TCL R617 LED TV Calibration Settings
These are the settings we used to calibrate the 55" TCL R617 (55R617), and we expect them to be mostly valid for the 65" R617 (65R617) and both sizes of the Best Buy R615 variant. These setting are good for most content, from TV shows to movies and gaming. For gaming, some minor changes are needed to have the best input lag, and they are listed below.
We used the Movie picture mode to get as close as possible to our calibration goal. The Picture Size was left to Auto since under this setting, the TV will adjust the picture size to match the screen size by itself.
The TCL R617 uses two separate settings to control the overall brightness. The TV brightness setting allows you to set the range of brightness of the TV, from Darker to Brighter. You should choose the option that most closely represents your viewing conditions, i.e. Darker for a completely dark room. The Backlight setting is then used to more finely tune the TV's brightness. Both of these settings have no impact on picture quality. For our calibration target of 100 cd/m² we set the TV's brightness setting to Darker, and the Backlight setting to minimum. Almost everyone will find this too dim, and you should adjust these settings.
In the Advanced picture settings, we set the Local contrast off for the calibration process, but for regular use, you should set it to High (Local contrast is TCL's local dimming option). If you find that the screen luminance changes too much by itself depending what is displayed on the screen, you can set it to be less strong or simply turn it off. Dynamic Contrast was left off, as we don't want the TV to change the contrast during our testing. Contrast was left at 100, and Sharpness was set to 0 so that no oversharpness is added to the original content. Color was left to 45 and Tint to 0, their default values. The Color temperature was set to 'Warm' since it is the color temperature the closest to our calibration goal, but you can set it to a colder temperature if you find the screen to be too yellow or red.
The TCL R617 and R615 feature new options to help motion appear smoother. The first option is called Action Smoothing, which is TCL's name for motion interpolation. We recommend leaving this setting off, but if you find lower framerate content looks choppy (stutter), you can enable it, in which case the TV will interpolate extra frames to increase the framerate up to 60 Hz. Natural Cinema is the option which enables the TCL's judder reduction feature. We leave it off for our calibration, but turning it on will remove judder from 24p content (movies usually) played from non native-24p sources such as a cable box, or even from the built-in apps. LED Motion Clarity is the R617 and 615's new black frame insertion feature. We recommend leaving this off as it introduces flicker, but you can turn it on if 60 fps stutter bothers you.
If you intend to watch HDR content via an HDR UHD Blu-ray player or via an HDR video game console connected via HDMI, you will have to set the HDMI mode to HDMI 2.0 for the port used. This option is situated in the TV inputs menu and has to be set for each of the 3 HDMI inputs. It is generally okay to leave it on HDMI 2.0 for all ports, but some older devices might not work properly. For HDR content, the TV will change picture mode to match the type of HDR content (Dolby Vision or HDR10) by itself, but if you want to be sure you have the best setting, just verify that the TV brightness is set to the Brighter setting, that the Backlight is set to maximum and Local contrast is set to High.
For playing video games in SDR or HDR, via video game console or PC, simply turn on Game mode from the Advanced picture settings menu to have the best input lag possible.
PC Mode settings
There are no special settings for use as a PC Monitor. The TCL R617 automatically detects when it is connected to a PC and will choose the settings which offer the lowest input lag possible. This includes disabling all image processing features. If the TV doesn't automatically detect that it is connected to a PC, setting the input label to Computer will automatically put the R617 into PC Mode. Even in PC mode, Game mode must be enabled to get the lowest input lag possible. When in PC Mode, the sharpness setting does nothing, it is not possible to enable add sharpness.
Expert Picture Settings
There are some settings that are only available via the mobile Roku apps. The Roku app is compatible with iOS and Android devices and can be downloaded via either the Apple App Store or via Google Play store. For more in for on the Roku app itself, you can access this page. To access those setting, you need to go to the 'Setting' tab, and then go to 'Expert Picture Settings'.
