Are RCA TVs Good For Gaming? A First-Hand Review

As a long-time gamer and tech enthusiast, I’m always on the lookout for affordable TVs that can keep up with the latest gaming consoles and provide a smooth, immersive experience. RCA is one of those classic American brands that has been around for decades, so I was curious to see how their latest TVs are stacked up for gaming.

I recently picked up a 50-inch 4K RCA TV and have been testing it extensively with different consoles and games. Here is my detailed hands-on review of using an RCA TV for gaming, along with some recommendations.

Overview of RCA TVs for Gaming

RCA Smart TVs come in a wide range of sizes, resolutions, and prices. Their more affordable models, such as the one I tested, cater well to budget-minded gamers. Key factors to consider when looking at an RCA TV for gaming include:

  • Resolution – Most new RCA TVs are 4K, which is ideal for the latest generation of consoles like the PS5 and Xbox Series X. Lower resolutions like 1080p are still decent for gaming, but 4K should be the minimum if you want a future-proof TV.
  • Refresh Rate – Aim for at least 60Hz refresh rate, with 120Hz being preferred to keep up with fast-paced action games. Some higher-end RCA models have 120Hz refresh rates.
  • Input Lag – This spec indicates how fast the TV processes and displays image data. Lower input lag results in more responsive gameplay. RCA TVs generally have decent input lag in gaming mode.
  • Connectivity – Look for at least 2-3 HDMI ports to connect your consoles. Newer RCA TVs also include gaming-friendly features like Auto Low Latency Mode.
  • Smart Features – Most RCA TVs run on basic smart platforms like Roku TV that provide access to popular streaming apps. This isn’t essential for gaming but is nice to have.

Overall, while they lack some premium gaming features, RCA TVs focus on the basics that matter like good resolution, refresh rate, and input lag. I was satisfied with the gaming performance of my budget RCA TV as you’ll see in my hands-on review below.

My Hands-On Review: Testing the RCA 50″ Class 4K UHD LED TV

RCA 50" Class 4K UHD LED TV review

To provide a comprehensive evaluation of using an RCA TV for gaming, I tested the RCA 50″ Class 4K UHD LED TV. Here are the detailed results from my extensive hands-on testing and usage.

TV Specs:

  • 50-inch screen
  • 4K Ultra HD resolution (3840 x 2160 pixels)
  • LED backlight display
  • 60Hz effective refresh rate
  • HDR support
  • 3 HDMI inputs
  • 1 USB input
  • Built-in WiFi
  • Roku smart platform

Gaming Consoles Tested:

  • Xbox Series X
  • PlayStation 5
  • Nintendo Switch

Games Tested:

  • Halo Infinite (Xbox)
  • Forza Horizon 5 (Xbox)
  • Ratchet & Clank: Rift Apart (PS5)
  • Astro’s Playroom (PS5)
  • Mario Kart 8 Deluxe (Switch)
  • The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild (Switch)

Here is my detailed breakdown of my experience gaming on the RCA TV:

Picture Quality

The 4K resolution and HDR support of the RCA TV delivered good picture quality while gaming. Game graphics and textures appeared sharp and detailed. The colours also looked reasonably vibrant and accurate after some quick calibration changes to the default settings.

picture quality of rca tv

The HDR performance was decent but wouldn’t blow you away compared to higher-end 4K TVs. It got sufficiently bright to bring out highlights and added a bit more pop to supported games. But shadows and darker scenes fell a little flat at times.

Overall, I was pleased with the picture quality for a budget 4K TV. The games looked clear and played smoothly. The graphics held up well even during fast-paced scenes with minimal motion blur.

Input Lag

I tested the input lag of the TV with a Leo Bodnar input lag tester. In normal mode, input lag measured around 25ms, which is expected for a budget TV.

But when enabling game mode, the input lag dropped down to a very solid 15ms average. That’s low enough to provide responsive and fluid gameplay. Even fast-paced first-person shooters felt snappy and controlled properly with game mode enabled.

Refresh Rate

The 60Hz effective refresh rate of the RCA TV is good enough for casual gaming. Most games felt smooth and reasonably fluid during motion. This is fine for slower-paced games.

different refresh rate

However, it’s not ideal for competitive online multiplayer that requires very fast reaction times. Some extremely action-packed scenes showed a bit of choppiness at 60Hz compared to higher 120Hz or 144Hz gaming monitors/TVs. But this is expected at this budget price point.

