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Important gaming TV features to look out for

Broadly speaking, a TV that’s great for TV and movies should also be great for games but, if you’re looking for the very best TV for gaming, there are a few gaming-specific features to look out for, particularly if you’ve got or are planning to get a PS5 or Xbox Series X.

The big one is input lag, which tells you how long your gamepad button presses will take to appear as onscreen actions. Lower is better, but anything below 40ms will be imperceptible to almost all gamers, and 20ms or less is lightning-fast.

A few next-gen gaming features are starting to appear, too – Variable Refresh Rate (VRR)Auto Low Latency Mode (ALLM) and 4K@120Hz (aka HFR or ‘High Frame Rate’) are all part of the HDMI 2.1 spec, but are also available via plenty of TVs with HDMIs that are certified as 2.0. 

VRR matches the TV’s refresh rate to the frame rate being output by the console in real-time, resulting in a smoother, faster gaming experience. The Xbox Series XSeries SOne X and One S (and certain PCs) can all output VRR.

ALLM is simpler: it just means that your TV will automatically switch to its ‘game mode’ to reduce input lag when it senses a game signal from your games console. It’s also intelligent enough to switch game mode off again if you play a movie or TV show via your console, using the Netflix app, for example.

4K@120Hz has suddenly become a big deal, too, as both the PS5 and Xbox Series X support it. Put simply, this allows a TV to handle 4K games at frame rates of up to 120fps. There aren’t that many TVs around that can do this (most are limited to 60Hz), particularly below 55 inches, but there are some and you can expect the number to grow significantly in 2022.

Microsoft has recently upped the ante further by introducing Dolby Vision gaming, right up to 4K@120Hz. Most TVs that support Dolby Vision for movies and TV shows should support gaming in Dolby Vision, but very few will do so at 4K@120Hz and some (including Sony) don’t have a Dolby Vision Game mode at all, and that can have a big impact on input lag. With those TVs you’re best off sticking with standard HDR rather than the more advanced Dolby Vision format.

On the subject of HDR, it’s also now worth looking out for HGiG. Rather than a fixed standard or certification, HGiG (which stands for HDR Gaming Interest Group) is a consortium of companies that have come together in order to create guidelines and best practices for the implementation of HDR in gaming. Console-makers Microsoft and Sony instigated the creation of HGiG, and members include TV manufacturers such as LG, Samsung and Panasonic, and game developers and publishers such as Activision, EA, Rockstar and Ubisoft.

Put simply, the aim of HGiG is that each game is tailored to the specific capabilities of your TV without the need for endless calibration screens. Samsung and LG have already added HGiG settings to their top 2020 and 2021 sets, and they result in a more accurate picture with deeper blacks and more detailed highlights.

General qualities that translate well for gaming

Those specific gaming features are all well and good, but focusing on specs alone really isn’t wise: your new TV also needs a broad range of core skills. For example, it needs to have the punch and vibrancy to do justice to brighter, flashier games such as Astro’s Playroom, but also a natural balance that doesn’t oversaturate tonally subtler blockbusters such as Assassin’s Creed: Valhalla.

Black depth is important for delivering drama, too, but you want to be able to see plenty of detail in shadows, so avoid a TV with a reputation for crushing dark detail and be sure to tweak the brightness/gamma setting for your game – most titles have a specific option for this.

HDR is a must, of course, as the PS4, PS5, Xbox One X, One S, Series S and Series X all output HDR, and you might want to look for one that supports Dolby Vision as well as standard HDR10 if you’re an Xbox Series X owner. More obviously, it would be a mistake not to get a 4K screen, even if you don’t yet have a 4K console. The good news is that it’s now pretty hard to buy a TV that doesn’t have 4K and at least HDR10.

8K vs 4K@120Hz

(Image credit: Future / Call of Duty: Black Ops Cold War, Activision)

But what about 8K? Both the PS5 and Xbox Series X can handle 8K in theory, but neither has the feature enabled at launch.

