The last 12 months have seen the console gaming world undergo nothing short of a revolution. A resolution revolution, to be precise. The Xbox One S hit first, boasting a Ultra High Definition/4K Blu-ray drive and an upscaling engine for converting all of its games to 4K's 3840x2160 pixel count. Then we got the PS4 Pro, with its ability to run games at a range of native resolutions all the way up to 4K. And most recently we got the Xbox One X: the most powerful gaming console to date, capable of running more titles in native 4K than any console we've seen before.
Sony and Microsoft haven't stopped at quadrupling the resolution of your games, though. The PS4, PS4 Pro, Xbox One X and Xbox One S also added high dynamic range to many titles, increasing their brightness and color range to spectacular effect.Transformative though these new features can be on your gaming experience, though, you're only going to enjoy them if you have a suitably capable TV. And when we say 'suitably capable', we don't mean that it's enough for a TV to simply have the right number of pixels and the raw ability to just recognize HDR images.
It also needs the processing power to ensure that the sharpness delivered by all those pixels isn't ruined by poor motion handling or sub-standard colour reproduction. And it needs to have the contrast and brightness capabilities needed to unlock the unprecedented dynamism that HDR can deliver. What's more, a good gaming TV needs to handle the new 4K and HDR demands of today's gaming world fast. No gaming TV can take so long to produce 4K HDR lovely pictures that you end up getting shot by a rival your TV screen hasn't even shown yet!
To help you bag a TV that unlocks as much quality as possible from the new gaming hardware generation, we've applied the key features a gaming screen needs to all the key TVs currently on the market, and narrowed the results down to the shortlist below.
Samsung QN55Q7F (QE55Q7F in Europe)
This 55-inch Samsung set reads like a tick list of features you need to make today's cutting edge games look incredible. For starters, it uses Samsung's new QLED technology: a new type of metal-clad Quantum Dot that can be driven harder than previous versions to provide unprecedented brightness and color. This ensures that HDR pictures look more dazzlingly rich in brightness, contrast and color than they do on any other remotely affordable TV.
There's more detail in bright HDR areas than you get with most rivals too, while a combination of huge color finesse and excellent motion clarity serves up 4K images of sensational crispness and clarity. A unique filter on the screen additionally ensures its pictures remain freer of reflections and more dynamic in bright rooms than those of any rival brand.
Sealing the deal is the QN55Q7F's response time. Provided you activate its Game picture setting, it takes just 25ms to render images received from your consoles. The QN55Q7F's pictures lose color and contrast if watched from an angle, and in low light conditions dark picture areas sometimes look rather grey. Neither of these issues, though, prevents the QN55Q7F from being a mesmerising gaming all-rounder.
Sony XBR-75X940E (Sony KD-75XE9405 in Europe)
If you really want to take your gaming to the next level, you don't just need a good screen; you need a big one. And no screen around right now combines quantity and quality without costing the earth as well as Sony's 75-inch 75X940E. At the heart of the 75X940E's success is its direct LED lighting system, where the LEDs lie behind the screen rather than around its edges. This helps it deliver much better contrast and light control - especially as the TV can choose how much light individual sections of its LEDs output at any given moment, depending on the needs of the image.This light control makes it a particularly great screen for dark games - yet it also has enough brightness and dynamism to explode into life for, say Forza Horizon 3's sun-drenched Australian raceways.
Sony's unique Triluminos system, meanwhile, serves up a phenomenally subtle but also aggressively rich colorscape that dramatically unlocks the wide color ranges associated with HDR content. The subtlety of the color rendering combines with the TV's epic proportions and native 4K resolution, too, to give you incredible detailing with 4K games. Using its Game picture preset the 75X940E suffers with only 23ms of picture lag with 4K images, or 40ms with HD ones - great and good results respectively.
The 75X940E's Android TV system is a buggy pain, and as with the Samsung 49Q7F its viewing angle is pretty limited if you don't want to see your picture lose contrast and color saturation. Aside from this, though, if you've got the space and budget for it, the 75X940E is about as much fun as gaming gets.
