Since they first appeared in homes with the arrival of the Magnavox Odyssey in the 70s, video games have come a really long way. While they were very simplistic in their early days, video games are now genuine visual and audio performances, not dissimilar to modern blockbusters. Once they are part of an installation that provides optimal audio and video conditions, contemporary consoles have the ability to thrust you into the heart of the action with their ultra-detailed graphics and rich, complex soundtracks. Some hyper-realistic games even come extremely close to something you might see at the movies. So, amongst the wide range of HD and 4K Ultra HD televisions on the market, which are the best for gaming?
The best TVs for playing video games: the history of game consoles from 1976 to 2019
Each new generation of home consoles came with an improvement in graphics and sound. The first generation of game consoles appeared in homes in the early 70s and was followed by a second generation in 1976 with the Fairchild Channel F, and the arrival of the Atari 2600 on the European market in 1981. However, the mass production of low-quality video games caused by the success of home consoles led to the video game crash of 1983 which hindered this newly emerging market. In 1985, the industry was given a second wind thanks to the arrival of 8-bit consoles, and in particular with the release of Super Mario Bros. on the Nintendo NES, the driving force behind the revival of video game consoles. SEGA, Nintendo’s direct rival, launched the 4th generation of game consoles with the Mega Drive in 1987, followed by the Super Nintendo, released in Japan in 1990, then in 1991 and 1992 in the United States and Europe respectively. These 16-bit systems marked a huge technological leap, resulting in more complex games, a more detailed image and richer soundtracks than ever before.
1994 was a crucial year in the history of home consoles and video games in general, as it marked the arrival of the Japanese brand Sony on the market with the PlayStation. Selling over 100 million units, the PlayStation put an end to the reign of Nintendo and SEGA in the home console market and ushered in the 5th generation of game consoles. While arcade machines and computers had already introduced three-dimensional games a few years prior, this fifth generation marked the arrival of consoles developed for 3D games in homes across the globe with the Sony PlayStation and the SEGA Saturn for 32-bit consoles, and the Nintendo 64 for 64-bit consoles. In the early 2000s, the sixth generation of game consoles, also known as the 128-bit generation, was introduced. This name is misleading, however, as the number of bits was no longer a relevant factor in determining the performance of a console. The big names of this era were the PlayStation 2, which reigned supreme over the market at the time, Nintendo’s GameCube, The Xbox, Microsoft’s first console, and lastly, the Dreamcast, the very last console released by SEGA who definitively ceased production of game consoles in 2001.
The best TVs for playing video games: high definition consoles
A new milestone was reached in the history of video games with the generation of game consoles that followed, especially in terms of image quality. It was also the first time that 5.1 and 7.1 soundtracks were available in video games. Released in 2005, the Xbox 360 marked the first steps of game consoles in the high definition world. The PlayStation 3 was introduced in 2006 in Japan and the United States, then in 2007 in Europe. Like the original PlayStation, the PlayStation 3 revolutionized the video game industry with the addition of an HDMI 1.3 port and the use of Blu-ray discs that provided 25GB of storage for single-layer discs and 50GB for dual-layer discs. That’s enough space to store high quality images and soundtracks. The Blu-ray player integrated into the Playstation 3 also played an important role in the decline of the HD DVD, the format championed by Microsoft. Now able to transmit video streams ranging from SD to HD (480i, 720i, 1080i, 480p, 720p, 1080p), seventh generation consoles required a display that can guarantee optimal operating conditions in order to deliver their best performance and fully exploit the potential of the games.
Just like Blu-ray players, UHD Blu-ray players and media players, the image provided by a game console also depends on the quality and performance of the display to which it is connected. The latest generation of consoles, headed by the Xbox One X, Xbox One S and PS4 Pro, can offer unparalleled image quality when paired with a 4K UHD television whose features allow these sources with specific requirements to offer their full potential.
The best TVs for playing video games: which 4K UHD display for the Xbox One X and the PS4 Pro?
To enjoy the latest generation of video games in optimal conditions, a television that provides vivid colors and deep blacks will propel you into the heart of the action. Using an HDR compatible screen is a must! All versions of the PS4, along with the Xbox One X and the Xbox One S, feature an HDR video output. Furthermore, it is recommended to use a 4K display. In general, a high-performance TV should also be sufficient for playing video games. However, certain features are essential when looking for a screen specifically for playing video games. The most important is the input lag, which is the delay between the moment when you press a button on the controller and the moment the action occurs on the screen. The ideal is of course to ensure that the screen provides the lowest input lag possible. Note that an input lag inferior to 40ms is imperceptible for most users. An input lag inferior to 20ms is invisible for all human beings.
New functions developed specifically for the latest sources, including game consoles, are also beginning to emerge. For example, there is the Variable Refresh Rate (VRR) and the Auto Low Latency Mode (ALLM), sometimes called game mode on some televisions. Both are features associated with the HDMI 2.1 norm, but they are also available on a number of 2.0 certified TVs. The Variable Refresh Rate adjusts the screen’s refresh rate in real-time according to that of the console. This technology ensures a smoother and more responsive image with video games, but it is only available for Xbox One X, Xbox One S and PC users.