It seems that the focus is on higher frame rates in the short term, with higher resolutions potentially coming later. Even then, native 8K gaming seems unlikely. It’s broadly agreed that neither console has the processing power to run blockbuster games at that resolution. We might, though, see games appear that dynamically scale at resolutions above 4K before being output as an 8K signal, much as the PS4 Pro and Xbox One X invariably handled 4K on games (truly native 4K games were very rare until this new console generation).

In other words, while 8K should perhaps be at the back of your mind, we don’t think it’s essential that you buy an 8K TV right now. Such sets will likely be much, much more affordable by the time 8K gaming becomes a serious concern – assuming it ever does. That said, there is an excellent 8K TV on this list for those who have very deep pockets.

Right, that’s the broad strokes. Now it’s time for our list of the very best TVs for gaming. You’ll notice that most models here are from LG and Samsung, and there’s a simple reason for that – they currently offer the most complete gaming feature sets and the best gaming performance, though other brands are finally starting to catch up.

THE BEST GAMING TVS YOU CAN BUY

(Image credit: Future / Assassins Creed Valhalla, Ubisoft)

1. LG OLED48C1

LG’s OLEDs have long been great gaming TVs, and 2021’s C1 is no different

SPECIFICATIONS

Screen size: 48in (also available in 55in, 65in, 77in, 83in)Type: OLEDBacklight: Not applicableResolution: 4KHDR formats supported: HDR10, HLG, Dolby VisionOperating system: webOSHDMI inputs: 4 (all HDMI 2.1)ARC/eARC: eARCInput lag: ~13msVariable Refresh Rate (VRR): YesAuto Low Latency Mode (ALLM): Yes4K@120Hz: YesDimensions (hwd, without stand): 62 x 107 x 4.7cmTODAY’S BEST DEALS

US$1,196.99VIEW AT AMAZONUS$1,199.99View at AmazonUS$1,289.99View at Amazon

REASONS TO BUY

+Superb all-round picture quality+Essentially flawless gaming feature set+Better remote and menu system

REASONS TO AVOID

-Marginal gains on last year’s CX-Unengaging audio

LG’s new C1 isn’t a huge improvement on the CX it replaces, but it didn’t really need to be. The picture performance and feature set were already exemplary, and LG has slightly improved the former with its new Cinematic Movement motion processing and enhanced de-contouring feature (which reduces banding), and slightly improved the latter with a better menu system and a more complete app selection (all UK catch-up apps are present).

As before, the C1 boasts four 40gbps HDMI 2.1 sockets with support for eARC, 4K@120hz, ALLM (Auto Low Latency Mode) and VRR (Variable Refresh Rate). VRR is supported in all three current formats, the most important HDMI VRR format, Nvidia G-Sync and AMD Freesync Premium.

There’s an HGIG option in the menus, too, which delivers more accurate contrast with HDR games. Since launch, LG has even added support for 4K@120Hz with Dolby Vision.

LG also now has a dedicated Game Optimiser menu that gives you quick access to all of those game-related settings as well as features that adjust gaming picture performance, either based on the genre of the game you’re playing or through manual tweaking of the detail in the brightest and darkest parts of the picture.

In short, there’s no better-specified gaming TV out there, and it’s great with movies and TV, too. Do also check out the G1 below, though, as it offers all of the same features and also boasts a new, brighter OLED panel.

We’ve tested the C1 in its 48-inch and 65-inch sizes. It’s also available as a 55-inch, 77-inch and 83-inch model. We’ve not yet reviewed these versions but you’ll see the latest, lowest prices for all of them below.

