PC Gaming At 4K Is The Killer App For Ultra HD TVs

If you're an enthusiastic PC gamer, there is a legitimately good reason to buy a new Ultra HD TV. Consoles look good at 4K, but it's PCs that do the most to show off the potential of the new display tech. Last Friday, I played Project CARS on LG's new curved Ultra HD OLED TV, in glorious 4K. (4K and Ultra HD are the same thing, of course -- it's all just a marketing term for the 3840x2160pixel resolution standard.) Bandai Namco was running a special preview of the racing title, now due to be released in March next year, to show off the LG TV's gaming abilities, so I went along to give a Formula 1 car a test drive around Mount Panorama.

First things first: it looked beautiful.

This is the kind of thing that triggers entirely irrational purchasing decisions, forcing me to spend all my money straight away like water rushing out down a drain.

Pictures don't do it justice, especially when captured on a smartphone in the fast-fading afternoon light, but you'll have to take my word for it. This was probably the best-looking racing game I have ever seen, being displayed on what I am certain is the best TV I have ever viewed. Resolution is only one small part of the overall picture quality race, but as gamers the world over know from the ongoing PS4 versus Xbox One polite debate (and the constant PC master race smugness), it does matter. It matters big time.

LG is really pushing gaming as a reason to pick up one of its dozen new Ultra HD TVs being released between now and Christmas, and it's all about that screen resolution. Four times the detail of a comparable Full HD panel is a pretty good reason to pick a new TV, even if you were just planning on watching upscaled TV and Blu-rays, but if you have a source capable of creating native resolution 4K content, you'd be mad not to. And a PC gaming machine is the perfect 4K device.

In the week before, in the process of writing my review of the 65-inch $9999 LG EC970T, I spent a day sitting in front of the TV with my gaming rig -- running one of Nvidia's brand new GTX 980 graphics cards, along with an Intel Devil's Canyon i7-4970K CPU -- and playing Tomb Raider and Metro: Last Light. These are pretty good looking games, and they look even better in 4K, but Project CARS really is something else. The experience of gaming in 4K on a huge TV, rather than a monitor, is a revelation. I strongly recommend it.

Of course, you have to have a sufficiently powerful gaming rig to handle playing modern games at Ultra HD resolutions. 3840x2160 is a lot of pixels, and if you're used to playing on a 1080p panel then it might just bring your PC to its knees performance-wise. But as PC gamers and PC enthusiasts know, upgrades are a part of life, and if you're the kind of gamer that doesn't balk at spending a couple of thousand dollars on a pair of graphics cards or monitors, then the (roughly 30 per cent) price premium of Ultra HD seems to pay for itself when you consider the advantages.

Buying a $9999 TV is, on my salary, not exactly realistic. (I have an excellent Pioneer KURO that will last a little while yet, too.) $9999 is out of reach for a lot of people -- although I reckon that LG will sell more 65-inch EC970Ts than it can get its hands on for quite a while; it really is an amazing TV, guys. But that particular OLED TV serves as a halo product for the rest of the LG range -- and a demonstration of what 4K gaming can be -- and there's one particular screen I have my eye on and my wallet open for.

When LG announced its new TVs, two models stood out to me. One was the $9999 EC970T, but the other was the entry-level UB800T, the absolute cheapest model in the company's Ultra HD line-up. It's a 40-inch panel, and it's only LED edge-lit rather than back-lit or OLED, and it only has a 50Hz native refresh rate, but it has a 4K resolution, and it's only $999. Less than a thousand dollars for a 3840x2160pixel display, with the best pixel density of any TV you can buy in 2014? I'm sold. As a PC gamer looking for a new TV, with good speakers and HDMI input for my PS4, I honestly think I'll go out and buy one when it's out in November.

There's one thing that stops me from placing a pre-order for the UB800T, and it's input lag. Smart TVs have, as a general rule, made a little sacrifice in the lag between an image being created (by a PC, by a Blu-ray player, whatever) and it being processed and displayed on screen, in order to hook up an overlay of Smart TV info and let you run apps, browse the 'net from your TV and so on. (All of this is superfluous if you have a PC plugged into your TV and a good wireless keyboard and mouse, by the way.) The UB800T is running LG's older NetCast Smart TV system, and I hope that's not a problem for its input lag and display response times. I'll have to try it first hand to find out for sure.

