Are Plasma TVs Good For Gaming? (Honest Review)

In short: Although Plasma TVs are good for gaming on older consoles like PS4, they suffer from burn-in. Don’t pause images on the screen and leave them on for more than ten minutes.

Plasma televisions don’t get made anymore. This is partly due to the success of the LED TV, but it’s also because the plasma technique has its limitations.

However, if you’re on a budget, you might be considering a plasma TV for gaming. Here are a few things to consider if you’re asking, “Are plasma TVs good for gaming?”

Higher refresh rate than other TVs

In terms of refresh rate, plasma TVs have a much higher refresh rate than other types of TVs, up to 600Hz, while LED TVs tend to hover between 60 and 120Hz.

This is because plasma is an inherently better technology for response time.

The refresh rate, expressed in Hertz (Hz) describes how many times per second a picture is refreshed on the screen. The standard refresh rate is 60 times per second or 60 Hz.

However, the refresh rate depends on the content. And since most content doesn’t go past 120 frames per second, having a higher refresh rate TV isn’t very useful.

If you’re a novice gamer or a non-gamer playing simple adventure, shooter, or racing games (like Minecraft, for example), you can use a 60Hz monitor or 75Hz monitor.

But if you’re an experienced gamer and a shooter fanatic, you’ll need at least a 144Hz monitor. 

I think, however, plasma TVs are great for motion handling, like with sports and video games due to their quick response time. They’re always ready to display an image almost instantly.

Of course, this all depends on the game you’re playing. If you’re playing older PS4 games, I think plasma TVs are some of the best monitors you can get for a cheap price.

I’ve been using a 50″ Panasonic Plasma TV for playing FIFA on my PS4, and I really can’t notice any lag at all. The game looked smooth and crisp, with no motion blur whatsoever.

However, with more advanced consoles like the Xbox Series X and the movement into 4K HDR gaming, plasma TVs shouldn’t be your first option as a gaming screen.

High contrast ratio and deep black levels

The contrast ratio was one of the main selling points of plasma TVs. 

Because the panel consists of individual sub-pixels that each display their own color, the television simply turns off some parts of the screen if it wants to display a black image.

As a result, black is really black. On the other hand, an LED TV can’t achieve a perfect black level because the backlight is always on, unlike a plasma TV.

For my money, plasma TVs have awesome “inky” black levels. Properly calibrated, you’ll be amazed at the color depth and shadow detail with a plasma television set.

Thanks to the large contrast, you can see dark scenes better. Another advantage is that you have the same image quality from every angle due to the wide image angles of a plasma TV.

Be careful of permanent burn-in

There’s a reason why plasma TVs didn’t last too long at the top of the TV world, and that is because of their risk of temporary image retention and permanent burn-in.

For those who don’t know, a plasma burn-in happens when stationary images are displayed for a long time, causing permanent discoloration on some parts of the screen.

If you’re playing high-contrast games for a long time, or you’re using a prolonged display of non-moving images, then a permanent burn-in can happen to your plasma TV.

Here’s what happened to a friend of mine who played Fallout on his plasma TV. As you can see, the bottom right corner of the screen got “burned” due to the game’s Action Points display.

In my case, my plasma TV developed a faint circle on the top left corner of the screen thanks to over 500 hours of Lego games and multiple extended pause sessions with my kids.

Luckily, it’s barely noticeable unless you really look for it. I’m only pointing this out to be completely honest about my personal experience with gaming on plasma TVs.

The severity of the burn-in depends on how long the static image remains on the screen.

If it’s just 10 to 20 hours of a static image on the screen, then you can just run Pixel Cleaning from the menu which wipes the screen of any issues after being run for an hour.

In my case, however, the health bar of the Lego games remained in the corner for hours and hours a day. No amount of Pixel Cleaning will remove the image from the screen.

Luckily, it’s very faint and can only be seen if it has a white background and you are three feet from the screen looking directly at it. Keep in mind that it happens with plasma TVs.

If you’re using a plasma TV for gaming, don’t pause images on the screen and leave them on there for more than ten minutes. Turn off the screen when not in use to prevent burn-in. 

Use PC mode on your plasma TV

Here’s a tip. If you do end up using a plasma TV for gaming, make sure you set the console input to PC mode. This helps with response time, trumping even the dedicated gaming mode.

PC mode typically works a lot like game mode. It strips away a lot of the video processing that causes lag and adjusts the image quality. You’ll need to change it from the TV menu. 

Plasma TVs use more electricity

I’m not sure if this matters to you or not, but plasma TVs use considerably more power than, say, an LED TV. A 42-inch plasma can consume more than 500 watts of electricity.

So, while plasma televisions might save you some cash short term, you’ll end up paying the difference on your electric bill. Keep that in mind when gaming on a plasma TV.

So, are plasma TVs good for gaming?

Plasma TVs are good for gaming, but they do have limitations. For older game consoles like the PS4, plasma screens are great because the refresh rate and color reproduction are top-notch.

However, plasma TVs are not the best for 4K HDR gaming, since you can’t make a plasma screen with 4K resolution without compromising on the light output.

For newer consoles, like the Xbox Series X, you’d find better monitors out there.

In addition, plasma televisions run the risk of permanent discoloration when static images are displayed for a long time on some parts of the screen. This is called a burn-in.

What’s more, old plasma televisions consume a lot more power than new LED or OLED TVs. That means you’ll spend more dollars on energy costs each year.

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