If you spend more time playing Xbox One, PlayStation 4, or Nintendo Switch than watching Netflix or channel surfing, you've probably got slightly different priorities than the average person when it comes to buying a new TV.
Like everybody else, you don't want to compromise on picture quality—high contrast, deep color saturation, and so on—but you also don't want a picture that's so posh and processed it introduces input lag, where the game's on-screen response lags between when you push a button and see something happen. That's why you need a TV that looks great but won't slow you down.
If you just want our top recommendation for a high quality, low input lag set, check out the TCL 6 Series(available at Amazon for $529.00). However, there are a lot of good choices for gamers in every budget bracket. These are the best right now.
These are the best gaming TVs we tested ranked, in order:
55-inch TCL 6 Series (2018)
65-inch TCL 6 Series (2018)
65-inch LG C8 Series (2018)
55-inch LG C8 Series (2018)
Vizio P-Series Quantum X (2019)
65-inch Vizio P-Series Quantum (2018)
Sony X950G Series (2019)
65-inch TCL 5 Series (2018)
55-inch TCL 5 Series (2018)
49-inch TCL 5 Series (2018)
43-inch TCL 5 Series (2018)
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The TCL 6 Series—the 55-inch specifically—is our top recommendation for most gamers looking for a high quality, low input lag TV.
The 55-inch 6 Series offers everything that modern console and PC gamers might want. It's got 4K resolution, high brightness/color for HDR gaming, and fast responses on its HDMI inputs. TCL as a brand seems to prioritize gaming when designing these TVs, as last year's TCL sets were highly recommended, too.
Reviewed has been testing TVs since some of its current employees were in middle school. While many proud TV testers have come and gone through Reviewed's labs, the current Home Theater team consists of Michael Desjardin and Lee Neikirk. Michael is a senior staff writer and a five-year veteran of the Reviewed tech team. A film enthusiast and TV expert, he takes picture quality seriously but also understands that not every TV is a good fit for everyone. As Reviewed's Home Theater Editor, Lee doesn't do as much testing these days. However, he designed the company's current TV testing methodology after receiving calibration certification from the Imaging Science Foundation.
It'd be an understatement to say that we're serious about TV testing. Our lab at Reviewed's Cambridge location is outfitted with much of the same equipment you'd find at a factory that manufactures and calibrates television. On the hardware side, we've got things like a Konica Minolta CS-200 tristimulous color meter, an LS-100 luminance meter, a Leo Bodnar input lag tester, a Quantum Data 780A signal generator, and more Blu-rays than we can keep track of. For software, we use CalMan Ultimate, the industry-standard in taking display measurements and calibrating screens to specifications.
Our testing process is equally complicated and has been honed over many years to gather data that is marginal enough to satisfy curious video engineers, but also relevant to the average person's viewing experience. We measure things like peak brightness, black level, hue and saturation for primary and secondary digital colors, the accuracy of the TV's electro-optical transfer function—you get the idea, it's complicated. Weighting for our performance tests is based off of how the human eye prioritizes vision, which means we put "brightness" data (monochromatic eye based on light sensitivity) higher than colorimetry, which is also scaled by the eye's sensitivity, and so on.
Outside of the strictly technical tests, we also spend a lot of time just watching and using each TV, getting a feel for the at-home experience of doing things like dialing up streaming video service, connecting a DVD player and watching movies, using the smart features, and checking out the TV's ports, remote, and on-set buttons—anything and everything that might be relevant.
What You Should Know About TVs
What Makes A TV Good?
While everyone has different eyes, generally, our vision all functions the same way: we prioritize dynamic information and bright, compelling colors over subtler hues and resolution (sharpness). Generally, a TV can be considered a good TV when we forget that we're watching a TV. We don't see pixels creating mixes of red, green, and blue to simulate colors; we see the real world, lit and colored as it is, in fluid motion.
In simpler terms, this means a TV that can get very bright and dark without obscuring details; produces accurate colors (compared to various color standards designated by the International Telecommunication Union); possesses proper bit-mapping and the right codecs and decoders for video processing; and can properly play the various types of content thrown at it without judder, blurring, and so on.
Note that specs alone (pixel count, measured brightness) aren't automatic indicators of quality, much like intense speed is not automatically an indicator of a good car.
What Terms Do I Need To Know?
When it comes to knowing what you're paying for, almost no category is more rife with subterfuge and tomfoolery than TVs. While knowing the specs of the TV you're shopping for is only half the battle, it's the bigger half. Here are the key bits of jargon you'll want to know while browsing:
LED/LCD: This refers to Light Emitting Diode and Liquid Crystal Display. LEDs are the backlights used in LCD TVs, also sometimes called a LED TV for this reason. The LED backlight shines through a layer of a semi-solid substance called "liquid crystal," so named for its ability to morph in reaction to tiny electrical volts and allow light to pass through.
OLED: This means Organic Light Emitting Diode. This is an altogether different panel technology than LED/LCD, albeit on the surface they work similarly. Rather than an LED backlight element shining through an LCD panel element, OLED TVs essentially combine the backlight and crystal array, using sub-pixel strata that produce light and color individually.
4K/UHD: Usually 4K refers to resolution—specifically, 3,840 x 2,160 pixels. This is the current standard/mainstream resolution for most TVs. UHD means Ultra High Definition, and actually refers to a suite of picture improvements like 4K resolution, Wide Color Gamut, and High Dynamic Range.
High Dynamic Range: Like "UHD," High Dynamic Range (or HDR) refers to both a type of TV and a type of content that expands on the typical range of brightness (luminance) and color that a TV will produce. HDR TVs are newer and usually a bit more expensive, but can have four times the brightness and 30% more color production than non-HDR TVs, at least. Current HDR formats are HDR10 and Dolby Vision.