The automatic low latency mode allows your television to automatically switch to game mode in order to reduce input lag. However, these functions implemented specifically to optimize the TV’s performance while playing video games are the only elements to take into account. It is essential that a television used for gaming is able to accurately reproduce the vibrant colors and dynamics of the most expressive games, while also being able to reproduce the tones of realistic games such as Red Dead Redemption 2.
While deep blacks are important in complex images, it is essential to be able to distinguish all of the details in the dark areas of the picture. It is therefore recommended to avoid televisions that are known to flatten dark zones and eliminate detail. You should also make sure that the brightness and gamma have been adjusted accordingly in the menu of the game you’re playing.
The best TVs for playing video games: Samsung QE65Q90R
For a few years now, Samsung has been a firm favorite with gamers due to the low input lag of its TVs. Moreover, Microsoft recommends using a Samsung QLED television with Xbox One X consoles.
The excellent Samsung QE65Q90R meets all the requirements needed to get the most out of next generation consoles, and more. Thanks to QLED technology, it can display bright and dynamic images. QLED televisions ensure a naturally balanced image and accurate color reproduction for the most realistic result possible. Furthermore, the input lag of Samsung Q90R displays is extremely low and they are compatible with VRR and ALLM technologies. This television also includes extra features for the gaming mode, such as a motion smoothing function and detail enhancement in dark areas. It is currently the most powerful 4K UHD Smart TV for gaming. We were able to test the performance of Samsung Q90R screens with Red Dead Redemption II in 4K HDR during our review of the Samsung QE55Q90R.
The best TVs for playing video games: LG OLED65C9
The LG OLED65C9 is simply one of the best OLED 4K Ultra HD displays currently on the market and it is an excellent choice for gamers. Although it can’t compete with Samsung’s 4K QLED television in all areas, it still offers deeper blacks and striking contrast. LG’s OLED65C9 can display an incredibly rich image and bright colors. Also compatible with VVR and ALLM technologies, this 4K UHD television features HDMI 2.1 ports and supports Dolby Vision (there are a few compatible Xbox games). The input lag is measured at approximately 13ms and can’t be seen with the naked eye.
Note that all of LG’s OLED televisions in the B9, C9 and E9 series are VRR (Variable Refresh Rate) and ALLM (Auto Low Latency Mode) compatible. Amongst these televisions are the following models:
- LG OLED55B9: 55″ television (139cm) sold for €1 990
- LG OLED65B9: 65″ television (164cm) sold for €2 990
- LG OLED55C9: 55″ television (139cm) sold for €1 999
- LG OLED65C9: 65″ television (164cm) sold for €2 999
- LG OLED77C9: 77″ television (195cm) sold for €7 990
- LG OLED55E9: 55″ television (139cm) sold for €2 290
- LG OLED65E9: 65″ television (164cm) sold for €3 790
The best TVs for playing video games: Panasonic TX-65GZ1000
The Panasonic TX-65GZ1000 television is also a good choice for gamers. Certified THX 4K Display, it benefits from professional color calibration which is ideal for watching movies in the best possible conditions. But, more importantly, it is ALLM (Auto Low Latency Mode) compatible and features an input lag inferior to 20ms, perfect for video games.
The best TVs for playing video games: Sony KD-65XG9505
More affordable than the LG OLED and Samsung QLED displays, the Sony KD-65XG9505 offers great value for money. Its performance, close to that of very high-end models, combined with its detailed image and vibrant reproduction of the brightest colors make this an ideal display for playing video games. With an input lag inferior to 20ms, this UHD 4K Smart TV is compatible with HDR, HDR10+, HLG and HDR Dolby Vision. The Sony KD-65XG9505 screen also features Sony’s exclusive Triluminos technology, which provides a wider color space than conventional TVs for a clearer display in high and low light, as well as more subtle and realistic colors.
The best TVs for playing video games: Panasonic TX-50GX800B
If you have a limited budget, the Panasonic TX-50GX800B 4K TV offers great performance at an attractive price. The GX800’s major innovation is that it handles Dolby Vision and HDR10+ content, unlike the two models previously mentioned. HDR10+ isn’t something to be taken into account for gaming, but displays that are compatible with HDR10+ content also handle HDR. Moreover, this Panasonic screen ensures a low input lag and is compatible with automatic low latency technology. This 50” model is great if you want to have an immersive gaming experience without taking up too much space in your living room. While it doesn’t rival the precision and deep blacks of OLED and QLED screens, it is still an excellent contender in its price range.
The best TVs for playing video games: projectors
Projectors let you enjoy a vast image for even greater immersion. The same criteria for choosing a gaming TV also apply to choosing a projector for gaming, especially when it comes to input lag. Some projectors have a high input lag, sometimes superior to 50ms. This isn’t a problem with movies, but it is with video games. As with televisions, it is highly recommended to go into the menu and adjust the video settings to ensure optimal conditions. To find out the input lag of a projector, you have no other choice than to go looking for the information yourself because manufacturers hardly ever measure this attribute and, consequently, it is rarely mentioned on spec sheets.
Amongst the different projectors suitable for video games is the Optoma HD29H, which features a Gaming Enhanced function to optimize the projector’s performance specifically for gaming. The Optoma HD29H projector’s gaming mode lowers the input lag to 16.4ms, which allows the player to enjoy an image up to 7.65m (301”) across, with an imperceptible input lag.
For more details on how to optimize your installation for the latest generation of consoles, discover all the products recommended to enjoy the best gaming conditions in our gaming selection.