5 best 4K budget gaming TVs – great for PS5, Xbox Series X/S, or as a substitute for a PC monitor
As we know, gaming can be very expensive, especially on PC. However, even though consoles like Xbox Series X and PlayStation 5 are relatively affordable, you still need a 4K TV capable of getting the best out of them. A couple of years ago, buying a budget 4K TV for gaming was practically impossible, as they lacked even the basic features, like a decent HDR. Luckily, in 2021 things are looking much better, so for around $1000, you will get Ultra HD TV with almost all bells and whistles available on the high-end model. Moreover, as I’ll show you today, even for $500, you’ll secure a display device that will let you enjoy the latest gaming systems. If you want the biggest possible TV or a substitute for your gaming monitor, I also have solutions that won’t burn a hole in your pocket.
|Samsung X900H||[email protected]||55″||15.4 ms||SEE ON AMAZON|
|LG NanoCell||[email protected]||55″||14.7 ms||SEE ON AMAZON|
|Samsung Q60T||[email protected]||43″||10 ms||SEE ON AMAZON|
|Hisense H8G||[email protected]||55″||11.5 ms||SEE ON AMAZON|
|Samsung TU-8000||[email protected]||75″||10 ms||SEE ON AMAZON|
|Samsung X900H||SEE ON AMAZON|
|LG NanoCell||SEE ON AMAZON|
|Samsung Q60T||SEE ON AMAZON|
|Hisense H8G||SEE ON AMAZON|
|Samsung TU-8000||SEE ON AMAZON|
What the best budget 4K TV in 2021 needs to have?
“Compromise” is the keyword when we’re talking about budget gaming TVs. However, all models included on my list need to fulfill specific criteria to qualify. This includes:
Picture quality: There are still no budget-friendly OLED screens, so every model included is QLED or LED. However, they have at least an above-average picture quality, which is essential for all users.
Input lag: Low input lag is no longer a privilege of the high-end models. In fact, some of the included budget TVs are among the fastest overall, while others are still great even for the most hardcore multiplayer crowd.
HDR: Every 4KTV includes HDR, even though not all games support it. However, not every HDR is the same, as a lot of TVs are offering disappointing performance. Nonetheless, that is not the case with my budget gaming TV choices here. Again, while there is a difference between them, they perform this task on at least above-average level. As I’ve mentioned, lots of these budget gaming TVs have many advanced features for high-end gaming. This includes HDMI 2.1, 120Hz support, VRR, Dolby Vision, or HDR 10+. Of course, most of them are reserved for the models with a price close to $1000. Still, there are two things you won’t find here. These are, of course, 8K and OLED screens since they are still pricey. However, that might change later this year. Make sure to check this article often, as I’ll update it regularly, but for now, these are the most excellent budget TVs you can buy! Also, check our list of the best TVs in 2021.
The best overall and great choice for console gaming
Four HDMI 2.1 (after firmware update)
VRR support (after firmware update)
Dolby Vision support
Great for console gaming
Lack of G-Sync and FreeSync compatibility
You have to wait for firmware updates
I already listed X900H in my Best Gaming TV Guide for 2021, naming it the best midrange gaming TV. However, I was talking about the 65-inch version, which is well above our $1000 limit. As you can guess, this 55-inch variant is more affordable and below a grand. This model is also available in two giant sizes, at 75 and 85-inches. Of course, these are far above our budget limit here but are still very affordable for these dimensions.
Of all models on our test, X900H looks the best, with beautifully designed V-shape feet that don’t take much space. As expected, bezels are skinny, making this TV look more expensive than it is. Still, as this LED TV, this means that it can’t compete with OLED when it comes to how thin it is. Nevertheless, you won’t have a problem well wall-mounting it, as it’s only two inches deep. I’ll just add that this TV is easy to install, so you can do it alone.
HDMI 2.1, and only HDMI 2.1
There was plenty of drama involving Sony X900H, but luckily, we got a happy ending. What Sony did was rush this TV, as it wanted it to be widely available at PlayStation 5 launch. This meant that X900H didn’t even have HDMI 2.1 and 120Hz refresh rate before the update. Currently, the device still lacks VRR and ALLM, but it will come at least in spring via new firmware.
Advertised as a definitive choice for PlayStation 5, X900H does have a lot to offer for console gamers in general. While it’s not the fastest TV I included here, 15.4 ms input lag won’t give you problems. In 4K/120Hz mode, that number goes down to 7 ms, so let’s hope that more games will support it.
