Best Gaming TV for 2023: Low Input Lag and High Picture Quality
Looking to maximize image quality and minimize delay? Here are our top picks for the best gaming TVs of 2023 to enhance your gaming experience.
Updated Nov. 3, 2023 2:54 a.m. PT
Our expert, award-winning staff selects the products we cover and rigorously researches and tests our top picks. If you buy through our links, we may get a commission.
Reviews ethics statement
David KatzmaierEditorial Director -- Personal Tech
David reviews TVs and leads the Personal Tech team at CNET, covering mobile, software, computing, streaming and home entertainment. We provide helpful, expert reviews, advice and videos on what gadget or service to buy and how to get the most out of it.
ExpertiseA 20-year CNET veteran, David has been reviewing TVs since the days of CRT, rear-projection and plasma. Prior to CNET he worked at Sound & Vision magazine and eTown.com. He is known to two people on Twitter as the Cormac McCarthy of consumer electronics.Credentials
Although still awaiting his Oscar for Best Picture Reviewer, David does hold certifications from the Imaging Science Foundation and the National Institutes of Standards and Technology on display calibration and evaluation.
If you're in the market for a great TV, any of the best TVs for 2023 should mostly cover what you are looking for. Unless, that is, if you're shopping for a gaming TV. If that's the case, there are some important things to keep in mind. While nearly all modern TVs come with a gaming mode, which reduces input lag and keeps your image crisp, and offer excellent resolution, color, contrast and brightness (all factors that make a model well suited for video game play), a model equipped with HDMI 2.1 is a necessity for die hard gamers looking to level up their experience. If console gaming is your thing and you've got a Playstation 5 or Xbox Series X -- or both -- you'll need a TV with HDMI 2.1, 120 Hz and variable refresh rates.
Your quick reaction speeds during an intense gaming session is obviously important. There's a feedback loop connecting your brain, your fingers, the game controller and the action you see playing out on the TV screen. If there's a lag or delay, the thrilling immediacy of the playing experience will be ruined. Not to mention, your gameplay performance will suffer. Mere milliseconds is all it takes for a video signal to travel from your console through the HDMI input on your TV to display on the screen. Too many of those milliseconds, however, can be noticeable (even distracting) to your brain. And, unfortunately, they can be downright deadly to your in-game character. We mentioned input lag above. Those dreadful milliseconds of delay? That's what we're referring to.
In other words, it can take advantage of the latest graphics features available from PS5 and Xbox Series X and S consoles, as well as high-end PC graphics cards. The C2 is rare among high-end TVs in that all four of its HDMI ports support 4K/120 -- great for hard-core gamers with multiple next-gen devices. The TV also comes with a specialized Game Optimizer settings suite. It's a great choice for gamers who want an excellent picture and aren't afraid to splurge to get it.
Best gaming TVs of 2023
The following TVs, featured at the top of the page, deliver either the lowest lag I've measured among the TVs I've reviewed, the best picture quality for the money or a combination of both. Unless otherwise noted, prices shown below are for the 65-inch sizes.
The C2 has the lowest lag of any TV we've measured, beating its predecessor the LG C1 by a couple hundredths of a millisecond. It also has the best picture quality of any TV we've ever tested and is our top pick for best high-end TV for the money. With those qualifications it's easy to see why we consider the C2 the best gaming TV, period.
Note that its lag score here was measured with the special "Reduce input delay (input lag)" setting in the Boost position. Boost is only available for 60Hz sources, so you can't use it with 120Hz games or VRR. With those sources you'll need to use the Standard position, which is still an excellent 13.5ms.
The C1 was also an excellent TV that delivered similar image quality and features to the C2. We've also reviewed the 2023 version, the LG C3, but we recommend the C2 instead right now. Going with last year's LG OLED saves you a few hundred bucks and the two TVs were basically indistinguishable in features, design and image quality in my tests. The C2 will sell out over the summer and heading into the TV buying season this fall, while the C3 will drop in price, but if you want a high-end TV right now, grab a C2.
