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Why Does My TV Flicker When Playing Games?

As if some games aren’t frustrating enough – like with Elden Ring – having your TV flicker distracts you and removes your immersive experience. I’ve been through several gaming TVs myself and often see flashes, flickers, and whatnot, and manage to fix it all the same! So, why does your TV flicker when playing games?

Your TV flickers when you game because the refresh rate is higher than your gaming console can provide. Live features on a TV also cause flicker, as do features like VRR, HDCP, Deep coloring, and the TV’s backlight. Your HDMI cable might be faulty, so test it with other devices. 

Let’s delve deeper into refresh rates and compatibility issues that cause flickering. We’ll also cover specific TV and console features that, if they don’t match, have a high probability of causing TV screen flickering. 

Why Does My TV Flicker When Playing Games?

When you’re about to fight that last boss or finish the final lap of your race, but your TV starts to flicker, things quickly become real. It’s not always clear why your TV flickers when you game, but the HDMI cable or port, live features, refresh rates, and updates may be the cause. 

Your TV Refresh Rate Might Be A Bottleneck For Gaming

There’s potential for the HDMI port on your gaming console that connects to your TV (PC, laptop, Playstation, Xbox, Switch) to be incompatible with one another. 

For instance, if your gaming console can only support up to 50 Hz, but the TV wants to use 60 Hz, it will likely cause your TV to flicker. However, if your TV is 4K, but your gaming console does not support 4k, it won’t flicker. Instead, the picture will become smaller.  

Here’s how you can try and remedy your TV flickering with a PC or laptop:

  1. Go to your display settings and change the display to show only on Display 2 (your TV). 
  2. In Display Settings, go to Advanced Display Settings, and click on Properties for Display 2. 
  3. Navigate to the Monitor tab.
  4. Change the refresh rate to 30 Hz instead of 29 Hz. 

For Xbox series X/S consoles:

  1. Hit the Xbox button situated in the middle of your controller to open the Guide menu.
  2. Choose Profile & System
  3. Select the Settings option.
  4. Make your way to the General tab, and choose TV & Display.
  5. Go to Refresh Rate, and set it to a hertz option compatible with your TV. 

For Playstation 5 consoles:

  1. While on the PS5 Homescreen, select Settings in the top-right corner.  
  2. Go to Screen and Video and then Video Output.
  3. Navigate to Enable 120 Hz Output and enable or disable it. 120 Hz with the 

You can check whether your PS5 supports 120 Hz by heading to Video Output Information, located in Information for the connected HDMI device. If the option is unavailable, then it is unsupported. It can also help to change your resolution from 4K to 1080i in your Playstation settings. 

Test Your HDMI Cable To Ensure Its Validity 

Sometimes a simple HDMI cable or port can cause a significant issue. Try using your HDMI cable with a different TV, DVD, or DVR machine. If the issue persists, you’ll know the problem is a faulty HDMI cable; otherwise, it may be a fault with your TV. 

It’s also worth noting that a standard HDMI cable will not support 4k gaming. Instead, it would be best if you had a 4k ultra high-speed HDMI cable for the data to transfer more quickly. 

Update The Drivers On Your TV, PC, Laptop, X-box, Or Playstation

When one piece of hardware becomes outdated, it often spoils the relationship with other devices. As such, check for system updates, and if you use a PC or laptop, ensure all your drivers are up to date. 

Driver updates usually have notes stating what issues they resolve, so you can check them in case you want confirmation on a specific fix. For instance, updating your TV firmware is essential if you want to play games on X-box at 4k resolution and 120hz. 

Disable Live Features On Your TV

A TV’s live features might cause your TV to flicker, like with LG TVs. Many X-box HDR gamers experienced flickering on their TV screen until LG engineers discovered it was due to interference from the LG TV Live Plus feature.  

Here’s a guide for LG TVs, plus a general guide for other TVs on how you can disable the Live Plus feature:

If your TV was released before 2021:

  1. Hit the Settings button on your remote control.  
  2. Select All Settings
  3. Go to General and choose Additional Settings. 
  4. Disable the Live Plus feature. 

For TVs released in 2021 or later:

  1. Hit the Settings button on your remote control.
  2. Choose Advanced Settings, then General.
  3. In the General menu, go to System, then Additional Settings. 
  4. Disable Live Plus. 

Disable Variable Refresh Rate (VRR) On Your Gaming Console

The variable refresh rate(VRR) is a dynamic feature that continuously adjusts the refresh rate of your game for a better experience. It alternates within a specific refresh rate range.  

Some users report having green lines across their TV preventing them from taking any further action. They had to hard-reset their video settings using the CD and hard-reset (hold the power button) their console. Afterward, they could safely disable the VRR feature. 

Here’s how you disable VRR on a Playstation gaming console:

  1. While on the Homescreen, go to Settings.
  2. Choose Screen and Video, then Video Output.
  3. Select Variable Refresh Rate (VRR) and disable it. 

For X-box gaming consoles:

  1. Go to Settings from the main screen.
  2. Select General, then TV & Display Options. 
  3. Go to Video Modes.
  4. Untick Allow variable refresh rate. 
  5. Bonus: If you want to change the resolution, go back and look under TV & Display Options. 

Disable HDCP, Deep Color, And The TV BacklightSubhead  

Many modern TVs come with HDCP (high digital content protection), an Intel encryption system to prevent people from copying digital video and audio. 

Given that HDCP aims to prevent the video from being captured, if you want to utilize a game capture device, HDCP will be an issue. Thus, to capture video, you must disable HDCP.

To disable HDCP:

  1. Go to your TV’s Settings menu.
  2. Choose System.
  3. Untick the option for Enable HDCP.

In addition to disabling HDCP, you should also disable Deep Color and reduce the TV backlight to zero. 

To disable Deep Color:

  1. Tap the Settings button on your remote control.
  2. Go to All Settings, Picture Mode, then Additional Settings. 
  3. Select HDMI Ultra HD Deep Color.
  4. Select your HDMI input to disable its Deep Color feature.

Try a soft reset

A soft reset, is where you turn off the TV and unplug it from the wall outlet. You then usually have to wait for 60 seconds then you can put the plug back in and turn the TV on again. Performing a soft reset clears a device’s internal memory of running programs, which often clears up any technical glitches.

Try a hard reset

A hard reset involves completely resetting the TV to its factory defaults. Most TV models have specific instructions. However, if you have a Samsung TV here are the steps to follow:

To perform a factory reset:

  1. Head to Settings > General.
  2. Select Reset.
  3. Enter your PIN > then select Reset.

Note: If you didn’t change your PIN initially the code is 0000

Conclusion 

Screen flickering does not necessarily imply you need a new TV; most of the time, the issue lies with a setting on your TV or console, outdated firmware, or incompatible drivers. Ensure the refresh rates of your gaming console and TV line-up, and you can try to disable disruptive live features like Live Plus. 

Sources 

https://www.quora.com/Why-does-my-TV-screen-flicker-a-lot-when-connected-to-my-laptop-via-HDMI

https://www.lg.com/ca_en/support/product-help/CT20098005-20151113614931

https://answers.microsoft.com/en-us/xbox/forum/all/some-4k-games-causing-screen-flashingstuttering-on/28096634-73db-4f86-9814-28308e08e2a0

1https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Variable_refresh_rate 

https://www.makeuseof.com/enable-120hz-xbox-series-xs/#:~:text=to%20120Hz%20mode.-,Press%20the%20Xbox%20button%20on%20your%20controller%20to%20open%20the,and%20change%20it%20to%20120Hz.

https://www.techradar.com/how-to/how-to-enable-120hz-on-ps5