There have been a lot of advancements over the last 5 years when it comes to input lag in TVs. Back when I started testing TVs for input lag, it was very difficult to get a TV with less than 40ms of input lag while under game mode. Time has certainly played out in our favor, giving us access to tons of low input lag displays designed especially for gamers!
Input lag is the amount of time it takes for a display to process a button input while gaming. If you value your gaming experience, you want to avoid displays that exhibit high input lag, as it makes your gameplay feel sluggish and unresponsive. Every display has input lag to some degree, however you want to stick to the displays we label as Excellent or Great, as these displays provide the quickest response for serious gaming.
Nowadays, we have access to tech that PC gamers have enjoyed for years, namely the support for 120 FPS and variable refresh rates, all while offering the perks of owning a big screen TV. In fact, it can be confusing to navigate among these displays, due to so many options with enhanced gaming options. For now though, 2018 has seen many winners when it comes to gaming TVs, many of them being fast enough to earn our Excellent rating. Keep reading to find the best gaming TV for your needs.
Best Overall TV:
Input Lag: 21ms – Great
For the second year in a row, LG continues their dominance with the B8 as my top pick for the best gaming TV in 2018. If you’re new to the hype around OLED technology, I’ll give a quick primer. OLED provides many benefits over traditional LED displays, which include the massive contrast ratio, much better representation of color, and excellent motion response.
This contrast ratio is mainly achieved because OLED panels can display perfect black, as OLED pixels can independently shut off when pure black is displayed, as opposed to LED displays that rely on local dimming zones. These zones can lower black levels in specific areas of the screen, but cannot control them on an individual level. This results in blooming highlights when pure black is displayed next to something bright, like a white logo, or stars in a night sky.
Overall, OLED is much more pleasant to look at when compared to traditional LED displays, and this includes many benefits for gaming as well.
The main thing to note is that LG retains the exact same input lag from last year’s B7 model, as the B8 measures at 21ms of input lag while game mode is enabled. Having extensively gamed on last year’s B7, I can confidently say that responsiveness hasn’t been an issue for me, whether it’s playing God of War on the PS4 pro, or performing difficult combo links in Tekken 7. It also supports native 120hz input at 1080p resolution, which lowers input lag even further if you have a gaming PC that can push high frame rates.
With that said, there is a small difference when compared to a fast 60hz gaming monitor; you may notice around 1 frame of additional input lag. While the overwhelming majority of gamers won’t notice the timing difference, this is an important thing to note for professional gamers that require frame-perfect responsiveness in their gaming.
The great thing about gaming on OLED is that fast motion is rendered with excellent clarity, which ties into how we perceive input lag during tense gaming sessions. For this reason, the B8 offers benefits to gamers beyond the raw numbers of input lag; many LED TVs have poor motion performance, which affects our reaction timing and processing of intense gaming under stress. They have to rely on panel overdrive tricks to compensate for this, which is what many TN-based pro-gaming monitors do to achieve motion clarity, at the expense of some visual artifacts.
In terms of improvements over last year’s B7, the B8 adds a new black-frame insertion mode, which improves motion clarity even further, at the expense of a constant “flicker” that can be distracting to many users. I personally found it tiring, so I ended up disabling it during my time with the B8. I find that it’s more useful with LED TVs, as their motion response is quite poor in comparison to an OLED. The B8 also offers increased luminance output while in HDR game mode, which results in a more pleasant experience with games that natively support HDR.
For those worried about burn-in issues with OLED panels, I can say that I’ve encountered no such issues after owning the B7 for nearly a year, though I’ve taken all the precautions to prevent it from happening. This means not displaying static images for long periods of time, and keeping a calibrated brightness level for dim-room viewing. I had a few bouts with image retention, but it quickly cleared up when the problematic image was removed from the display.
Overall, this is an incremental update to the B7, and if you already own last year’s model, I don’t think it’s worth upgrading to the B8. However, if this is your first time jumping into an OLED TV, prepare to be amazed. While I do wish input lag was lower, it’s extremely hard to turn down the benefits of OLED’s amazing contrast ratio, color reproduction, and motion clarity when compared to its LED counterparts.
Best for Hardcore Gamers:
Input Lag: 15ms – Excellent
Samsung has consistently been producing low input lag TVs for gaming over the years, and this year is no exception. When I measured Samsung TVs earlier this year, several of them produced under 20ms of input lag, making them an excellent choice for gamers who value responsiveness. Compared to their NU8000 lineup, the Q6FN isn’t a big leap in terms of performance, however it does offer a lower input lag of just 15ms under game mode.