Better picture quality than any non-OLED TV
Superior contrast and off-angle image
Best-in-class gaming features
Sleek styling with ultralight, thin panel
No major picture quality improvements over the C1 from 2021
Although a few cheaper TVs deliver lower lag than the QN90B, the difference boils down to tenths of a millisecond, as you can see from the chart above. The picture quality of this higher-end TV runs circles around those competitors, however, thanks to mini-LED technology. Like LG, Samsung has a tricked-out gaming menu with indicators for refresh rate, HDR and more, as well as gaming-specific picture modes. It also offers a built-in extra that LG doesn't: Xbox cloud gaming.
Samsung produces a number of QLED TVs, but the QN90B is among the highest-end, aside from versions with 8K resolution. This is a 2022 model, but the 2023 version, the QN90C, looks very similar in terms of features and while we haven't reviewed it, we expect it to deliver similar image quality. It's also significantly more expensive.
Best non-OLED picture quality we've ever tested
Incredible brightness with minimal blooming
Stylish design, packed with features
Slightly worse contrast, off-angle and uniformity than OLED
Our favorite TV overall for the money happens to be an excellent gaming TV as well. This TCL supports all the high-end gaming extras you expect, including 4K, 120Hz input and variable refresh rate. Our tests of its gaming picture revealed excellent overall quality, in particular shadow detail.
This TV has an excellent image thanks to mini-LED tech and well-implemented full-array local dimming that helps it run circles around just about any other TV at this price. It improves upon the previous R635 series with improved gaming extras and a new center-mount stand that you can elevate to make room for a soundbar, although the new 85-inch size has standard legs. And finally, the Roku TV operating system is our hands-down favorite.
Note that in addition to the R635, which this TV replaces, other versions of the 6-Series were released in 2021 and remain on sale. The R646 series uses the Google TV operating system but otherwise has similar specifications to the R655 models reviewed here. The R648 series has 8K resolution and is significantly more expensive.
In our review of the Hisense we rated its overall image quality nearly as good as the TCL, and we actually liked its gaming picture a bit better thanks to punchier highlights. It comes in second to the TCL with worse lag, but most people won't notice the extra 5 milliseconds. Gamers can't go wrong with either one.
Its excellent image quality is anchored by best-in-class brightness that improves its bright-room picture quality and makes HDR TV movies, shows and games really pop. The Hisense uses Google TV instead of Roku, and unlike the TCL, the U8H includes an ATSC 3.0 tuner. Frankly, you can't go wrong with either one.
This is a 2022 model, but the 2023 version, the U8K series, looks largely similar aside from the addition of a 75-inch option. We haven't reviewed it yet. It's currently a couple of hundred dollars more expensive than the U8H.
Excellent overall image quality
Best-in-class bright room picture
Capable Google TV system
Slightly less refined image than some competitors
"Theater" picture modes engage motion smoothing by default
The Vizio V-Series costs hundreds less than any of the TVs above, its image quality can't compete and it lacks 4K, 120Hz input, but for a budget model its gaming chops are top-notch. It's the only budget TV we've seen that supports variable refresh rate and its overall image quality was a cut above similarly priced models from TCL, Hisense and others.
Vizio hasn't announced a 2023 version of the V-Series yet. The price listed below is for the 50-inch size.
Solid image quality for en entry-level TV
Lots of features including VRR and Wi-Fi 6E
Poor built-in smart TV system
Show expert takeShow less
How we test gaming TVs
Our TV reviews follow a rigorous, unbiased evaluation process honed over nearly two decades of TV reviews. Our primary TV test lab has specialized equipment for measuring light and color, including a Konica Minolta CS-2000 spectroradiometer, a Murideo Sig-G 4K HDR signal generator and an AVPro Connect 8x8 4K HDR distribution matrix. We use Portrait Displays CalMan Ultimate software to evaluate every TV we review. In every CNET TV review, three or more similar TVs are compared side by side in various lighting conditions playing different media, including movies, TV shows and games, across a variety of test categories, from color to video processing to gaming to HDR. Our reviews also account for design, features, smart TV performance, HDMI input and gaming compatibility, as well as other factors.