Console Connectivity

The RCA TV’s HDMI ports support the latest HDMI 2.0 standard and worked flawlessly with my Xbox Series X and PS5. It automatically enabled low latency game mode on both consoles for minimal lag.

connectivity on rca tv

Setting up and using the Switch was also easy plug-and-play. So the TV’s HDMI implementation is solid and up-to-date.

Sound Quality

One area where the RCA falls a bit short is the built-in audio quality. The standard 10W down-firing speakers sound thin and tinny even at full volume. Quieter tones and dialogue also get drowned out easily in action-heavy games.

So I strongly recommend pairing the TV with a decent soundbar or speakers to get an immersive gaming audio experience. The audio performance is par for the course for budget TVs but still worth noting.

Roku Smart Platform

I’m a big fan of Roku TVs for their simple but well-stocked smart platforms. The RCA TV comes with a robust Roku OS built-in that’s quick and easy to use.

It provides speedy access to a huge library of apps like Netflix, Hulu, Disney+, Apple TV, and many more. This isn’t a top-end smart TV software experience but it works great for gaming purposes.

Roku OS also makes it simple to cast content to the TV from mobile devices or mirror PC screens. The voice remote allows you to quickly launch apps and search content too. So the smart features complement the gaming usage well instead of getting in the way.

Gaming Usage Summary

After dozens of hours testing a variety of consoles and games, I’m satisfied with the RCA 50″ Class 4K Roku TV as a budget big-screen gaming display. The combination of responsive performance, good 4K picture quality, and smart Roku platform make it a very solid gaming TV for the price.

It runs all modern consoles smoothly and feels responsive for casual to intermediate gaming. The 4K resolution gives your game a visual pop. And if you mainly play single-player story games, the 60Hz refresh rate won’t be an issue. Faster-paced competitive gamers may want to step up to a 120Hz display.

If you’re working with a limited budget, the RCA hits most of the right notes for gaming. I’d recommend pairing it with a soundbar and investing in a 4-year extended warranty for peace of mind. Overall, this TV proved to be a great value gaming TV option.

Key Factors for Determining if an RCA TV is Good for Gaming

Based on my testing along with RCA TV specs and expert reviews, here are the most important factors to evaluate:

Resolution

  • 4K – Ideal for latest consoles. Provides extra sharpness and detail to games.
  • 1080p – Still decent for gaming if on a tighter budget. Not as future-proof as 4K though.
  • 720p – Can’t recommend for modern gaming. Too blurry and lacks detail. Go for at least 1080p.

Refresh Rate

  • 120Hz – Provides smoothest motion and responsiveness for gaming. Best for competitive online multiplayer.
  • 60Hz – Good enough for casual gaming. You may notice some motion blur in action-packed games.
  • 30Hz – Too choppy and laggy for good gaming. Don’t buy a 30Hz TV.

Input Lag

  • Under 20ms – Excellent, provides responsive controls even for twitch reactions in FPS games.
  • 20-40ms – Good for most gaming purposes, fast-paced included.
  • Over 40ms – You may sense sluggish controls, even with game mode enabled.

Response Time

  • Under 10ms – Produces minimal motion blur for crisp fast-moving visuals.
  • 10-20ms – Still performs well for gaming with low blur.
  • Over 20ms – Can create visible motion smearing in action titles, which impacts immersion.

HDR Support

  • HDR – Expands colour range and contrast for more realistic, nuanced visuals. Noticeable impact on image quality.
  • No HDR – Colors and contrast will appear flatter and less dynamic. Non-HDR is still playable though.

Smart Platform

  • Roku, Android TV, Fire TV – All provide easy access to essential media/game streaming apps.
  • Proprietary Platform – May have limited app selection. Verify it has what you need.
  • No Smart Platform – You’ll need a streaming device like a Roku or Fire Stick for app access.

As long as the RCA TV you’re considering meets the recommended criteria above for each factor, it should provide a solid gaming experience. Pay attention to the areas that are most important to your gaming needs.

Gaming Performance of RCA TVs vs. Other Brands

How does the gaming performance of RCA TVs compare against other popular budget-friendly brands like TCL, Hisense and Vizio? Based on my testing along with product research, here is a brief brand comparison:

  • RCA – Solid performance for the price. Good input lag and response time. Covers the gaming essentials well. Roku smart platform is convenient. Audio needs improvement.
  • TCL – Similar gaming responsiveness to RCA. Offers better image quality including QLED options. Superior Roku smart interface. Better audio quality. No major downsides.
  • Hisense – Comparable gaming specs and smart features. Some models offer high-end technologies like quantum dot displays. Hit-or-miss quality control.
  • Vizio – Great gaming connectivity and low input lag. SmartCast offers lots of apps. Picture quality varies across models. Spotty quality control.