In the Expert Picture Settings menu, you can set the Picture mode, Gamma, Noise Reduction, Color temperature, the 11 points White balance calibration and the Color Space calibration. Some settings like the picture mode and color temperature are redundant and don't need to be changed again if already set from the TV settings. For our calibration and to get the best picture quality, set the Gamma to 2.2. If you are watching SDR or HDR content and you find that you are losing too much detail in the dark areas of the screen (black crush) or the white levels(clipping), you can change the gamma value to a lower or higher setting. We also set the noise reduction to off. This can be turned on if you are watching some older low-resolution video since it can help to reduce compression artifacts often present on older content. If you intend to do a calibration, then you will need to change the value in the 11 Pt WB (the white balance control) and change the Color Space setting to Custom and change the value for each color. Note that each color temperature has separate calibration data, so if you calibrate on the Warm color temperature, your correction won't be applied if you change the color temperature to another one.
The following are the results of the white balance and colorspace calibration on our unit. They are provided for reference, and should not be copied as the calibration values vary per individual unit even for the same model and same size as the TV we reviewed due to manufacturing tolerances. If you want to try them you will need to enter all values shown, as all of them are active at the same time. If you end up with worse picture quality, simply reset them to the default values.
Questions & Answers
It really depends on what is important to you. If you want a decent 4k TV and don't need the best picture quality, you'll probably be happy with the TCL. If you are sensitive to picture quality or simply want the best, the X900F or QLEDs are definitely better TVs. Whether it is worth it or not is up to you.
You should adjust this depending on the ambient light in your room, but a setting of Normal with a backlight of 19 is good for a medium lit room.
I noticed you mentioned to lower gamma if too much information is missing, on my set for some reason it look the best with gamma on 2.4 and brightness up to 51 or 52. On a black test image the first 3 black levels were missing with brightness at 50 but raising it alone would wash it out too much and lowering gamma seemed to make me lose contrast overall. With 2.4 gamma and brightness 52 it looks like I am not losing content in the blacks while a maintaining high overall contrast. Is there any downside to setting it this way?
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We do not see any downside to using those settings.
Our settings are general suggestions that work for our TV panel and are adjusted to our liking. Each TV panel is different and that's why a professional tool is required to perform calibration. However, how each one wants their screen to look, is quite personal and if you found the settings that work best for you, you should keep them.
Those are the settings that worked for us. Your settings may differ depending on your specific panel (especially the 11 pt white balance). You should absolutely adjust the brightness depending on the ambient light levels in your room.
I am using this TV with my Windows 10 PC which has an Nvidia GTX 980. In order to get HDR working in games that support it (Final Fantasy 15, Mass Effect Andromeda) I have gone into Nvidia Control Panel and under the Change Resolution section, I’ve set Use NVIDIA color settings. Desktop color depth is 32bit; Output color format is set to YCbrCr422, Output color depth is 10 bpc and Output dynamic range is Limited. The TV showed me the HDR logo after enabling these settings however dark colors on my desktop look very washed out. Do you have a guide for setting NVIDIA control panel settings for this TV to optimize HDR?
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You have done everything right. There is really not much more that you can do since HDR is optimized for dark rooms. For gaming these settings should be ok, however, if you want, you can try the 'bright' settings, but you will lose accuracy.
In HDR you shouldn't really touch any settings (most are disabled anyway) and when you play HDR games always try to tweak the image settings from within the game menu rather than the TV's settings.
I mostly use this TV for playing on my XBox one X, so I used the built in calibration on the XBox one X to calibrate it. However, that calibration test is in SDR, so when I play an HDR game,the settings change. I noticed the menus in an HDR game were very dark so I switched it from HDR Dark to HDR Normal. Should I go through and change the other settings (temp, backlight, brightness, ect) in HDR mode to match the settings I set in SDR mode?
Your comment to the question about using this with a PC said "In HDR you shouldn't really touch any settings". Is there not an HDR calibration video I should use?
The best results are with the same settings as for SDR, but of course the brightness behaves differently. You should choose between HDR Dark, HDR Normal, and HDR Bright depending on the brightness of your room. HDR Normal follows the PQ curve the closest. For everything else, the calibration is the same.
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