Our Rundown of the best 2021 gaming OLEDs

As the gold standard for exceptional picture quality, OLED offers many benefits not just for TV and movies but also Gaming. Increasingly OLED Televisions outstrip competitors for not just Movie, Sport and TV viewing, but also Gaming. We examine what features make an OLED TV great for this purpose and look at the very best options available in 2021. 

Why OLED for Gaming?

Black depth and increased detail are important, especially for games that have a darker and more shadowy colour palette. Each pixel in an OLED screen is accompanied by its own LED light source that will individually turn on, off and dim depending on what’s required for the best picture. Deeper blacks and brighter brights can be achieved through this method of lighting. OLEDs also have faster response times as the pixels can change colours quickly than in traditional backlit LED screens. 

For more on the merits of OLED over Full-Array LED, we've created a handy guide: Full-Array LED vs. OLED: Everything You Need To Know.

What to Look Out For when choosing a Gaming OLED TV

High Refresh Rate: Simply put, Refresh Rate is the speed at which the image on-screen changes from one picture to the next - and the higher the Refresh Rate the smoother the image appears on the screen. Gaming, like movies and TV shows, benefit from a high Refresh Rate as more Frames Per Second offer a smoother image without lag or stutter.
Variable Refresh Rate: More often than not, video games use 'Variable Refresh Rates' also known as VRR, which is different from Movies and TV shows that use a single refresh speed.

In Gaming, the graphics onscreen are controlled by the user meaning the time between new frames can vary depending on whether it’s a speed-driven sequence or a lower motion scene. For the best gaming experience, TVs with a VRR will perform better as they can adjust depending on the speed of input from your game console, and offer a lower input lag at 120Hz.

Auto Low Latency Mode: Otherwise referred to as ALLM, this technology is linked to HDMI 2.1 and will automatically select the lowest latency settings on your TV when your gaming console is connected, giving you the most responsive controls and gaming experience.  HDMI 2.1: Allowing more data to be transferred between console and TV, HDMI 2.1 means you’ll get more detail at a higher resolution from the game on the screen.  HDMI 2.1 is far better equipped for things like VRR, ALLM and Dynamic HDR which all, in turn, will improve your gaming experience.

The Contenders

With all this in mind, it’s now time for us to assess the competition. With so many great OLED options on the market, we’ve narrowed it down to just 5 that we feel offer the best of the cutting-edge features that make OLED so great for gaming specifically.

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Sony A90J PNG Sony A80J LG C1 PNG LG G1 PNG Samsung QN90A PNG
Sony A90J Sony A80J LG C1 LG G1 Samsung QN90A
Screen Type OLED OLED OLED OLED QLED
HDMI 2.1 Ports 2 2 4 4 1
Refresh Rate 4K @ 120Hz 4K @ 120Hz 4K @ 120Hz 4K @ 120Hz 4K @ 120Hz
VRR Not Yet - Firmware update coming Not Yet - Firmware update coming Yes Yes Yes
ALLM Not Yet - Firmware update coming Not Yet - Firmware update coming Yes Yes Yes
Contrast Booster XR OLED Contrast Pro XR OLED Contrast Auto Dynamic Contrast Auto Dynamic Contrast Quantum Matrix Technology
Upscaling XR 4K Upscaling XR 4K Upscaling 4K Upscaler 4K Upscaler 4K Upscaler
Processor Cognitive Bravia XR Processor Cognitive Bravia XR Processor α9 Gen4 AI Processor 4K α9 Gen4 AI Processor 4K Neo Quantum Processor 4K
Screen Sizes and Prices 55” - 77” £1899 - £4199 55” - 83” £2699 - £6999 48” - 83”  £1299 - £6999 55” - 77” £1999 - £4799 50” - 75” £1499 - £3199

1. Sony Bravia XR A90J

Sony A90J Blog Collage

Key Spec

  • 55” - 83”
  • Sony XR Cognitive Bravia Processor
  • Acoustic Surface Audio +
  • 2x HDMI 2.1 that support 4K@120Hz and ALLM
  • eArc/Arc
  • 4K upscaling of lower quality content
  • XR OLED Contrast Pro
  • XR Motion Clarity
  • Light sensor to match TV performance to room conditions.
  • Google TV
Limitations

  • Only two HDMI 2.1 ports, one also doubles up as eARC for soundbar so may be down to one in some setups
  • No VRR currently but due to be added in a future firmware update

 

Why it’s perfect for Gaming: 

✓XR OLED Contrast Pro for brightest and more contrasted pictures, perfect for picking up smaller details and bringing games to life. A90J also boasts a higher peak brightness rating 

✓ Bravia XR Cognitive Processor detects key focal points on screen, like faces or moving objects, and enhances this by giving it a sense of natural depth.

