Best budget 4K TVs for gaming
If you are fortunate enough to own a Xbox Series X/S or a PS5 it may good time to think about upgrading your TV to a 4K display. This article discusses some of the best available 4K gaming TVs for under $2000.
Which features are important for a gaming TV?
- HDR Support
HDR support (High Dynamic Range) - provides a greater range of luminosity, with a higher contrast, vibrant colors and excellent detailing in both shadow and highlights.
- What is VRR?
VRR stands for Variable Refresh Rate. This is where the refresh rate of your TV changes with the frame rate of the console in real time, giving a smoother, faster gaming experience. Both the PS5 and Xbox Series X will be able to make the most of this feature.
- What is ALLM?
ALLM stands for Auto Low Latency Mode. It means that your TV will switch to a low latency mode once it detects the incoming signal from your Xbox or PS5. Whilst being automatic is a bonus, it is not a deal breaker, as long as there is a low latency mode. It takes milliseconds for the input command to appear on the screen, the lower the latency, the shorter this input lag.
- High frame rates
One of the main promises of next generation consoles is their potential to play games in 4K at 120Hz - which will allow you to play games with 120fps. However typically most current TVs are limited to 60Hz which will ultimately limit your ability to make the most of the higher frame rates. So you need to bear this in mind when choosing your TV. This is also referred to as HFR in TV spec guides.
- HDMI 2.1 Support
To enjoy the highest supported resolutions (4K and 8K) by the Xbox and PS5, VRR and ALLM and high frame rates, you will need at least one HDMI 2.1 port.
- 4K versus 8K
Whilst both the Xbox Series X and PS5 are both capable of outputting an 8K signal, you shouldn’t expect to see 8K games to appear over the next few years. Seeing how 4K and 120fps is the main target for the game developers at the moment, it seems unlikely that they will push for 8K, without being able to offer 4K at 120fps for most games. It is certainly not essential, the current price for an 8K TV is prohibitively expensive and by the time 8K gaming becomes a reality 8K TVs should be more affordable.
- Ideal TV size
All of these TVs in this article are around 55” so that the prices and features can be compared easily. Larger and smaller TVs are available, which will have an impact on the price. Typically, the larger the screen, the more you can expect to pay. A 55” inch TV is arguably a good size for most situations, however if you have a larger room, and sit further away from your TV, then you may want to consider increasing the size of your TV, if your budget allows. You can find the optimum size of TV screen for your room using this chart, found here.
What are the best 4K gaming TVs?
Here is our selection of the best 4K TVs at specific price points depending on your how much you are willing to spend, erring on the side of budget friendly options under $2000 (so you have more money to spend on games). With cheap 4K TVs for gaming, there are some compromises, such as a lack of VRR and HFR. However there are a number of high end features that trickle down to improve the appeal of a budget gaming TV.
Less than $500
- Samsung TU8000
The best budget 4K TV: This is one of Samsung’s budget TVs that has some of the key features that a gamer should be looking for, such as 4K UHD, ALLM and low input lag. Unfortunately, there is no support for VRR or HFR (4K@120Hz) - it is referred to as 120 Motion Rate, which translated into real terms, is 60Hz. However, considering the price point of $499 (without any deals), you will be hard pushed to find a more comprehensive TV at this price.
$500 - $1000
- Samsung Q70T QLED
This Samsung TV is a noticeable step up from the TU8000, with its 120Hz refresh rate (HFR), native 4K UHD, HDR (HDR10+), HDMI 2.1 port and their own “Real Game Enhancer” mode which reduces latency and input lag. The relatively reasonable price of $899 on the Samsung website, without any deals, makes this one of the most enticing mid-range options.
- Sony X900H
The Sony X900H is one of the “PlayStation 5 ready” TVs offered by Sony and is worth considering if you intend to buy the PS5. You will be able to enjoy 4K gaming at 120fps, HDR images (although HDR10+ is not supported), and the usual benefits that HDMI 2.1 offer - VRR and ALLM. There is also the eARC (Enhanced Audio Return Channel) that gives a large boost in bandwidth and speed. You can purchase the Sony X900H here for $949.
- Panasonic HX800
The Panasonic HX800 stands out for its low input lag of 10.2ms, and universal HDR support (HDR10, HLG, Dolby Vision and HDR10+). Unfortunately this TV does not have VRR or support for 4K at 120Hz. With its price point of around $999, the Sony is arguably more appealing, however the Panasonic does offer display real estate at 58” as opposed to 55” for a similar price.
$1000 - $1500
- Samsung Q80T QLED
This QLED TV offers an excellent level of gaming performance for your money. There is support for HDR (HDR10, HLG and HDR10+), HDMI 2.1, with ALLM, VRR, eARC and an input lag of around 10ms. On top of that, 4K@120Hz is supported. For a price of $1299 on the Samsung website.
- LG OLED55BX
The LG BX has an OLED display, with all of the perks from HDMI 2.1 (ALLM, VRR and 4K@120Hz). One of the highlights is the support for Nvidia G-Sync, which allows for a smoother image quality. While there is HDR, HDR10+ is not supported, and the overall image is not as bright as some of the other LCD TVs. If you are not placing this TV in a bright room, then the high quality image of the OLED makes this one of the best gaming TVs available. All of this is available for $1499 from the LG website. This is arguably the best 55 inch 4K TV.
$1500 - $2000
- LG OLED55CX
The LG CX is a slight upgrade from the BX. The main difference between the BX and CX is the quality of the OLED display. The other features are exactly what a gamer should be looking for in a TV - ALLM, VRR 4K at 120fps, HDR support (HDR10, HLG, Dolby Vision) and G-SYNC. All of these features for a price of $1599 make you question why you would spend more on a gaming TV.
4K TVs are not only necessary if you plan to purchase a new Xbox or PS5, streaming platforms like Netflix, Roku, Google Stadia and Amazon Luna all offer potential 4K content.