2.0, TV and monitor manufacturers have been allowed to brand HDMI ports as “HDMI 2.1” even if they lack full (or any) support for the spec’s upgraded features. We recommend a few TVs below that have true HDMI 2.1 ports, but if you’re buying a new TV for gaming, make sure your chosen set isn’t trying to hide any capabilities you may consider essential.
HDR — High Dynamic Range
HDR refers to a TV's ability to display a wider range between the darkest and brightest parts of a picture. This broader range can bring out details that would otherwise be missing on a standard dynamic range (SDR) TV, in both the very dark and, especially, the very bright areas of an image. HDR typically comes with an improvement to color reproduction as well, displaying a larger palette of more vibrant colors that brings content closer to its creator’s original vision.
To get an HDR picture, you need both content that is mastered to take advantage of the tech and a TV capable of displaying that content. HDR also comes in a variety of formats, which are generally split between those that utilize static metadata (e.g., HDR10) and those that utilize dynamic metadata (e.g., HDR10+, Dolby Vision). In short, the latter allows a TV to optimize its brightness and colors on a per-scene or even per-frame basis, while the former uses one set of optimized settings for the entirety of the given content. Support for these formats can differ depending on the TV, content and game console you use. The Xbox Series X and S, for example, support Dolby Vision for gaming, while the PS5 does not.
The good news is that most TVs you’d buy in 2023 are HDR-ready in some fashion, even on the budget end of the market. The catch is that some TVs are much better at getting the most out of HDR than others. The same goes for actual content mastered in HDR. With video games in particular, there aren’t as many games designed to take advantage of HDR as there are movies (though the number is growing), and the variance in quality tends to be wider.
HGiG — HDR Gaming Interest Group
HGiG stands for the HDR Gaming Interest Group. Sony and Microsoft are both members, as are many TV makers and game developers. What this means is that, ideally, all the groups communicate information so that you can start up a new game on a console or PC and have it automatically recognize your display. Once that happens, the game can adjust the internal settings to adjust for that display's capabilities and give you the best picture quality possible, without losing details in the brightest or darkest areas of the screen. For example, daylight at the end of a dark tunnel may portray a brightly lit environment instead of looking like an overexposed white blob.
This is a good thing, but the reality is a bit more complicated. Not all TVs highlight HGiG compatibility in their settings menu, while only some PlayStation and Xbox games recognize and follow the guidelines. If an HGiG option is listed in your TV's tone mapping settings, you should turn it on prior to running the console's HDR settings. Then, if you're playing a game that supports HDR and HGiG, you should be in good shape without having to adjust the various luminance levels again. Still, how all of this looks to you might differ depending on your TV and the game you’re playing. Owners of certain LG OLED models, for instance, may prefer their TV’s Dynamic Tone Mapping setting. Use whatever settings you think look best.
ALLM — Auto Low Latency Mode
ALLM allows a source (like your PS5 or Xbox) to tell the display to switch into a picture mode that reduces lag between receiving each frame of an image and displaying it on the TV. This cuts out additional processing that could be the milliseconds of difference between landing a precise input or not. A good modern TV can automatically switch to game mode, then back out when you'd rather watch a movie or TV show.
VRR — Variable Refresh Rate
VRR will sound familiar with if you're into PC gaming, but it’s still a relatively new perk for TVs. Most players have experienced slowdown, screen tearing or stuttering as a system struggles to render each frame at the target speed, which is most commonly 30 or 60 fps on a TV. With VRR, everything stays in sync — your display won't show the next frame until it's ready, which can make things feel smoother and more responsive, even if the system fails to deliver on its target frame rate.
There are a few different implementations of VRR available, including Nvidia’s G-Sync, AMD’s FreeSync and the HDMI Forum’s VRR spec, which is part of the full HDMI 2.1 standard. Both a TV and an input device need to support the same VRR tech for it to work, and different devices may only support VRR within a specific refresh rate window. On a 120Hz display, for instance, the PS5’s VRR only works between 48Hz and 120Hz.
As a reminder, the PS5 supports HDMI Forum VRR, the Xbox Series X/S support HDMI Forum VRR and FreeSync, while gaming PCs may support G-Sync or FreeSync depending on whether they use a Nvidia or AMD graphics card. A great gaming TV supports all the big VRR formats, but missing, say, G-Sync, isn’t a killer if you only game on a PS5 or Xbox.
Good gaming TVs you can get right now
While most of the major TV brands have rolled out their latest TVs for 2023, many of those sets aren’t massive upgrades over their predecessors. Because some of those 2022 TVs remain excellent, they can offer strong value if you see them available at a lower price. But with many of last year’s higher-rated TVs drifting out of stock, most of our recommendations below are now 2023 models. We at Engadget do not formally review TVs, but we’re confident in the picks below based on our own hands-on experience with some of them and the consensus from TV review sites we trust, such as Rtings, Wirecutter, Reviewed and PCMag, among others.
The Samsung S90C has a QD-OLED display that combines an OLED panel with a layer of quantum dots. This allows it to display the high contrast and deep blacks of any good OLED TV without sacrificing as much in the way of peak brightness or color saturation. It should deliver consistently smooth motion, and it has four HDMI 2.1 ports that can play up to 4K 144Hz. It also supports HDR10 and HDR10+, ALLM and the major VRR formats. It comes in more size options than last year’s S95B TV, too, ranging from 55 to 83 inches. Like the rest of Samsung’s TV lineup, however, it doesn’t work with Dolby Vision HDR.