Read the full LG OLED48C1 review

Read the full LG OLED65C1 reviewToday’s best LG C1 deals

LG OLED48C1

US$1,196.99VIEWSee all pricesREDUCED PRICE

LG OLED65C1

US$2,499.99US$1,896.99VIEWSee all pricesREDUCED PRICE

LG OLED77C1

US$3,799.99US$2,996.99VIEWSee all pricesREDUCED PRICE

LG OLED83C1

US$5,146.99US$4,796.99VIEWSee all pricesWe check over 250 million products every day for the best prices

(Image credit: Future / Ratchet & Clank: Rift Apart, Sony Interactive Entertainment)

2. Samsung UE50AU9000

Good TV meets excellent gaming monitor

SPECIFICATIONS

Screen size: 50in (also available in 43in, 55in, 65in, 75in)Type: LCDBacklight: Direct LEDResolution: 4KHDR formats supported: HLG, HDR10, HDR10+Operating system: TizenHDMI inputs: 3ARC/eARC: eARCInput lag: ~9msVariable Refresh Rate (VRR): YesAuto Low Latency Mode (ALLM): Yes4K@120Hz: NoDimensions (hwd, without stand): 43 x 112 x 2.6cmTODAY’S BEST DEALSCHECK AMAZON

REASONS TO BUY

+Bright and refined image+Perfect design for wall-mounting+Terrific for gaming

REASONS TO AVOID

-Slightly shallow black levels-Soft 4K delivery-No Dolby Vision

While it’s not up there with the OLEDs and QLEDs on this list, Samsung’s AU9000 LCD model is a great choice for gamers on a budget.

Unlike the cheaper AU models, the AU9000’s three HDMIs support both VRR and 120Hz signals. This instantly makes the UE50AU9000 a much more compelling option as a monitor for a PS5, Xbox Series X or a PC with a new high-end Nvidia or AMD graphics card – even though the 120Hz support can only be sustained at 1080p resolutions rather than 4K.

The gaming features don’t stop there, either. There’s also support for ALLM, and input lag with Game mode activated is a minuscule 9.2ms. You can call up a handy Game Bar display that shows you at a glance what graphics features a game is using.

What’s more, in keeping with Samsung’s Neo QLED TVs, the 50AU9000 can support playback in 32:9 ratio from PC games that support this super-wide format.

Its brightness and rich but controlled colours play beautifully with the spectacular 4K HDR graphics capabilities of the latest gaming machines, while the support for higher and variable refresh rates joins forces with the exceptionally low input lag to contribute to a fantastically immediate and immersive experience. Deeper blacks would be nice, though.

We’ve tested the AU9000 in its 50-inch size. It’s also available as a 43-inch, 55-inch, 65-inch and 75-inch model. We’ve not yet reviewed these versions so can’t vouch for their quality, but you’ll still see the latest, lowest prices for all of them below.

(Image credit: Future / Ori and the Will of the Wisps, Xbox Game Studios)

3. LG OLED65G1

LG’s OLED Evo panel delivers on its promised picture improvements – the G1 is exceptional

SPECIFICATIONS

Screen size: 65in (also available in 55in, 77in)Type: OLEDBacklight: Not applicableResolution: 4KHDR formats supported: HDR10, HLG, Dolby VisionOperating system: webOSHDMI inputs: 4 (all HDMI 2.1)ARC/eARC: eARCInput lag: ~13msVariable Refresh Rate (VRR): YesAuto Low Latency Mode (ALLM): Yes4K@120Hz: YesDimensions (hwd, without stand): 83 x 145 x 2cmTODAY’S BEST DEALS

US$2,296.99VIEW AT AMAZON

REASONS TO BUY

+Brighter, punchier and sharper+Beautiful when wall-mounted+Exhaustive set of gaming features

REASONS TO AVOID

-No feet or stand in the box-Sound lacks excitement

For the last few years, the C-class model has been the sensible choice of each new LG OLED range. Until now, it has been the most affordable model with the latest panel and picture processing tech: go further up the range and you might get better sound and a fancier design, but you won’t get a better visual performance.

