The new PlayStation 5, Xbox Series X and Xbox Series S game consoles have a number of next-gen graphics features that require a cutting-edge TV to fully exploit. Just about every TV these days has UltraHD 4K resolution, of course, but extras like 120 frames per second (fps) input and variable refresh rate, which increase smoothness and reduce choppiness and tearing, are only found in newer TVs. You can connect these consoles to just about any TV with an HDMI input, but to take advantage of these new features, you’ll need a new TV.

Thankfully, you don’t need to spend a fortune on an 88-inch 8K behemoth to get these console-friendly features. Some of the most important features are available in TVs that cost less than $1,000 for a 65-inch screen.

The 2020 TVs

Below you’ll find a chart with all of the 2020 TVs we know about that support advanced gaming features, including 120Hz input and VRR as well as the more-common Auto Low Latency Mode/Auto Game mode and eARC. All of those extras are roughly grouped under the HDMI 2.1 standard, but we’re in a sort of transition period for HDMI technology. As a result, not all of the TVs below include every feature nor deliver the full video and audio bandwidth HDMI 2.1 is capable of.

Even more confusing, input capability can vary on the same TV. Behind the physical connection where you plug an HDMI cable is a subsection of the TV’s processing, namely a chip. These chips cost money, like everything else. In order to keep costs down, not every input on the TV is fully capable of all the latest features and frame rates. To put it another way, every road on Earth could be capable of highway speeds but building them all that way would be expensive and rather pointless.

For example, one HDMI input might be capable of eARC, but not be able to handle 4K at 120Hz. Just something to keep in mind as you peruse. Also, there are some important brand and model specifics that didn’t fit in the chart; please check the bullet points below for details.

TVs for PS5 and Xbox

Brand Model 65-in. price Max input Hz VRR ALLM/AUTO eARC
LG UN85 $720 120Hz (HDMI 3,4) Yes Yes HDMI 3
Nano85 $1,050 120Hz (HDMI 3,4) Yes Yes HDMI 3
Nano90 $1,100 120Hz (HDMI 3,4) Yes Yes HDMI 3
Nano91 ~$1050 120Hz (HDMI 3,4) Yes Yes HDMI 3
CX $2,300 120Hz (All) Yes Yes HDMI 2
GX $2,600 120Hz (All) Yes Yes HDMI 2
BX $2,100 120Hz (HDMI 3,4) Yes Yes HDMI 3
Samsung Q70T $1,200 120Hz Yes Yes Yes
Q80T $1,700 120Hz Yes Yes Yes
Q90T $1,900 120Hz Yes Yes Yes
Q800T (8K) $2,300 120Hz Yes Yes Yes
Sony X900H $1,000 120Hz (HDMI 3,4) Yes Yes HDMI 3
TCL 6-series $900 4K60/1440p120 Yes Yes HDMI 4
Vizio OLED $2,000 120Hz (HDMI 2,3) Yes Yes HDMI 1
P $1,200 120Hz (HDMI 3,4) Yes Yes HDMI 1
PX $1,500 120Hz (HDMI 3,4) Yes Yes HDMI 1
M-Series $750 60Hz Yes Yes HDMI 1

Notes and specifics

  • Prices are current as of press time but may fluctuate.
  • There are some TVs that fit the criteria but weren’t included because they’re so expensive, namely 8K TVs like LG’s ZX series and Samsung’s Q950TS and Q900TS series.
  • The PS5 and Series X can also output 8K resolution to compatible TVs, but we consider 4K/120Hz, VRR and other enhancements like ray tracing and even HDR more important than 8K for gaming.
  • Samsung doesn’t specify which inputs can handle 4K120 or eARC. It is unlikely that all do, but when we asked they didn’t clarify.
  • Sony says the software update that enables the X900H to accept 4K120 and eARC is “rolling out now” with VRR and ALLM coming “at a later date.”
  • Vizio M-Series is only 60Hz but still has VRR.
  • TCL 6-series can only accept 4K at 60Hz, but can accept 1440p at 120Hz.

Our picks

We’ve only reviewed a few of the TVs from the chart above so far, so those are the ones we can recommend. We expect to review more soon. Note that all of the prices shown below are for the 65-inch sizes, and we’ve included our input lag measurements for both 1080p and 4K HDR sources.

David Katzmaier/CNET

The 2020 LG CX is the best-performing TV we’ve ever reviewed, and it’s also among the best-prepared for the new consoles. If you’re counting milliseconds, it also has the lowest (best) input lag of the three TVs.

1080p input lag: 14ms

4K HDR input lag: 14ms

Sizes: 48-, 55-, 65-, 77-inch.

Read our LG OLEDCX series review.