If you enjoy playing with your friends or family while sharing the same TV, make sure you sit close to a central position since viewing angles are limited. In that case, you’ll experience astonishing HDR performance, which is unrivaled in this class. That is helped by deep black levels, and things are even better thanks to Dolby Vision. Like most TV manufacturers, Sony isn’t interested in HDR10+ championed by Samsung.
Upscaling is still important in 2021, so I’m happy to report that X900H does it very well. That’s especially the case with 1080p content that looks phenomenal thanks to the bright screen and strong contrast. Only in the dark you’ll notice that black levels aren’t perfect. If you own older consoles such as PlayStation 3 or Xbox 360, X900H will let them shine better than ever.
I can safely say that X900H will take you through the current generation of consoles. While OLED screens indeed look better, you’ll get everything else, including an abundance of HDMI 2.1 ports, VRR, and excellent HDR. Plus, put that controller down occasionally, and enjoy watching movies, since they look great too!
The best viewing angels on a budget
Even though Sony X900H is my favorite in this price range, LG NANO90 might suit you better. While the company is all about OLED screens in its premium class, the NANO series is the best it can offer in the LCD segment. My choice is the 55-inch model, but there are 65 “, 75″, and 86” versions. What is essential to know is that all these versions are identical, apart from their screen size, of course. As for the design, be aware that you will need a pretty wide stand because of its leg position. Build quality is solid, though the design is unspectacular, reminding you that it doesn’t belong to the top class.
Couch multiplayer gaming heaven
NANO 90 has four HDMI ports, and two of them are 2.1. While 4K gaming at 120 frames per second is still a rare sight, at least you will be future-proofed. HDMI 2.1 supports VRR by default, so you’ll see the benefit of it when playing on PlayStation 5 (after the update) and on Xbox Series X/S. However, the game you are running also needs to have VRR compatibility. As for PC gaming, FreeSync support is there, but not G-Sync. When it comes to input lag, Nano 90 performs virtually identical to Sony X900H, reaching 14.7 ms at 1080p/60Hz. However, at 4K/120Hz, there is only a slight improvement to 12.5 ms.
Another reason to prefer this panel to X900H is that it offers wider viewing angles. If you often watch a movie sharing a couch with a few people or play together, this becomes very relevant. I was disappointed about how LG handled contrast in the past, but things have improved thanks to implementing the Pixel Compensation technique that adopts direct LED lighting.
In practice, black levels and contrast have been upgraded, even though X900H is superior in this segment. NANO90 uses the Alpha 7 Gen 3 processor to produce solid but noisy and soft upscaling. This means that if the bitrate is low, you’ll see a lot of artifacts. Alpha 9 processor has AI-powered upscaling that works much better, but that’s reserved for the top segment, including the LG CX series.
HDR is much better than on the previous generation, although it would benefit from a brighter display. Like other LG TVs, this one supports Dolby Vision, but not HDR10+. While both perform pretty much the same, the difference is that Dolby Vision currently has better support, which includes Netflix.
NANO 90 is the best LCD ever produced by LG, and its wide angles make it a preferred choice for playing games or watching movies together. Gaming performances are excellent, and VRR support makes it an affordable solution for PS5 or Xbox Series X/S.
Best PC monitor alternative on a budget
Buying a small 4K TV means you’ll have to sit very close to catch all the detail. Still, at the same time, that doesn’t matter if you use it as a substitute for a PC monitor or to connect a gaming laptop to it. Samsung Q60T comes in many different sizes, starting with 43-inches, but you can also get 50, 55, 58, 65, 75, and 85-inch versions. Unlike some of its rivals, all variants are the same regarding performance and features. Of course, we will focus on the smallest version, which is probably much bigger than your monitor. But what makes Q60T special is that this is the cheapest QLED at the moment.
What I really like here is the design, although it doesn’t break any boundaries. Q60T is elegant and thin, with a slim bezel that becomes unnoticeable in a dark room. These are all great news for PC gamers, as Q60T doesn’t take much space. The only thing reminding you that this is not a high-class product is its plastic case, though it doesn’t feel cheap.
Q60T doesn’t do 4K gaming at 120Hz and doesn’t support VRR, but there aren’t many PS5/Xbox Series X titles affected by it. Plus, Microsoft said that 4K/60Hz is standard for Xbox Series X, and PS5 won’t be any different. On the other hand, input lag is excellent, and in gaming mode, it goes down to 10 ms. You can also employ Game Motion Plus to interpolate frame rate, which is recommended in slower-paced titles.
