Buying best gaming TV in 2021 means we're not just looking for image quality and price, but also some specific gaming features that really take thing to the next level (so to speak). We're looking for low-latency gaming modes and HDMI 2.1 features, as well as some great customisation options – as well as TVs that look fantastic whatever you're putting on them, of course.
The best gaming TVs for PS5, Xbox Series X and PCs can use next-gen connectivity to make sure that games always perform at their very best, and support for that is a key part of our rankings here. Even if you don't have a PS5 or Xbox Series X yet, it's worth making sure that a TV you buy is future-proof, so you won't end up wanting to upgrade again sooner than expected. That said, sets with HDMI 2.1 are still pretty pricey, so we've already features lower-priced sets that have the best possible input lag.
In this guide, we'll explain what all these important features are in plain English along with why you'll want them, and which TVs offer them. And we're still expecting them all to look excellent with movies, of course. You'll be able to find the perfect set that mixes next-gen features with great image quality at the budget you need.
Which is the best gaming TV of 2021?
The best TV for gaming overall is the LG G1, which matches top-tier features with a new 'OLED evo' panel that produces the best and richest HDR we've seen from LG's excellent TVs so far. It includes support for ALLM and VRR (we'll explain what these mean in a moment), plus 4K at 120 frames per second on all four HDMI ports, so it's a perfect match for the PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X, while G-Sync and Freesync Premium support mean that PC gamers are fully covered.
However, it's a very premium-priced TV, so the best gaming TV for most people is the LG CX. It offers all the same features as the LG G1, but its OLED panel and image processing are a little less advanced (but are still among the best on the market). It's much cheaper, yet still ticks every box we want it to.
If you want even better image quality and are happy to pay for it, you need the Samsung QN95A. Using Mini-LED tech, its HDR performance is truly incredible, and it can go much brighter than the LG CX, making it better for visibility when playing during the day with sunlight on the screen. It has four HDMI 2.1 ports, and an ingenious 'Game Bar' that makes it easy get the perfect gaming settings you want.
Our pick for a lower-price gaming TV is the Sony XH9005, which provides excellent HDR, supports 4K at 120Hz over two of its HDMI ports (with VRR promised to arrive in an update), has extremely low input lag.
What to look for in the best gaming TVs
Many of the best TVs overall, from budget sets to flagship OLED TVs, can be great for console gaming, but if you use the wrong picture preset while gaming on these TVs, things will start to feel off immediately. That's because the image processing that all TVs rely on makes a gigantic difference when it comes to 'input lag' – that’s the time between when you push a button on your controller and when you see the results on-screen.
What all the best gaming TVs have is an excellent Game mode. Simply put, a Game mode deactivates a lot of the picture processing used when you're watching movies or TV, because these features really slow down response time. By disabling them, you can gain valuable microseconds, which in turn plays to your advantage in fast-moving games. The difference doesn't sound like much, but it is – it makes games seem sluggish, and is really a problem in things that are fast-moving, or that require precision.
You've probably already worked out the price to pay when engaging low-latency Game mode: turning off some picture processing means image quality suffers. Potentially, things can look less sharp, there’s more obvious noise and banding, and contrast can also take a hit. So we're looking for TVs that still deliver great-looking pictures, balancing low latency still with a bit of processing.
A feature to help make sure that you're not suffering unnecessarily from lag is built into next-gen consoles. It's called Auto Low-Latency Mode (ALLM), and the idea is that it's a standardised signal the console can send that TVs can receive, and know they need to switch into a gaming-friendly mode that reduces latency. The crucial part is that it's all platform agnostic – as long as your console and TV both support it, it all happens seamlessly even if they're from different manufacturers.
One of the most exciting new features of the next consoles is that they can output video in 4K at up to 120 frames per second (4K 120Hz) – current-gen consoles offer 60 frames per second maximum. Higher frame rates mean two things: one is that you see the games responding to your inputs twice as fast (because a new frame is created in half the time); the other is that everything on-screen should look extra clear even in motion, because you're seeing its movement happen in smaller increments. Basically, for games that support this (which won't be all, by any means), you'll be able to react more quickly and accurately to action, and motion will look much smoother and more realistic. Here's our full 120Hz gaming explainer, if you want more details.