A big component of Samsung’s 2018 strategy is the inclusion of more gaming features. No other TV on this list provides support for variable refresh rates, a feature that allows AMD-equipped gaming PCs and the Xbox One S/X to communicate directly with the display. It’s commonly known as FreeSync in the PC world. This allows for direct frame rate synchronization, bypassing the need for V-Sync to prevent screen tearing.
For those unaware, V-Sync typically adds around 1-2 frames of input delay, and can cause stuttering when your game’s frame rate fluctuates during intense action. FreeSync removes this additional input delay, and also prevents stutters associated with an unstable frame rate. There’s a catch, though: FreeSync displays have an FPS “range” to take advantage of these benefits.
On Samsung’s Q6FN, there are two modes: Basic and Ultimate. Basic establishes a FreeSync range of 90-120hz, and Ultimate gives a range of 48-120hz. For the best experience, your game needs to keep its frame rate within this range, otherwise you will lose the benefits of FreeSync altogether. It’s a bit rare for console games to keep a steady 60 FPS, so this feature is more suited towards PC gamers in my opinion.
In addition to VRR support, the Q6FN also supports “Automatic Low Latency Mode”, which allows the TV to automatically toggle game mode without the user enabling it manually. This can be a huge deal for users who wish to keep a calibrated image profile for watching movies, as game mode tends to disable bells and whistles that can degrade image quality. Once you exit the game, it’ll revert back to your calibrated or preferred picture mode for media consumption. Keep in mind that your source has to support this mode for this function to work.
In terms of the display itself, the Q6FN does offer edge-lit local dimming, a native 120hz panel, and HDR peak brightness around 800 nits. It does not support Dolby Vision, though HDR10 is supported, which makes up the bulk of HDR content today. Motion response is quite good, and should suit most gamers without issue. If you choose to move up to the Q8FN, you’ll receive much better local dimming performance and better motion response, though the input lag jumps up to 20ms instead of 15ms offered in the Q6FN. Overall, the Q6FN is a solid gaming TV if you want VRR support along with low input lag.
Best LED TV for Most Gamers:
Input Lag: 15ms – Excellent
VIZIO has been a household name in America for quite some time now. I remember seeing their TVs across various mall stores, wondering where they came from. Back then, anything that wasn’t Samsung, Sony, or LG was met with skepticism. Rightfully so, as many other brands simply could not match the quality offered by the giants of the TV industry. In 2018, the landscape has shifted in big ways, with brands like VIZIO and TCL offering competitive TVs at much more affordable price points.
So, VIZIO’s P-Series TV was quite a shock to me. It’s actually shocking in ways I didn’t expect. See, VIZIO has been offering extremely low input lag in their TVs for a few years now, mainly in their budget M-Series and P-Series displays. This is typically achieved by using a special HDMI port (HDMI 5) with “Game Low Latency” enabled, which is VIZIO’s game mode. HDMI 5 is a special input, that bypasses much of the processing that is invoked by VIZIO, with minimal sacrifice to overall picture quality.
Under this mode, the P55-F1 achieves a remarkable 15ms of input lag while game mode is enabled. The only downside is that HDMI 5 does not support HDR, so you will be limited to 4K SDR content in HDMI 5. However, it does support native 120hz refresh rate at 1080p resolution, which is great for PC gamers. Game mode using any other HDMI input yields an input lag rating of 26ms for 4K HDR gaming.
Under extensive testing, I found the P55-F1 to only lag behind a top professional gaming monitor by 1 frame at 60 frames per second. This makes it an extremely responsive display for even the most hardcore gamers. Professional gamers may notice a slight difference, but speaking as a tournament competitor in both Street Fighter and Tekken, I found it very hard to feel the difference. The difference is there, though! As a matter of fact, you can see the difference yourself by pausing this video at different times:
Now lets get to the main point: even with that excellent input lag performance, that is not what surprised me about the P55-F1. What really surprised me was the excellent image quality you get out of this TV. As you may know, I have compiled an input lag database over the last 6 years, with over 500 TVs tested for input lag. Nowadays, it’s actually not too difficult to find a TV with low input lag. What is difficult, is finding a TV with low input lag, as well as great picture quality. The P55-F1 exceeds what I expect from a TV in this price range in this department.