Samsung wanted to make Q60T more affordable than the previous generation (Q60), so there are a few cutbacks. One of them is one HDMI port less, three in total (all 2.0). For the average user, this is still enough, and especially for PC gamers. As all ports are on the back, it is tough to access if the TV is wall mounted. Again, as we are talking about using it as a PC monitor, that doesn’t matter at all.
As for HDR, this is Samsung, and you already know that it means there is no Dolby Vision compatibility. However, you’ll get everything else, including HDR10+, currently employed by some Blu-rays and Amazon Prime Video. The peak brightness of 470 nits is decent, but it affects the quality of HDR performance. Still, you can do far much worse.
Another cutback done is that Q60T has a lower refresh rate and a less powerful processor than its predecessor. However, the difference comes only in fast scenes, and it’s not easily noticeable. Upscaling capabilities are excellent for the class, especially with HD content. SDR games and movies show terrific colors, with relatively deep blacks.
Q60T is an affordable choice for PC gamers on a budget that are happy with 60 frames per second. Simultaneously, it also offers generally good performance that makes it suitable for the living room. Thanks to a remarkable black uniformity, you’ll love watching movies on it!
Best in the $500 class and great for all purposes
Hisense is gaining traction as it offers affordable TVs, and H8G showcases their presence in the budget category. What is surprising here is that the company is underselling this device, not even mentioning that it’s a terrific choice for gamers. As this model is available in 50, 55, 65, and 75-inch sizes, there is something for everyone. However, I’m focusing on a 55-inch model as it costs barely above $500. Before I continue, know that 50 and 55-inch models lack audio options, including optical audio. Otherwise, they are the same as other models.
Despite its low price, H8G is a pretty looking TV with always attractive thin bezels. It even offers two standing positions, in case you need to save space. Even though 3.1-inch depth is not spectacular, I still think that Hisense did a great job with the overall design and product quality.
Intense colors and low input lag
The main reason why this is my favorite $500 gaming TV is the input lag, which is only 11.5 ms. This makes H8G among the best, beating even high-class OLED screens from the excellent LG CX series. However, always make sure that gaming mode is enabled, as the lag goes up to 65 ms without it.
As expected, H8G can’t handle anything beyond 4K 60Hz, so the lack of HDMI 2.1 is expected. VRR is also not included, so the best you’ll get is MotionRate 240 technology. It works well in some games, though only if you don’t expect it to be a worthy substitute for 120Hz modes.
H8G has a respectable 700 nits brightness level, which helps its HDR performance. I really like colors here, and if you have Dolby Vision content, it looks even better. Another thing you can’t expect in this class is a wide viewing angle. If you have a gaming party in your home, keep that in mind.
Finally, expect average upscaling performance, though I suggest keeping it on. HD content looks decent, but don’t expect miracles with lower resolutions.
Thanks to its extremely low input lag, relatively bright screen, and astounding colors, Hisense H8G is hard to beat for the money. It’s also a solid pick for a secondary TV as it won’t disappoint when watching sports broadcasts or movies.
The biggest budget 4K gaming TV
In 2021 there are plenty of options if you want to spend around $1000 on a big screen TV as even the highest-rated brands such as Samsung have to be present in this market segment. What might surprise you is that TU-8000 has some features that make it a terrific choice for gaming. This model is also available in various sizes, including 43, 50, 55, 65, and 85-inch. Despite mostly being made of plastic, TU-8000 still looks stylish, thanks to a remarkably thin bezel.
A wide stand may not be according to your taste, but it serves the purpose, and it doesn’t take much space. Also, the stand is easy to mount as you don’t need screws. Of course, you can just put it on the wall, which is an excellent option as this TV is only 2,5-inches thick. However, that means you’ll lose access to one of the HDMI ports. As TU-8000 has only three, keep that in mind.
Hidden gaming gem
Of course, there is no HDMI 2.1 support here, as this is a 60 Hz device. Yet, when it comes to gaming, you’ll be very impressed. TU-8000 has a dedicated gaming mode where the input lag goes beyond 10ms. Game Motion Plus raises it to 26. 7ms, but it’s worth it for more relaxing titles. As ALLM is included, it means that these options will be engaged automatically. Still, if you share a screen with someone while playing, know that viewing angles are restricted.