✓ 3D Surround Upscaling and Dolby Atmos pair with Acoustic Surface Audio to elevate your gaming audio and make the experience more immersive. 

As Sony’s  ‘Best Ever OLED’ it’s easy to see why the A90J excels at most things, gaming included. Sony’s coveted Cognitive Bravia XR processor will enhance the appearance of faces, movement and other important features on-screen, whilst XR OLED Contrast Pro picks up the smaller details that are so important in gameplay. 

Sony has yet to implement VRR on either the A90J or A80J, but this has been promised in a future firmware update. For those that are avid gamers who are unlikely to watch enough movies or TV to warrant the other benefits of the A90J, you may want to take a look at one of the other panels on our list that have VRR, ALLM and other features straight out of the box.

If you'd like to look into Sony's 2021 OLED range in more detail, please take a look at our Which Sony OLED TV is Right for Me? 2021 blog.

SHOP Sony A90J

2. Sony Bravia XR A80J

Sony A80J Collage

Key Spec

  • 55"-77"
  • Sony XR Bravia Processor
  • Acoustic Surface Audio +
  • 2x HDMI 2.1 that support 4K@120Hz and ALLM
  • eArc/ Arc
  • XR OLED Contrast
  • Triluminos Pro and 4K Upscaling
  • Light sensor to match TV performance to room conditions.
  • Google TV
Limitations

  • XR OLED Contrast is not quite as powerful as XR OLED Contrast Pro found in the A90J.
  • Only two HDMI 2.1 ports, one also doubles up as eARC for soundbar so may be down to one in some setups
  • No VRR currently but due to be added in a future firmware update
Why it's perfect for Gaming: 

✓ XR OLED Contrast and Triluminos Pro for exceptional colour depth and enhanced gaming details

✓ 4K Upscaling for improved graphics and greater detail no matter what you're playing

✓ Acoustic Surface Audio + makes gameplay more immersive as actuators imperceptibly vibrate the screen allowing for greater depth and pinpointing of sounds on screen

Little brother to the A90J, the Sony Bravia A80J still offers a number of impressive features that make it a definite contender when looking for a gaming OLED. As with the majority of Sony's panels this year, it's a great all-rounder for movies and TV as well as being well suited to gaming.

From a gaming perspective, we'd like to have seen more HDMI 2.1 inputs and out-of-the-box VRR support but hopefully, upcoming firmware updates will rectify this.

For more information on how the A80J compares with the LG C1, detailed below, please check out our A80J vs LG C1: Battle of the OLEDs blog.

SHOP SONY A80J

3. LG C1

LG C1 Blog Collage

Key Specs

  • 48” - 83”
  • All 4 HDMI Ports 2.1 certified for 4K@120Hz, ALLM and VRR 
  • Improved Motion Processing from Last Year’s CX
  • webOS 6.0 Smart TV Platform
  • NVIDIA G-Sync Integration
  • 1ms response time
Limitations

  • Hard to pick when looking through a Gaming Lens, but the LGC1 Smart TV Platform isn't quite as fast and intuitive as Google TV on equivalent Sony models - could become a factor if you use your screen for a lot of TV streaming as well as Gaming

 

Why it's perfect for Gaming:

✓ Low input lag with 1ms response time - perfect for live gaming

✓ Variable Refresh Rate

✓ Auto Low Latency Mode to achieve higher resolutions and audio quality with greater efficiency

✓ NVIDIA G-Sync integration for delivery of the smoothest and fastest gaming graphics.

✓ 4x HDMI 2.1 ports on the back of the TV for connecting multiple pieces of gaming equipment.

