Every true gamer knows that visuals are an essential part of the gaming religion. We’ve done our praying, we’ve been preaching the Gamer Word our entire life, and now, after the technology has finally caught up with our demands, it is time to reach enlightenment.
Sorry if I went too far there, but to me my time spent on video games is sacred, and I’m sure any sane gamer out there would say the same.
It is for that reason that I’ve checked out the new 4K TV technology offered today, and have come up with my top picks for the best 4K TV for gaming.
If you want a quick answer, it’s TCL 55P607 which meets all gaming demands and is also much more affordable than other TVs in the same class.
What I’ve noticed is that the price range dramatically differs from model to model. Some TVs cost nearly twice as much as other competitor models while offering only a slightly better configuration. I’ve included both the best model (in my opinion), regardless of the cost, and some other more affordable options which still meet what I consider to be top criteria for gaming.
4K TVs are recently becoming really popular. A few recent developments:
- 4K resolution was developed for PC games 1-2 years before 4K TV shows and movies started coming out
- Games are increasingly more demanding as far as the visuals go
- PCs are getting cheaper and more powerful, enabling them to run better games (consoles too)
- The first rule of game club is you do not talk about game club
Okay, that last one is a joke, but you get the picture. There were many discussions online in the past two or three years about whether or not you should pay attention to the 4K technology development, but now all cards are on the table and we are following this one to the very end.
“Why should I pay attention to 4K TVs when I can enjoy my gaming in full with the equipment I already have?”
It is okay if you are content with your current capabilities, but it is a grievous sin to speak that way about full gaming enjoyment.
No, seriously, most of the games that came out this year (2017), both for PC and consoles, support 4K. If you are not sure about the math, 4K resolution is about 4 times higher than 1080p HD. Remember that… 4 times.
That means four times more pixels and four times more details. And, this is only considering the resolution. We are still not counting in the lighting, refresh rate, input lag, and other variables in the equation.
Below are a few of the 4k TVs that I’ve used/tried and bought. We’ve setup a few of these for people who were looking to build badass gaming systems. Here they are:
- 1 1. TCL 55P607 55-Inch 4K Ultra HD Roku Smart LED TV (Best Overall Value/Quality/Price)
- 2 2. Sony XBR55 X900E (Best Picture Quality)
- 3 3. LG C7 OLED 4K TV (Best High End Model)
- 3.1 How to know if you are looking at a 4k or HDR TV?
- 3.2 OLED Technology
- 3.3 HDR Technology
- 3.4 4K TV Technology
- 3.5 Which qualities should a gamer look for on a 4K TV?
- 4 Conclusion
This model also features one of the best local dimming capabilities a 4K TV has today, with 72 active zones providing a very lifelike picture.
This TCL model is my top pick because it answers every parameter needed for gaming and it is also two, or even three times cheaper than other models considered.
The 55P607 has an incredible input lag of only 15 ms in game mode and 32 ms in other situations, with 4K 60HZ and HDR all included. This TV has the lowest input lag I’ve found out there. It offers HDR 10, a wider color gamut for more vibrant colors, and supports Dolby Vision (dramatic imaging).
This model also features one of the best local dimming capabilities a 4K TV has today, with 72 active zones providing a very lifelike picture. It has a maximum of 120Hz refresh rate and supports HDMI 2.0 for 4K 60Hz with HDR colors if you want to connect it to your PC.
Probably the best and most important quality this model has is that it costs just under $ 900, which is much cheaper than most TVs considered in the same class. Considering this model’s features, it is, in my opinion, the best overall value choice, versatile for all uses. It is not too different from the previous TCL P605 model, which offers the same performance and picture quality, lacks a few accessories I think are important, but it is even cheaper, so feel free to check it out.
- The lowest 15ms Input lag in any 4k TV today
- HDR 10 capability
- Dolby Vision
- One of the best Local Dimming capabilities
- 72 active LED zones and a full array backlight
- HDMI 2.0 supported
- Can put out a 60Hz refresh rate with all of its features running
- Incredibly cheaper than other competitor models
1. Does the picture engine support upscaling from 1080p?
These 4K TVs display an image with about 8 million pixels, making everything look amazing. If you display a 1080p picture, which has about 2 million pixels, on a 4K TV, you would have ¾ of the screen unfilled. This is why “upscaling” is performed (upconversion), and all 4K TVs have to do this when showing a picture in a resolution less than 3840×2860.
Some 4K TVs do not do this so good, but TCL has the Creative Pro upscaling engine which allows it to upscale any content really well.
2. What is the footprint distance of the leg stands for the 55’’?
The feet spacing for this TCL 55P607 is 38,6 inches. The TV’s dimensions are 49’’ x 28.3’’x3’’, with a stand of 49’’x30x1’’x8.3’’.
The stunning slim design makes this TV stand out with its appearance, and its picture quality does attract a lot of attention.
This TV has probably the best picture quality capabilities compared to any 4K TV in 2017. It really does look amazing, but its input lag is somewhat lower than the previous TLC model.
