TCL X925 8K Mini LED TV review: Bring a good PC

Quick verdict: This 8K mini led TV is packed with impressive tech for gamers and film collectors but will likely disappoint regular households.

Pros

  • Brilliant image on high quality 4k+ content
  • Incredible speaker
  • Google TV
Cons

  • Poor upscaling
  • TV itself can’t run 8k video
  • Dated design

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TCL X925 8k

TCL's X925 seemingly comes with pretty much everything a modern TV can possibly come with so I was expecting to be absolutely blown away by the viewing experience. Unfortunately, it doesn't quite perform in the areas that matter to most users leaving it hard to recommend to all but the most serious gamers or film enthusiasts.


Design

TCL X925 8k review

Image: Tobias Venus/Finder

The first thing I noticed when unboxing this TV is the weight. It's a hefty one.

It's about 35 kilos so if you're thinking of mounting it to a wall you'll want to know what you're doing. The same goes for putting it on a TV cabinet. You'll want 2 people and to lift it from your knees. I tackled it solo and my back is still paying the price.

Combine that weight with the fabric speaker at the base, the shiny silver edges and the plastic black remote and you've got yourself a design that is reminiscent of those massive rear projector TVs from the 2000's. It even makes that little "clunk" sound when you turn it on. Ahh memories.

The TV may remind us of the past but the list of tech in it looks like something from the future:

  • 8K maximum resolution
  • Google TV
  • Mini-LED
  • IMAX Enhanced
  • Variable Refresh Rate up to 120Hz
  • Quantum Dot technology
  • HDR 10+
  • Dolby Vision IQ and Dolby Atmos
  • An inbuilt sound bar complete with subwoofer

It's an impressive list. Unfortunately, a lot of those technical achievements don't quite get the chance to shine through when watching streamed media.


Performance

With so little 8K content out there it's likely you'll still be using this beast of a telly to watch streaming services, most of which broadcast in 1080p at low bitrates. This means you'll be relying on the TV to digitally upscale the 1080p footage 16 times to fill its enormous 7,680 by 4,320 pixel panel.

It doesn't do a very good job.

1080p streams just seem to fall apart, especially on darker shots. A colleague recommended I try Game of Thrones "The Long Night" episode to test out the upscaling (you know, the really dark one) and when combined with Binge's abysmal streaming quality it was like I was watching a show shot on an old Nokia phone.

TCL X925 8k review

Image: Tobias Venus/Finder

I did find the brighter and less detailed the show the better the upscaling but I'm not sure many people are buying ultra high definition TVs just to stream Rick and Morty.

TCL X925 8k review

Image: Tobias Venus/Finder

It was a similar story when I switched to the 1080p Nintendo Switch for some gaming. Metroid Dread looked okay most of the time but also suffered some horrendous upscaling in darker areas.

TCL X925 8k review

Image: Tobias Venus/Finder

Again, brighter titles like WarioWare: Smooth Moves looked totally fine, and Smash Bros in particular gave me a taste of what was to come with PC gaming thanks to the TV's adaptive refresh rate providing a 60fps image throughout.

TCL X925 8k review

Image: Tobias Venus/Finder

It was once I graduated to high bitrate 4K UHD movies that I saw what this TV was capable of.
The X925 seems to handle the 4 times upscaling far better than it did 1080p and the result is a beautiful image that demonstrates the power of HDR and mini LED technology. It reproduces incredibly accurate colours, deep blacks and very bright highlights.
I made sure to watch some movies I'd actually seen at the cinemas like the shot for IMAX TENET (I still have no idea what happened in that movie though) and I can safely say it was a better viewing experience than the cinema I first watched it in.

TCL X925 8k review

Image: Tobias Venus/Finder

While this is hands down the best way to watch video on the TV, UHD discs cost around $40 each, which is a ridiculous amount to fathom in the age of streaming services and that's not to mention the cost of a dedicated UHD disc player. If you want to watch quality movies on this TV you're going to spend a lot more money than the upfront cost. Who else is missing Blockbuster all of a sudden?

So what about 8K video? As you'll read in pretty much every 8K TV review the content simply does not exist yet, at least not in any meaningful way. The files are simply too large to store or stream right now and most professional cameras still don't record at that high a resolution. We have the panels, but no cost effective way to watch it.

I did manage to find some test footage from cameras that do record in 8K, and tried some of my own 6K footage only to find that the TV can't actually play back 6K or 8K video yet. The operating system would just say "this content is not supported" no matter what type of file or resolution I tried. It simply doesn't work.
There is a very small amount of 8K video available to stream on YouTube however it seems that Google TV cannot play it back any higher than 4K either, at least not yet. The only way I could get true 8K resolution was by plugging in my high-end gaming PC.

TCL X925 8k review

Image: Tobias Venus/Finder

The TV sports a couple of HDMI 2.1 ports, ready to receive your ultra-fast HDMI cable (another new thing you'll have to buy as regular HDMI cables do not support 8K). I was honestly shocked that my PC could run games in 8K at high-ish graphics settings.

