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What Type of TV Is Best for Gaming? - A Buyer's Guide (2021)

Find out what qualities to look for in a TV for gaming, including my recommendations for the best gaming TV.

TV in a family room Andres Jasso / Unsplash

Last Updated: November 18, 2021

Written by Brandon Jones

What Makes a TV Great for Gaming?

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The main factor in a TV for gaming is refresh rate and response time. Refresh rates and response times determine how well a TV can handle the motion of your games. If a TV has a high refresh rate and a high response time, it can look less clear during movement on the screen. A combination of a higher refresh rate and lower response time is best for optimal motion handling, which in turn will make for a better experience.

The size, resolution, brightness levels, color accuracy, and HDR handling can also determine how a TV displays your games.

In this article, I'll guide you through what type of TV is best for gaming, along with what to look for when buying a TV for gaming.

Best Type of TV for Gaming

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If you want the best all-around TV for gaming, OLED TVs are my recommendation.

Below are some of My OLED TV Recommendations if you need help choosing the best OLED TV.

You can find all OLED TVs here: OLED TVs on Amazon (affiliate link)

Other Options

QLED TVs might not be as great as OLED TVs, but they are still a good option for gaming while also being much less expensive.

Below are some of My QLED TV Recommendations if you need help choosing the best QLED TV.

You can find all OLED TVs here: QLED TVs on Amazon (affiliate link).

Refresh Rate and Response Time

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Response time and refresh rate determine how a TV can handle motion — the lower the response time and the higher the refresh rate, the better. Displays with a low response time and high refresh rate (120+ Hz) are recommended to have the best experience, so this is a perfect type of TV for your needs.

You will need better motion handling if you're playing games. If a TV doesn't handle motion well, fast movements like scrolling or moving quickly from side to side in a game will look blurry instead of being smooth and easy to see.

OLED displays have an excellent response time and refresh rate for video games, making them one of the best types of displays for playing games. These TVs have the best refresh rate and response time currently on the market.

Other TVs like LED and QLED can have similar refresh rates but often increase response time, which is not ideal. If a TV has a high refresh rate and a high response time, then it can look less clear during motion on the screen. A combination of a higher refresh rate and lower response time is best for optimal motion handling. Since OLED has a high refresh rate and low response time, they are best overall compared to other TV types.

Most TVs will have a "Game Mode" option or equivalent, making your display use its highest response time, input latency, and refresh rate.

Keep in mind that your computer or game console must handle a high refresh rate to support using a high refresh rate display. PS5 and Xbox Series X/S both support a 120 Hz refresh rate.

Response Time of an OLED TV

OLED TVs have a response time of around 0.2 ms for 80% of color transition and 2-3 ms for the remaining color. It's best to have 6 ms or less response time for displays, and OLED TVs exceed that, making them one of the best types of displays regarding response time.

Response time is the time it takes a display to change from one color to another. The timing of this is usually determined by going back and forth between white and black. The timing is measured in milliseconds, with lower being better.

The higher response time a display has, the more blurring you'll notice in fast-motion scenes like in sports and video games.

Motion Handling
LED Good
QLED Good
OLED Excellent
Mini-LED Very Good
MicroLED Excellent

Refresh Rate of an OLED TV

The refresh rate of OLED displays is usually 120 Hz but can reach higher in newer models, which is fast enough for most cases.

Refresh rate is the number of times the display can redraw the screen. Refresh rate is measured in hertz (Hz), which is defined as one cycle per second. For example, 60 Hz would refresh the screen 60 times a second. A reasonable refresh rate is anywhere from 144 Hz to 240 Hz and above.

Resolution

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The higher the resolution, the more crisp the picture will be, as long as the content you're displaying is in that resolution. Sometimes 4K TVs have an upscaling feature, though, which can enhance lower resolution content.

4K resolution is the most popular currently. While 8K is the best, most content doesn't support that high of a resolution, so it's not really needed at this time since 4K is more than enough already.