Related is another key next-gen feature: Variable Refresh Rate (VRR), which is designed to help keep games looking smooth in balance with visual quality. The idea here is to sync how quickly your console generates a new frame with how often your TV is expecting to show a new frame – if the two aren't in lock, you can end up with what's called 'screen tearing', where you see a half-finished frame, making everything look weird. It's a big deal – our VRR explainer will tell you exactly how it works, if you want to dig in further.
These three technologies (ALLM, 4K 120Hz, VRR) are all supported by HDMI 2.1, which is the new generation of the venerable connection. HDMI 2.1 uses the same connection type as previous HDMI ports, so everything is backwards compatible – but its big upgrades are supports these new technologies, as well as 8K. Our HDMI 2.1 explainer can tell you everything you need to know about the new standard. Sadly, you won't find HDMI 2.1 on on many of the best TVs under £1000, and none of the best TVs under £500, which is why our top picks here are fairly premium. However,
You might also have seen that Sony is advertising some of its TVs as 'Ready for PlayStation 5'. To qualify, TVs need to have a really low response time – under 7.2 milliseconds – and support 4K 120Hz over HDMI. Note that the TV doesn't need to support VRR to quality. Also, right now, the TVs need to be made by Sony – we don't know if Sony will allow others to get this branding, but we wouldn't bet on it, so don't be surprised not to see this advertised on other sets. It doesn't mean they're not still perfect for the new PS5 features, though.
Amazon Prime Day 2021 gaming TV deals
With Prime Day approach fast (June 21st and 22nd), and some deals already starting in the run-up, we expect a few of these TVs to get great discounts. The LG CX and BX, the Sony XH90, the Samsung Q80T, the Panasonic HX800 and the Hisense A7500F are all in line for some big cuts, as the companies clear out stock so the new 2021 models can take over.
The best gaming TVs 2021: the list
The LG G1 is the first ever TV with LG's new 'OLED evo' panel in – it's a next-gen screen that can go brighter than previous LG TVs, while still offering the infinite black levels that OLED is famed for. As a result, this offers better HDR performance than almost any TV in the world, and LG's excellent processing really makes the most of it when watching movies or TV, even if they're upscaled from HD to 4K.
But that's only part of what gets it a place in this list. The other half is that it's crammed with gaming-friendly features, starting with having four HDMI 2.1 ports, all of which are ready for 4K 120Hz, VRR and ALLM. Couple that with LG's support for both Nvidia G-Sync and AMD Freesync Premium and you've got every gaming feature you could want catered for.
Crucially, input lag is minuscule too – you can play with just 12.4ms in the regular Game mode, or employ the Boost mode for just 9.4ms. LG's new Game Optimizer also gives you flexibility over exactly how you want things to work.
Dolby Vision HDR support means that you'll really make the most of Xbox games that support this option, and there's Dolby Atmos support for 3D audio in compatible games and movies.
There are some downsides. First and foremost: this TV doesn't come with a stand. It's an expensive, premium set, and is made for wallmounting (it comes with an impressive mount arm that holds it totally flush to the wall). You can buy a regular stand or a tall floorstand for it, but factor it into your budget.
And this new OLED panel may still be prone to burn in of interface elements if you leave them on-screen for really long periods unchanged. The new screen should be better for avoiding this, but the potential is still there. Not a problem for most gaming, but some truly hardcore players will need to be wary of it. Finally, though the OLED screen is brighter than before, LED screens can still go brighter, so if you like to play in a strongly living room during the day, you may find this is harder to see clearly than a bright LED model would be.
Read our full five-star LG G1 review if you want the detailed run-down of why this TV gets such a strong recommendation from us.
The LG CX is the 2020 version of the LG C1 further down this list. Why is the older model above the newer model? Because it's much cheaper after a year of price cuts, but it's still absolutely packed with features ready for the PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X: there's support for auto low-latency mode (ALLM) for keeping the lag low, there's variable refresh rate compatibility to make sure that what you're seeing stays stutter-free, and you'll be able to play 4K games at 120 frames per second, which is a (forgive us) game-changer in games that ask for quick reactions and have lots of action.
On top of that, there's support for Nvidia G-Sync for making PC gaming with Nvidia graphics cards look smoother on it, and AMD Freesynce Premium support has been added via an update.