Forza Horizon 4, was the best display of this tech, with my PC absolutely sounding like it was about to take off, but handling the game at 8K ultra with no crashes. Doom Eternal was a little tougher to get going, only being able to run at 8K with low graphics settings.

TCL X925 8k review

Image: Tobias Venus/Finder

By the end of my time with this I was just opting for less graphics intensive games so I could enjoy both the 8K resolution and play the games with decent graphics settings. The 2D Ori and the Will of the Wisps looked incredible, Halo 2 was the same and even games with retro aesthetics like Inscryption looked right at home on this high resolution display.
I have to say, this TV breathed new life into these games I'd long stopped playing. I felt incredibly lucky to see them blown up so big while still being able to see every detail. This is where I felt the TV absolutely shined.

TCL X925 8k review

Image: Tobias Venus/Finder

At 8K, the TV's refresh rate maxes out at 60Hz so you are limited to a frame rate of 60.

Once you're down to 4K, the TV can output 120Hz.

This presents an interesting choice when gaming on this TV.

Do you want 4K, ultra graphics and 120 fps or 8K, low graphics with 60 fps?

Given the option, I'd choose 4k every time. My PC ran far smoother and the overall picture looked better, even with the 4 times upscaling requirement.

I must admit, even after a month of 8K gaming it's almost impossible for me to tell the difference between 8K and 4K. As a filmmaker and long time camera operator if I can't tell, I assume it'll also be true for people who don't work with video every day.

It's very cool that you can get super close to the screen and not see individual pixels. I'm just not sure how necessary that is when you're sitting at an appropriate viewing distance.

TCL X925 8k review

Image: Tobias Venus/Finder

Software

The entire TV runs on the Google TV operating system which you can find in a few other TVs and Google's own Chromecast.

I'm a big fan of Google TV. It does a really good job of serving you content that you'll likely want to watch right on the front page, gives you a lot of choice with apps, extra downloads and is fully compatible with Google home and voice assistant. It responds fairly quickly and is a smooth experience compared to other android TVs but I did find it would occasionally slow down to a crawl, especially if the TV hadn't been used in a little while.

The remote is just as simple and easy to use as Google TV. I also like that the microphone for google voice assistant is integrated into the remote itself so you don't need to shout at your TV across the room when you want to turn your smart lights off.

TCL X925 8k review

Image: Tobias Venus/Finder

Sound

The Onkyo branded speaker is the best speaker I've ever heard on any TV.

It says it has Dolby Atmos, but I think that was a little hard to pull off with how this is placed. If you're sitting right in front of it though it does give you a pretty convincing surround sound effect. Otherwise, it just presents audio in a balanced way. Movie soundtracks hit your ears with an incredibly pleasing punch, but it still allows enough room for dialogue to be heard unless you're watching TENET of course.

(Seriously, what happened in that movie?).

It's not quite able to compete with dedicated sound bars or stereo systems but it sure does the trick if you're looking for an all in 1 package.

TCL X925 8k review

Image: Tobias Venus/Finder


Should you buy the TCL X925 8K Mini LED TV?

  • Buy it if you have the best PC money can buy and want to start 8K gaming on a big screen.
  • Don't buy it if you watch most of your content on streaming services.

The TCL X295 is a cool TV to play with but is hard to own.

If you're investing in a future where 8K media is commonplace I'd still recommend you wait. By the time the distribution platforms and playback tech is actually ready it's highly likely there will be cheaper and possibly more capable TVs available anyway.

If you're buying this for the HDR, mini LED and quantum dot tech, a 4K TV is usually cheaper and will look just as good, if not better.

Ultimately, I can not recommend this as a TV for everyday households who just want to watch whatever's on Netflix. The 1080p upscaling will likely disappoint you and that's not a great impression for a TV that costs multiple thousands of dollars.

For those with access to that kind of money, plus that amount again to spare on the best gaming PC and a collection of UHD discs, the TCL X925 could be worth it to you.

If you're looking for the cherry on top of your ultra-powered 8K gaming rig this TV could very well be that cherry.


Pricing and availability


How we tested

The 65-inch TCL X925 was tested over 3 weeks as a daily-use TV at the tail end of Melbourne's 6th lockdown. A lot of TV was consumed in that time across most Australian streaming services, a number of UHD disc files and Toby's own high resolution camera footage. The TV was also tested with a high-specced gaming PC and Nintendo Switch for many hours of gaming.

The TCL X925 was sent on loan to Tobias by TCL and their PR partner Livewire Group for the duration of the review.


Specifications

Specs

Depth
471
Display Resolution
7680 x 4320
Height
558
Weight
115
Width
1,962

Features

Dolby Vision
Yes
Hdmi Arc
Yes
Hdmi Cec
Yes
Hdmi Version
2.1
Wifi
Yes

Images: Tobias Venus

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