All OLED TVs have at least a 4K resolution. While other types of TVs may support the same resolution, OLED TVs still have a sharper picture from their other qualities like high contrast ratio, refresh rate, and response time.

You can learn more about TV resolution.

TV Resolutions
Resolution
8K UHD (Ultra HD) 7680 x 4320
4K UHD (Ultra HD) 3840 x 2160
1440p / QHD (Quad HD) 2560 x 1440
1080p / FHD (Full HD) 1920 x 1080
720p / HD (High Definition) 1280 x 720

TV Resolution Comparison TV Resolution Comparison Brandon Jones / TechReviewer

Black Levels

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Poor black levels result in a lack of true black in outer space scenes, dark indoor shots, and end credits. Instead, the blacks appear as more of a gray color.

The dark colors provided by good black levels won't be as visible if you watch your TV in daylight or bright rooms. Good black levels are much more noticeable in low-lit rooms, like a dark family room, bedroom, or theater.

OLED TVs have the highest quality black levels out of any type of TV. The deep black levels are from the ability to turn off individual pixels on the screen, eliminating any possibility of backlight fading to other screen parts.

Black Levels
LED Okay
QLED Okay
OLED Excellent
Mini-LED Very Good
MicroLED Excellent

Brightness

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If you are going to be watching TV in daylight or a bright room, choose a TV that can handle higher brightness levels. The brightness of the TV matters most when viewing it in bright lighting conditions since it'll have to compete with other lighting in the room. For example, in a well-lit living room or office, you'd want to use a TV with good brightness levels.

QLED TVs have the best brightness levels. If you are gaming in a bright room most of the time, this may be the best option. OLED TVs are great in most other conditions, though.

Brightness Levels
LED Good
QLED Excellent
OLED Good
Mini-LED Very Good
MicroLED Excellent

Light bleed, or backlight bleed, is more noticeable during nighttime viewing or rooms with low light. So if you're planning to put your TV in a dark room, you'll want to get a TV that doesn't have as much light bleed.

You can learn more about backlight bleed in LED TVs.

Light Bleed
LED Yes
QLED Yes
OLED No
Mini-LED Some
MicroLED No

HDR

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High-dynamic-range (HDR) is an increasingly popular feature. It can enhance your picture further by expanding the contrast ratio and colors to create a more realistic, natural image. To enjoy this feature, however, the content you watch needs to be HDR specifically.

HDR usually does best when a TV has high brightness levels. The high brightness levels in QLED TVs can allow for great HDR. With that said, OLED TVs still have the best HDR quality due to the extreme contrast and black levels. It's best not to use OLED TVs in very bright rooms, though.

Native Contrast
LED Okay
QLED Very Good
OLED Excellent
Mini-LED Very Good
MicroLED Excellent

Color Accuracy

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Excellent color accuracy will determine whether or not you'll get the best and naturally vivid images on your screen. Color accuracy is one of the most important aspects to look for in a TV.

While QLED TVs have the best color accuracy, OLED TVs have the best overall quality still. The contrast and black levels in OLED TVs allow the colors to stand out more, which makes it appear to be more vibrant despite QLED TVs having slightly better accuracy.

QLED and OLED TVs both advertise having 100% color volume, but the real-world use better indicates how good each type of TV is.

Color Accuracy
LED Good
QLED Excellent
OLED Very Good
Mini-LED Excellent
MicroLED Excellent

TV Type Comparison

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Here we compare all of the qualities of most types of TVs.

TV Type Comparison
LEDQLEDOLEDMini-LEDMicroLED
Viewing Angle Good Good Excellent Very Good Very Good
Black Levels Okay Okay Excellent Very Good Excellent
Color Accuracy Good Excellent Very Good Excellent Excellent
Burn-in No No Yes No No
Brightness Good Excellent Good Very Good Excellent
Lifespan Good Excellent Very Good Excellent Excellent
Native Contrast Okay Very Good Excellent Very Good Excellent
Motion Good Good Excellent Very Good Excellent
Light Bleed Yes Yes No Some No
Price $ $$ $$$ $$$$ $$$$$

My OLED TV Recommendations

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LG C1 OLED (Best)

  • This is an exceptional TV for any use, whether for movies, games, sports, or as a PC monitor.