The P-Series offers full-array local dimming, a very important factor with LED TVs that aspire to provide excellent performance with 4K HDR content, especially at this price point. It provides very low black levels with great contrast ratio, over 900 nits of brightness in HDR mode, and most importantly, very good motion response. I was really surprised with how it performed during fast motion, as many LED TVs below and above this price point simply smear a lot in this regard, and if they have advanced image processing to combat this, the input lag suffers. The P-Series from VIZIO suffers neither of these faults.
On top of that, the P-Series offers an excellent black-frame insertion mode, which doesn’t cut peak brightness as much as competing TVs. There’s a lot for me to say regarding this TV, but you should check out my full review if you want all of the details. Bottom line, get this TV if OLED is out of your price range.
Best TV for Value:
Input Lag: 19ms – Excellent
After a stellar debut of the P607 last year, TCL has quickly become a household name for gamers, as they provide impressively-low input lag numbers with excellent performance. They far-and-away provide the best bang for your buck, with the R617 series able to be found well below it’s MSRP of $799. For this money, you get a 4K HDR TV that is capable of reaching 900 nits of peak brightness, great black levels thanks to full-array local dimming, excellent color accuracy after calibration, and support for both Dolby Vision and HDR10. The R617 improves over the P607 in various ways, most notable of those changes being the overall design.
It’s exterior received a major overhaul, no longer sporting the cheap black plastic look of last year’s model. Its black frame insertion mode has been improved, offering enhanced clarity with it engaged, though keep in mind you will lose peak brightness, as well as generate a “flicker” that may be fatiguing.
Input lag performance is still impressive on the R617, achieving 19ms of input lag while game mode is enabled. This also includes 4K HDR gaming, so it is able to maintain our ‘Excellent’ rating for input lag performance. Unfortunately, this is an increase over last year’s P607 model, though in practice it’s quite difficult to tell the difference. After extended sessions with both Tekken 7 and Ultra Street Fighter IV, it was difficult for me to feel the difference from a professional gaming monitor, though it does lag behind the monitor by roughly 1 frame. This is a non-issue for the majority of gamers.
Motion performance here isn’t quite as good as the LG B8 OLED or VIZIO’s P-Series mentioned above, as it only features a 60hz display, but it should suit most people that aren’t coming from a fast gaming monitor or a higher-end TV. It’s just really hard to beat what TCL offers with the R617 at this price point; I don’t feel like it has a direct competitor in this regard. TCL’s R617 is kind of like the OnePlus equivalent of TVs: you’re paying for raw performance, even if every single feature isn’t as high-end as its more expensive counterparts. I did a full review on this TV earlier this year, so be sure to check that out if you need more detailed information.
Input Lag: 11ms – Excellent
I’m going to be straight forward with this TV, it’s not going to win any awards for image quality, HDR performance, or black level performance. It doesn’t feature local dimming, so don’t get this TV if contrast ratios are important to you. However, what it does offer in return, is the fastest input lag rating we’ve ever tested in a TV, a remarkable 11ms of input lag under game mode! This is absolutely insane performance for gaming.
There are currently 74 displays in our input lag database with a faster input lag rating, and every single one of those is a monitor. On top of that, it comes in a gigantic 75-inches of screen real estate, which is sure to turn some heads in your gaming room. While I’m more than happy to calibrate TVs, measure their image quality, chase the best contrast ratios, and squint over the little details, at the end of the day, I do end up playing on a 24-inch TN monitor with poor image quality at times, just to get the fastest possible input timing for high level gaming. LG’s UK6570 is the closest you can get to that in a large screen TV, as of right now.
Cheap Budget TV:
Input Lag: 12ms – Excellent
Much like the UK6570 mentioned above, the UK6300 is an entry level TV that doesn’t excel in overall image quality. It doesn’t have sufficient peak brightness for HDR content, and features no local dimming whatsoever to boost your contrast ratio. Its RGBW pixel structure results in a less-detailed image, reducing color output by around 25 percent.
For these trade offs, you get a 43-inch TV that can be found under $400, and also boasts an incredibly fast input lag rating of just 12ms under game mode. To aid with its low input lag performance, it doesn’t fare too bad when it comes to motion blur, with only a bit of trailing during fast action. This TV doesn’t make a bad gift for someone that just wants a responsive, fast gaming TV, and doesn’t care about the bells and whistles found at higher price points.
This concludes our list of best gaming TVs for 2018! Hated my choices? That’s fine! Head on over to our input lag database and compare these to over 500 other displays tested for input lag!