You don't have to spend a ton of money to get a decent 4k TV that's good enough for watching your favorite shows and movies. Today, even cheap and budget-friendly TVs can deliver a decent viewing experience for most uses, and many of them have great smart features, eliminating the need to spend more on an external streaming device. Whether you're looking for a small TV for a guest room or a large TV on a budget, there's something for everyone.
We've tested more than 100 TVs under the latest test bench, and below you'll find the best budget TVs to purchase. See our recommendations for the best TVs under $500, the best TVs under $1,000, and the best smart TVs.
The best TV we've tested in the budget category is the Hisense U6G. It's a great option that's the best value TV in terms of its price and performance, as it delivers excellent picture quality that rivals more expensive options. It's great for watching SDR or HDR movies in dark rooms, and although it lacks many advanced gaming features, casual gamers should still enjoy its performance.
It's available in a wide range of sizes, from 50 to 75 inches, so you can get the one that suits your setup and needs the most. This TV displays deep blacks, and combined with its decent full-array local dimming feature, it delivers superb dark room performance as blacks appear as they should, and there's only a bit of blooming around bright objects. It also features a great smart interface as the included Android TV is user-friendly, and you can use the built-in Google Chromecast to cast anything you want from your phone.
Sadly, it's not a good choice for wide seating arrangements because the image looks washed out from the sides due to the narrow viewing angle. It also lacks variable refresh rate (VRR) support and is limited to a 60Hz panel, but gaming still feels responsive thanks to its quick response time and low input lag. All in all, it's the best all-around budget TV we've tested.
The best TV for wide seating areas that we've tested is the LG UP8000. It's an entry-level model that sits below LG's Nano Series TVs, so while it doesn't have as many features or as good performance as the higher-end models, it's still okay. It has the same excellent LG webOS interface with lots of apps available to download, and you get the easy-to-use Magic Remote, which has a point-and-press function.
What makes this a better choice for wide seating areas than the Hisense U6G is that it has a wider viewing angle, so the image remains accurate from the side. This means that you can easily catch the big game or watch a show with a large group of people, and everyone will see the same accurate image. It doesn't have any trouble upscaling lower-resolution content and has decent out-of-the-box accuracy, meaning you won't need to get it calibrated unless you need the most accurate colors.
Sadly, it's not the brightest TV, so highlights don't pop in HDR. Also, because it has a low contrast ratio and lacks a local dimming feature, blacks look gray in the dark, meaning it's not a good choice for watching movies. If that isn't a problem for you, it's still a reliable budget-friendly TV that's good for a wide seating arrangement.
The Vizio M7 Series Quantum 2021 is the best budget gaming TV we've tested. It's a good overall TV with a few extra gaming features like FreeSync VRR support to reduce screen tearing. However, it's limited to a 60Hz panel and has HDMI 2.0 bandwidth, meaning you can't use it for high-frame-rate gaming, but that's normal for a budget TV.
Gaming feels smooth and responsive, thanks to its low input lag and quick response time. Motion looks good for the most part, but like other TVs with VA panels, the response time in dark transitions is slow, leading to black smearing with dark objects. It has a flicker-free backlight with the brightness at its maximum, but below the maximum brightness, it flickers at 480Hz, which can cause duplication in movement. If that bothers you, there's an optional backlight strobing feature to reduce persistence blur, but it also causes the screen to look darker.
Unfortunately, while it's good for HDR gaming, it's not the best TV out there for that. Although it displays a very wide color gamut and has excellent gradient handling, its HDR peak brightness is disappointing, and small highlights are dimmed. Also, its local dimming doesn't do much to improve the picture quality in dark scenes. If that doesn't bother you, it's the best budget gaming TV.
The TCL 5 Series/S535 2020 QLED is the best cheap smart TV we've tested with Roku TV as its smart interface. Although some people may prefer certain operating systems over others, Roku TV is generally regarded as one of the more user-friendly options. Menu navigation feels smooth, there are lots of apps available to download, and you can cast content from your phone onto the TV.