As for HDR, it’s activated automatically, and despite maximum brightness of only 300 nits, it still produces better than expected results. Nevertheless, you can’t expect an HDR showcase in this category. Of course, this model doesn’t skip the usual Samsung practice, meaning it supports HDR10+, but not Dolby Vision. TU-8000 doesn’t use the latest upscaling technology, but the results are pretty good, making standard HD content much more enjoyable.
Samsung TU-8000 is the best choice you can make if you search for the largest possible 4K TV with above-average gaming performances. As it is compatible with the latest consoles, has low input lag, and surprisingly good picture quality, you may stick with it until 8K becomes mainstream.
The best 4K budget gaming TVs – frequently asked questions
What is the optimal size for gaming TV?
The best thing about 4K TVs is that they let you see four times more details than regular HDTV. However, this also means that you need a big screen to notice the difference. For example, playing 1080p games from 11 feet distance on a 55” screen is a good idea, but things are drastically different with Ultra HD. If you purchase a 55” 4K TV, the maximum recommended distance goes down to only seven feet. If you move much further back, your eyes won’t notice the difference between 4K and HD.
The 65″ screen is pretty much the standard size in the 4K TV era, but if you sit really far away, you may want to go even bigger. The great news is that all the budget TVs I recommend come in bigger sizes, and most of them are below $1500, even for the 75” model. Of course, if you plan to use 4K as a PC monitor, none of this matters. Even a 40-inch model will be enough as you are sitting so close.
Is OLED better for gaming than LED/QLED?
As I said, OLED screens look terrific, but they are still not affordable. You probably know that they offer the best possible picture quality and perfect black levels. However, are they any better when it comes to performance? Well, when you compare input lags, you’ll notice that there’s not much difference. In fact, some of these budget TVs are faster than the current king among gaming TVs, the LG CX series. However, a few milliseconds of advantage doesn’t mean much. The truth is, you won’t see or feel the difference between 10 and 15 ms input lag.
OLED also has a theoretical advantage as it can achieve a refresh rate almost 1000 times higher than LED technology. However, this doesn’t matter in practice, as both OLED and LED TVs are limited to 120Hz. For a gamer, it’s more important to buy a TV that supports Variable Refresh Rate.
How important is it for my budget gaming TV to support 4K/120Hz?
Two of the budget TVs on my list have 4K/120Hz, and these are Sony X900H and LG NANO90. Of course, they are among the most expensive, but they still fit nicely in a budget category. Future-proofing your TV is always good, but the real question, how much are you losing if you purchase a gaming TV that is limited to 4K/60Hz?
Currently, not a lot. For PS5 and Xbox Series X, 4K/60 fps is the standard, and things are even worse if the game employs ray tracing. Look at Spider-Man: Miles Morales, and you’ll know what to expect in the future. When ray tracing is enabled, this game is capped at only 30 fps. Only when it’s disabled, the frame rate goes up to 60 fps. As the full potential of current-generation consoles is easy to unlock, don’t expect developers to somehow double the performance even in first-party games. So no, you won’t see God of War on PS5 running at 4K/120Hz nor the next Halo game doing it on Xbox Series X. Again, if you can afford 4K/120Hz TV, go for it, but know that 4K/60Hz is just fine for console gaming.
What is VRR and how crucial is it for gaming on PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series consoles?
Variable Refresh Rate is a technology found in the latest TVs that has the primary purpose of preventing screen tearing. Whenever you play a game that can’t sustain stable 60 fps, that results in tearing, ranging from barely noticeable to gameplay-affecting if the frame drops are enormous. This is especially the case with frame rate unlocked games, so it can go anywhere from around 30 to 60 or more! However, this technology is not perfect. This means that VRR is useless for games that render less than 30 fps, like is the case with Cyberpunk 2077.
In that case, AMD’s FreeSync might help as it enables Low Framerate Compensation (LFC), specially developed for the issues when fps drops below 30. Keep in mind that to enjoy any kind of VRR, you need three things. One is VRR capable TV/monitor, the other is console/GPU that supports it, and the third is in-game support. Currently, only Xbox Series X/S supports VRR and FreeSync, but the update for PS5 is coming too.
Dolby Vision or HDR10+: which is better?
We had the console and video format wars, but now we have a clash of titans regarding color enhancement HDR technology! Even though there are Ultra HD displays that support both Dolby Vision and HDR10+, there are none of them in the budget category. This means that in the best case, you’ll have to choose between them.
