The new console generation has finally arrived, and this time it’s all about raw power. Both the PlayStation 5 and the Xbox Series X are packing some serious gaming grunt under the hood, and both are ready to be put to use with the very best TVs you can buy right now.

If you haven’t upgraded your TV for a while, the launch of the new consoles is the perfect time to do it. While this next generation of gaming goodness is going to take things to the next level no matter what you plug them into, you won’t get to enjoy some of the nifty next-gen features until you’re sitting in front of a TV that can handle them.

You’ve probably heard about TVs that can handle 8K and wondered what all that extra resolution could be used for. In the world of video games, the boundaries have been pushed constantly for years, as gamers got hungry for more and more detail and realism. That’s why both the PS5 and Xbox Series X support gaming at full 8K resolution (and can upscale to 8K on the fly if needed).

But to properly take advantage of such a high resolution, you’ll want a screen size to do it justice – you won’t see too many 55-inch 8K TVs on the market, with the starting point being a suitably large 65” heading up to living room dominating sizes from there.

What’s “Game Mode”? You’ll find a setting named “Game Mode” or similar on pretty much every TV made in the last decade or so – but what makes it so special? Basically, no matter what type of flat-panel TV you have, there’s a delay between the video going into the TV and the result appearing on the screen – all the picture-tweaking cleverness that the TV does takes a little time. That’s not great for gaming, since it can cause a delay between your controller input and the action happening onscreen. Game Mode switches off most of the picture processing to make response time as fast as possible.

Leading the pack with 8K is Samsung, who launched the first 8K TV here last year and have been refining their industry-leading tech ever since. Their 2020 range of 8K TVs includes the well-priced 65” Q800T, a TV perfect for next-gen gaming with remarkably low input lag (the time that it takes for a button press on your controller to register on the screen) giving you the jump on online opponents, and excellent brightness and contrast control to enhance graphics. The quantum dot panel boasts ultra-wide viewing angles, something that’s especially vital for gaming, and Samsung’s Game Mode offers full 120fps support – absolutely perfect for the new consoles.

Samsung Q800T

Samsung Q800T

If you’re not ready to make the jump to 8K just yet, there are still some truly stunning 4K TVs that are great for gaming – and you’ll get a lot more screen size for your buck, too. Sony’s 4K TVs have been acclaimed for years, and the X9000H continues that tradition while amping things up to a 75” screen size. That’s enough screen real estate for a truly immersive gaming experience while not dominating the loungeroom, and you’ll see a lot more detail in all your 4K content, from games to movies. It has full-array local dimming for deeper blacks than most LED TVs – great for HDR gaming – and a very fast response time for minimal lag. And, thanks to a forthcoming update to its HDMI 2.1 features, it’ll be ready for the new consoles with variable refresh rate, auto low latency mode and 120fps support.

Sony X9000H

Sony X9000H

What is HDMI 2.1 and why does it matter? Up until now, the version of the HDMI inputs on your TV has been all about keeping up with new video tech. HDMI 1.4 added support for 3D and 4K, for example, while HDMI 2.0 opened the way for HDR video (and games!). With HDMI 2.1, though, the main benefits go straight to gamers, with support for 120fps in both 4K and 8K, an Auto Low Latency Mode that lets TVs automatically switch to Game Mode when a console or PC is detected, and Variable Refresh Rate for silky-smooth gaming. Both the PS5 and Xbox Series X are equipped with HDMI 2.1, so make sure to look for it on your next TV.

PROJECTION!