The X900E has 34ms input lag with 4K, 60Hz refresh rate, and HDR all running, and 31ms at 1080p with 60Hz. This model has the HDR 10 capability and a full array backlight with local dimming which enables it to reach superior contrast and deeper blacks.
As I said, this TV can achieve 60Hz refresh rate at 4k HDR, but it can go with 120Hz at 1080p!
It does offer a noticeably higher picture quality, but it is more expensive than the TCL model. Its standard price is just under $ 1000, but I’ve seen some offers and opportunities which offer it even cheaper.
The stunning slim design makes this TV stand out with its appearance, and its picture quality does attract a lot of attention. The secret behind it probably lies in the full-array local dimming tech, the 120Hz refresh rate capability, but this TV also brings many other convenient accessories to the table.
Amongst those are the Sony Android TV for apps and content, and a Voice Remote Control.
- Incredibly beautiful design and picture quality
- 120 Hz refresh rate at 1080p (60 with 4K and HDR)
- Voice Remote Control
- Sony Android TV supported
- HDR 10
- Wide color gamut
- Full-array backlight local dimming
The dimensions of this X900E model are 48’’ x 27.0’’ x 2.4’’ without the stand, or 48’’ x 3-.5’’ x 10.3’’ with one. You will also get a tabletop stand (separate assembly required, and a quick setup guide if you are not looking to explore its options too much. As a gamer, I recommend that you read the full operating instructions thoroughly and find the setting that is best suited for you.
1. Why choose 900E and not the 930E model?
Well, if the higher price of over 50% is not a reason enough, I generally got the idea, judging by the feedback on the web, that the 930E doesn’t have that much of a noticeable increase in quality. 930E does have two rows of LED, giving it more zones of control on the lighting, and it also features an X1 Extreme processor for better upscaling content, but this slight increase in performance can cost up to $ 800-900 more, which is enough for you to buy the entire TLC model together with this 900E, if you find it with a discounted price.
2. Since the 900E model doesn’t have Dolby Vision will I notice the difference in HDR experience?
It is highly unlikely a Dolby Vision encoded movie won’t give you any HDR experience on an HDR 10 set like this one. It just won’t be as bright and as high in contrast as it should be on a set which has Dolby Vision.
It supports HDR 10 with a wide color gamut and Dolby Vision and has an infinite contrast ratio with perfect blacks.
The 2017 model is, at first glance, very similar to 2016 one, but it does have some minor upgrades particularly important for gaming. In fact, the input lag has been improving on every model LG made, and the 2017 C7 model has 21ms input lag in game mode regardless of the resolution, which is very good.
It supports HDR 10 with a wide color gamut and Dolby Vision and has an infinite contrast ratio with perfect blacks. It can also turn off LEDs individually, bypassing the need for local dimming. This individual OLED pixel lighting enables it to achieve the ultimate contrast, unlike anything offered today.
This C7 does support 4K at 60Hz, but you must use the HDMI PC to support it properly.
A nice addition is the Smart functionality, which gives you access to apps and content via Wi-Fi. Because there is no need for the backlight, this model is extremely thin, being only 1.8’’ thick.
The full dimensions are 57.2’’ x 32.8’’ x 1.8’’ without the stand, or 57.2’’ x 34.4’’ x 8.5’’ with it.
Probably the only real weakness of this model is naturally its price. This 65’’ model sells for over $ 3000, though you can probably find it for less than 3 thousand dollars, making its price more than 3 times higher than the TCL model.
- 21ms input lag in game mode regardless of resolution
- HDR 10 and wide color gamut
- Dolby Vision
- Infinite contrast ratio and perfect blacks
- Individually lit OLED pixels
- No need for local dimming
- Incredibly thin (1.8 inches)
1. Are there any major improvements for gaming over the last year’s model besides the 120Hz refresh rate?
I’ve previously mentioned that LG has worked a lot on reducing input lag, and they’ve shown results with this 2017 model having only 21ms. LG is also working on solving the image burn-in issue some users report, so you should research that more if it sounds like an issue you might have.
2. Previous ‘C’ models were all curved, and since this model is ‘C7’ is it also curved?
No. LG hasn’t released any curved models in 2017, and this model is entirely flat.
How to know if you are looking at a 4k or HDR TV?
What to pick between 4k, HRD, or OLED?
Now, I always thought I was proficient in technology. I was a gamer all my life and people often called me when they have a problem with their PC or they couldn’t install a game. I would fix it and they would look at me as some holy man from the cyber age.
All this lasted until a friend of mine asked me if a TV he liked had HDR capability and I realized I couldn’t pretend to know it all. He’s money, my word, and our friendship all got on the line, so I decided right then and there to bite the bullet, swallow my pride, and learn about it as much as I can.
Much to my surprise, a lot of people also had the same dilemma. There is even talk about TVs being sold as fake OLED or HDR. The info usually warns people against China manufacturers, shady distributors, and they advise people to first do a thorough research on the TV they are interested in, before purchasing it.