Perhaps most importantly, we get extremely low input lag from it – running in its gaming mode (which still has a bunch of processing improvements for the image going on, so everything looks better), you get just over 13ms of lag, which is among the best we've seen in those circumstances.
Being an OLED screen, there is the theoretical potential for burn-in of graphics that stay on-screen for an incredibly long time without changing. This is not something the average gamer needs to be concerned about – it will only apply to games that have interface elements that don't change at all, and only if you're playing for extremely long amounts of time without anything else appearing on-screen. LG also employs a dimming technology in these OLED TVs, which looks for static elements and makes them slightly darker, reducing risk of burn-in drastically.
The Samsung QN95A is the company's flagship 4K TV for 2021, and boy does it show. It uses the brand new 'Neo QLED' Mini-LED panel for its backlight, which means extremely bright HDR performance, but small lights mean more fine control of local dimming, so when areas need to go dark, then can go really dark.
This is the closest LED TVs have come to OLED's control of contrast, and when you combine it with the cutting edge processing and better brightness, it's the most complete image quality package we've seen on a 4K TV so far. And it has a price tag to match, which is why we think the LG CX is still probably the better choice for most people, balancing cost, performance and price.
However, for those who demand those most control of their gaming performance, this again is second to none. It has four HDMI ports, which means total ALLM, VRR and 4K 120Hz support. But most interesting of all is the Game Bar, which is a special menu designed just for gaming. Want to make sure that what you're seeing is 120Hz, or that VRR is active? The Game Bar tells you, while also giving you control over the two different Game Mode types: one has a bit more processing to improve the image, and has 9.3ms of lag, or you can go extreme with the second mode, which turns off even more processing, and offers a tournament-level 6ms of lag.
The only downside here is no support for Dolby Vision HDR, or Dolby Atmos sound decoding. You won't really mind about the former, because its HDR performance is so good anyway. The latter has yet to make a big impact on gaming, though the set can pass Atmos audio out to a compatible soundbar, so it's not a dealbreaker. Nothing about this TV is – even that high price, as you can see in our five-star Samsung QN95A review.
This Sony was already one of the best-looking TVs for its price, but recent cuts have made it even more tempting at 55 inches and 65 inches. At 75 inches, it was already the best bang-for-buck TV on the market in 2020, delivering really special image quality for a lot less than competitors. If you want to see the full quality of PS5 and Xbox Series X on a BIG screen, this is the way to do it.
This is one of two TVs branded as 'Ready for PS5' by Sony, which means that a TV has to have a fast enough response time, and must support 4K at 120fps over HDMI inputs. This high refresh rate feature was added via an update, so if you buy a new TV, make sure you let it update itself to ensure it has the latest features!
This TV will also support ALLM and VRR, giving it a full suite of feature ready for the next consoles… at some point. Sony is still waiting to confirm full support for these feature, and promises they'll come soon (plus eARC, for high-quality audio output to a soundbar).
It includes Dolby Vision and Atmos support, Android TV gives you a wide range of streaming apps and Google Assistant support, and it has better built-in speakers than your average mid-range TV.
As our full Sony XH90 review attests, it's fantastic for movies and TV as well as games – the only disappointment is that it's not available in smaller sizes than 55 inches. It's often available for pretty much the same price as the Samsung Q80T further down, so here's our Sony XH90 vs Samsung Q80T feature comparison. We've also got a guide to the Sony XH90 vs LG BX, in case you want to compare to the budget OLED entry just below.
LG's cheapest OLED TV of 2020 is a smash hit with gaming fans, and rightly so. It offers excellent image quality thanks to its OLED screen, and all of the technical features and gaming prowess of the LG C9, but for hundreds less.
When it comes to VRR support, ALLM and 4K at 120Hz from every HDMI port, the LG BX is exactly as well equipped as the LG CX. That goes for its great smart TV platform, and support for Dolby Vision and Dolby Atmos, meaning it's ready for the more advanced HDR that Xbox games can offer it.
The reason it's cheaper than the LG CX is that the image quality isn't quite as strong. It's a little less bright, for a start – no problem if you place it somewhere where you control the light well, but it just means it'll be a little harder to see and more washed out in bright sunlight, say. It also means its HDR performance isn't quite as dazzling.
