4K TV’s have moved from the upper echelons of the TV hierarchy and are now available at affordable prices across the board. With the release of the Xbox One X
earlier this month, and the PS4 Pro before it, 4K is making a big splash in the gaming world and some of you might be wondering where to start. Is it even worth it? And how do you know what to buy?
Fear not, that’s what we're here to answer. We'll explain the terminology, what to look for, and why you should care. We'll also recommend the best TVs for Xbox One X for various budgets.
What is 4K Resolution?
First things first: “Ultra HD” means 4K. “Full HD” means 1080p.
4K is a resolution, specifically 3840 x 2160 pixels. By comparison, 1080p is 1920 x 1080. A 4K TV has four times as many pixels as 1080p, so it looks clearer when displaying 4K content. However, if you’re not viewing 4K content, the resolution is not going to matter as much.
What's the Difference Between LED vs. OLED?
This is the big one. The most important decision you’ll make. LED
LED is short for LED LCD. These displays are the cheaper option and they use LED lights to light up the screen with the right colors. These displays are either edge-lit or full array — full array is better but rarer. Modern LED TVs often have a technology called local dimming to light up only sections of the screen, allowing for deeper blacks. Still, the downside of an LED TV is the range of color. You will not get the deepest possible blacks. The viewing angles on these TVs are also not quite as good.OLED
These are the best you can get. Each individual pixel can be lit up alone, allowing perfect blacks surrounded by bright colors. You’ll get better contrast, colors which pop, and great viewing angles. The only downsides are the unknown: it’s a new technology so downsides such as ghosting and screen longevity aren’t quite clear. The one known downside seems to be image retention (such as UI elements from a game getting “stuck” on the screen), though the OLED TV recommended below does have a remedy to that.QLED
This is Samsung marketing lingo for a quantum dot display. These displays can get increased color range and brightness, but they are still LED TVs. They should not be compared to OLED screens.
What is HDR?
HDR stands for high dynamic range. This is a new technology that allows for the display to show a wider range of colors with higher contrast and brightness. Essentially, everything looks better. Unfortunately, only content that is specifically designed to be HDR can be displayed in HDR. For games, this means you won’t see a difference if the game hasn’t been made with HDR in mind. That said, it’s a growing technology and probably the greatest new technology in terms of visuals, so you can expect it to continue gaining traction. As it is a new technology, there is no universal standard so you will see competing versions of HDR. At this point, it’s impossible to say which will ultimately be adopted so by buying now, you run the risk that you might need an upgrade years down the line. But it will be years.
What is Input Lag?
Where input lag is concerned, the lower it is the better your experience will be. You’ll hear people saying things like “the human eye can only see X frames per second.” That’s not true. The human eye can tell when framerate is higher and it can also tell when there is input lag. The difference between 5ms and 25ms is small, but it is there. Going higher though, you really start to notice the difference. Above 40ms, you’re getting to the point where it will have a substantially negative impact on your gaming. Ideally, you will want to be below 25ms input lag, and you shouldn’t even consider anything above 40ms unless you only play turn-based games (and you don’t only play turn-based games).
Most manufacturers do have a game mode for their TVs which lowers the input lag, potentially at the expense of other benefits to the TV. Make sure you do your research to determine how game mode affects the TV to ensure it’s not sacrificing too much. If your TV has HDR, also check to ensure the input lag is acceptable with HDR (and game mode) turned on.
Anything Else I Need To Know?
Really, the rest of these aren’t so important. Some make more of a difference than others, but none will make a significant change. Still, it’s nice to know what you’re getting.HDMI
: This is how you connect your consoles. Make sure the HDMI ports on the TV are HDMI 2.0 or higher and ideally that they support HDCP 2.2 (which is a digital copyright protection that certain sources require).Color Ratio
: Manufacturers cheat on this all the time. Ignore it. It means nothing coming from them. Read reviews to see how the color ratio is in the real world.Refresh Rate
: The screen refresh rate. You don’t need more than 60hz.Curved Screens
: Better straight in front of the TV. Worse from any viewing angle. Don’t buy a curved TV unless you only ever sit right in front of the TV and only one person will use it at a time.Reflections
: If you’re playing in a dark room, you don’t need to worry. If not, you’ll want a semi-gloss screen. I’m not sure you could find a TV with a matte screen anyway.Smart TV
: All TVs are smart TVs nowadays.Plasma TVs
: These aren’t made anymore.Game Mode
: See the input lag section above.3D
: What year is it? 2010?