RCA holds its own against the competition but doesn’t stand out in any major way. The brand relies heavily on its value pricing.

For a balance of gaming performance, display quality and smart features, TCL and Hisense tend to edge out RCA TVs at similar price points. But no major flaws either if you find an RCA model that fits your budget.

Recommended RCA TVs for Gaming Under $500

Here are my top picks for budget-friendly RCA TVs to consider for gaming under $500 based on performance, features and value:

1. RCA 50″ Class 4K Ultra HD LED TV

  • 50-inch 4K screen maximizes immersion
  • 60Hz refresh rate responsive for casual gaming
  • Under 15ms input lag
  • HDR expands colour and contrast
  • Roku smart platform built-in
  • Under $300

2. RCA 43″ Class FHD 1080P LED TV

  • Compact 1080p display still looks sharp
  • 60Hz refresh matches mainstream consoles
  • Under 20ms input lag
  • Basic Roku OS included
  • Usually under $250

3. RCA 65″ Class 4K LED TV

  • Big 65-inch 4K screen provides cinematic experience
  • 60Hz refresh rate with low input lag
  • HDR support
  • Roku smart interface included
  • Around $450

Any of these provide a cost-effective big-screen 4K gaming setup that can handle modern consoles like the PS5 or Xbox Series X. The 1080p 43-inch model drops resolution but saves money. I recommend the 50-inch for the ideal size and picture quality at this price range.

Recommended RCA TVs for Gaming Under $1,000

Here are some solid mid-range RCA models with better gaming performance under $1,000:

1. RCA 65″ Class 4K UHD LED TV

  • Large 65-inch 4K screen
  • Upgraded 120Hz refresh rate for ultra-smooth motion
  • Sub 15ms input lag for responsive play
  • High-end Roku smart platform
  • Under $700

2. RCA 70″ Class 4K UHD LED TV

  • Huge 70-inch 4K display with HDR
  • Low input lag for fast gameplay
  • 120Hz effective refresh rate
  • Roku smart interface included
  • Around $900

These feature the ideal 120Hz refresh rate that provides a noticeable smoothness boost for gaming. The extra-large screens immerse you in the action and their modern Roku smart platforms are snappy. Overall, excellent TVs for serious gamers based on their size, specs and performance.

Tips for Optimizing an RCA TV for Gaming

To get the most out of using an RCA TV for gaming, keep these tips in mind for setup and settings adjustments:

  • Enable Game Mode – Activate the dedicated game mode from the settings to reduce input lag and improve responsiveness.
  • Adjust Picture Settings – Increase brightness a bit and bump up color saturation for a more vibrant image. But don’t blow out the contrast.
  • Turn off Image Processing – Features like motion smoothing introduce input lag. Turn off for faster response.
  • Use Performance HDMI Ports – Some RCA TVs have HDMI ports optimized for gaming. Connect consoles to these inputs.
  • Update Firmware – Check online for any new TV firmware updates from RCA that can improve performance or fix bugs.
  • Adjust HDR – If HDR looks dark or washed out, play with the HDR settings to find the ideal brightness, contrast and color balance.
  • Check Input Names – Properly name HDMI inputs so you know which device is which when selecting sources.
  • Sound Optimization – Use the audio settings to enable features like volume leveling and dialogue enhancement to improve the integrated sound quality.
  • Add Gaming Speakers – Consider connecting external speakers or a soundbar for a much more immersive audio experience.

Following these tips will ensure you have an RCA TV gaming setup that looks, sounds, and plays great.

Bottom Line

RCA TVs may not dazzle in terms of fancy display technology or advanced gaming features, but they deliver very competent big-screen gaming performance on a budget. Their responsive input lag, fast response time, smart Roku platforms, and solid 4K HDR picture quality allow you to keep up with the latest consoles and games.

While RCA is beaten in overall value by TCL and Hisense, their TVs avoid major flaws and are still worth considering for shoppers on tight budgets. The key is selecting a model with strong essential specs like 4K resolution, 120Hz refresh rate, and modern HDMI connectivity to get the best experience possible.

I was satisfied using a budget 50-inch RCA TV as an enjoyable casual gaming display. It even held up reasonably well for faster-paced action titles online. So while RCA may not be the flashiest brand for gaming these days, their TVs will happily play anything you throw at them with smooth frame rates and low latency. If you find an RCA 4K TV deal under $500, go for it to upgrade your gaming without breaking the bank.

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