The image processing is slightly less clever too, but is still really strong overall – we're talking a step down from LG's most advanced, flagship processing to its second best, rather than a sudden drop to budget TV quality or anything.
With a latency looking to be comfortably under 20ms (we're still working on our testing), this is the complete package for gaming.
The difference between the LG CX and LG BX the kind of thing that image quality nerds pick up, but for most people won't matter at all, so given how strong the images from this TV are overall, and what a great price it is for a 55-inch or 65-inch OLED TV, it'll be a huge hit with PS5 and Xbox buyers. And rightly so, as our full five-star LG BX review will tell you.
There is one thing to note, which is that as an OLED, it's technically susceptible to burn-in. But LG's dimming tech is again employed to reduce it, and it shouldn't be a problem for normal users.
The Sony X90J is the 2021 replacement for the Sony XH90 further up this list. Once again, it's only further down the list due to its newness meaning the price is much higher than its predecessor, which is now incredible value whether you want a TV for gaming or movies. The X90J offers improved image quality and, crucially, a 50-inch model, which was sorely lacking from the XH90's options.
Like the XH90, the selling point here is really bright and punchy HDR performance, thanks to its full array backlight. Local dimming means it handles contrast well too, though isn't a patch on the OLED sets (or the Mini-LED Samsung QN95A) for dark area detail. But it's still absolutely at the top of the pile for similarly priced LED TVs. That said, it's more prone to reflections than a lot of sets here, which can interfere with making those bright images look as good as they could. Its image quality also degrades a bit when not viewed straight on – more so than other sets here – which isn't a problem for gaming, but if it'll also pull family movie viewing duty, it's a bit of a shame.
The other selling point is gaming performance of course, and you get 4K 120Hz support over two of its four HDMI ports, along with very low input lag. VRR is promised to come in an update, just like is still promised for the XH90. We presume it'll come whenever the PS5 gets it.
For other viewing duties, the processing on the X90J is just excellent – Sony's handling of motion and upscaling from lower resolutions to 4K remains class-leading – as our full Sony X90J review attests!
Samsung's Q80T is a TV from 2020 that features a high-quality QLED screen, and delivers support for loads of features that the PS5 and Xbox Series X will work with, including Auto Low-Latency Mode (ALLM), Variable Refresh Rate (VRR) and 4K 120Hz playback. These make it future-proofed for the next console generation.
But one of the real keys to its success is its astoundingly low levels of lag – when fully optimised, it responds in just 8.7ms, which is incredible for a TV. Even with just the TVs auto game mode on (which is what most people will use), lag is still a respectable 19.7ms, and that still packs in lots of image improvements, so it's ideal for anything where instant response is less important.
That's partly thanks to this being a QLED, with all of QLED's standard strengths: it's intensely colourful, and it's bright in ways that produce dazzling HDR, with localised dimming of the backlight helping to enrich dark scenes. It doesn't have as many dimming zones as the Q90R above (and isn't as bright), so when you have bright and dark next to each other there can be some blooming. And it means it's not as good for nuance in darker games as an OLED set would be.
It comes in a wide range of sizes, from 55 inches right up to a giant 85-inch gaming super-screen. There is also a more bedroom/office-friendly 49-inch model, but it doesn't include 120Hz or VRR, so while it's a great TV, it's not such a great choice for gaming.
It doesn't support Dolby Vision HDR, however, which is disappointing when the Xbox Series X has new been confirmed as the first console to support Dolby Vision for more dynamic HDR that can be tuned for different scenes. Our full Samsung Q80T review has more on what this TV nails and where it's peers beat it.
Most of the TVs here cover off most of the new console features – 120Hz support and Variable Refresh Rate, in particular – but there's one feature we haven't discussed as much: 8K support. That's because neither console maker has said what their 8K support will be, only that there will be some.
If you want a TV that future-proofs you for this (on top of 120Hz, VRR and ALLM) then, the Samsung Q800T is the best balance of price and features right now. It starts from the not-unrealistic size of 65 inches, at a not unrealistic price – though it's definitely at the 'very premium' end of the market.