So, which one is better? Both technologies are doing the same thing, as they improve raw HDR performance with dynamic metadata. This means that every scene in a compatible movie or a video game has unique picture parameters. Currently, Dolby Vision does have a slight advantage over HDR10+ as it offers better peak brightness and color depth.
However, both technologies have minimal support for content, but Dolby Vision is doing better at the moment. If we’re talking about games, Xbox Series X/S are the only consoles supporting Dolby Vision while ignoring HDR10+. As for the PlayStation 5, the system is missing both, but they may be added later via a firmware update. If I had to pick between two comparable TVs right now, I would go with the one that supports Dolby Vision, based not on quality but software support.
Check out my choice of the best gaming TVs for 2021.
Buying guide for the best budget gaming TV
How to choose the best budget gaming TV in 2021?
Unless you need a gigantic screen, you don’t need to spend more than $1000 on a gaming TV in 2021. The best proof is Sony X900H, which has four HDMI 2.1 ports, VRR, Dolby Vision, and supports 4K/120Hz gaming. The only thing it lacks is G-Sync and FreeSync, later being supported on Xbox Series X/S. Also, for some of these features, you need to wait for a firmware update.
The LG Nano90 series is a perfect alternative, as it offers only a slightly worse picture quality. This is also HDMI 2.1 4K/120Hz compatible TV, and if you have an AMD graphics card or Xbox Series X, you’ll benefit from FreeSync support. This model has better viewing angles than X900H, making it a top choice for long couch multiplayer sessions.
While LG NANO90 would do a good job serving as a PC monitor, Samsung Q60T is a more useful and cheaper alternative. The smallest, 43” inch version is still big enough to see the improvements over the HD screen. At the same time, the elegant construction will make it easily fit on your desk. Low input lag and excellent color reproduction are its other best features. There is no VRR or HDMI 2.1 support, but what it offers for the price is still impressive.
Going in the opposite direction, if you need a massive screen for around $1000, Samsung TU-8000 is the best choice at the moment. At this time, you can purchase a 75-inch version that will look great even in the huge living room. But what impresses me even more is a very low input lag that activates when playing games. Colors also have a strong showing here, despite the lack of advanced HDR.
Finally, Hisense H8G is the best showcase of what $500 budget TVs can offer. Of course, this model doesn’t have HDMI 2.1 or VRR, but it provides a surprisingly bright screen and excellent colors for an impressive HDR. Very low input lag will satisfy the most demanding console gamers, but don’t forget that this is also a remarkable all-around TV ideal for movie nights.
What are the priorities when buying a budget gaming TV?
Input lag: Any input lag below 20 ms is excellent for consoles and PC unless you are a professional gamer. Everything above 30 ms will seriously handicap your performance in faster games, including sports, shooters, or fighters.
Size: You need to see all the details to fully enjoy your new 4K screen, so pick the right size and don’t settle for less. If your 65” screen is perfect for your room, don’t go down in size for a TV that has slightly better features.
HDR: Every TV on the market supports basic HDR10, but there is a considerable difference in implementing it. HDR performance is critical for gaming on PS5 and Xbox Series X/S, so you don’t want to miss out.
VRR: If you can afford a budget TV with VRR support, go for it! While this is not a critical gaming feature, it will become more relevant in a couple of years. VRR is mostly found on HDMI 2.1 compatible TVs, but also on some with HDMI 2.0b.
Should I wait for a budget 8K TV?
Well, the answer to that question is very complicated… Just kidding, as the answer is NO! No matter what Sony or Microsoft, or Nvidia tells you, you won’t need an 8K gaming TV until the end of the current console generation. It would be a miracle to get a budget-friendly 8K TV with decent gaming features this year, but even if it happens, you don’t need it. 8K gaming is currently possible only on $1000+ PC graphics cards, and even they can’t deliver a consistent 8K/60 fps experience.
What is the best gaming TV on a budget in 2021?
If you want to spend around $1000 on a gaming TV, then Sony X900H is the best choice. It’s packed with features, which include four HDMI 2.1 ports and excellent picture quality. LG NANO performs slightly worse, but if you need wider viewing angles and have Xbox Series X/S, it might be a better solution as it supports FreeSync.
Samsung Q60T is a compact TV available in 43” version, making it perfect for PC gamers. However, it also has other qualities, including low input lag and nice colors. On the other hand, TU-8000 is the best choice if you need a large screen, as the 75” inch version is only a bit above $1000. Finally, Hisense H8G is the top selection in the $500 category, as it features low input lag, bright display, and great colors.