The PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X are here and the holiday season is just around the corner. People interested in these next-gen consoles may be wondering if they should buy a new TV to match their new gaming system (i.e. when they can get their hands on a PS5 or Xbox Series X or S). After all, Sony and Microsoft have outfitted their respective consoles with all kinds of advanced technology that promises to deliver previously impossible gaming experiences, and part of it is based on state-of-the-art televisions.
In particular, both the PS5 and Xbox Series X can take advantage of some of the built-in features HDMI 2.1, the newest iteration of the audio / video port. The advent of HDMI 2.1 brings a number of significant improvements over the previous HDMI specification, including dynamic HDR, enhanced audio return channel (eARC) and two game-oriented features: automatic low latency mode (ALLM) and variable frame rate (VRR). (For more information on these items, see our HDMI 2.1 article on the new consoles.)
This all sounds promising, but in our opinion it might be a good idea to abandon an upgrade if you’re looking to buy a new TV specifically for the PS5 or Xbox X Series.
The most important thing to know about HDMI 2.1 is that it is very, very new. While there are some TVs that can date back to 2018 that may support certain HDMI 2.1 features, 2020 is the year the port started making real market entries. Still, few existing televisions offer HDMI 2.1 ports – and even if they do, support for HDMI 2.1 features is a mess right now. Because of this, you may not want to upgrade just yet.
What HDMI 2.1 features do PS5 and Xbox Series X support?
To start off, the PS5 and Xbox Series X don’t have the same support for the key video features that are part of the HDMI 2.1 specification.
4K / 120 fps: Both consoles can play games in 4K resolution at 120 frames per second – twice as much as the previous generation’s usual 60 fps maximum – which requires the vastly increased bandwidth HDMI 2.1 offers. At launch, there are very few games that can deliver 4K120 output. are among them Devil May Cry 5 special edition and Dirt 5.
Backward Compatibility on Xbox Series X c an support games at 120 fps in certain Xbox One titles, such as: Gears 5
- VRR: Currently, only the Xbox Series X supports a variable refresh rate, which makes a game look smooth even if the frame rate drops below a target of 60 fps or 120 fps. It’s a great option for games like Assassin’s Creed Valhallathat on Xbox Series X and initially failed to maintain a frame rate of 60 fps suffered from screen crack (although planned Valhalla Patch will add 60 fps support on both consoles). Sony says it will add VRR to the PS5 with a future firmware update.
- ALLM: Xbox Series X supports low-latency auto mode, which automatically puts a TV in game mode when a game is played. The PS5 doesn’t, and Sony hasn’t commented on any plans to add the feature.
Do I need a TV with HDMI 2.1 for the PS5 and Xbox Series X?
Absolutely not. The only requirement is that your display has an HDMI port. Both consoles can output video in resolutions as low as 480p.
With HDMI 2.1 support, things get really broken and confusing in 2020. And that’s the best argument to wait until the TV landscape comes into focus before buying a new display.
While the HDMI 2.1 specification covers new features like ALLM and VRR, device manufacturers can choose which elements to support. The basis of HDMI 2.1 is the increased video fidelity, which is provided by the bandwidth expansion to 48 Gbit / s. However, most HDMI 2.1-specific functions do not use this larger pipe because they are not bandwidth dependent. They just need to be integrated into the firmware of a specific device.
In other words: The presence of HDMI 2.1 ports on a new TV doesn’t guarantee that the display will support all of the game-specific features you might want to use with your shiny new PS5 or Xbox Series X. Because of this, two seemingly identical TVs can have price tags that are hundreds of dollars apart.
Now, if you really need to upgrade, you can opt for a cheaper TV that doesn’t have HDMI 2.1 ports, such as a TV TCL 6 series. At this point in time, the main selling point for HDMI 2.1 – 4K / 120 Hz – is an unknown quantity for PS5 and Xbox Series X games. A few years later, the HDMI 2.1 situation will set itself better in the TV market, and we’ll have a much better idea of how relevant HDMI 2.1 is to gaming.
Which TVs are best for PS5 and Xbox Series X?
With that said, we’re going to share some tips for 2020 TVs equipped with HDMI 2.1 for those who want to upgrade their screen right now.
The consensus pick for a great 4K TV that you can feel confident about buying as a screen to pair with the new consoles is the LG CX. It is currently one of the few models on the market with a full set of four HDMI 2.1 ports. Most everything else only supports 4K / 120Hz inputs on one port, which means you’d have to keep swapping the HDMI cables from a PS5 and an Xbox Series X if you had both consoles.
The LG CX is a great TV for gaming with very low input delay and supports VRR in a wide range from 40 Hz to 120 Hz – and that includes G-Sync, in case you want to connect a PC with an Nvidia graphics card. Since it is an OLED television, it delivers true black tones for an infinite contrast ratio. One of the downsides to OLED screens is that they don’t get as bright as LED / LCD TVs. So if you are planning to put your TV in a very bright room, OLED may not be your best choice. And of course, All OLED televisions have a non-zero risk of burn-in.
If OLED isn’t for you, an LCD option in the same price range is the one Samsung Q90T. The picture quality is almost as good as that of the LG CX, with significantly higher peak brightness and lower input delay. But only one of the four HDMI ports supports HDMI 2.1.
The Sony X900H is a solid mid-range option if you’re looking for something around $ 1,000. It can’t compete with the above models for overall picture quality, but it’s a great TV for low-lag gaming. While it has two HDMI 2.1 inputs that can accommodate 4K / 120 Hz content, it doesn’t currently support VRR. Sony is currently working on a firmware update to add this feature in the future.