Sarah Tew/CNET

With overall image quality on par with the TCL 6-Series and a price that’s not that much more expensive, the X900H’s suite of connections is actually better than the TCL. It’s the most affordable TV with full 4K/120Hz HDMI input capability.

1080p input lag: 16ms

4K HDR input lag: 15ms

Sizes: 55-, 65-, 75-, 85-inch. 

Read our Sony XBR-X900H review.

120Hz input explained

Despite TVs being capable of 120Hz refresh for well over a decade, the ability to input 120Hz is a far more recent ability. This is largely due to the fact that other than a fairly beefy gaming PC, there just haven’t been any 120Hz sources. That all changes with the PS5 and Series X. Some of the TVs on our list can accept 4K at 120Hz on all HDMI inputs. Others can only do so on select inputs and one, the TCL 6-Series, can only accept 120Hz at lower-than-4K resolution (1440p).

The Xbox Series S can also output 4K at 120Hz, but internally the game is rendered at a lower resolution (1440p) and upscaled before it’s sent to your TV

For more info, check out the truth about 4K TV refresh rates and beware fake 120Hz refresh rates on 4K TVs.

nvidia-g-sync-master.jpg

NVIDIA’s G-Sync works similar to VRR. Ideally (1) the video card creates an image in enough time for the TV to refresh 60 times each second. Sometimes it takes longer to render the scene (2), so the TV is sent a duplicate of the previous frame. The image stutters and your mouse/controller movements become inaccurate. You could disable v-sync in your video settings so there’s less or no jutter, but the image tears (3). VRR, like G-Sync and ATI’s Freesync, lets the display and video card work together to figure out the best framerate (4).


NVIDIA

VRR

VRR, or Variable Refresh Rate, is a new feature that you’d probably be surprised wasn’t already a thing. All modern TVs have a fixed refresh rate. A 60Hz TV is going to refresh, or create, a new image 60 times a second. The problem is a game console might not be ready to send a new image. 

Let’s say you’re in the middle of a huge boss battle, with lots of enemies and explosions. The console struggles to render everything in the allotted time. The TV still needs something so the console might send a duplicate of the previous image, creating juddering on screen, or it might send a partially new image, resulting in the image looking like someone tore a page off the top and revealed the new page below.

VRR gives the TV some flexibility to wait for the new frame from the console. This will result in smoother action and less tearing.

All the TVs below have VRR. For more info, check out How HDMI 2.1 makes big-screen 4K PC gaming even more awesome.

ALLM/Auto Game Mode

Game mode turns off most of the image-enhancing features of the TV, reducing input lag. We’ll discuss input lag below, but the specific feature to look for is called either Auto Low Latency Mode or Auto Game Mode. Different manufacturers call it one or the other, but the basic idea is the same. Sensing a signal from the console the TV switches on game mode automatically. This means you don’t need to find your TV’s remote to find and enable game mode. Not a huge deal, but convenient. All the TVs listed above have, or will have, one or the other.

What about input lag?

One thing missing from the chart above is any listing for input lag, or how long it takes for the TV to create an image. If this is too high, there’s a delay between when you press a button on the controller, and when that action appears on screen. In many games, like shooters, platformers, and more, timing is crucial, and a TV with high input lag could negatively impact your ability to pwn noobs. 

As a longtime gamer myself, I can easily notice the difference between high (greater than 100ms) and low (sub-30ms) lag. The good news is, most modern TVs have input lag that’s low enough that most people won’t notice it. Largely gone are the days of 100-plus millisecond input lags… at least when you enable game mode.

So as long as the TV has a game mode, you’re probably fine, though it’s worth checking CNET’s reviews for the exact numbers. Lower, in this case, is always better.

eARC

While not a console feature, eARC is a next-gen TV feature to keep in mind. It’s the evolution of ARC, or Audio Return Channel. This sends audio from a TV’s internal apps (Netflix, Vudu, etc.), back down the HDMI cable to a receiver or soundbar. With eARC, newer formats like Dolby Atmos can be transmitted as well.

The issue is in many cases, eARC often precludes higher resolutions/frame rates on the same input. So if you’ve connected your PS5 to your receiver, and the receiver to the TV, you can have eARC audio back from the TV or 4K120, but usually not both. This is only important if you plan on using the internal apps in a TV (as in, not a Roku or Amazon streaming stick) and you want to use the new audio formats via eARC.

For more info, check out HDMI ARC and eARC: Audio Return Channel for beginners and HDMI 2.1: What you need to know.


As well as covering TV and other display tech, Geoff does photo tours of cool museums and locations around the world, including nuclear submarines, massive aircraft carriers, medieval castles, airplane graveyards and more. 

You can follow his exploits on Instagram and YouTube, and on his travel blog, BaldNomad. He also wrote a bestselling sci-fi novel about city-sized submarines, along with a sequel. 

source: cnet.com

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