This 55-inch LG TV uses OLED rather than LCD technology. This delivers two key benefits for gamers: stunningly rich, deep black colors that make dark games more immersive and convincing, and wide viewing angles for when you've got a room full of mates round for some FIFA action. The OLED technology enables the OLED55E7 to place a bright pixel right next to a near-black one with no compromise between the two - a level of light precision that's just not possible with any current LCD technology, and leaves night-time races in Forza 7 and Gran Turismo Sport looking out of this world.
Colors look seriously vibrant, yet are rendered with enough subtlety to ensure that objects look so solid and refined they almost feel 3D. The OLED55E7's beautiful bodywork features a surprisingly potent built-in soundbar capable of decoding and playing back the ultra-precise, exceptionally immersive Dolby Atmos sound format. This makes the LG OLED55E7 a particularly good partner for the Xbox One X and S consoles, which deliver Dolby Atmos sound from both games and movies. If you have a PS4 Pro or a separate surround sound system, though, you could go for LG's much cheaper OLED55C7 instead.
Sometimes the OLED55E7's mid-dark areas can exhibit subtle vertical banding, and OLED screens can't currently get as bright as the best LCDs either (though their peerless contrast at least partly compensates for this). Finally, LG warns OLED TV owners not to leave a static, bright image element - such as a HUD or in-game health bar - on screen for too long at once, lest that image element eventually leave a permanent shadow behind.
Provided you handle it with care, though, LG's gorgeous and relatively affordable OLED TV is just a joy to behold. And with a Game mode image rendering time of just 23ms, it's fast enough to keep you competitive during online battles.
Samsung UN40MU7000 (UE40MU6400 in Europe)
Stellar though the previous three screens on this list might be, they're not exactly easy on the wallet. They're also too big to comfortably inhabit the studies or second sitting rooms where many households game. Cue the Samsung UN40MU7000. This sits low enough down Samsung's range to be relatively easy on your wallet, and is small enough at 40 inches to fit into a relatively space-challenged room while still being big enough to deliver a sense of 4K's extra detail.
The thing that most helps it stand out from its similarly sized, similarly priced rivals, though, is its brightness. Its pictures are significantly lighter - and richer in color - than any other TV in the same price bracket, giving it a huge advantage when it comes to unlocking HDR's gaming potential. In fact, we honestly can't think of any other TV for the same money that does HDR convincingly at all.
With input lag in the UN40MU7000's game mode pegged consistently at under 22ms, really the only negatives that can be levelled at this budget set are that it's not as bright or rich in color as more expensive models, and loses contrast if viewed from an angle.
Sony XBR-49X900E (Sony KD-49XE9005 in Europe)
If you're looking for a high quality but affordable gaming screen for a relatively dark room, this mid-range Sony set is an outstanding alternative to the bright room-friendly Samsung QN49Q7F. It handles the darker end of HDR's expanded light spectrum particularly well thanks to its direct LED lighting system (a really rare discovery on a sub-$1,000 TV). Black colors look deeper, more uniform and more immersive during dark FPS and racing levels than on any other TV in its class.
The 49X900E also enjoys unusually refined, bold colors thanks to its combination of Sony's Triluminos wide color spectrum technology and much-acclaimed 'X1' processing system. This processing reduces the color striping that can sometimes appear with HDR gaming, and ekes out every last pixel of color and detail information from a high quality 4K HDR game or film. The set's Game picture mode, meanwhile, adds a very respectable sub-34ms picture rendering time to its other talents.
As usual with LCD TVs, the 49X900E's pictures deteriorate if viewed from an angle. They're only partnered by a fairly basic sound system too, while the set's Android TV platform feels clunky and buggy. Nonetheless, if you're the sort of person who likes gaming in lights-down, home cinema-like conditions, the 49X900E is unbeatably satisfying for its money.