After the best 120Hz 4K TVs? You're in luck – as the relatively small number of them in the market makes it exceedingly easy to pick out the best 120Hz 4K TVs of the bunch.
120Hz refresh rates ensure a smoother and sharper picture, without nauseating motion blurring when you turn the camera quickly in-game. This is particularly crucial for fast-paced shooters like Call of Duty where you need to turn on a dime and react quickly to threats. But the visual boost from increased frames isn't limited to any one genre of game.
That's why we'd strongly recommend buying one of the televisions below, as well as a next-gen console, if you have the funds for both.
120Hz refresh rates aren't uncommon, being popular on many gaming monitors for smooth-looking HD and QHD gaming – but you'll need to make sure any 4K TV you're buying has a 120Hz panel and HDMI 2.1 input support to get equivalent performance. (If you're confused between '120fps' and '120Hz', the former refers to the number of frames that a game outputs, and the latter refers to how many frames the associated screen can display.)
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TV brands are cottoning onto the fact that those with a new PS5 or Xbox Series X will want one of the best 120Hz 4K TVs to show off their console capabilities in their best light, and we're thankfully seeing support for this become much more commonplace in 2021 TV ranges. LG's OLED TV range all support HDMI 2.1, as do new Samsung TVs with QLED, and premium screens from Sony, TCL, Philips and Panasonic.
We've chosen the best TVs that balance gorgeous resolution and graphics with preserving as many frames as possible. Beyond 120Hz 4K performance, we're only choosing gaming TVs that the TechRadar team gave glowing reviews. That way, you know other specs like color accuracy, upscaling tech, viewing angles and brightness are just as cutting-edge for regular TV watching as for gaming.
We also look for other gamer-specific features like low input lag, Variable Refresh Rate, Auto Low Latency Mode and video sync modes like FreeSync and G-Sync, so you have all the tools you need for those next-gen gaming machines – and whatever games announced at E3 2021 you plan on playing.
Best 120Hz 4K TVs
Our top pick of all the best TVs and OLED TVs available today, the LG C1 OLED is an all-around powerhouse that also offers virtually all the gaming features you'll need for the best next-gen performance.
For starters, all four of its HDMI ports are 2.1-compatible. Outside of LG TVs, most other manufacturers have only started adding HDMI 2.1 to one port via firmware updates. With the LG C1 OLED, you could actually plug in both the Series X and the PS5 to their own dedicated 2.1 port. Even if you only own one, we trust LG's 120Hz 4K performance more than the others, because it was built into the TV design from the start rather than added retroactively.
It’s definitely worth talking about the new gaming features on this year’s C Series OLED as that’s where the majority of the innovation is this year. For starters, there’s a new Game Optimiser setting that allows you to quickly adjust the White Stabilizer, Black Stabilizer and VRR.
You’ve also got support for ALLM when the OLED detects an incoming game signal through any one of the four HDMI 2.1 ports and a Prevent Input Delay feature that drops input latency to sub-10ms.
When you aren't gaming, you'll appreciate the LG CX OLED for its Dolby Vision and Atmos support while streaming premium content. Because of its OLED display, it handles deep blacks and contrast between light and dark content much better than LED TVs, and even has full 4:4:4 PC color. In fact, its only visual negative is the lack of HDR10+ support.
Read the full review: LG C1 OLED
The Sony X90J 4K TV sees the company behind the PS5 finally get its TVs in line. While last year's Sony TV range was marred by inconsistent support for HDMI 2.1, this year's range gets the input standard right, with two HDMI 2.1 ports for connecting next-gen games consoles.
There are two other HDMI 2.0 ports too for lower-specified consoles like the Nintendo Switch – and while some gaming TVs below have four ports at a 2.1 specification, we reckon most will do just fine with what the X90J offers.
The X90J has a 120Hz panel with 4K resolution and two full-spec HDMI 2.1 ports for your Xbox Series X and PS5, with VRR (variable refresh rate) and ALLM (auto low latency mode, for sub-10ms lag) to really up your gaming experience. Just be sure to head into the picture settings and switch on 'Enhanced format' for your selected HDMI port, otherwise you won't get the benefit of its 2.1 specification.