Before we even get to the resolution, it's a beautiful-looking TV. It's one of Samsung's brightest panels, and that makes it real bright – for HDR that really dazzles, it's very hard to beat Samsung's high-end QLED sets. The brightness comes from a direct backlight, and this also has a lot of local dimming zones, which really helps it with black levels too – it's not quite as assured as OLED, but it's closer than almost any other LCD set. If you want a TV that really shows off a game's dramatic HDR vistas, this is among the best.
The 7680x4320 display is just astoundingly detailed, and for movies and TV, Samsung's Quantum AI processor does an amazing just of upscaling beyond 4K – things really look more detailed than any 4K TV can manage, even if it's not native 8K content (which, let's remember, it won't be, because there isn't any).
However, the 8K processing doesn't apply to games (it would add too much lag), so you're still looking at 4K when playing, really. Very good-looking 4K, but still. The 8K side of things is a promise that there might be something amazing to come from Sony and Microsoft in the future, so it's up to you whether you want to get ahead of that. This TV won't disappoint, either way, as our full Samsung Q800T review explains.
The LG C1 is the 2021 version of the LG CX near the top of this list. Improved image processing means that it's noticeably better than last year's model for movies, but not transformatively better, and with the CX being such a great price, we're currently of the opinion that it represent better value overall.
However, the LG C1 certainly has good reasons you might go for it. Being newer is great for future-proofing, of course, but it has some new gaming tricks up its sleeve. You've still got 4K 120Hz, VRR and ALLM on all four HDMI ports, and a great low input lag level, but you can also now customise the gaming mode depending on what kind of game you're playing. Set it for the FPS mode and it'll make sure you're getting the best possible response time; set it for RPG and it'll apply more image processing to make things prettier, letting response time creep up just a little in exchange.
Overall, this remains a fantastic TV, as our LG C1 review explains. Image quality is top notch, the smart platform is excellent, and it's hard to beat on features. It's just that right now, you could buy the LG CX and save enough for one of the best soundbars, and we think a lot of people might prefer that.
Offering universal HDR (HDR10, HLG, Dolby Vision and HDR10+) support, along with all the connected apps you might want to watch when thumbs are aching, and most importantly, a blisteringly fast gaming performance, Panasonic’s HX800 LED LCD is one of the best-value TVs for gamers right now, as long as you don't mind giving up VRR and 4K at 120Hz support.
Panasonic has long made much of its cinematic credentials, enlisting the help of noted Hollywood colourist Stefan Sonnenfeld to fine tune colour performance, as well as perfecting its HCX image processor to replicate the performance of Hollywood Studios (as best it can on a budget). But it turns out this screen has some serious gaming chops as well.
We measured a sharp 10.2ms response time in its dedicated Game mode, which is a terrific performance for a large-screen TV. The good news is HDR games also look really good, although unsurprisingly the more expensive TVs outperform it.
That said, you could buy a 58-inch HX800 and the PS5 together for the price of the fancier TVs, and still have some change left over for a takeaway. Our full Panasonic HX800 review gives you all the details on why this set impresses us so much for its price.
A 4K TV with Dolby Vision support, wide colour gamut and well-stocked smart platform with Amazon Alexa support, for little more than chump change? Surely this Hisense looks too good to be true?
Well, the shocking news is that this budget buster could actually prove to be a bargain display for gamers too…
That’s because this set is more premium than the price tag indicates. It offers a trio of 4K HDMI inputs, and looks great with native 4K HDR sources, partly thanks to Dolby Vision support, ready for games on Xbox that use it.
The brightness isn't as strong as the other sets here, which is no surprise for the price – every other TV here offers a big upgrade for contrast control and rich HDR. But for the price, we've very few faults to find in this set.
But we don’t just want to watch TV – and this Hisense remains up to the gaming job, too. Low input lag means it's great for pretty any gaming type, but no next-gen features are supported. Again, that's no surprise given the price, and we don't mind – we just want to make sure you're aware. Check out our full Hisense A7500F review for more on this set.
- The best 32-inch TVs – perfect for bedrooms and offices
- The best 43-inch TVs – great entry-level 4K sets
- The best 48- to 50-inch TVs – beautiful mid-size 4K TV sets
- The best 55-inch TVs – premium TVs that still fit most living rooms
- The best 65-inch TVs – beautiful big-screen TVs
- The best 75-inch TVs – giant 4K and 8K TVs packed with features