Picking a TV for gaming just got a whole lot trickier. The launch of the Xbox One S and upcoming PlayStation Neo – not to mention Microsoft's Project Scorpio a year or so down the line – means console gaming is no longer just a full HD, standard dynamic range experience. Forward-thinking gamers also now need to be thinking about 4K/Ultra HD and high dynamic range for their next TVs.
These new considerations, of course, come on top of the more traditional gaming TV issues of low input lag (the time it takes for a TV to render its images), good motion clarity, strong contrast (so you can't be easily ambushed by aliens and psychos hiding in dark corners) and bold color handling. In fact, picking a TV that's perfect for gaming is arguably more complicated than picking one for just watching movies and TV.
Don't worry, though: martyrs that we are, we've spent countless hours gaming on a huge range of 2016 TVs to come up with the following list of 10 that we reckon are particularly well suited to taking your favorite waste of time to a whole new level of fun.
1. LG OLEDC6 series
The OLEDC6 series give you LG's OLED technology for surprisingly little cash – and make your games look like a million dollars
The way every single pixel in OLED screens like the OLEDC6 series can produce its own light and color (unlike LCD) has a stunning impact on the way games look. Dark games/sequences, in particular, take on a whole new dimension thanks to the way the screen can deliver black colors that look, well, black. Their ability to show incredible amounts of subtle shadow detail in dark areas also has a more practical benefit – there's less chance of you being ambushed by things lurking in the darkness. The OLEDC6's amazing black level performance also means game colors pretty much explode off the screen, and its 30ms of input lag in its Game mode is also a strong result for a 4K TV. It does HDR and 4K too, and its curved screen aids immersion if you're sat close to it (though a flat alternative, the OLEDB6 range, also works well). The OLEDC6 series offers all this, moreover, for a surprisingly attractive price.
Read the full review: LG OLED55C6V
2. Sony XBR-75X940D
Some games, like first-person shooters, just have to be played big – and TVs don't come much bigger than Sony's 75-incher
75-inch: Sony XBR-75X940D
Many games – but especially FPS and racing games – take on a whole new dimension of immersion and excitement when played at near life-sized proportions. Projectors offer the cheapest route to such big-screen experiences, but are seldom convenient solutions for the home. Which is where Sony's immense 75-inch 75XD9405 comes in. This 4K-resolution, HDR-toting monster of a TV recreates your gaming worlds with so much sharpness, color vibrancy, detail and contrast that you feel like you've actually stepped inside the game. It also measured only around 30ms of input lag during our tests, which means it never forces you to suffer that 'running through treacle' feeling you get with TVs that struggle to render their images quickly. Occasionally some very high-contrast scenes can exhibit light blooming around bright objects which can momentarily reduce the immersive sensation, but overall the 75XD9405 is the one TV here that takes your gaming to the movies.
Read the full review: Sony XBR-75X940D
3. Samsung KS9500 series
No TVs better demonstrate what 4K and HDR is capable of from a gaming perspective, if you have a console that can do them justice
As you'd expect given their starting price of $1,999, Samsung's KS9500 series are fearsomely cutting-edge TVs. In particular, their maximum brightness output of 1400 nits is way higher than any other TV has managed before, enabling them to present HDR pictures with an accuracy and intensity that takes your breath away. They also use modified Quantum Dot color technology to produce a huge range of colors which, when combined with all that brightness, look more intense than any we've seen before. The prospect of HDR gaming on these TVs is simply mouthwatering. They also deliver arguably the sharpest 4K pictures in the world, while their curved screens can enhance your immersion in a game if you're sitting reasonably close. Finally, their input lag is just 25ms, which is outstandingly low for such sophisticated TVs. Just bear in mind that it's arguably only worth investing in these TVs if you intend to go all-out to feed them with the 'next-gen' gaming sources they deserve.
4. LG OLEDE6 series
If you can afford the step up from LG's OLEDB6 series, the E6s reward you with brighter pictures and awesome sound
The only reason the OLEDE6 series doesn't feature more highly on this list is its $3,499 starting price, which leaves the cheaper OLEDC6 range looking much more viable for most households (or the B6 series if you prefer a flat screen). The OLEDE6 series does, however, justify its extra cost if you can find enough cash. For starters, its design is something else, thanks to the way its OLED film is mounted directly onto a sheet of glass. It also backs up its predictably stunning, contrast-rich pictures with a much more potent, atmosphere-building sound performance than the C6 series, courtesy of a powerful, expressive and detailed soundbar that sits beneath its bottom edge. Finally its pictures – which deliver not just 4K and HDR but also, unusually, the premium Dolby Vision HDR format – are a touch brighter and more refined than those of the B6, making it a real temptation for the sort of gamer who can afford not to have to compromise.
5. Sony XBR-X930D series
Sony's new Slim Backlight Drive technology helps the XD9305 series produce some of the most beautiful 4K and HDR pictures 2016 has to offer.
With the XD9305 series, Sony has joined the other big brands this year in delivering some genuine, HDR-led innovation. In the XD9305's case this takes the form of the Slim Backlight Drive, which cleverly uses two edge-mounted LED light modules and dual light guides to essentially double how locally the XD9305 TVs can control the light in their images.
The result is a contrast performance that gets closer to what you'd normally only see from TVs with a direct LED lighting system at a fraction of the price.
Sony's Triluminos technology also contributes some mesmerisingly good color handling, while the brand's X1 processing system ensures that both native 4K and upscaled HD sources both looks fantastically detailed and sharp.
Occasional rather defined backlight 'blocking' artifacts and the clunky Android TV smart engine stop the XD9305 TVs from challenging for the top spot on this list, but at their best the XD9305's pictures are genuinely sensational.
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