With the release of the Sony's PS4 Pro and and Xbox One X, it's finally safe to say that 4K gaming has arrived. But all that high-resolution goodness is wasted on the wrong TV, so we've tested and reviewed dozens of 4K sets to arrive at these top picks.
If money is no object, our top pick overall is the Samsung Q8FN QLED TV. This $2,499 QLED set delivers eye-popping colors, rich blacks and amazing detail along with ultra-wide viewing angles.
For those on a budget, the TCL 43S517 Roku Smart 4K TV is a fine bargain. It boasts a short lag time and produces 99 percent of the color gamut. We just wish it had an extra HDMI port.
Check out our other top TV picks below for 4K consoles as well as 4K-capable gaming PCs. Our picks include a small 40-inch 4K set that’s great for bedrooms (and dorm rooms) and Samsung's gorgeous QLED TV.
Quick tips for buying a great 4K gaming TV
- Look for game modes: In addition to 4K resolution, all of our top picks feature dedicated gaming modes, which prioritize speed over finely tuned image processing. That shaves milliseconds off the time between a frame being rendered and then displaying on the TV.
- The shorter the lag time, the better: These sets have been chosen because they have shorter lag times than competing sets, for faster-than-average responsiveness.
- 4K is more important than HDR, but both are great: Although all of our top picks boast 4K resolution, they don't all have HDR support. Not everyone wants to pay more for the richer colors and better contrast that HDR provides.
- Don't skimp on smart features: Make sure your set gives you everything you want for non-gaming use, like smart functionality for using your favorite apps and streaming services, mirroring content from your phone or tablet, and a blend of online and over-the-air options for cord-cutters.
- You don't have to spend more than the console itself to get a great set: We know that gaming can be expensive enough without dropping thousands on a premium 4K TV, so we’ve included budget-friendly options under $500 that will provide satisfying performance.
What You Need to Get Your 4K Game On
With your 4K TV and your choice of gaming platform, you'll need to get a few details straightened out before you can really enjoy the high-resolution gaming you're craving. First, you'll need to use the right connections, specifically an HDMI 2.0 cable (or newer). Unlike HDMI 1.4, the newer standard offers wider bandwidth for delivering faster frame rates, richer 12-bit color and better audio quality.
You'll also need to make sure your settings are right. On the console, you'll want to check that 4K and HDR content are enabled. On the TV, you'll want to check that HDR content is accepted from external devices. The specifics will vary from one TV to the next, but most manufacturers have instructions online for getting set up with a console.
Additionally, you'll want to switch to Game Mode on the TV if you want the best responsiveness. In Game Mode, the TV forgoes some of the image processing used to polish regular video content, instead prioritizing shorter lag times. The less processing done, the shorter the delay between the video source and the display. That means that your reaction time in-game won't be slowed any more than necessary.
The PS4 Pro is the first console from Sony that can game at 4K resolution, and that's reason enough to pick up a 4K TV if you haven't already. The original PlayStation 4 topped out at 1080p, with 4K playback reserved exclusively for photos and videos, not games. Thanks to improved hardware and streamlined rendering, you can finally enjoy games like Fallout 4 or Horizon Zero Dawn in all their high-resolution splendor.
That said, only about half of the current PS4 Pro titles that have been released have 4K support at all. That doesn't mean that 4K is a waste of time, though, since most current games will offer something better than 1080p, and upscale the results for 4K displays. If you want the best-looking version of a game, the PS4 Pro can deliver it.
Keep an eye out for games that say "PS4 Pro Enhanced" which indicates that a game offers both 4K and HDR support.
The PS4 Pro also offers support for high dynamic range (HDR) content, which lets games and other media take advantage of the better brightness, color gamut and contrast that new panels can offer. Thanks to this new standard, images offer richer depth and color in games that support it. Although few games at present offer HDR support, the new standard is gaining ground, and more games will include it going forward. Keep an eye out for games that say "PS4 Pro Enhanced," which indicates that a game offers both 4K and HDR support.
Xbox One X and Xbox One S
Microsoft's Xbox One was a great console already, but with the release of the Xbox One S and the Xbox One X, you can finally go beyond 1080p. The Xbox One S is an evolutionary step forward from the original Xbox One with both 4K and HDR support, but it uses upscaling to present games at their best on ultra-HD TVs.
The Xbox One X, on the other hand, offers native 4K support, meaning that the games are actually rendered at the higher resolution instead of simply being upscaled for the higher-resolution display. In either case, your games will look far better than they did on a 1080p HDTV.
However, you'll want to pay attention to frame rates and how they match up to the refresh rates of the TV you're considering. Most games that can hit 4K resolution will do so at 30 fps, but a few, like Gears of War 4 and Halo 5: Guardians, will pump out an impressive 60 fps.
For those that deliver the full triple threat of 4K resolution, HDR support and 60 fps, you'll want a 4K TV that can do the same. Thankfully, there's no need to shell out extra for the 120Hz premium displays of our top models unless you want that for your non-gaming enjoyment.
Even in the PC world, gaming in full 4K resolution is still a rarified experience, reserved for the best gaming PCs out there. The reason is simple: Most hardware can deliver either impressive frame rates or 4K resolution, but doing both is still an impressive feat. A single Nvidia 1080 Ti card – the crème de la crème of Nvidia's current gaming graphics cards – tops out in most current games right around 60 fps with 3840 x 2160 resolution. That makes it perfectly suited to the 60Hz panels used by less expensive 4K TVs.
However, if you're really cooking with multiple GPUs, like a trio of Nvidia 1070s or better in three-way SLI, or RX Vega 64 cards in CrossFire, then you'll want a TV that can show off the eye candy you paid so much for. In that case, you'll need a TV with a higher refresh rate, and that means stepping up to a 120Hz panel. In our list of top picks for gaming, you'll want to look at the Samsung Q8FN QLED TV and the Vizio P-Series 65-Inch P65-F1, which both feature 120Hz display panels, while the rest are 60Hz panels.
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