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 55H9G is the best budget TV. This is a high-end 2020 model that you can find for cheaper now because the price keeps dropping, and even though it costs more than the Hisense U6G, it provides impressive performance. We tested the 65 inch model, but expect the 55 inch to perform the same.
It performs well in both bright and dark rooms. It has excellent SDR peak brightness and excellent reflection handling, so visibility shouldn't be an issue even in the brightest of environments. Its VA panel has a fantastic native contrast ratio that makes blacks look deep, the black uniformity is remarkable, and it has a great local dimming feature to improve the picture quality in dark scenes. It supports both HDR10+ and Dolby Vision, but we had some issues with HDR10+ support with internal apps. It displays a wide color gamut and gets bright enough to make highlights pop in HDR.
Sadly, it has narrow viewing angles, and even though it has a 120Hz panel, it doesn't have any HDMI 2.1 inputs, so you can only reach a maximum of 60Hz with 4k games. Its input lag is a bit higher than some other TVs, but it's still low overall for responsive gaming. Motion looks extremely smooth thanks to the very quick response time, and it has an optional black frame insertion feature. All things considered, if you're willing to stretch your budget just a bit, it's an impressive overall TV.
If you often watch the TV at an angle, then you should consider an IPS panel TV, like the LG UP8000. It has much wider viewing angles than the Hisense H9G, which means that the image remains accurate when viewed from the side. This is great if you want to watch TV while exercising on a machine in the corner or have a big group of people watching a soccer match. Unfortunately, there are some downsides. Because this is an IPS TV, it has a low contrast ratio that makes blacks look grayish, so it's not a good option for viewing in the dark. Also, it doesn't get as bright, which means it might not be able to overcome intense glare, and the overall HDR experience isn't as good because highlights don't stand out the way they should. Lastly, it has a much narrower color gamut and lacks local dimming.
Overall, the Hisense is a much better TV for most uses. However, if you need wide viewing angles and don't mind compromising, the LG is a good alternative.
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.
The Hisense U6G is the best budget TV for gaming that we've tested. It's lower-end than the Hisense H9G, and since it's a 2021 model, it's easier to find. It even has a slightly lower input lag, so it delivers a more responsive gaming experience. It's fairly well-built and should look nice in any gaming setup.
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 and HDMI 2.0 inputs, so you can't use the PS5 and Xbox Series X to their full capabilities, but it still offers great overall gaming performance. The backlight flickers at such a high frequency that you shouldn't notice it. 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 co-op gaming in wide seating arrangements. 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 for gaming.
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 the 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.
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.
Mar 04, 2021: Verified picks for accuracy with minor updates to text.
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.