Whether you're on a strict budget or you're looking for the best cheap 4k TV, you don't have to spend a ton of money to get a decent display 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 if you want to look for the best cheap smart TV. You can also find these models in a wide range of sizes, so you aren't limited to just small sizes.
We've bought and tested more than 370 TVs under the latest test bench, and below you'll find the best budget TVs to buy. See our recommendations for the best TVs under $500, the best TVs under $1,000, and the best smart TVs.
The best budget TV we've tested is the Hisense U6H. It's a very good overall TV that offers great value for its cost, and it has features and performance that some more expensive options can't match. It's available in a wide range of sizes, from 50 to 75 inches, and all the sizes offer the same performance, except for the 75-inch model, which has a different panel type with worse picture quality. It's a great TV for watching movies as it has a high native contrast ratio and it has a decent local dimming feature to further improve the black levels. Even for watching HDR content, it displays a wide range of colors and has okay peak brightness, but as expected for a budget TV, not all highlights pop.
As for watching content in well-lit rooms, it doesn't have issues getting bright enough to fight glare, and the reflection handling is good, so visibility isn't a problem. If you watch your favorite shows from a cable box, it doesn't have any issues upscaling lower-resolution content, and if you want to stream stuff, the built-in Google TV interface is easy to use and has a ton of apps you can download.
If you instead prefer looking for the best cheap TV because you're on a strict budget, there are a few options that you can find with okay performance. Something like the Insignia F50 QLED is an okay TV, but there are a few trade-offs for getting a cheap TV. It doesn't have a local dimming feature like the Hisense U6H, so its overall picture quality isn't as good, but this is what you have to expect. It still has an excellent contrast ratio, and its black uniformity is good, meaning content looks great in dark rooms. While its reflection handling and SDR peak brightness are both just decent, it performs well in rooms with a few lights around, but don't place it opposite a bright window.
One advantage this TV has over other cheap models is that it uses the same quantum dot technology as the Hisense. It means that it displays a very wide range of colors in HDR to make images look life-like, and it has great out-of-the-box accuracy in SDR. There are a few drawbacks, as it doesn't properly upscale 480p content, but that's only a problem if you still watch DVDs, and it isn't an issue with streaming content.
While you can get the Insignia F50 QLED in a 70-inch size and the Hisense U6H in a 75-inch size, the 75-inch model of the Hisense performs differently, so if you're looking for the best budget-friendly TV in a large size, the TCL 75S455 is a good choice. You'll have to pay a bit more for a big TV, but it's still cheaper than other models available in this size, and if you want to spend more money, you can even get the 85-inch model. It's an okay overall display with Roku built-in as its smart platform, allowing you to stream your favorite content easily, as the interface is user-friendly.
Picture quality isn't much different from the Insignia because it displays deep blacks with remarkable black uniformity, but it lacks a local dimming feature and doesn't get bright. There are a few differences, as it has worse out-of-the-box accuracy and doesn't display as many colors in HDR. However, it doesn't have any issues upscaling lower-resolution content and displays 4k content without problems.
If you have the PS5 or Xbox Series X, you'll want a TV with a few gaming features. While the Hisense U6H has gaming features like variable refresh rate (VRR) support, the TCL 5 Series/S546 2021 QLED also has that, and it has better motion handling, making it the best low-cost TV for gaming. You can play 4k games up to 60Hz without issue on the PS5 and Xbox Series X, but unlike some more expensive options, you can't play games up to 120Hz as its refresh rate is limited to 60Hz, and it doesn't support HDMI 2.1 bandwidth. However, this is normal for a budget TV, and you'll have to spend more if you want these premium gaming features.
It has low input lag for a responsive feel while gaming, so you won't notice any delay. It looks great while gaming in dark rooms as it displays deep blacks and has a full-array local dimming feature, but it doesn't do much to improve the picture quality in dark scenes. It doesn't worsen the picture quality either, which is great, and there's minimal blooming around bright objects.
Oct 11, 2022: Replaced the Hisense U6G with the newer Hisense U6H; replaced the Amazon Fire TV Omni Series with the Insignia F50 QLED and the TCL 4 Series/S455 in separate 'Best Cheap' and 'Best Large' categories; removed the TCL 5 Series/S535 2020 QLED and the LG UP8000 because they don't line up with user needs; updated Notable Mentions based on changes.
Jul 29, 2022: Renamed the Amazon Fire TV Omni Series to 'Best Cheap Large TV' and removed the Samsung AU8000; replaced the TCL 5 Series/S546 with the Vizio M7 Series for consistency; renamed the TCL 5 Series/S535 2020 to 'Best For Movies' to reflect user needs; updated Notable Mentions based on changes.
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.
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, with a price limit of $600. 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.