With the release of Sony's PS4 Pro and the 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. When you press a button, the action shows up onscreen immediately.
- 4K is more important than HDR, but both are great: All of our top picks have 4K resolution, but HDR support varies by TV and console, so make sure your TV matches your console's capability. Ditching HDR is also a good way to save a few bucks, since not everyone wants to pay more for the richer color and depth 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.
Recent Alternative: The recently reviewed Samsung Q9FN QLED TV is another great TV – one of our favorites in 2018 – but the extra expense won't give you better gaming. Like the Samsung Q8FN, however, it does offer automatic console detection, supports 4K gaming at 60 hertz, and 10-bit color, with HDR support.
Recent Alternative: Another great inexpensive 4K TV is the Insignia 43-Inch 4K Fire TV Edition, which sells for just $249 and is our favorite Amazon-powered smart TV. Not only did it support 4K gaming, but the Insignia also supports HDR and 10-bit color, which many inexpensive TVs do not. Visually, the set is well-suited to 4K gaming, but its tested lag time of 38 milliseconds may put off more-competitive gamers.
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. For optimal color support, you'll also want to make sure that higher bit-rates are enabled. 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.
Microsoft has recently updated the XBox One X with Dolby Vision support, offering best-in-class HDR support for the console. While XBox games aren't yet offering Dolby Vision-based gaming, the console will support the enhanced HDR standard for apps and streaming content, including 4K movies on Netflix and other streaming services.
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 high 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 or the Sony Master Series A9F OLED TV, which both feature 120Hz display panels, while the rest are 60Hz panels.
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