Measuring input lag (in milliseconds) is an important component of our process for testing gaming TVs.
Input lag will often be lower in game mode than in any other mode on your TV. Here are a few more gaming-specific aspects we looked at for each TV.
How to turn on game mode. In most cases, viewing in game mode isn't automatic so you'll have to turn it on manually, and sometimes the gaming monitor setting can be difficult to find. Many use a picture mode called "Game" while some, like Samsung and Vizio, let you apply game mode to any setting.
Game mode makes a difference, except when it doesn't. As you can see in the table above, many TVs cut lag substantially when you turn on game mode, but plenty don't. In general, expensive TVs with elaborate video processing get more of a benefit when you engage game mode.
Most TVs' game modes are good enough for most gamers. No matter how twitchy you are, it's going to be tough to tell the difference between 13 and 30 milliseconds of input lag. Many gamers won't even be able to discern between having game mode on and off -- it all depends on the game and your sensitivity to lag.
Turning game mode on can hurt image quality (a little). TV-makers' menus often refer to reduced picture quality. Reduced picture quality is generally the result of turning off that video processing. In my experience, however, the differences in image quality are really subtle with console gaming, and worth the trade-off if you want to minimize lag for a great gaming experience.
4K HDR gaming lag is different from 1080p. The display resolution you play at has an impact, and since new consoles prominently feature 4K HDR output for games, I started testing for 4K HDR lag in 2018. In general, the numbers are similar to the lag with standard 1080p resolution, but as you can see from the chart above, there are exceptions.
Testing is an inexact science. I use a Leo Bodnar lag tester. Here's how it works, and how I use it. You might see different lag test results from different review outlets, which may use Bodnar or another method.
Watch this: Here's what to look for when buying a TV for gaming
How to choose a gaming TV
With all of the TVs available today, and all of the technical terms and jargon associated with television technology, it can be tough to figure out what's important. Here's a quick guide to help cut through the confusion.
Price: TVs range in price from $100 to more than $2,000. Smaller screens are cheaper, well-known brands are more expensive and spending more money can also get you better image quality. Most entry-level TVs have a good enough picture for most people, but TVs last a long time, so it might be worth spending more to get a better picture. It's also best to shop for a TV in the fall, when prices are lower.
Screen size: Bigger is better in our book. We recommend a size of at least 43 inches for a bedroom TV and at least 55 inches for a living room or main TV -- and 65 inches or larger is best. More than any other "feature," stepping up in TV screen size is the best use of your money. One of the most common post-TV-purchase complaints we've heard is from people who didn't go big enough. And we almost never hear people complain that their TV is too large.
Capability: Among entry-level TVs the most important feature is what kind of smart TV system the TV uses. Among midrange models, look for features including full-array local dimming, mini-LED and 120Hz refresh rate, which (unlike some other extras) do help improve the picture in our experience. And among high-end TVs, OLED technology is your best bet.
All the advanced gaming features we've mentioned -- 120Hz input and VRR, as well as the more common Auto Low Latency Mode, aka Auto Game Mode, and eARC -- are roughly grouped under the HDMI 2.1 standard, but not all of the TVs in the charts below include every feature, nor deliver the full video and audio bandwidth that's possible with HDMI 2.1.
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 the charts below. Also, there are some important brand and model specifics that didn't fit in the chart; please check the bullet points below for details.
What is 120Hz input?
Despite TVs being capable of 120Hz refresh for well over a decade, the ability to input 120Hz is a far more recent development. 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.
VRR, or variable refresh rate, is a new TV 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 new 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 better gaming performance with smoother action and less tearing.