Of course, you don’t need to stop at a 75-inch display if you really want to immerse yourself in your games. More and more people have discovered the visceral thrill of gaming on a screen as big as the walls of your home will allow by using a projector. We’ve come a long way from the days of super-expensive projectors throwing a dim, hazy image onto the nearest wall. Technologies like DLP (Digital Light Projection), used in most cinemas, can now be had in home projectors at a surprisingly low price. And with the growing popularity of gaming on a truly big screen, BenQ has come up with a projector specially designed for this purpose. Their W1210ST has a remarkably low input lag – less than 17 milliseconds – which easily outdoes conventional projectors for gaming responsiveness. It boasts highly accurate colour out of the box, with plenty of user-tweaking possible. And despite it being a compact, portable thing that you can take with you anywhere (it even comes with a carry bag), BenQ has managed to fit 20 watts of stereo sound right into the clever little unit. This one’s a “short throw” projector, too, meaning you don’t need much space to project a huge image (it does 100” at only 1.5 metres, and can project an image as big as 300 inches).

BenQ W1210ST

BenQ W1210ST

Variable Refresh Rate? Huh?! While games target a particular frame rate – usually 30 or 60 frames per second – when there’s a lot of action going on it’s not always possible to stick exactly to it. That can result in a problem called “tearing” – when the frames output by the game don’t exactly match your display. VRR solves that problem by keeping the TV’s frame rate in perfect sync with the game. If your TV supports it, it makes for a much smoother game experience.

SUPERSONIC

Of course, the image onscreen is only half the gaming equation – and if you’ve ever played games on a TV with tiny speakers designed for dialogue, you’ll know how immersion-breaking it can be. While you can make good use of a home cinema audio setup if you have one, for many, the expense and space demands of getting set up with an AV receiver and multiple speakers can be too much hassle. That’s why soundbars have become hugely popular in recent years – they’re a terrific way to get full-range audio into the room and silence those tiny TV speakers.

Soundbars are also an easy way to get set up for surround sound from games and movies alike. While many rely on some sonic cleverness and processing to give you a surround experience out of a single box, Samsung’s Q950T soundbar takes a much more realistic approach – by bundling a pair of wireless surround speakers that you can set up in seconds without having to deal with speaker cables. The soundbar boasts a startling 546 watts of total audio power from its 20-speaker array, with full support for Dolby Atmos and DTS:X, and fully supports 4K HDMI connections. It’s also got Alexa built in.

What is HDR? One of the most visually noticeable upgrades of the 4K (and 8K) generation, HDR (High Dynamic Range) greatly increases the range of brightness and colour seen on your TV – blacks are deeper, bright lights are brighter, shiny things are shinier and, when done well, it adds a sense of greater realism to both games and movies/TV. The first time that you turn a corner in Forza Horizon 4 and see the sun glinting through the clouds, you’ll be sold on HDR. Many – but not all – major games support HDR (and almost all 4K TVs do); if you’re going to be gaming in 4K, it’s well worth it.

If you’re looking for a soundbar that’s a little more space friendly, the Sonos range is definitely worth a look – especially since their soundbars integrate with other Sonos speakers around your home, all controllable from the Sonos app or with your voice. The Sonos Beam is great for general-purpose audio, a compact unit with easy and fast setup that’s an instant upgrade for any TV’s audio. Meanwhile, if you’re after surround audio for gaming, the Sonos Arc is the one to take a look at, with its Dolby Atmos support and an eight-woofer array for powerful bass. It can also tune itself to your room automatically.

As we head into what’s looking to be a truly exciting new generation of gaming, we’re playing with more power than ever before. From next-gen game consoles more powerful than many PCs to huge 4K and 8K displays that have been tuned and optimised for the best possible gaming experience, the future of home entertainment is looking bright (and sounding great!)

Sonos Beam

Sonos Beam

Don’t forget the HDMI cables! To ensure that your next-gen console and new big screen TV speak to each other as seamlessly as possible, the first thing to put on your shopping list is quality HDMI cables. This is especially important if you’re using an 8K-capable TV, as you won’t get 8K at all without an Ultra-High-Speed HDMI cable. Poor-quality HDMI cables can be the cause of many picture problems, so treat your shiny new console and TV to good ones! You’ll want to make sure the cable is certified for 8K – Belkin make ones that’ll do the job perfectly.