60 Hz/120 Hz: These numbers refer to what is called a "refresh rate," with Hz (hertz) meaning "times per second." So if a TV's refresh rate is 60 Hz, this means it re-scans and updates for picture information 60 times per second; with 120 Hz, it's 120 times per second. Currently, TVs only come in 60 or 120 Hz. A higher refresh rate is always better, but not always necessary.
Smart TV: The term "smart TV" has evolved a lot over the years, but all it really means is that the TV connects to the internet. Most smart TVs these days are just a way to watch streaming services like Amazon Prime Video on your TV. Some smart TVs have browsers, calendars, or even Roku or Android functions. All smart TVs have ethernet or WiFi built in.
Quantum Dots: Quantum dots are used in LED/LCD TVs only. These are microscopic nano-crystals that produce intensely colored light when struck with light. Quantum dots can be used to vastly improve the red and green saturation of a TV, and are one way that LED/LCD TVs can match the color spectrum of OLED.
Local Dimming: OLED panels look great because each pixel can operate independently. LED/LCD TVs can imitate this functioning via a process called local dimming, where localized clusters of LEDs dim or boost depending on whether the screen needs to be darker or brighter, sometimes vastly improving their performance and worth.
What Is a TV Series?
You may notice the TVs listed in this roundup don't follow the traditional naming convention you might see in a store or online. That's because rather than nominating a single size of TV (such as the LG OLED65C8PUA, aka the 65-inch LG C8 series OLED), we nominate the entire range of sizes within a "series."
Typically these TVs are identical in performance but differ in price and size. We do this in order to offer you more flexibility in your decision, but also because it's the most accurate representation available.
Other Gaming TVs We Tested
65-inch TCL 6 Series (2018)
This is the 65-inch version of our top pick from above. It's basically the same TV, just bigger.
You're getting 10 more inches of screen, plus the same 4K resolution, HDR compatibility, built-in Roku functionality, and everything else that makes the TCL 6 Series such a great choice. Its basic "Movie" picture mode delivers great contrast (0.02 black levels matched with reference brightnesses over 200 nits), very accurate standard (rec.709) color—I measured 97% coverage—and great local dimming. Gamers will also be happy to know the TCL 6 Series continues the trend of allowing pretty good input lag during 1080p/4K gaming. Check out our full review of the TCL 6 Series for more information.
If you're a gamer with the deepest of pockets, we've got a treat for you: this mega-beautiful OLED TV.
The LG C8 is actually one of the more affordable LG OLEDs right now: only the B8 series is cheaper, and that one lacks the alpha 9 processor that makes the higher-up series more valuable. Naturally, the C8 is 4K, HDR, smart, with all the fixings, including Dolby Vision and Dolby Atmos audio. Generally, OLED TVs as a technology elicit low input lag, too, though we've heard some mixed things regarding 4K/HDR input lag processing.
Available in 65- and 75-inch sizes only, this is allegedly the best TV that Vizio has ever produced, something we agree with after testing and something that definitely earns it a place on the list of the best TVs you can buy. Outfitted with full-array local dimming, quantum dots, and a sleek, understated design, the P-Series Quantum X looks better than any LED/LCD TV has a right to.
From its searing highlights to its brilliant hues, the P-Series Quantum X is a top-shelf TV with the picture to prove it. Given its ability to get really freakin' bright, it's a particularly good option for folks who long for the performance of an OLED but remain skeptical about an OLED's relatively limited peak brightness.
Any Fallout fans out there? The P-Series Quantum might be perfect for you—and not just because it sounds like that delectable brand of Nuka-Cola.
If you're looking for ultra-premium type specs at a not-quite-ultra-premium price, the Quantum is your friend. For around $2,000, you're getting incredible performance and Vizio's signature attention to gaming responsiveness. This TV has 5 HDMI inputs, and one of them is designed specifically to be faster. How's that for customer service?
One of the Sony's best 2019 models, the X950G isn't perfect, but for what you're paying you're getting a lot of really awesome specs and features.
If you're not concerned about its demonstrably narrow viewing angles and slightly disappointing color production, you're looking at a great TV that holds up well in brightly lit rooms. For the most part, the X950G performs as well as it should, given its price tag.
While you can check out our full review of the Sony X950G for more information, the thing to know about the X950G is that it's a good all-rounder. Performance isn't the X950G's only selling point: at this price, you're getting the Android smart TV platform and a slick, modern design, too. It's not the best value nor the best performer of 2019, but it straddles the line between a huge price tag and outright cheapness, giving you a posh-feeling TV without such staggering prices.
This is the 55-inch version of the 5 Series, detailed above.
This is the actual model we tested, so all of the results from the review apply directly. However, despite being different sizes, we expect our performance results to apply to every size in the series because these TVs use full-array local dimming backlights.
This is the smallest (and cheapest) member of the 5 Series.
If you're just looking to spend as little as possible, this is the TV we recommend for your gaming needs. There are definitely cheaper TVs out there, but this one at least delivers a standard of quality and respectable input lag results.
Lee has been Reviewed's point person for most television and home theater products since 2012. Lee received Level II certification in TV calibration from the Imaging Science Foundation in 2013. As Editor of the Home Theater vertical, Lee oversees reviews of TVs, monitors, soundbars, and Bluetooth speakers. He also reviews headphones, and has a background in music performance.
We use standardized and scientific testing methods to scrutinize every product and provide you with objectively accurate results. If you’ve found different results in your own research, email us and we’ll compare notes. If it looks substantial, we’ll gladly re-test a product to try and reproduce these results. After all, peer reviews are a critical part of any scientific process.