After several years of intrigue, Microsoft's newest console—the Xbox Series X—is finally here, and it's packed with impressive hardware that will surely keep it on the bleeding edge for years to come.
If you're shopping for a TV to pair with your new Xbox and just want to maximize your dollar by securing a handful of next-generation features along with a dependable picture, we recommend our pick for Best Value: the TCL 6-Series (available at Amazon) . It supports a few of the Xbox Series X's key performance features, performs wonderfully across all content, and most importantly, it won’t break the bank.
The LG CX (available in 55-, 65-, and 77-inch variants) is not only one of the best TVs money can buy, it's also flush with hardware and software enhancements that will help you get the most out of your Xbox Series X (or Xbox Series S) for several years into its lifespan.
The LG CX is equipped with HDMI 2.1 ports, so when the time comes, it'll support 4K gaming at up to 120 FPS and 8K gaming at 60 FPS (though with a native 4K screen, it would have to "downsample" 8K content if it played it at all). The CX also supports ALLM, FreeSync/G-Sync, VRR, and HDMI eARC (the last of which should allow for passthrough of uncompressed audio signals, including Dolby TrueHD for high-resolution Dolby Atmos).
In true OLED fashion, the LG CX features the signature near-perfect black levels that we’ve come to expect from this premium technology. Stellar contrast is the primary reason that TVs like this look so good, but you can also expect gorgeous, vivid color production and excellent motion handling. In fact, the CX’s native 120 Hz refresh rate also makes it a great option for gamers—you can expect clear, judder-free motion pretty much across the board.
The 2020 TCL 6-Series (available in 55-, 65-, and 75-inch variants) is one of the most value-packed TVs of the year, thanks to a robust offering of features and a picture that punches well above its weight. All told, the 6-Series performs better than just about every TV in its price range, making it a great pick for Xbox Series X owners who seek a taste of the next-gen gaming experience without paying an arm and a leg for the opportunity.
Gamers will be thrilled with the 6-Series’ native 120 Hz refresh rate as well as the addition of something called THX Certified Game Mode, a suite of enhancements that includes VRR support and ALLM support. The 6-Series does not offer HDMI 2.1, however, so 120 FPS content is limited to a resolution of 1440p.
The TCL 6-Series produces a bright, colorful 4K picture during both SDR and HDR content, thanks in part to the TV’s quantum dots. In our lab, we consistently clocked the 6-Series at around 800-900 nits of brightness while receiving an HDR signal. This makes the 6-Series a fantastic option for folks whose living rooms receive a fair amount of ambient light. The inclusion of quantum dots also makes for rich, well-saturated colors, particularly during HDR content.
Being a Roku TV, the TCL 6-Series comes equipped with our favorite streaming platform right out of the box. Its software is sleek, easy to use, and offers access to a vast library of apps.
The TCL 6-Series isn’t quite as impressive as the top TVs on our list, but its performance and features are highly commendable given its price tag. In short, it’s one of the best deals in the industry at the moment, and a fantastic compromise for folks who want to upgrade their TV for the next era of Xbox 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 For The Xbox Series X And Xbox Series S
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.
When it comes to shopping for a TV specifically for use with the new Xbox, there are a few things you'll definitely want to secure: 4K resolution (3,840 x 2,160 pixels) and HDR (High Dynamic Range) support. Fortunately, just about every new TV worth its salt these days is a 4K/HDR TV (though HDR performance varies depending on the TV's capabilities).
If you really want to set yourself up for all of the cutting-edge features that the new Xbox consoles have to offer, you'll probably have to spend a bit more to lock down features like HDMI 2.1, Variable Refresh Rate (VRR) and Auto Low Latency Mode (ALLM).
What's The Difference Between The Xbox Series X And The Xbox Series S?
From a usage standpoint, the biggest difference between the two new Xbox consoles is the manner in which games are installed and played; the Xbox Series X features a UHD Blu-ray disc drive for hardcopy games, while the Series S does not. Being an all-digital experience, the Series S leans heavily on its limited 512GB of internal storage. The disc-drive-equipped Xbox Series X, however, comes with 1TB of storage—nearly double the Series S.
From a performance standpoint, the Xbox Series S and the Xbox Series X will offer significantly different in-game experiences, starting with resolution. While the Xbox Series X supports 4K resolution (3840 x 2160), the Series S tops out at a resolution of 1440p (2560 x 1440). The Xbox Series X also supports frame rates of up to 120 FPS (Frames Per Second) at 4K resolution, but the pared-down Series S only supports 60 FPS/120 FPS gaming with a maximum resolution of 1440p. Eventually, the Xbox Series X is primed to support 8K resolution gaming at 60 FPS.
What Is HDMI 2.1 And Do I Need It?
HDMI 2.1 is the newest version of the HDMI interface, concerning both HDMI ports and the cables themselves. Although HDMI 2.1 is in the nascent stage of its lifespan, the format is a requirement for several next-generation gaming benchmarks like 4K gaming at 120 FPS and 8K gaming at 60 FPS.
Some TVs include HDMI 2.1-compliant ports, but as of 2020, the industry standard remains HDMI 2.0. In due time, the 2.0 standard will be phased out in favor of HDMI 2.1, but as of late 2020, HDMI 2.1 ports are mostly a high-end spec.