It performs best in dark rooms because it has a high native contrast ratio and decent local dimming. The black uniformity is good as there's minimal blooming around bright objects. It doesn't have any trouble upscaling lower-resolution content, making it a good choice for watching cable TV, and it has great out-of-the-box accuracy. It doesn't have extra gaming features like VRR support, but it has a quick response time and low input lag.
Unfortunately, it's not the best choice for viewing in well-lit rooms because it doesn't get very bright. Its reflection handling is only just decent, so glare is an issue if you have too many lights on it. Also, despite displaying a wide color gamut for HDR content, it doesn't get bright enough to make highlights stand out, but it still provides a very good HDR experience and supports Dolby Vision. All in all, it's the best budget Roku TV.
The Samsung UN85AU8000FXZA is the best large budget TV. Unlike the other TVs in this recommendation, it's available in an 85 inch size, which we expect to perform like the 65 inch model we tested. It's a decent overall TV that offers good picture quality for most people. The built-in Tizen OS is also easy-to-use and has a ton of apps you can download.
It's good for watching TV shows on the big screen because it doesn't have any issues upscaling lower-resolution content, like from SD or HD cable channels. It also has impressive reflection handling and okay SDR peak brightness. While we don't suggest placing it opposite a bright window, visibility won't be an issue in rooms with a few lights around. In terms of dark room performance, its VA panel has a great native contrast ratio and excellent black uniformity. It lacks a local dimming feature to further improve the black levels.
Sadly, it doesn't provide a good HDR experience because it can't display a wide color gamut and doesn't get bright enough to make highlights pop. It lacks advanced gaming features like VRR support, and motion looks blurry with black smearing caused by a slow response time in dark transitions. If that isn't an issue for you, it's one of the best budget TVs.
The best cheap 4k TV we've tested is the Amazon Fire TV Omni Series. If you're on a tight budget and can't afford to get a TV like the Hisense U6G, there are still cheaper options with okay overall performance. It comes with the Fire TV platform, which has a user-friendly smart interface.
It's available in a wide range of sizes, from 43 to 75 inches, and for the most part, the smaller sizes perform like the 65 inch model we tested, but the 43, 50, and 55 inch versions don't support Dolby Vision. It looks good in dark rooms as it has an excellent native contrast for deep blacks, and there isn't too much blooming around bright objects, but it doesn't have a local dimming feature to improve it. It even has eARC support, so you can connect a receiver or soundbar and pass high-quality Dolby Atmos signals to enhance your movie-watching experience.
Sadly, it doesn't display a wide range of colors in HDR, and it doesn't get bright enough to deliver an impactful HDR experience. Also, it's not as good as other TVs at upscaling 480p and 720p content, as it stretches out the image, but it's still fine if you watch SD or HD cable channels. Besides that, it's the best cheap TV we've tested.
Apr 11, 2022: Moved the LG UP8000 to its own category as the 'Best For Wide Seating Areas' for consistency; replaced the Hisense A6G with the Amazon Fire TV Omni Series because it's better overall; added the Amazon Fire TV 4-Series to Notable Mentions.
Feb 10, 2022: Updated text for clarity and updated Notable Mentions based on market availability.
Dec 13, 2021: Added the Samsung AU8000 as 'Best Large TV' for consistency with other recommendations; added the Hisense U7G, Hisense U6GR, TCL 5 Series/S546, and the Amazon Fire TV Omni Series to Notable Mentions.
Oct 22, 2021: Updated the text for clarity; added the Vizio M6 Series Quantum 2021 to Notable Mentions.
Sep 24, 2021: Moved the LG UP8000 to the Wide Viewing Angle Alternative to the U6G and added the Vizio M7 Series Quantum 2021 as Best for Gaming; moved the Vizio M7 2020 to Notable Mentions.
Our recommendations above are what we think are currently the best cheap TVs to buy for most people. We factor in the price (a cheaper TV wins over a pricier one if the difference isn't worth it), feedback from our visitors, and availability (no TVs that are difficult to find or almost out of stock everywhere).
If you would like to do the work of choosing yourself, here is the list of all our TV reviews, sorted by price low to high. Be careful not to get too caught up in the details. While no TV is perfect, most TVs are great enough to please almost everyone, and the differences are often not noticeable unless you really look for them.