It's never been a better time to buy a 4K HDR TV for gaming, as the enhanced consoles have become ubiquitous, mid-range gaming PCs are now capable of 4K and a new console generation isn't far off either. It's an exciting time in the world of TVs too, with 4K HDR becoming standard on all but the cheapest sets and new technologies boosting graphical fidelity and responsiveness. What follows are our recommendations for the best gaming TVs from the 2018 and 2019 model years.

When looking at a 4K HDR TV for gaming, one of the most important metrics is input latency, which measures how long it takes for your buttons presses to translate into in-game actions. The best 4K HDR TVs offer input latency of around 20ms or less, average models around 30ms, and slower screens react in 40ms or more; generally a difference of about 15ms between two screens is noticeable. However, you'll only accomplish these speeds by engaging gaming modes, which go by different names on different televisions.

As well as input latency, we'll also be looking at how these televisions handle motion, their peak brightness figures, which HDR formats they support and the strength of their built-in smart TV interface. Of course, price is a prime consideration as well. Right now, more expensive OLED sets start at around $1700/£1700 for a 55-inch display while LCD models at the same size can cost less than half of that amount. There are also even cheaper options that provide relatively poor HDR but still deliver a lot of screen for the money.

Apart from making our TV recommendations, we'll also let you know which features are in the pipeline and what you can expect from gaming TVs over the next year. We'll also give a quick rundown of the four major panel types used in 4K HDR TVs - OLED, QLED, VA and IPS - so you have a basic idea of what their typical strengths and weaknesses are, in case you're considering a TV that isn't on this list.

So these are our top recommendations for gaming-friendly 4K HDR televisions in 2019, including budget, mid-range and high-end options. Use the quick links below to skip ahead, or read on for the full selections.

LG C9 (OLED): the best 4K TV for HDR gaming

c9

LG's new C9 model is our current top recommendation, thanks to its gorgeous OLED display which features excellent motion processing, extremely low input latency (~13ms in its gaming modes at 60Hz, ~6ms at 120Hz) and the inclusion of forward-looking HDMI 2.1 ports which should work well with next-gen consoles and PC graphics cards. Image quality, colour reproduction and contrast are top-notch thanks to the OLED panel used, although Samsung's QLED sets are able to hit higher peak brightness figures. The LG C9 doesn't come with FreeSync, but it does support HDMI VRR, a similar adaptive sync standard supported on the Xbox One X. (The implementation appears buggy at present, but firmware updates should solve this issue.)

4K HDR content is where the C9 sings, but the television also handles lower-resolution content with aplomb thanks to excellent upscaling and full OSSC and Framemeister compatibility for retro gaming. The LG TV's webOS software is also arguably the best on the market, thanks to an intuitive and responsive interface that includes easy Wiimote-style selection and rapid multitasking.

Pros

  • HDMI 2.1 will allow 4K/120Hz when HDMI 2.1 source devices are released
  • Extremely low input latency when using gaming modes
  • Black frame insertion enables better motion processing
  • Excellent scaling for lower-resolution sources

Cons

  • No option for filter-free 720p or 1080p upscaling
  • No FreeSync, and HDMI VRR isn't supported by Xbox One yet
  • DolbyVision and HDR10 are supported, but HDR10+ is missing

LG B8/C8 (OLED): Best value OLEDs for 4K HDR gaming

lg_c8_spidey
  • B8: 55 inches (£1139/$1599) or 65 inches (£1739/$2499)
  • C8: 55 inches (£1399/$1899) or 65 inches (£1999/$2799)

LG's 2018 OLED models, the C8 and B8, have reached new low prices with the release of the LG C9 and remain excellent TVs for 4K HDR gaming. While you don't get HDMI VRR support and input latency isn't quite as low, the same top-notch OLED panel is used, BFI is included and scaling from low-res sources is excellent. The LG B8 uses an older processor than the C8, but there isn't a significant difference in image quality or performance between the two models. Therefore, we recommend the cheaper B8 for most people.

Pros

  • Same awesome OLED panel as LG's 2019 models
  • Low input lag and black frame insertion for better motion processing
  • Excellent scaling for lower-resolution sources

Cons

  • Input latency higher than 2019 flagships
  • No FreeSync or HDMI VRR support

Samsung Q90/Q90R (QLED): best non-OLED for 4K HDR gaming

q90

While OLED TVs are impressive, they are expensive and may be prone to burn-in in extreme cases. They also can't match the brightness of high-end LCD displays. If you've decided against OLED for whatever reason, Samsung's QLED TVs are a good alternative. The flagship-grade Q90 we're recommending sports truly excellent brightness, peaking at over 1300 nits in HDR content, while great local dimming allows for contrast ratios of 11,000:1. Note that peak brightness and contrast are reduced when compared to last year's Q9FN, but improvements in viewing angles and input lag make up for this in our eyes.