For 2021, though, LG introduced a new ‘OLED Evo’ panel that promises increased brightness and sharpness, and to get the Evo panel you have to step up to the G1. That’s slightly disappointing because you also end up paying extra for a rather niche design (the G1 is designed to be wall-mounted, to the extent that there’s no stand or feet in the box) that you may not want.

Still, if the design works for you and you don’t mind forking out the extra £500, the G1 is undoubtedly the best OLED that LG has ever produced. It takes the picture performance of last year’s GX and CX and improves upon it in almost every way, particularly in terms of brightness, sharpness and detail. That makes it a seriously stunning picture performer.

It’s also got all of the gaming features we’ve come to expect from LG OLEDs: four 40gbps HDMI 2.1 sockets with support for 4K@120Hz, VRR and ALLM (plus eARC); an HGIG mode for more accurate contrast with HDR games; a sub-13ms input lag; and a new Game Optimiser that allows for more game-related fine-tuning and puts all options at your fingertips.

Sound is less strong, but if you were always planning to combine your new TV with a separate sound system and the design works for you (and you’ve got deep pockets), the G1 should be seriously considered.

We tested the G1 in its 65-inch size. It’s also available as a 55-inch and 77-inch model. We’ve not yet reviewed these versions but you’ll see the latest, lowest prices below.

Read the full LG OLED65G1 reviewToday’s best LG G1 dealsREDUCED PRICE

LG OLED55G1

US$1,696.99US$1,596.99VIEWSee all pricesREDUCED PRICE

LG OLED65G1

US$2,396.99US$2,296.99VIEWSee all pricesREDUCED PRICE

LG OLED77G1

US$3,999.99US$3,696.99VIEWSee all pricesWe check over 250 million products every day for the best prices

(Image credit: Future / Halo Infinite, Xbox Game Studios)

4. Samsung QE65QN95A

Samsung’s first Neo QLED is arguably the best gaming TV there’s ever been

SPECIFICATIONS

Screen size: 65in (also available in 55in, 75in, 85in)Type: QLEDBacklight: Mini LEDResolution: 4KHDR formats supported: HLG, HDR10, HDR10+Operating system: TizenHDMI inputs: 4 (all HDMI 2.1)ARC/eARC: eARCInput lag: ~10msVariable Refresh Rate (VRR): YesAuto Low Latency Mode (ALLM): Yes4K@120Hz: YesDimensions (hwd, without stand): 83 x 145 x 2.6cmTODAY’S BEST DEALSCHECK AMAZON

REASONS TO BUY

+Superbly bright, punchy and sharp+Support all next-gen gaming features+Lovely design

REASONS TO AVOID

-Artificial boost to dark detail-Reticence with extreme contrast-Still no Dolby Vision

This year looks very much like the year of Mini LED, and Samsung is going bigger on this new backlighting technology than anyone else.

The company has developed its own Mini LEDs, which are just one-fortieth the size of traditional backlight LEDs, and combined them with its existing Quantum Dot tech to create a range of premium TVs that it calls Neo QLEDs. The QE65QN95A is the first Neo QLED we tested, and Samsung’s current flagship 4K set.

In real-world performance terms, Mini LED might not quite be the revolution that Samsung is pitching it as, but it is still a substantial upgrade to an already excellent range of TVs. The overall contrast offered is staggering, and the QN95A combines near-OLED black levels with awesomely crisp white highlights and fabulously vibrant colours, all while retaining an effortless sense of naturalism.

On the gaming front, all four of the QN95A’s HDMIs support ALLM, 4K@120Hz and VRR (Variable Refresh Rate). And VRR is supported in all three of the formats currently available: standard HDMI VRR, Nvidia G-Sync and AMD FreeSync (this is the first TV to be FreeSync Premium Pro-certified, in fact).

Samsung’s also created the ‘Game Bar’ – a pop-up menu that gives you quick access to various game-related features and delivers live information on the signal being received, including the VRR format and frame rate. Input lag, meanwhile, has been reduced to under 10ms, which is entirely imperceptible. If you don’t mind sacrificing a little of that speed, you can enable some gaming-specific motion smoothing, although we don’t find that necessary during testing.

