5 things to look for when buying a TV for gaming

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By Mike Atherton 02 May 2018
Buying a TV for gaming

When you’re looking for a new TV with gaming in mind, there are a few things to think about that you wouldn’t normally consider for everyday viewing.

You’ll want your TV to be able to process fast moving images, and be able to maintain clear, crisp edges without any motion blur. Another thing you might want to consider is 4K, with some consoles now offering Ultra HD gaming, it could be worth investing in a 4K TV.

So here are our top 5 things to look for when you’re buying a new TV for gaming.

Input lag

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Input lag is the time a TV takes from receiving a signal to displaying it on the screen. For everyday viewing, it isn’t a huge consideration because you’re not interacting with the picture. But for gaming, this is probably the most important thing to look out for. Lag is measured in milliseconds and most TVs have a gaming mode that tweaks some of the picture settings, but more importantly, reduces input lag. When it comes to gaming, you’re generally looking for anything less than 25m/s.

It’s more difficult for 4K TVs to maintain a low lag rate because they have to use a lot more processing power to display an Ultra HD image than a standard 1080p TV. So it’s worth paying particular attention to the lag rate in game mode when you’re looking for a 4K TV.

Refresh rates

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Refresh rates tell you how quickly the screen refreshes itself, and generally speaking, a higher number means the TV is better at showing fast-moving images. In the early days of flat-screen TVs, this was a big deal, but these days most TVs have a native refresh rate above 60 frames per second (or 60hz). This is the number you should be looking for when you’re browsing the TV specs. If it has a refresh rate lower than 60hz, and you’re planning on using the TV for gaming, you should probably avoid it.

But be careful when you’re comparing numbers from different manufacturers because they all measure this slightly differently. Some manufacturers have their own name for it, and some just call it ‘picture quality’ - so you should only really compare numbers between TVs from the same manufacturer.

LED or OLED

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Most manufacturers are now making top end OLED TVs and they’re a bit more expensive than standard LED screens but if your budget can stretch to it, we’d definitely recommend OLED over LED. They have better contrast ratios with much deeper blacks, and without the need for the screen to be backlit, they can be much thinner.

Take a look at our ‘What is OLED?’ article to find out why it beats LED.

Ultra HD (4K)

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4K basically means the TV is built with four times as many pixels than a 1080p full HD screen, giving you an incredible level of detail. With consoles like the PS4 Pro, and the Xbox One X offering Ultra HD gaming, plus the amount of 4K TV and movie content available, it’s definitely worth investing in a 4K TV. They’ve become much more affordable too, with Ultra HD TVs starting at around £300.

Just make sure you check the input lag, remember, 4K TVs have a tougher job processing the image, so make sure the lag is lower than 25m/s when in game mode.

HDR

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HDR stands for High Dynamic Range and gives the TV a much wider range of colour and contrast. This means the TV can create more natural colours and you also get much more detail in the darker areas.

HDR first came to the gaming world with the Xbox One S, and Sony soon followed with the PS4 Pro - they've also issued an update to add HDR to the original PS4, meaning you don't need to upgrade your console to benefit from it.

So when you're shopping around, keep an eye out for the HDR logo.

Find out more in our 'What is HDR?' article.

Hopefully, that gives you a bit more of an idea of what to look for when you’re buying a new TV with gaming in mind. Take a look at our full range of TVs here.

If you’d like help with anything else, you can contact one of our Team Knowhow experts here.

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