  • Fast refresh rates reduce motion blur and make animations smoother.

  • This TV has wide viewing angles, perfect for many people watching TV together (like most OLED TVs).

  • It has an extreme contrast ratio capable of producing pitch-black scenes without suffering from blooming.

  • A negative to this TV is that it might not be bright enough for bright/sunny rooms, which is common among most OLED TVs.

  • This has the fastest response time for smooth fast-moving content, great for games or sports.

  • The LG C1 OLED also supports very low input lag and variable refresh rate, both of which are also needed for gaming.

  • It's superb for HDR content due to its extreme contrast ratio and wide color gamut.

  • Check the latest price of the LG C1 OLED on Amazon (affiliate link).

    LG C1 OLED

Sony A80J OLED

  • This TV has superb picture quality with an extreme contrast ratio, perfect for your home theater room.

  • The Sony A80J OLED has excellent color out of the box, so there's no need for color calibration.

  • A negative to this TV is that it might not be bright enough for bright/sunny rooms. This is common among most OLED TVs.

  • This TV has Google TV built-in, allowing you to watch from most of your streaming services quickly and smoothly.

  • The Sony A80J OLED has very low input lag and quick response time, both of which are excellent for sports and gaming.

  • Check the latest price of the Sony A80J OLED on Amazon (affiliate link).

    Sony A80J OLED

LG GX OLED

  • The LG GX OLED is capable of sitting flush against the wall.

  • This TV has some of the best built-in speakers compared to other OLED TVs.

  • A negative to this TV is that it has a more noticeable Automatic Brightness Limiter (ABL), meaning sometimes it changes the screen brightness based on brighter content.

  • This TV includes many features of the LG C1 OLED TV (shown above); wide viewing angles, extreme contrast ratio, and all of the elements needed for gaming and sports.

  • Check the latest price of the LG GX OLED on Amazon (affiliate link).

    LG GX OLED

My Samsung QLED TV Recommendations

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Samsung QN90A QLED (Best)

  • This is an exceptional TV for any use, whether for movies, games, sports or as a PC monitor.
  • It's the "Neo" QLED variant, which has an excellent contrast ratio and deep blacks.
  • This will also work great in a bright room.
  • A negative to this TV is that it has some slight blooming around bright objects. Here's more info about QLED blacklight bleed. Despite that, this is one of the best QLED TVs you can buy.
  • The Samsung QN90A QLED also supports low input lag, variable refresh rate, and fast response time, all of which are needed for gaming.
  • Check the latest price of the Samsung QN90A QLED on Amazon (affiliate link). Samsung QN90A QLED 55 inch

Samsung QN85A QLED

  • This is an excellent Neo QLED TV variant for use in bright rooms while having fantastic response time, low input lag, and vivid natural colors.

  • The Samsung QN85A QLED has wide viewing angles and high brightness to overcome screen glare.

  • It's superb for HDR content due to its high brightness and wide color gamut.

  • A negative to this TV is that it has lower contrast compared to the QN90A.

  • Check the latest price of the Samsung QN85A QLED on Amazon (affiliate link).

    Samsung QN85A

Samsung Q80/Q80A QLED

  • Great for watching sports or TV shows together with family and friends due to the wide viewing angles while keeping accurate colors.

  • It's also quick enough for gaming and great for using as a PC monitor.

  • A negative to this TV is that it has lower contrast compared to the QN90A and lower local dimming compared to both TVs mentioned above.

  • This TV also has high brightness for HDR along with wide viewing angles.

  • Check the latest price of the Samsung Q80A QLED on Amazon (affiliate link).

    Samsung Q80A QLED

Learn About OLED TVs

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Want to learn more about OLED TVs? Check out the articles in my OLED TV series:

LG C1 OLED LG C1 OLED Check Price on Amazon (affiliate link)

Learn More About TVs

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Want to learn more about TVs? Check out the articles in my TV series: