You don't have to spend a small fortune to get a decent TV. Today, even cheap 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 80 TVs under the latest test bench, and below you'll find the best cheap TVs to purchase. See also our recommendations for the best TVs under $500, the best TVs under $1,000, and the best smart TVs.
The Hisense U6G is the best budget TV that we've tested. Although it's an entry-level 2021 ULED model, it offers great overall performance and the best value TV for its price. It performs well in both dark and bright environments, and it's fairly well-built and should look nice in any living room setup.
It's great for gaming because the response time is great, so motion looks smooth, and even though it has a black frame insertion feature to try to reduce any motion blur, it results in some image duplication. It's limited to a 60Hz panel, doesn't support VRR, and has HDMI 2.0 inputs, so you can't use the PS5 and Xbox Series X to their full capabilities. On the plus side, input lag is really low for a responsive gaming experience. It also has a VA panel with a high contrast ratio, incredible black uniformity, and the full-array local dimming feature performs fairly well in both Game Mode and outside of it.
Sadly, it has narrow viewing angles, which is expected from a VA panel, so it's not a good choice for wide seating areas. The backlight flickers, but it's at such a high frequency that you shouldn't notice it. It displays a wide color gamut, and although its HDR brightness is okay and makes some highlights stand out, it may not be enough for a true HDR experience. If that doesn't bother you, it's the best budget TV we've tested.
If you're a gamer and prefer something with variable refresh rate support for a nearly tear-free gaming experience, then check out the Vizio M7 Series Quantum 2020. It doesn't get as bright as the Hisense U6G, so it's not as good of a choice for gaming in a well-lit room. In a dark room, it has the same VA panel type with a high contrast, and it has a full-array local dimming feature, but it's not very effective at improving the contrast. In terms of gaming, it has low input lag, a quick response time, and a black frame insertion feature to reduce motion blur. Unfortunately, it's not the best for HDR gaming because it doesn't get bright enough to truly make highlights pop.
If you want the best budget TV, you should be happy with the Hisense, but if you prefer something with VRR support, then check out the Vizio.
The LG UP8000 is the best budget TV for those with wide seating areas. Most of the sizes have an IPS-like panel with wide viewing angles, so the image remains accurate when viewing from the sides, but keep in mind that there are some variants with VA panels instead. Those models would have narrow viewing angles, but we haven't tested those.
It comes with the same great smart interface as other LG TVs, which is easy to use and has a ton of apps available to download. The Magic Remote has a point-and-press feature, so you can use it like a Wii remote, and it makes navigating through the menu easier because you can just point at which app you want to open. If you watch cable TV or any other lower-resolution content, it doesn't have any trouble with upscaling. Although it doesn't get extremely bright, it still has good reflection handling so it's fine if you want to place it in a room with a few lights around.
Sadly, the models with the IPS panels don't deliver a good movie experience because of the low contrast ratio. This means that blacks look gray in the dark and there's no local dimming feature to improve it. Also, it can't display a wide color gamut and fails to make highlights pop the way the creator intended in HDR. If that doesn't bother you, then check out this TV.
If you prefer a Roku TV, check out the TCL 5 Series/S535 2020 QLED, the best cheap 4k TV that we've tested with a Roku interface. The 5 Series is a mid-range option from TCL's 2020 lineup, and it delivers a good viewing experience for a budget-friendly price tag. It's available in various sizes from 50 to 75 inches. The Roku interface is easy to navigate, runs smoothly, and has tons of apps available.
It uses a VA panel and has one of the highest contrast ratios on any LED TV we've tested, so it produces deep blacks that look fantastic in the dark. It's less suited to very well-lit rooms because it doesn't get very bright, and its reflection handling is only decent. It upscales lower-resolution content well and has good out-of-the-box color accuracy. It also has a fast response time for smooth motion and includes a black frame insertion feature to further reduce persistence blur.
While it has a wide color gamut for HDR, it doesn't get bright enough to make highlights pop, resulting in a rather underwhelming HDR experience. It also has poor viewing angles that make the image look washed out from the side, meaning it's not the best for wide seating arrangements. Although it lacks VRR support, gamers should be pleased with its low input lag. All in all, this is the best value TV with Roku that we've tested.
If you want the best cheap smart TV, then check out the Hisense A6G. It's the entry-level option from Hisense's 2021 lineup, sitting below the Hisense U6G, and even though it doesn't offer nearly the same great performance, it's still versatile and okay overall. We tested the 65 inch model with an IPS panel, but other sizes have VA panels instead, so they perform differently.
An advantage of getting one of the variants with an IPS panel is that they have wide viewing angles, so the image remains accurate no matter where you sit, but the VA panel TVs have narrow viewing angles. Like other Hisense options, it comes with Android TV built-in, which offers a ton of apps available to download through the Google Play Store, and the remote has a built-in mic for voice control. It doesn't have any trouble upscaling lower-resolution content, which is great for watching cable TV, and it has decent reflection handling, but it doesn't get bright enough to fight glare.
Sadly, IPS panels have low contrast, so blacks look gray when viewed in the dark, and if that matters to you, VA panels have higher contrast. HDR content doesn't look anything special because it can't display a wide color gamut, and it doesn't get bright enough to make highlights pop, but that's expected from a budget option. If you need something simple, this is the best cheap TV we've tested.
Aug 26, 2021: Moved the Hisense U6G to 'Best Budget' and removed the Hisense H9G for consistency; added the Vizio M7 Series Quantum 2020 as 'VRR Alternative' and moved the LG UP8000 to a main pick; added the LG A1 and Sony X80J to Notable Mentions.
Jul 30, 2021: Removed the Vizio M7 Series 2020 because it's hard to find; moved the Hisense U6G to Best for Gaming and added the Hisense H9G as Best Budget; replaced the Hisense R6090G with the newer Hisense A6G; updated Notable Mentions.
Jul 02, 2021: Minor structure changes. Replaced Hisense H8G with Hisense U6G. Removed Samsung TU8000. Replaced TCL 4 Series 2020 with Hisense 43R6090G.
May 06, 2021: Replaced the LG UN7300 with the LG UP8000; updated Notable Mentions based on market availability.
Apr 08, 2021: Updated text for clarity; added the Vizio M8 Series Quantum 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.