How to play PC games on a 4K TV

Play in 4K

If you're an early adopter who's bought a 4K TV then you're finally getting some 4K content to watch, with Netflix and Amazon providing movies and TV shows, and UHD Blu-rays just around the corner.

However, if you're after 4K games then the current crop of games consoles will disappoint – the PS4 and the Xbox One struggle to hit 1080p sometimes, let alone 4K, and while there are rumours that both consoles are getting an upgrade in the next year or so, it's unlikely that they'll be able to manage native 4K gaming.

However there's one gaming platform that has been capable of playing games in 4K resolution for years now – the PC, and it's the best way to play games on your 4K TV.

Why play PC games on a 4K TV?

If you think that playing PC games involves sitting at a desk with a keyboard and mouse and squinting at a tiny monitor, then you're mistaken – it's easy to play PC games on the big screen TV in your front room, from the comfort of your own couch.

There are plenty of reasons why you'd want to play PC games on your 4K TV. For a start, you're making use of the gorgeous resolution at screen sizes that would make your monitor blush – and 4K-capable monitors are still pretty expensive, especially if you want a screen size larger than 27 inches.

And some monitors over a certain size use similar technology to 4K TVs anyway, with the additional features found in smart TVs stripped out – so in many ways it's worth going for a 4K TV to play your PC games on.

Even budget 4K TVs will give you an excellent image, and a huge boost over your standard monitor if you're stuck with an unglamorous 1080p screen – and if you go for a more expensive TV with OLED and HDR support, then the image quality is even more mind-blowing.

Sure, you won't get advanced gaming features such as G-Sync, but not many of us will have a rig capable of playing games both in 4K and at extremely high refresh rates.

For this article we used the Philips 55PUT6400 55-inch 4K TV, which offers a heck of a lot of 4K screen for a pretty reasonable £600 (about $865, AU$1180). That's actually cheaper than many PC monitors, and while it lacks some of the more advanced features that (much) more expensive 4K TVs boast, such as HDR, it's still a great investment if you want to play PC games in 4K on a massive screen.

How to play PC games on 4K TV

Choosing a 4K TV

The most important feature to look out for when buying a 4K TV for playing PC games on is what sort of HDMI input it has. While all TVs these days have some sort of HDMI port, you'll need a TV, such as our Philips 55PUT6400, that comes with HDMI 2.0. This enables the TV to display 4K content (at a resolution of 3840 x 2160) at 60Hz, which will give you smooth 4K performance of 60 frames per second (as long as your PC is up to the task).

Because your PC will be providing native 4K content you don't have to worry about a 4K TV's upscaling performance, something that budget TVs can sometimes struggle with.

Many UHD TVs come with preset image modes, such as 'Cinema' and 'Game', but these added features can increase the latency, making games feel unresponsive and laggy; however, many TVs also come with a setting for PCs or games consoles which strips out these effects, giving you a much more responsive gaming experience.

Choosing your PC

Running games at 4K resolution requires a powerful PC, but thankfully an increasing number of graphics cards are available that can push 4K at respectable frame rates. For this article (and for the best 4K experience at the moment) we've used two Nivida GTX 980ti graphics cards, which work brilliantly for high-resolution gaming.

How to play PC games on a 4K TV

We've backed up the cards with an Intel Core i7-6700K processor, which is one of the best desktop CPUs you can buy at the moment, and which will help to keep your PC pumping out 4K content smoothly.

As long as you have the powerful GPU and CPU the rest of the PC can be more modestly specced, although we'd recommend at least 8GB of RAM.