Input lag is also a strong point for this television with HDR content at 4K responding in an impressive 15ms while game mode is enabled. FreeSync support is included too, which is handy when playing games on the Xbox One or PC. Of course, this TV does have some minor flaws as well, with subpar viewing angles (despite improvements over last year's model) and an occasionally laggy Tizen smart TV interface. Still, given its strengths, the Q90 makes a compelling argument against OLED.

Pros

  • Support for 4K 120Hz (albeit only on one HDMI port)
  • Excellent brightness and low input lag in game mode
  • Good motion handling with black frame insertion
  • Variable refresh rate (FreeSync) support on Xbox One and PC
  • No risk of burn-in

Cons

  • Black levels and viewing angles don't compare to OLED
  • Tizen OS is intuitive but can exhibit slowdowns and includes ads
  • No DolbyVision support, but HDR10 and HDR10+ are supported

Samsung Q60R: the best mid-range choice for 4K HDR

q60r

The Samsung Q60R is the cheapest QLED monitor in Samsung's 2019 arsenal. While its VA panel can't compare in colours, brightness or contrast to a more expensive OLED, it still looks great with SDR and HDR content and its motion handling is superb. The Q60R is a particularly canny pick for gamers, as it comes with one of the lowest input lag figures we've seen, at around 14ms while in game mode. If you use the TV at 120Hz at 1080p or 1440p - something regrettably only afforded to the 55-inch and larger models - this decreases to around 10ms. FreeSync variable refresh rate support is also included on the larger models, which is a boon to Xbox One and PC owners.

Pros

  • Incredibly low input lag for at 1080p or 4K (14ms)
  • Excellent motion handling with fast response times
  • Good contrast ratio (6000:1) and decent uniformity
  • Supports FreeSync and 120Hz at 1080p or 1440p

Cons

  • Mediocre viewing angles due to the choice of a VA panel
  • Significantly more expensive in the UK than in the US, at time of writing
  • Mediocre sound quality, although soundbar bundles are offered
  • High refresh rates and FreeSync not available on 43-inch and 49-inch models

Samsung NU8000 (VA): the best value 4K TV for HDR gaming

samsnung_nu8000_overcooked2

Samsung's NU8000 is an excellent choice for 4K HDR gaming for those on a tighter budget. The TV boasts some of the best input lag we've seen for a 4K HDR set and includes deep blacks for excellent contrast as well - even if it's not quite as good as an OLED TV. This TV's lower price point is evident in its disappointing viewing angles, which result in colour shifts if you're sitting even slightly off-centre, and its implementation of local dimming is lacking as well. Motion handling is solid though with the option for black frame insertion. The Tizen software that Samsung includes on this set is also not ideal, with occasional home screen ads and annoying slowdowns on occasion. Finally, the cheapest 49-inch model doesn't support FreeSync, so we would recommend the 55-inch model or larger if you're going to be using this television with a PC or Xbox One.

Pros

  • Excellent input lag at 1080p or 4K with SDR and HDR content (~18ms)
  • Good contrast ratio for a VA panel (5500:1)
  • Good motion handling with black frame insertion
  • Variable refresh rate support (FreeSync) on 55-inch and larger models

Cons

  • Poor local dimming
  • Disappointing viewing angles
  • Tizen OS is intuitive but can exhibit slowdowns and sometimes includes ads

TCL R617 (VA): the best budget 4K TV for Americans

tcl_r617

TCL is well known for its budget televisions in the US, and for good reason - it has some of the best in the business, delivering mid-range features at cut-down prices. The R617 we're recommending here is perhaps the best example with a 55-inch 4K HDR screen costing less than $600. With that, you get input lag that's among the best we've seen as long as game mode is enabled (~18ms) whether you're gaming in SDR or HDR at 1080p or 4K. Other benefits include a clean and sensible Roku TV interface, excellent contrast (~6000:1) and good motion handling too. However, this TV does exhibit the typically narrow viewing angles of VA panels, making it less suitable for sharing a film with friends or indulging in couch co-op. Another potential issues is the grey uniformity, which can make scenes with motion appear a little cloudy. However, this does vary from panel to panel, so you may not find it to be an issue. While TCL do offer television sets in Europe, the R617 doesn't appear to be one of them - shame.

