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4K HDR Gaming Explained

The latest consoles and gaming TVs have brought 4K HDR gaming to the masses. Now, the new Xbox Series X continues the HDR gaming revolution. We explore how 4K HDR gaming works with the new Xbox, as well as looking at LG OLED TVs for gaming.

What is 4K Gaming?

4K is the current standard for TVs. Packing over 8 million pixels into a single display, it offers four times the detail of Full HD. When you buy a new TV today, whether it’s an LED or an OLED model, it’s likely to boast 4K resolution. Several premium 2020 LG TVs go further with 8K resolution after we first introduced it in 2019. But in terms of gaming, 8K is more about the future.

4k gaming tvs

4K Gaming Basics

When talking about 4K gaming, TVs, consoles and games are the main components. But there are two main types of 4K gaming to consider, which involve whether you are seeing proper 4K content or enhanced HD content:

  • 4K Upscaling

    HD games (encoded for 1080p) that are not in native 4K are upscaled

  • Native 4K

    Native 4K games run on the console in full 4K resolution

Current gen 4K consoles, such as the Xbox One X, were among the first to offer native 4K capabilities. Now, the new Xbox Series X takes things further with 4K gaming at up to 120 frames per second (FPS).

But it’s important to point out that you need a 4K gaming TV – be it LED or OLED – as well as your console. For native 4K content you also need the right games, but more on that later.

HDR for Gaming

When you’re looking at 4K TVs, games and consoles, you’ll also notice the phrase HDR. It’s an acronym that stands for High Dynamic Range, and it goes hand in hand with 4K to deliver enhanced picture quality – whether you’re watching Netflix or playing Xbox.

What is HDR?

Originally a photography term, HDR greatly expands the contrast ratio – the difference between the brightest and darkest shades your TV can achieve – and the colour palette. The difference between the brightest and darkest is also known as the dynamic range.

Netflix and Prime Video series, as well as the latest movies and Blu-rays, are increasingly released in HDR. And the latest TVs play back content in the various HDR formats.

Popular HDR formats

  • Dolby Vision

    The biggest format in Hollywood. The technology uses dynamic metadata to adjust the HDR image frame by frame for the best possible experience

  • HDR10

    The original and most commonly used version of HDR – the current industry standard for 4K TVs

  • Hybrid Log Gamma (HLG)

    Used when filming TV broadcasts. It’s an HDR standard developed by the BBC and Japanese broadcaster NHK

HDR gaming and its benefits

Like moviemakers and Netflix, game developers and console manufacturers have brought HDR into their industry. Why? Because HDR for gaming enables them to create better experiences for their players. Benefits of HDR gaming:

  • Creates brilliant bright whites and colours
  • Colours are deeper and boast richer contrast
  • Games are more vibrant and realistic
  • Detail retained at darkest shades for shadowy scenes
  • Colour palette increased to over one billion

Xbox HDR Gaming

As well as being a 4K console, Xbox consoles have been HDR compatible since the Xbox One X and Xbox One S. And the story of HDR in gaming continues with the Xbox Series X.

The Xbox Series X introduces new technology that will automatically add HDR support to games without impacting the game’s performance. And it can be applied to old Xbox 360 games too, bringing noughties consoles into the 2020s.

Learn more about Xbox Series X and HDR

What about the games?

You’ve got the console, now you need the games. Many new releases deliver native 4K resolution for stunning picture quality. Other games are upscaled for a better experience.

Take Xbox One X. Games that were compatible with the 4K treatment carried the Xbox One X Enhanced label, so people knew. Xbox Enhanced games are either ‘updated or built specifically’ for the ultimate gaming experience.

Games for the Xbox Series X carry another label, Optimised for Series X. Titles include Assassin's Creed Valhalla and Forza Horizon 4.

Gaming TVs for 4K HDR

You’ve got the console, you’ve got the games. See them at their best with a 4K HDR TV. LG OLED TVs are packed with HDR gaming friendly features, including 4K HDR and powerful technology to reduce tearing. OLED gaming TVs include…

  • OLED technology

    Self-lit pixels deliver deep and rich blacks and excellent contrast. Super-fast refresh rates keep the action smooth with no ghosting

  • HGiG

    With gaming industry standard compatibility for HDR, you can enjoy HDR graphics that are tweaked to suit the performance of your TV.

  • FreeSync

    Experience blazingly fast gameplay with technology that eliminates image tearing and stuttering by matching its display output with your console

  • ALLM

    (Auto low latency mode): Tap the controller and see your actions on-screen with minimal delay between command and action

  • Game Mode

    Games stay smooth with the reduced latency, motion blur and ghosting thanks to these special LG OLED gaming settings

Ready to explore?

Learn more about LG OLED TVs for HDR gaming and explore the different models.

Learn more