So, the first obvious question is – how to know if you are looking at a TV that has OLED, HDR, or 4k capability?
The word OLED stands for Organic Light-Emitting Diode. The technology got its name after LED (light-emitting diode), but the difference is OLED contains an organic compound which emits light in response to an electric current.
To cut a long story short, the OLED display doesn’t use backlight in its display, which enables it to show more levels of black color.
The really interesting thing is that OLED TVs actually work better in low light conditions, like in a dark room, and are said to be better at processing dark colors than LCD (liquid crystal display) TVs. So, you cant use these highly advanced gadgets outdoors, for that you need outdoor projectors. Just in case you wanted to expose a thousand dollar or so equipment to rain, humidity, and other outdoor conditions.
All jokes aside, if you actually wanted to have an outdoors gaming session with your friends, there are outdoor projectors tailored for gaming you may be interested in. Just a little something I picked up during my research.
OLED TVs can also offer HDR capability, but since they are not as bright, they may fail to reach the HDR 1,000 nit brightness.
The bottom line is, OLED TVs offer more differentiation in shades of black, but if you want to try the new 1,000 nit HDR technology, you probably can’t have both. Not yet, anyway. An OLED TV needs more than 540 brightness nits and must have less than .0005 black level nits to reach HDR requirements.
Identifying OLED TVs is pretty simple. They are always advertised as such and have an OLED stamp everywhere, so it is not rocket science. If I knew this, I could have still kept my status as the cyber messiah with my friends.
As some of you probably know, HDR stands for High Dynamic Range. This technology is used to achieve higher levels of luminosity compared to standard digital imaging. The term is usually used in referring to cameras, but when it comes to display technology the things are a little bit different.
When a camera takes an HDR shot, it actually takes multiple exposures in order to highlight light and dark parts of the scene. The camera then combines these exposures into one image, where it balances out the dark and light parts and as a result achieves a more balanced, realistic display of light and color, closer to what we humans see.
HDR TVs also aim to show a more realistic color and light balance, but instead of image processing previously described, the TVs use panels with a wider color gamut, wider than standard RGB TVs. HDR Expands the visible color spectrum by approximately 75%. The result is brighter whites, darker blacks, and lush and vibrant colors overall. Warm colors will look even warmer, and so on.
The common belief is that this difference between standard RGB displays and HDR is more noticeable than the difference between 1080p and 4k. All HDR capable TVs should have the Ultra HD Premium label on them, which is a UHD Alliance certification.
4K TV Technology
The resolution of a 4K TV is 3840 pixels x 2160 lines (8.3MP) with a 16:9 aspect ratio. Since the number 3840 is very close to 4000, the term ‘4K’ is used.
Now, as I said before the 4K resolution is 4 times higher than the 1080p, but 4K technology is a lot more. There are actually three different 4K standards: UHD-1, UW4K, and DCI 4K. Not to go into details too much, the difference between these three is mostly in the aspect ratio they offer and the industry they are used in.
It is widely believed that by the year 2020, most U.S. households will have 4K TV, which will mark a much faster adoption rate than 1080p Full HD had.
The commonly used term for 4K is Ultra HD. Although this is not a mistake, the technical difference lies in the usage of the technology. Mainly, the 4K term refers to a resolution of 4096×2160, introduced first in digital cinemas. The UHD term stands for 3840×2160 (16:9 aspect ratio) used for home TVs.
These TVs have about 8.3 million pixels, meaning their picture is more defined, and the texture and details are clearer. So, even if TVs technically do not reach the full 4K resolution capability, due to their aspect ratio, you should not think it is a TV is a fake simply because it offers 3840×2160 instead of the 4096×2160 resolution. Identifying a 4K TV is again very simple, they are labeled 4K ULTRA HD.
Which qualities should a gamer look for on a 4K TV?
The gaming community actually needs to know much more about the 4K technology than an average homeowner, looking to watch shows in Ultra HD. I’ve based my top choices according to some parameters that I found were commonly used in 4k TV reviews, and they are as follows:
- Input Lag (response time)
- HDR 10 (more vibrant colors)
- Local Dimming (better contrast)
- A minimum of 60HZ of refresh rate
As seen, my top pick, which is the TLC 55P607, answers on all 5 of my gaming criterions best. The Sony X900E has the best image quality and should overwhelm every guest you bring to your home with its beauty, but it’s twice as expensive. The LG C7 model offers a 60Hz refresh rate with all image enhancing features running and has incredibly good accessories, but it is three times as expensive.
It comes down to what you want, in the end. If you are looking for the best value at an affordable price, it’s the TLC model. If you want a superior image quality, it’s Sony. If you really want your TV to have all the quality features, but also look stunning and thin, it’s the LG.
It is also worth to mention that technology today gets obsolete fast, and prices fall down not too long after a certain model is out. But, if you want to immediately have the best of the best, then you probably do not worry about those things. Speaking as a gamer, I also need the visuals as much as I need the functionality, the low input lag, and the low price, so to each his own.