It has excellent image quality, thanks in part to a new Cognitive XR processor rolled out to Sony's top 2021 sets, making for excellent upscaling and contrast control. The X90J also sports the new Google TV smart platform, for easy setup and broad app support as well as the perks of Google Cast from Android devices. There's Dolby Vision HDR and Dolby Atmos audio packed in too (neither of which is found on the Q80T that previously topped this guide).
There are still a few lingering issues, including middling off-axis viewing and struggles with direct daylight – and the X90J will no doubt be beaten by the capabilities of its step-up X95J model for a small uptick in cost. Still, the Sony X90J succeeds in delivering stellar performance for a reasonable price.
Read the full review: Sony X90J 4K TV
Samsung's 2020 QLEDs each boast a single HDMI 2.1 port each, though only the Q950TS, Q90T, Q80T and Q70T have a 120Hz panel that can take full advantage of it. Of these options, we chose the Q80T as the best Samsung TV offering with the best balance of color quality, performance and price.
The Q80T's biggest draw for gamers is its 8.7ms input lag, so insignificant that your video game avatar will look like it's wired directly to your controller. You'll typically only see a sub-10ms input lag on a monitor, and Samsung only achieves this by reducing image processing. If you want blur and judder reduction, you can activate the Game Motion Plus mode and get a respectable 19.7ms lag.
Samsung TVs are also well regarded for their AI upscaling. They can take SD or HD content, intelligently work out what something is on screen, compare the object against Samsung's texture database, and then fill in the missing pixels to upscale to 4K while looking more naturally high-resolution. This ironically makes Samsung TVs just as good for retro consoles as for next-gen ones.
Feel free to consider the rest of Samsung's lineup based on your budget. The Q90T, while superior thanks to its FALD panel and 2000 nits of brightness, is just too expensive for most shoppers and has some issues with some modes still being too dark. The Q70T is a more affordable option with the same performance specs, but its edge lighting reduces the color quality, particularly deep blacks in unlit rooms.
We suggest you ignore the $13,000 8K Q950TS QLED unless you just won the lottery, but it does at least work with both consoles' 8K modes.
Read the full review: Samsung Q80T QLED TV
A more affordable mid-range alternative to the LG CX OLED, the LG Nano 90 has two HDMI 2.1 ports with VRR and ALLM, making the LCD TV perfectly suited to handle both next-gen consoles at once if you somehow snag both. We measured the Game mode input lag at 18ms, at the higher end of our list but still at the low end at which you'll easily get accustomed.
The Nano 90 doesn't top our best 120Hz 4K TV guide in part because we noted some issues with its backlighting during our review. Bright objects can produce some blooming, the backlight can sometimes turn off entirely during dark scenes then visibly flicker back to life, and it doesn't perform as well in dark rooms. It also isn't as reliable with upscaling as its rivals on this list.
Despite this, we still found plenty of upsides to the LG Nano 90. It has excellent HDR-quality viewing angles from the side, it uses tiny 'Nanocell' dots that filter out unwanted color wavelengths so color fidelity is highly accurate, it performs decently well with contrast despite a limited number of dimming zones, and the build-in speakers impressed us.
Read the full review: LG Nano 90 (65NANO906)
While we've focused our list on TVs that can handle 120Hz in 4K, we're including the TCL 6-Series QLED TV, which can hit 4K and 120Hz separately but only reaches 60Hz for UHD content. Our TV picks above are fairly expensive unless you buy the smallest models, so we wanted to include a more affordable, sub-$1000 4K TV in the mix for gamers who care more about frame rates and less about resolution.
Another one of our top ten TV picks, the TCL 6-Series can support 120 FPS in 1440p thanks to its unique THX Certified Game Mode. That benchmark happens to be the maximum spec for the Xbox Series S, making the budget next-gen console and budget TV a match made in heaven.
We appreciate the 6-Series for its near-bezelless design, Roku TV OS, MiniLED backlight for excellent performance of black colors, quantum dot coloring, and other touches that make it pleasant to look at. Gamers will also appreciate that these TVs enable VRR and ALLM despite the lack of HDMI 2.1 ports.
