If you spend more time gaming than watching Netflix or channel surfing, you've probably got slightly different priorities when buying a new TV, especially with the PlayStation 5 and the Xbox Series X right around the corner.
You want a great picture, of course, but you also don't want a TV that introduces input lag. Essentially, you need a TV that looks great but won't slow you down. If money is no object, the LG C9(available at Amazon) is the best gaming TV. In fact, it’s also our pick for the best TV you can buy, period. If that's too pricey, though, we've got plenty of other suggestions, including the affordable Vizio M Series Quantum. Whatever your budget, we've got a great 4K gaming TV for you.
These are the best gaming TVs we tested, ranked in order:
Vizio P-Series Quantum X
Vizio P Series Quantum
Vizio M Series Quantum
Recommendations are independently chosen by Reviewed’s editors. Purchases you make through our links may earn us a commission.
The LG C9 is our current pick for the best TV you can buy, so it stands to reason that it’s also our pick for the best gaming TV. There are three reasons why, if you’re a serious gamer and have the means, you ought to consider the LG C9: motion handling, HDMI 2.1, and input lag.
The C9 features a native refresh rate of 120 Hz and comes with an effective suite of motion enhancement tools. Additionally, the C9 is currently one of the very few consumer-facing TVs equipped with HDMI 2.1 ports, which will help gamers get the best performance out of Playstation 5 and Xbox Series X consoles later this year. Lastly, input lag is not a problem with the LG C9, with testers consistently clocking its input performance below 20 milliseconds.
And then there’s the C9’s picture, which is hard to beat. If you haven't heard, OLED panels are kind of the bee's knees for the avid TV watcher. Each pixel turns "on" and "off" automatically, meaning when OLED TVs display black, they display actual black. Likewise, when they display a color, it emits from the pixel directly, giving it a more pure and unfiltered appearance than traditional LED/LCD TVs. LG's been the leader in OLED TV production for several years, and the 2019 C9 is the latest "C" OLED—it's almost the most affordable one in the lineup, but still has all the same awesome OLED picture quality.
The C9 series (which is available in 55-, 65-, and 77-inch sizes) delivers a justifiable price tag alongside all the same excellent OLED picture quality, 4K resolution, High Dynamic Range and Dolby Vision specifications, LG's friendly "webOS" smart platform, and more. It's stuffed full of great features and a geeky array of calibration options for the AV nerds out there—especially serious gamers. Check out our full review of the LG C9 series for more information.
When it comes to new, value-packed TVs, it’s hard to top the 2019 Vizio M Series Quantum, which offers a taste of quantum dot performance for a price most people can justify. It’s not perfect, but it’s our top pick for gamers who are hunting for a great TV at a budget-friendly price.
The M Series Quantum doesn’t get quite as bright as TVs in higher price brackets, but that doesn’t mean its contrast is anything to scoff at; the TV’s brightness and deep black levels come together nicely on the full-array panel. Colors pop, too, on account of the M Series’ quantum dots.
A noteworthy caveat, however, is the M Series Quantum’s native refresh rate of 60 Hz, which might be a deal-breaker for folks who’d rather pay a little extra for a gaming TV with smoother motion performance. For most gamers (especially those upgrading from a non-HDR TV), the M Series Quantum’s motion handling is just fine. Discerning viewers might disagree, however, so it’s important to consider the alternatives—especially higher-end TVs with a native refresh rate of 120 Hz.
Starting at 43 inches and running the gamut up to 70 inches, it's available in a wider variety of sizes than its closest competitor, the 2019 TCL 6-Series. It’s a great TV for anyone looking to upgrade to a dependable, affordable TV suitable for console gaming.
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 six-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. The lab in our 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 tristimulus 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 on 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 Blu-ray 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
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 Is Refresh Rate And Why Is It Important For Gaming?
A TV’s refresh rate represents the amount of times it re-scans the picture for new information, with “Hz” being the unit of frequency. The higher the refresh rate, the better the TV tends to be at conveying realistic, smooth motion.
Currently, TVs only come in 60 Hz or 120 Hz, though you might see claims of higher refresh rates—like 240, 480, or even 960 Hz. Make no mistake, however: Every TV on the market in 2020 is either 60 Hz or 120 Hz natively, even though they might use motion enhancement settings to extrapolate higher numbers.
What does that mean for gamers? Well, TVs that feature a native refresh rate of 120 Hz are better equipped at delivering a smooth video game experience, but that doesn’t mean 60 Hz TVs aren’t worth a look, especially if you’re looking to save some money.
What Is Input Lag?
Input lag is what happens when the TV is doing so much image processing that a physical input from the player (pressing a button on the video game controller) takes too long to register on screen. This is a big problem in games that require split-second reaction time (and by the last levels, most games require split-second reaction time), and it's even worse if you're playing online.
Thankfully, there are very few TVs in 2020 that outright fail to deliver respectable input lag figures. In fact, for most folks, the difference in input lag from one TV to the next is often imperceptible.
How Do I Limit Input Lag?
Depending on your TV’s capabilities, you may be able to take steps at home to limit its input lag. Here are some things to consider.
1. Turn on Game Mode.
Designed specifically for use with video games, "Game Mode" (or some variation) is offered on most TVs. Sometimes it's an option under "Video Mode," a preset picture setting, and sometimes it's a standalone setting that you can toggle on or off. It usually turns off motion-smoothing modes (see #3 below), and pumps up the brightness and color saturation.
2. Turn off reduction features.
Most TVs on the market today come with at least a few reduction settings. They usually sit in their own sub-menu within a sub-menu, so it might be tricky to find them.
There are tons of names for these settings: Noise Reduction, Mosquito Reduction, NR Reduction, and MPEG Reduction are all likely candidates. Whatever they happen to be called, one thing is always consistent: They always increase input lag.