When researching a TV, we would recommend checking independent reviews before purchasing. The best sites we’ve found for reviews are Rtings
. These two sites are known for their high accuracy and unbiased reviews.
Best Budget 4K HDR TVs For Xbox One X
Here are our picks for the best 4K HDR TVs for less than $800:
Samsung MU7000The BasicsDisplay
: LED4K HDR?
: 40” and 49” (other sizes not recommended)Latency
: 21msHDMI Ports
: 3Price Range
For those who wish to purchase a budget TV with a smaller screen size, we would recommend the 49" Samsung MU7000. Here’s what Rtings has to say
The MU7000 is a good 4K smart TV. Its blacks are nice and deep thanks to its very high contrast, and it can produce a wide color gamut, which is good for HDR. Input lag for video games is low as well, and it has a design that will look good in any room. Unfortunately, it's not the brightest of its class, and picture quality deteriorates rapidly at an angle.
For a smaller TV, nothing this year comes close.
TCL P607/P605 (US Only)The BasicsDisplay
: LED4K HDR?
: 55” onlyLatency
: 15msHDMI Ports
: 3Price Range
TCL have recently burst into the 4K TV scene, and they're already turning heads with some of their sets. We're focusing on the P607, but the P605 should be be considered. But this TV offers incredible bang for your buck, especially for gaming. It’s got very close to mid-range quality in a lot of areas for budget pricing. Here’s the Rtings summary
The TCL P607 p series is a very good HDR TV with better than average picture quality thanks to its deep blacks. It has local dimming to enhance its contrast, and it is packed with HDR features such as a large color volume and high brightness. It also has low motion blur and input lag, making it a versatile choice suitable for sports and video games as well. Unfortunately, though, its picture quality degrades very rapidly when viewed from an angle, and the overall picture uniformity could be better. The TCL P605 offers the same performance and picture quality but has a different remote.
The latency lines up at 15ms, which is good enough for competitive console gaming. It’s not the best you can get, certainly, but it’s definitely the best you can get if you’re into a new TV under $1,000. This TV therefore comes highly recommended.
Best Mid-Range 4K HDR TV
$800 - $1500
Sony X900EThe BasicsDisplay
: LED4K HDR?
: 49”, 55”, 65”, and 75”Latency
: 35msHDMI Ports
: 4Price Range
This is likely the best mid-range TV you can buy this year. It’s still inferior to last year’s Samsung KS8000, but not by much. Here’s what Rtings has to say
The Sony X900E is a great 4K TV that offers some of the best picture quality found in an LED TV. HDR content looks particularly good on this TV since it gets very bright, and it handles motion exceptionally well. Its only real downside is the degradation of the image when viewed at an angle.
Best High-End 4K HDR TV
More than $1500
LG B7The BasicsDisplay
: OLED4K HDR?
: 55” and 65”Latency
: 21msHDMI Ports
: 4Price Range
This is the best OLED you can get. Perfect blacks. Beautiful colors. Great latency. Nothing is comparable. But don’t just take our word for it, Rtings has this to say
The LG B7 is a high-end 4K OLED smart TV with exceptional picture quality thanks to its infinite contrast ratio and wide viewing angle. It produces little motion blur, and its ability to reproduce a very wide gamut of colors and relatively high peak brightness helps it produce an impressive HDR image. It does, however, tend to retain a ghost of static images temporarily and isn't quite as bright as some LCD TVs. It offers the same performance as the B7P found at warehouse stores like Costco and Sam's club.
There are a few primary takeaways you can learn from this article:
- OLED is much better than LED
- If you can afford it, the LG B7 is amazing
- If you live in the US, the TCL P607 is the best purchase you can make if you can’t afford the LG B7
If you have the patience, waiting for OLED technology to mature in a year or two will likely be very beneficial. But even if you don’t, there are many great choices this year and you can come away happy. Questions?