Input lag is one of those things that can be quantified, but that you really have to experience in person to see how it affects you. As an aside, I'm playing my PS4 at the moment on an older 55-inch panel that has a huge amount of lag, and it's more than a little frustrating. But let's be fair -- that, and the (moderate) extra price bump associated with Ultra HD, is just about the only impediment I can point to as a reason not to get yourself an Ultra HD screen, if you're planning to buy or already have yourself a powerful PC gaming rig.


    $15k-ish gaming setup looks amazing!

    Well you'd bloody well wanna hope so for that kind of coin. I think the backdrop probably gives the best indication of the market they're aiming for

      But that's the second part of my story - I'm just as excited about the $999 UB800T, which looks like a pretty damn great monitor-TV for the price. And my PC is expensive, sure, but it'll last a lifetime.

        I too 'am looking at the LG 40UB8000. I want it to be my monitor/gaming setup. If my rig can handle it... I'm going to pick one up soon.

      Was about to say... Not even sure if money can buy a gaming setup that lets me play certain games at 1080p at 60fps all the time (eg: GW2), so forget freakin' 4k resolution...

        My crappy alienware runs gw2 maxed graphics around 60fps.
        Not sure what the exact fps is since i didint have fraps running.

          Try it during a world boss event. Grrriiiiinds to a halt. WvW suffers from the same thing when its zerg v zerg

    I'm definitely not getting a 4K TV anytime soon because of the lack of content as well as cost. But the Input Lag is definitely real. When i started getting into fighting games in past year or so I have had to hook up my PS3 to my monitor because it is definitely noticeable when trying to learn combo's.

      If your TV has a PC setting try using that, it should remove all of the post processing and hopefully give you a faster response time.

    4K and UHD are the same thing as far as marketing TVs go. If you work in production 4K is a very different thing to UHD.
    I use a $600 39" UHD TV for programming on, it is fantastic to have all that screen real estate.

    Does the curve actually add anything? Besides extra dollars.

      Yes, it gives a distorted picture to anyone who is not sitting directly in front of it. Definitely worth the extra cost.

    but who can afford it?

    Cmon Campbell, there are other brands out there doing the exact same things. Why not mention them?

      Because I was at an LG and Namco Bandai event, dude. That's why they're LG pictures, that's why there's Project Cars on screen. LG only launched its UHD TVs last week, so that's the relevance for me. Read the headline and the gist of the story and it's agnostic.

        2 weeks, 2 articles on LGs curved UHD OLED TVs... no comparisons.

        Hey, I'm interested and excited and love LG too. But why don't you mention another brand, a competitor, a product with similar price/specs?

        When you come out with I am certain is the best TV I have ever viewed are you really not going to mention what you have viewed, what was previously your best... anything?

        Or if you aren't going to do that, then put LG in the title so we know its an article only about LG?

          Because that deserves its own article. Comparisons aren't something I like to do on specs alone, and I have some time lined up with Samsung's 4K TVs, so it's on my agenda.

          If you're interested, the previous best TV in my book is the Pioneer PDP-LX609A that I still have hooked up at home.

    I bought a 50 inch Samsung 4k TV for $1200 last week. It's amazing. It's gorgeous. It's not so expensive that you have to mortgage your children.

    1080 on tvs never did a lot for me. It looked like my pc monitor from 2008, but huge and with really bad black to white levels. The new 4k stuff is a jump the way DVD was a jump from VHS.

    The future is now.

    i got an AOC 28" 4k for $586NZD looks very sharp with my 780 Ti

    Hey Cambell, how well is upscaling on this set. I'd appreciate some full details please.

    I am surprised.
    The latest LG 4K TV's have very high input lag numbers according to http://www.displaylag.com/
    Are you saying that you didn't notice any lag when playing on the LG 4K OLED TV?
    For me it's all about those delicious OLED blacks, so I'd rather buy the new LG OLED Full HD 55" screen instead of a small 40" 4K TV with crappy IPS panel blacks.

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