Pros

  • Excellent input lag with game mode enabled (~18ms)
  • Top-notch contrast for a VA panel (6000:1)
  • Excellent brightness regardless of content

Cons

  • Not available in Europe
  • Very limited viewing angles
  • Grey uniformity issues on some units

LG UK6300 (IPS): the best small 4K TV for HDR gaming

lg_uk6300

For anyone that wants a small TV for 4K HDR gaming that offers a great size vs price ratio, the LG UK6300 is a good option. It's available in Europe and the US - unlike our TCL budget pick - and it's available as small as 43 inches, which is a good fit for smaller spaces like bedrooms or offices. The IPS panel offers low input lag, at 12ms in game mode, even with 4K HDR content. Viewing angles are also a point of pride here, with better results than even more expensive VA TVs. The downside to this kind of panel is that contrast is subpar, with relatively low peak brightness values and blacks that look more like grey, which limits the effect of HDR content. The IPS panel also uses four subpixels, RGBW vs the standard RGB, which reduces clarity for fine details like text, making the UK6300 a poor choice as a PC monitor. Still, if you'll use this TV primarily for console or PC gaming, this could be a great shout despite its limited HDR capabilities (It's worth mentioning that PC monitors can work well in this role too, so check out our picks for the best gaming monitor of 2018.)

Pros

  • Superior input lag (~12ms) in game mode
  • Better viewing angles than VA TVs
  • Clean and responsive webOS smart TV interface

Cons

  • Poor contrast results in overly bright dark scenes and doesn't do HDR justice
  • Grey uniformity issues produces a cloudy picture in some scenes
  • Relatively poor colour accuracy out of the box

Is it a good time to buy?

As we mentioned in the intro, it's a great time to upgrade to a new TV, as major HDR standards have emerged and best-in-class OLED TVs have become more affordable than ever. 2019 model year televisions have arrived, so 2018 models are seeing deep price reductions - so you can either grab a 2018 model to save some money or a 2019 model to get the latest features.

One of the most important technologies for 2019 and 2020 TVs will be the inclusion of HDMI 2.1, a new standard that includes support for higher resolutions at higher frame-rates than ever before, including 8K 60Hz and 4K 120Hz support. As well as more raw data throughput, the new standard also includes features designed for gamers, like HDMI variable refresh rate and automatic low latency mode, which should make gaming more responsive, even at lower framerates.

The first 8K TVs are now on sale - although they're limited to 30Hz at present - and LG's flagship C9 4K OLED includes four HDMI 2.1 ports, making it quite future-proof. However, no one has yet tested the full feature set, as no HDMI 2.1 devices are on the market yet; this tech will start being truly useful when next-generation games consoles and PC graphics cards hit the market over the next few years. In the meantime though, you can expect to see high-end features like FreeSync variable refresh rate support on more TVs, while backlight dimming and higher contrast figures to trickle down to more affordable models.

Display types

With the death of plasma displays, there are two major display types used in modern displays: LCD and OLED, with LCD representing the lower and mid-range of the market and OLED the high-end. LCD displays can be broken down further too, into IPS, VA and QLED displays. Here's what you need to know about each one, in order from cheapest to most expensive.

IPS: These monitors provide good viewing angles and improved colour accuracy compared to monitors using VA panels. However, some IPS panels, particularly older ones, can suffer from slower response times, making them worse for fast-paced games. Another potential issue is 'IPS glow', where the monitor's backlight is visible in dark scenes.

VA: A type of monitor panel which tends to occupy a middle-ground between IPS and cheap TN displays in many respects. These panels generally offer the best contrast, backed with good response times and colour reproduction. However, viewing angles and colour gamut may be limited compared to IPS and OLED.

QLED: This confusingly-named panel type from Samsung is essentially a VA panel that has been upgraded with quantum dots, allowing the monitors to produce slightly wider viewing angles than standard VA panels, plus higher brightness levels and wider colour gamuts. However, as is typical for a VA display, motion handling can be subpar.

OLED: This high-end display tech uses organic light-emitting diodes which produce what is arguably the best picture. Contrast is a strong suit, as individual pixels can be turned off completely to create a true black, rather than the very dark grey that other monitor types can produce. Viewing angles are also impressive, ensuring the picture from a 45-degree angle looks as good as the screen viewed dead-on. HDR is also well catered for, thanks to the ability to see extremely light and dark areas side-by-side. However, OLED can be expensive, its brightness can't compete with traditional LCDs and motion handling can be poor on some models. Image retention or burn-in is also a concern, although it is unlikely to occur through normal use, even when gaming.

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Will Judd

Will Judd

Senior Staff Writer, Digital Foundry

A bizarre British-American hybrid, Will turns caffeine into technology articles through a little-known process called 'writing'. His favourite games are Counter-Strike, StarCraft and Fallout 2.

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