Read the full review: TCL 6-Series QLED TV with Mini LED
The Samsung QN95A is the company’s new flagship Neo QLED 4K TV for 2021, and the first to embrace a Mini LED backlight. It's a bit pricier than most models in this list – but if you have the cash for the best Samsung TV out there, the QN95A will serve you well.
There’s a host of cutting-edge gaming features that’ll please next-gen console owners, all part of the new Slim One Connect box that ships with the QN95A.
The box houses four HDMI inputs, one of which (HDMI 3) supports eARC. All of the HDMI inputs are capable of handling up to 40Gbps, which means they can accept 4K/120Hz, VRR and ALLM. While not full HDMI 2.1 connections, they offer sufficient bandwidth, making this TV a great choice for next-gen gamers who want to take full advantage of their new console.
The results speak for themselves, with superb SDR and HDR images that benefit from deep blacks and brighter highlights, all of which are delivered without blooming or loss of shadow detail (thanks to the Mini LED backlight). The inclusion of quantum dot technology delivers saturated and nuanced colours, too.
The OTS+ audio system packed into this 120Hz means you're getting some impactful 4.2.2 channel sound from your games too.
Read the full review: Samsung QN95A Neo QLED TV
120Hz panel: why does it matter?
Do refresh rates really matter enough to justify buying a new television set? We'd argue that without an advanced television, the upgraded hardware in your new Sony or Microsoft console becomes superfluous. All that power won't translate into better performance unless your TV can support it.
Hertz, or refresh rate, determines the number of frames that your television can display per second. Because both the PS5 and Xbox Series X can generate 120 frames per second (fps) in 4K UHD resolution, you need a television panel that works up to 120 Hertz to make that mode work.
Your current 4K TV likely can only support 60Hz/4K. That worked perfectly well with the Xbox One X and PS4 Pro, both of which could hit 60FPS in 4K for some games. Yet if you upgrade to the latest console, your frame rate can't substantially improve unless you play at a lower resolution like 1440p. So you won't see the performance boost you might be expecting.
With a higher max Hz in 4K, you'll see a smoother and sharper output on the television with less nauseating motion blurring when you turn the camera quickly in-game. This is particularly handy for fast-paced shooters like Call of Duty where you need to turn on a dime and react quickly to threats. But the visual boost from increased frames isn't limited to any one genre of game.
That's why we'd strongly recommend buying one of the televisions below if your budget can afford it and a next-gen console.
HDMI 2.1: What does it do?
HDMI 2.1 is a more powerful data transfer standard that improves your television's capacity to handle high refresh rates and resolutions simultaneously. That said, this new standard also adds two other important gaming features by default: Variable Refresh Rate (VRR) and Auto Low Latency Mode (ALLM).
VRR is a tool that enables your TV to automatically adjust its Hz based on the output from your gaming console. While the Xbox Series X and PS5 offer a 120Hz 4K maximum, individual games' frame rates will fluctuate and drop based on what's happening on screen. The more frames you drop, the more tearing and stuttering you'll see as the television tries to adjust.
With VRR activated, your television will adjust its refresh rate on the fly so it never deviates from the game's fps output. That way, even if the game performance is struggling, the gameplay will remain smooth and seamless.
As for ALLM, it detects when you're playing a video game and adjusts your TV settings on the fly to reduce input lag as much as possible. It's a simple but essential feature that ensures you don't need to switch manually from Game to Cinema mode over and over.
If you're looking to buy a new television for gaming, HDMI 2.1 future-proofs your set so it can handle the latest in console tech for years to come.
The importance of 120Hz devices
It's worth noting that, just as 4K TVs require 4K sources to output in native 4K, a 120Hz TV will need 120Hz gaming or video to really get the most of out of its capabilities.
Many of the best streaming devices will come with 120Hz as standard, as with the Apple TV 4K (2021) or Nvidia Shield TV – though many more budget models and streaming sticks may be capped at 30fps or 60fps. So it's important to make sure that every link in the chain can match the specs you're hoping to utilise in your screen.
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