You don't have to spend a small fortune to get a decent TV. 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 cheap 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 budget TV we've tested 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 great 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, most gamers should still enjoy its performance.
The U6G is available in a wide range of sizes, from 50 to 75 inches, and our testing results from the 65 inch model are valid for all sizes because they all use VA panels. This TV displays deep blacks, and combined with its decent full-array local dimming feature, it delivers great 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 angles. 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 budget TV we've tested.
If you have a wide seating arrangement, check out the LG UP8000. It doesn't get as bright as the Hisense U6G, but it has wider viewing angles that make the image remain accurate no matter where you sit. The 65 inch variant we tested has an IPS-like panel, but keep in mind some of the other variants have VA panels, so you get narrow viewing angles instead. It doesn't have any issues upscaling lower-resolution content like from DVDs or cable boxes, and it has excellent gradient handling. It's pretty basic in terms of extra features as it lacks VRR or Dolby Vision support, but it removes judder from any source and has a motion interpolation feature.
If you're in the market for the best budget TV, you can't go wrong with the Hisense because it delivers picture quality in line with other high-end models. If you prefer wide viewing angles, the LG is a decent alternative.
The best budget TV for gaming we've tested is the Vizio M7 Series Quantum 2021. It's a mid-range TV in Vizio's 2021 lineup with a budget-friendly cost and a few extra gaming features compared to other recommendations on this list. It's available in a wide range of sizes to suit your needs, and we expect the other variants to perform like the 55 inch model we tested.
Even though it has a 60Hz panel, it still has FreeSync support to reduce screen tearing. It has low input lag for a responsive gaming experience, and motion looks good thanks to the quick response time, but you may notice some black smearing, typical of VA panels. It has a high native contrast ratio and a full-array local dimming feature, but it doesn't improve the picture quality in dark scenes.
Sadly, you can't take full advantage of the PS5 and Xbox Series X because it has HDMI 2.0 inputs, so you're limited to 4k gaming at 60Hz. It displays a wide color gamut and has excellent gradient handling for HDR, but it doesn't get bright enough to make highlights stand out. It has decent peak brightness and decent reflection handling, so it's fine for rooms with a few lights, but we don't suggest it for really well-lit environments. If these things don't bother you, it's the best budget TV for gaming.
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, and there's a ton 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 VA panel with 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, but this can vary between units. 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 will be 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 TV with Roku.
The Samsung UN85AU8000FXZA is the best budget TV available in a large size. 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. However, 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 Hisense A6G is the best cheap TV we've tested. It costs less than the other picks in this recommendation, so it doesn't have as many features or as good performance as the Hisense U6G, but it's still okay overall. The 65 inch model we tested has an IPS panel with wide viewing angles, but there are a few variants with VA panels, so its performance depends on which size you get.
It comes with Android TV, so you won't have to worry about buying an external streaming device. It's easy to use and has a ton of apps available to download, so you can easily stream your favorite content. As already mentioned, the wide viewing angles are great for wide seating arrangements because the image remains accurate no matter where you sit. Although it doesn't get bright, it has good reflection handling, so it's good for a room with a few lights around, but it's not as good for really bright rooms.
Unfortunately, it's not versatile because the IPS panel has low contrast and lacks a local dimming feature, so blacks look gray in the dark, and it doesn't get bright enough to make highlights stand out in HDR. As expected, it's limited to a 60Hz panel, and its response time is just okay, but it has low input lag for a responsive gaming experience. Overall, it's the best cheap 4k TV we've tested.
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.
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.
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.