✓ Available in smaller 48” screen size which some gamers prefer

✓ Game Optimiser menu for quick settings changes in-game

✓ Gaming apps like Google Stadia and Twitch are available to download

Arguably the most gaming-oriented model on this list, the LG C1 has been certified by the HDR Gaming Interest Group for its attention to the needs of gamers specifically. VRR and NVIDIA G-Sync integration are a plus point to eliminate screen-tearing and lag which particularly plague lower-quality panels in live gameplay.

4x HDMI 2.1 ports again favours the gamer as multiple consoles or gaming equipment can be connected at any one time, and the Game Optimiser menu is another neat touch allowing you to optimise settings from an onscreen menu even when playing.

4. LG G1

LG G1 Collage

Key Spec

  • Evo Powered OLED Screen for extra brightness and detail
  • Gallery Design for Wall Mounting
  • All 4 HDMI Ports 2.1 certified for 4K@120Hz, ALLM and VRR 
  • webOS 6.0 Smart TV Platform
  • NVIDIA G-Sync Integration
  • 1ms response time
Limitations

  • Designed for wall mounting so is not supplied with a stand (can be purchased separately). 
  • More expensive than the LGC1 due to Evo Powered OLED screen, many gamers may find that the C1 is more than enough for their needs
Why it's perfect for Gaming:

✓ Same OLED for gaming specs as the LGC1, including 4x HDMI 2.1 ports, NVIDIA integration, 1ms response time, ALLM and VRR

✓ Evo OLED screen inserts a new colour layer into the OLED screen to display even more vivid colour than a traditional LG OLED. 

✓ Gaming apps like Google Stadia and Twitch are available to download

✓  Game Optimiser menu can be accessed during live Gameplay

Built on the blueprints of the LG C1, the G1 offers exceptional colour detail courtesy of its Evo OLED screen. Featuring all the same Gaming settings as the C1, the G1 goes one step further and could be the right option for you if you're looking for the best of the best in an LG screen. As of 2021, LG also produce all OLED screens used in any TV model, including Sony, so you know you're getting the best of the best screen quality from the LG G1.

5. Samsung QN90A

Samsung QN90A Collage

Key Spec

  • Neo QLED 
  • Neo Quantum Processor 4K
  • Object Tracking Sound + with side-firing speakers
  • 1x HDMI port 2.1 certified for 4K@120Hz, ALLM and VRR
  • AMD FreeSync Premium Pro
Limitations

  • Not a true OLED so may suffer from a lack of contrast when compared with other models in this list
  •  Only one HDMI 2.1 port
Why it’s perfect for Gaming

✓ Super Ultrawide GameView - change between 21:9 ad 32:9 screen ratios similar to a wide-screen gaming monitor

✓ Game Bar - settings menu can be pulled up easily to monitor and adjust critical gameplay aspects.

✓Object Tracking Sound + places sound more accurately in relation to what’s happening on screen to make gameplay more immersive.

✓ AMD FreeSync Premium Pro integration offers 120Hz refresh rate at a minimum resolution of FHD and support for low latency HDR playback

Technically the Samsung QN90A isn't an OLED, but rather one of Samsung's own Neo QLED Quantum Matrix Technology screens. Samsung has developed LEDs that are just 1/40th the size of traditional LEDs, meaning you will pick up more colour detail and a greater variety of dark and light tones than in a standard LED screen. 

The new for 2021 Neo Quantum Processor 4K offers auto 4K adjusting, more precise dimming and intuitive power distribution that boosts power to brighter areas of the screen and takes it from darker spots.

VERDICT

Whilst all of the options detailed above are exceptional OLEDs and QLED panels in their own right, certain TVs excel at different tasks. If you want a great all-rounder for both movie and TV use as well as gaming, you might want to consider either the Sony A80J or their flagship A90J to get the job done. If gaming is the most important thing for you, you'll find the LG C1 to be your best option with inbuilt support for VRR, ALLM and NVIDIA G-Sync. Looking to save a little and get the closest to OLED experience possible? The Samsung QN90A would be a great choice.

If you'd like any more information about anything that's been discussed, please reach out to info@smarthomesounds.co.uk, via Live Chat on our website or on 0800 677 1100 where one of our friendly advisors will be happy to help.