Finding the best 120Hz 4K TVs isn't difficult, because at present they're exceedingly rare. A 120Hz refresh rate is a relatively common standard for HD and QHD gaming, but you need a TV with an HDMI 2.1 port to support it on 4K TVs – something that's thankfully going to be a lot more common on this year's incoming 2021 screens.
Some premium gaming monitors have hit this spec in the past couple of years, but gamers have started scrambling for 4K 120Hz–capable televisions thanks to the recent arrival of the PS5 and Xbox Series X, both of which have the sheer power to hit that benchmark as long as your TV can support it.
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.
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.
Our top pick of all the best TVs and OLED TVs available today, the LG CX 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 CX 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.
LG also built the CX OLED to have a mere 13ms of input lag, which isn't the best we've seen but is certainly close. What particularly impressed us was that when the ALLM switched us over to Game mode, we saw no noticeable drop in color or contrast performance. Ugly visuals in exchange for higher frame rates is a consistent problem with most TV sets while gaming, but not with the LG OLED65CX.
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.
Burn-in – when consistently displaying the same logo or HUD leaves a permanent image on the screen – it shouldn't be a problem, especially with recent pixel refresher features to subtly shift the picture in place. However, those of you worried about this should check out the Samsung QLED model below...
Read the full review: LG CX OLED TV (OLED65CX)
Samsung's 2020 lineup has one 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 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.
We also appreciate the Q80T for some of its non-gaming features, such as its wide speaker soundstage and object tracking system for some limited directionality even without a home theater. It supports HDR and HDR10+, which give you bright and vivid colors, but unfortunately not Dolby Vision.
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
Another TV that had HDMI 2.1, VRR and ALLM support added retroactively to one HDMI port, the Sony X900H is also one of our top ten best TVs, ranked just behind the Q80T. With fairly low input lag and excellent color fidelity, Sony's best TV is tailor-made for making next-gen games look photorealistic without sacrificing frames.
The picture quality of the X900H is superb, particularly in 4K HDR and Dolby Vision. Packed with details and having strong backlit contrast between light and dark content, the X900H lacks the typical noise, graininess, dull blacks or other issues we often find with LCD panels. It's only weakness is that its VA-type panel, while beautifully colorful, is also best when looked at directly and doesn't have the best viewing angles.
Like Samsung, Sony also uses an AI processor to upscale 1080p content to 4K, and we were dazzled by the results in our review, both for streaming and for 1080p gaming. In theory, if a game doesn't support 4K 120 FPS, you could run it at a lower resolution for better frame rates and still have the video quality look impressive.
Somewhat less impressive is the Android TV interface, but in theory you'll be using your Xbox Series X or PS5 for your entertainment apps anyway.
Read the full review: Sony X900H 4K HDR 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 comes in last of the best 120Hz 4K TVs 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.
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.
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