If you can still find last year's S95B at a lower price, it’s essentially the same TV as the S90C, just without official 144Hz support. That model appears to either be out of stock or priced higher than the S90C as of this update, though. Some S95B owners have also complained about picture quality issues with that TV’s “Game Mode” after firmware updates.
The new Samsung S95C, meanwhile, is the actual follow-up to the S95B. It, too, can play in 4K at 144Hz, and some reviews say it can get a bit brighter than either the S95B or S90C in HDR. Since it runs its ports through an external box, the actual TV hardware is thinner, plus it’s available in 77 inches on top of the usual 55- and 65-inch size options. But it’s even pricier than the S90C right now, so it’s harder to justify unless money is no object.
LG C2 OLED
The LG C2’s OLED panel can’t get as bright as a QD-OLED TV like the Samsung S90C, but it still performs excellently in terms of contrast, input lag, motion response and viewing angles. As a 2022 model, it costs a bit less than many competing OLED TVs, too. It follows the HGiG’s HDR guidelines, supports ALLM, works with all the major VRR formats and has four full HDMI 2.1 ports capable of outputting 4K 120Hz with a PS5, Xbox or PC. It also supports all the major HDR standards, including Dolby Vision, and it’s available in a wide variety of sizes, from a 42-inch model to an 83-inch one. It’s just less ideal in a brightly-lit room, and it doesn’t support a 144Hz refresh rate for those who want to hook up a gaming PC.
If the C2 goes out of stock, the LG C3 is said to offer similar performance, though it only looks to be a marginal improvement in general. The main upgrade is support for DTS audio.
Sony A95K OLED
The Sony A95K is another well-regarded QD-OLED gaming TV that also supports Dolby Vision. It doesn’t work with HDR10+, though, and it only has two full HDMI 2.1 ports. It’s typically priced much higher than the C2 or S95B as well. The upcoming A95L is also worth monitoring; it still won’t come cheap, but it’ll support Dolby Vision at 4K 120Hz.
If you’d prefer the extra brightness of a LCD TV, or if you think you might play one game (extremely) long enough to worry about burn-in, consider the Samsung QN90C. It can’t match the contrast, response time or viewing angles of a good OLED TV, but its Mini LED backlighting and quantum-dot color should make for a richer image than most LCD TVs, particularly in HDR. Its motion and input lag shouldn’t cause problems, either, and it can get much brighter than the models above. It still doesn’t support Dolby Vision, but it has four full HDMI 2.1 ports, ALLM and all the big VRR formats. It also comes in several screen sizes, with the 43- and 50-inch models capable of hitting a 144Hz refresh rate. The rest go up to 120Hz, which is the max for a PS5 or Xbox Series X/S. Note that the 43- and 50-inch versions of these TVs use VA panels, though, which should result in better contrast but worse viewing angles.
Again, if you see last year’s QN90B at a lower price, that TV offers similar performance, but it’s becoming harder to find in stock from reputable sellers.
The QN90C isn't cheap, though. If you can’t spend that much, the Hisense U8K, another QLED TV with Mini LEDs, should be a strong value. It may not be a better gaming TV than the QN90C in a vacuum, as it only has two full-fat HDMI 2.1 ports, and its viewing angles appear to be on the narrow side. But for hundreds of dollars less, reviews suggest that it’ll look good in any lighting environment, with impressive brightness, 4K 144Hz support, all the main HDR formats, VRR, ALLM and low-enough input lag in game mode. Motion won’t look quite as smooth as it would on a good OLED TV, however, and you’ll still sacrifice some contrast and response time.
Last year’s Hisense U8H is still hanging around, but this looks to be one instance where it’s worth paying a little bit more for the newer model. Apart from its faster refresh rate, the U8K has more local dimming zones, which should help it deliver better contrast.
We’ve previously highlighted TCL’s 6-Series (R655) TV in this spot. That one can also play 4K content at 144Hz, but it appears to be fully out of stock, and TCL’s 2023 lineup doesn’t have a true like-for-like replacement with Mini LED backlighting in the same price range. The TCL QM8 looks to be an impressive QLED alternative the QN90C and U8K – one that gets super bright and can play up to 240Hz, albeit at 1080p – but it has two fewer HDMI 2.1 ports than the former, it costs $200-ish more than the latter, and it’s not available in any sizes smaller than 65 inches.
On the lower end, the Hisense U6K is the rare budget-level TV with quantum-dot color, full-array local dimming and a Mini LED backlight. Recent reviews say the latter in particular helps deliver better contrast and color volume than most options in this part of the market. There’s support for ALLM and the major HDR standards as well. Technically, it’s also a VRR display – but, like many cheaper TVs, the U6K is limited to a 60Hz refresh rate, so that support only goes so far. There are no HDMI 2.1 ports, either, and the TV’s brightness levels and motion handling will still be a clear step down from more expensive options. But at $400 or so for a 55-inch model, its issues should be easier to look past.
The TCL Q6 looks to be another notable budget option, as it supports a 120Hz refresh rate — but only at a 1080p or 1440p resolution, not 4K. It also lacks local dimming and the U6K’s Mini LED backlight.
If you can pay about $150 more, the TCL Q7 should be a more noticeable improvement; it’s not Mini LED, but it does have two HDMI 2.1 ports, one of which can play 4K at 144Hz and 1080p at 240Hz. The requisite HDR and VRR formats are there as well, though some reviews note that the latter can cause inconsistent response times. The Hisense U8K should be better if you can afford a further upgrade.
Richard Lawler contributed to this report.