Finally, on the gaming front, the HGiG (HDR Gaming Interest Group) setting that was added to Samsung’s 2020 QLEDs via a software update late last year is also present on the QN95A. This is well worth using in conjunction with your console’s HDR calibration settings as it results in a more accurate picture with deeper blacks and more detailed highlights.

All told, games absolutely pop when played on the QN95A, and performance is lightning-fast and super-slick. Throw in the best, most app-packed operating system in the business and this is (a lack of Dolby Vision support aside) as complete a package as can be imagined.

We tested the QN95A in its 65-inch size. It’s also available as a 55-inch, 75-inch and 85-inch model. We’ve not yet reviewed these versions but you’ll see the latest, lowest prices below.

And if you can live with just one HDMI 2.1 socket, check out our review of the QE65QN94A, which lacks the QN95A’s One Connect box but otherwise boasts the same feature set and performance.

Read the full Samsung QE65QN95A review

Read the full Samsung QE65QN94A review

(Image credit: Future / Halo Infinite, Microsoft Studios)

5. Philips 48OLED806

Simply the best picture around at this most convenient of sizes

SPECIFICATIONS

Screen size: 48in (also available in 55in, 65in, 77in)Type: OLEDBacklight: Not applicableResolution: 4KHDR formats supported: HDR10, HLG, Dolby Vision, HDR10+Operating system: Android TV 10HDMI inputs: 4 (2x HDMI 2.1)ARC/eARC: eARCInput lag: ~14msVariable Refresh Rate (VRR): YesAuto Low Latency Mode (ALLM): Yes4K@120Hz: YesDimensions (hwd, without stand): 62 x 107 x 6.8cmTODAY’S BEST DEALSCHECK AMAZON

REASONS TO BUY

+Sharp and punchy performance+Strong HDMI 2.1 feature set+Ambilight

REASONS TO AVOID

-Sound can be bettered-Tricky to adjust for the best picture

While Philips’ 2020 OLEDs were brilliant for movies and TV, they were sadly lacking next-gen gaming features. That’s not the case with 2021’s OLED806, which has two full-fat 48Gbps HDMI 2.1 sockets that that support 4K@120Hz, VRR (Variable Refresh Rate) in all of its current forms (G-Sync certification is in progress), and ALLM (Auto Low Latency Mode), making this a very well-specified gaming TV. The very low input lag of around 14ms certainly helps matters, too, as does the HGiG mode, which broadly results in more accurate tone mapping of HDR games.

The only gaming spec of note that’s missing is support for 4K@120Hz with Dolby Vision, but Dolby Vision gaming is at least supported up to 60Hz.

One other thing to bear in mind is that one of the two HDMI 2.1 sockets is also the one that handles eARC (Enhanced Audio Return Channel), which means that if you have two HDMI 2.1 sources (an Xbox Series X and PS5 or a high-end gaming PC), you’re not also going to be able to send sound via eARC to a soundbar or AV amplifier. This is a limitation of all TVs that we’ve tested that have two HDMI 2.1 sockets and, unlike those others, Philips does somewhat mitigate the issue by supporting standard ARC via its other three HDMI sockets. This won’t get you lossless, TrueHD Dolby Atmos, but it will get you Atmos in the Dolby Digital+ format, and we doubt that many will hear much of a difference.

In terms of the overall performance, the OLED806 is a stunner. Sharper and punchier than rival OLEDs, with a vibrant approach that suits games without over-cooking them. Sound is good by TV standards, too, and the gorgeous Ambilight technology adds an extra dose of the spectacular to everything you play and watch.

We’ve tested the OLED806 in its 48-inch and 65-inch sizes. It’s also available as a 55-inch and 77-inch model. We’ve not yet reviewed these versions but you’ll see the latest, lowest prices for all of them below.

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