Fortunately, there’s still plenty of time for HDMI 2.0 to shine; video game developers are just now beginning to harness the power of HDMI 2.1. Additionally, some TVs—like the TCL 6-Series, our Best Value winner for this roundup—cover some of HDMI 2.1’s standard features while not offering HDMI 2.1-compliant ports. For instance, the TCL 6-Series supports Variable Refresh Rate (VRR), but not 4K gaming at 120 FPS.
What Is Variable Refresh Rate (VRR)?
Variable Refresh Rate, often abbreviated as “VRR,” is a gaming-related software enhancement that prevents screen tearing and artifacting as a result of changes in frame rate. Essentially, VRR ensures that what is being displayed is in sync with real-time changes in animation.
Some forms of VRR are proprietary, like Nvidia’s G-Sync technology and AMD’s FreeSync technology.
What is Auto Low Latency Mode (ALLM)?
Auto Low Latency Mode, otherwise known as “ALLM,” is a feature that allows a TV to automatically switch into its designated gaming mode when a qualifying input is chosen. In short, it removes the need for a user to manually activate their TV’s gaming mode so that they may enjoy the benefits of low input lag and low latency without fumbling for a remote control and visiting the TV’s settings menu.
ALLM does not require the HDMI 2.1 format, but it will be a standard feature of HDMI 2.1 going forward.
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 Reduce Input Lag?
Depending on your TV’s capabilities, you may be able to take steps at home to reduce 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. TVs that offer Auto Low Latency Mode will automatically enable Game Mode if they detect the presence of a gaming console.
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 TV Terms Do I Need To Know?
When it comes to knowing what you're paying for, almost no category is rifer 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. 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 and Wide Color Gamut, which can display many more shades than HD TVs.
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 many times the brightness and 30% more color production than non-HDR TVs. Current top HDR formats include HDR10, HDR10+, and Dolby Vision.
60 Hz/120 Hz: These numbers refer to what is called a "refresh rate," with Hz (hertz) representing "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 Hulu, Netflix, Disney+, and 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 illuminated. 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 TVs We Tested
The LG BX (available in 55- and 65-inch variants) is one of the most affordable OLED TV series released in 2020, which makes it a great pickup for folks who don’t mind paying a premium for stunning, top-of-the-line TV technology, but nevertheless don’t want to spend the extra dough to land a better-performing TV, like the LG CX. If you don't mind splashing out on a high-end TV to use with an Xbox Series X or Xbox Series S, the LG BX is the second best option behind the LG CX.
For gamers, the main draw of the BX is its special features; the TV is equipped with HDMI 2.1 ports, supports FreeSync/G-Sync, and features a native refresh rate of 120 Hz. Simply put, the BX is one of the most affordable ways to secure a TV that will get the most out of the new Xbox—even if its price tag doesn’t seem very affordable at first glance.
The BX is a 4K TV whose HDR support meets the Dolby Vision standard, so when you put the controller down and switch to movies or TV shows, you can trust that they'll look superb, too. Being an OLED TV, viewers can expect near-perfect black levels and dazzling, voluminous color. The LG BX isn’t a budget-friendly TV, but it is one of the most affordable ways to secure both incredible OLED picture and future-proof features to support your Xbox for years to come.
Vizio’s first OLED TV successfully blends the high-end picture quality we’ve come to expect from OLED TVs with the value-forward philosophies that helped give way to Vizio’s recent rise in popularity. It’s one of the most affordable ways to secure an OLED TV and makes for a terrific companion to the Xbox Series X.
The Vizio OLED is packed with features fit for next-generation gaming, including HDMI 2.1 support (with eARC passthrough), VRR, and ALLM. Like all of the OLED TVs we’ve tested in recent years, the Vizio OLED also features a native refresh rate of 120 Hz. This refresh rate, combined with the TV’s HDMI 2.1 support, means that the Vizio OLED will be capable of 4K gaming at 120 FPS.
And then, of course, there’s the Vizio OLED’s picture, which is unsurprisingly stunning. Due to the self-illuminating nature of organic LEDs, the Vizio OLED is capable of perfect black levels and rich, accurate colors. Although it doesn’t get nearly as bright as high-end quantum dot TVs, it’s about as bright as its direct competitor, the LG BX.
If you’re hoping to make your next TV an OLED, the Vizio OLED is the most affordable way to go about doing so without investing in an OLED TV from one or two years ago.
The Samsung Q90T offers fantastic performance and an array of features that will help to get the most of out of your new Xbox for several years into the console’s lifespan.
The Q90T is one of the brightest TVs we’ve tested this year, making it a great pick for people with bright living rooms—or folks who see themselves gaming during the daytime. Picture quality is top-notch, too; the Q90T’s quantum dot-enhanced panel produces bright, vibrant colors and respectable black levels.
As far as gaming features go, the Q90T has you covered: four HDMI ports (including one HDMI 2.1 port and eARC passthrough support), VRR (FreeSync), and ALLM are all accounted for. The TV also features a native refresh rate of 120 Hz.
Because the Q90T is one of Samsung’s flagship TVs, the price is a bit steep compared to most TVs in its performance class. That said, if you don’t mind paying a premium, it’s a great fit for all uses—including next-generation console gaming.
Incredibly bright and colorful thanks to quantum dots
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.