If you decide that you really need a certain feature, like flesh-tone enhancement, play the game without it at first, and then turn it on—you might notice that it affects response.
3. Turn off motion enhancements.
Nearly every TV that we've tested for input lag goes from excellent (sub-30ms input lag) to horrible (over 80ms input lag) just by turning motion smoothing on. It may make the picture look a little better, but your control over the game will suffer as a result.
What Other TV 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.
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 nanocrystals 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.
Other TVs We Tested
Vizio P Series Quantum X
Available in 65- and 75-inch sizes only, this 2019 flagship TV is arguably the best that Vizio’s ever made—something we’re inclined to agree with. This makes it a great (albeit pricey) choice for gamers. 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.
Plus, since the P Series Quantum X features a native refresh rate of 120 Hz and extremely low input lag, console gamers can trust that the PQX will have their back.
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.
Samsung's high-end TV offerings tend to be very good TVs, and the Samsung Q90R is no different. This top-tier QLED TV (available in 65-, 75-, and 82-inch models) is an impressive, versatile TV for cinephiles, sports fans, gamers, and everyone in between.
Being a Samsung-engineered quantum dot TV, you can expect sizzling brightness and rich, finely-tuned colors—we measured peak brightness levels that eclipsed 1,000 nits.
The Q90R also features a native refresh rate of 120 Hz and a suite of well-engineered motion enhancements, making it a great choice for competitive gamers. Its reported input lag test results are between 10 and 20 milliseconds, too.
That said, because the Q90R is a top-tier Samsung TV with a posh design, the price point might be high enough for some folks to consider more cost-friendly alternatives.
The Samsung Q80R isn’t quite as good as the Q90R, but the difference in cost might make it an appealing alternative for shoppers who don’t want to splash out completely. In fact, the Q80R features some of the very same specs that make the Q90R a fantastic gaming TV.
Case in point? The Q80R’s panel features a native 120 Hz refresh rate, and its stellar motion handling is on par with the higher-end Q90R. And although the Q80R doesn’t get as bright as its more-impressive sibling, it’s still a heck of a lot brighter than most mid-range TVs thanks to its quantum-dot display.
The only downside here is the Q80R’s price tag, which is too high to compete with some of the more affordable quantum dot TVs like the 2019 TCL 6-Series or the Vizio M Series Quantum. To be fair, the Q80R is a better performer than both of those TVs, but given its price tag, you might be tempted to just spring for the top-shelf Samsung Q90R.
The 2019 Vizio P Series Quantum is a fantastic QLED TV that makes a strong case for itself in the all-important category of premium-but-not-too-premium TVs. Its low input lag, native 120 Hz refresh rate, and overall superb motion handling make it a great TV for gaming.
Available in two sizes (65 inches and 75 inches), the P Series Quantum features quantum dots, full-array local dimming (with 200-240 LED zones, depending on the panel size) and a performance report card that’s chock-full of good grades.
Essentially, the Vizio P Series Quantum is a great choice for shoppers who want a premium gaming TV but who don’t want to commit to the price of an OLED TV or a better performing QLED TV, like the Samsung Q90R. Just like the rest of the TVs in this price bracket, though, folks might ultimately look at the P Series Quantum’s price tag and decide that they may as well go for broke with a top-tier flagship.
If you’re looking for a premium gaming TV that harnesses the power of quantum dots but haven’t found what you’re looking for from Samsung or Vizio, why not take a look at the TCL 8-Series? Its low input lag and 120 Hz refresh rate will check some critical boxes for serious gamers, but also, it’s just a really, really good TV.
This QLED TV is available in two sizes: 65” and 75”. It aced nearly all of our performance tests and wowed us in action, demonstrating quantum dots’ ability to produce bright pictures with extra-vivid color. One of the reasons the 8-Series is such a stellar performer is the inclusion of TCL’s “mini-LED” technology, which allows for tight contrast control second only to OLED TVs. The TV’s excellent motion handling and built-in Roku software also make it a versatile pick.
The only real hang-ups are the 8-Series’ chunky design and its limited viewing angles (the latter of which isn’t as big of an issue as it is on the TCL 6-Series, but still might deter some folks). In addition, while the price tag reflects the TV’s performance, bargain hunters might feel more comfortable either going with a more affordable, mid-range TV, and folks hunting for top-tier performance might be better off springing for something with a better design and picture.
Still, put Red Dead Redemption 2 on this thing and prepare to be wowed.
The TCL 6-Series, available in 55- and 65-inch models, is a budget-friendly QLED TV that brings the benefits of quantum dot technology (namely better brightness and color production) to a price bracket that most folks can actually afford. Along with the Vizio M Series Quantum, it’s one of two TVs in this round-up whose refresh rate is 60 Hz rather than the 120-Hz ideal spec, but we love it enough to recommend it to gamers who are searching for a good deal.
We were quite impressed with the TCL 6-Series’ contrast; the TV’s relatively deep black levels look all the better thanks to its ability to get very bright, particularly during HDR content. We also love the TV’s built-in Roku software, since Roku is our favorite smart platform of all the major players.
That said, you can’t really offer a QLED TV in this price bracket without some concessions. As mentioned, the 6-Series’ motion handling isn’t as good as higher-end QLED TV’s whose panels feature a native refresh rate of 120 Hz. Additionally, the 6-Series’ viewing angles are quite limited.
Still, this TV is jam-packed with value, especially if you’re hoping to land a new gaming TV that’s bright enough to accommodate a room that gets a lot of natural or artificial light.
Michael Desjardin graduated from Emerson College after having studied media production and screenwriting. He specializes in tech for Reviewed, but also loves film criticism, weird ambient music, cooking, and food in general.
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.