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 in the last two years, 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 best budget TV we've tested is the Hisense H8G. This is a good VA panel model that performs well with nearly every type of content. It has a high contrast ratio that's further enhanced by full-array local dimming, resulting in deep blacks and an improved dark room viewing experience. Visibility in bright rooms is good as it has decent reflection handling and gets bright enough to fight glare. Android TV is fairly user-friendly and operates smoothly for the most part. There are tons of apps available through the Google Play Store.
It delivers fast-moving scenes with minimal motion blur as it has a quick response time and a Black Frame Insertion feature. Low frame rate content, like movies, doesn't stutter much, and it can remove judder from 24p sources and native apps. Input lag is outstandingly low, but it doesn't support any variable refresh rate (VRR) technology to reduce screen tearing, nor does it have any HDMI 2.1 ports. It has a good wide color gamut to produce rich and vibrant colors in HDR, but it doesn't get quite bright enough for a true HDR experience.
Sadly, it doesn't have the best viewing angles, though, so it isn't ideal for wide seating areas. The internal speakers sound okay, but you should get a soundbar with a dedicated subwoofer if you want a more robust bass. Overall, although some gamers might be disappointed by the lack of advanced gaming features like VRR, it's a versatile TV that most people should be happy with.
If you often watch TV at an angle, then you should consider the LG UN7300. Unlike the Hisense H8G, it has an IPS panel with wider viewing angles, so you don't lose as much image accuracy when viewing from the side. However, it comes at the cost of a lower contrast ratio that results in blacks looking grayish in dark rooms. It also doesn't get as bright, so glare may be an issue in very well-lit environments. Also, it doesn't deliver a great HDR experience because it fails to display a wide color gamut. The response time is decent, but it doesn't have a Black Frame Insertion feature. Regardless, casual gamers should still enjoy its low input lag.
Overall, go with the Hisense if you want better picture quality. However, if viewing angles are important for your particular setup and you don't mind compromising a bit, then go with LG.
If you're looking for the best value for size, check out the TCL 65S535, which is the best cheap 4k TV that we've tested in terms of value for its price and size. The 5 Series is a mid-range option from TCL's 2020 lineup, and the 65 inch model delivers good quality and performance with a budget-friendly price tag. If you find 65 inches too big, it's also available 50 and 55 inches, as well as 75 inches.
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 only has decent reflection handling. That said, it can upscale 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 reduce blur even further.
While it has a wide color gamut for HDR, it doesn't get bright enough to make highlights pop, resulting in an overall HDR experience that may not satisfy everyone. It also has poor viewing angles that make the image look washed out from the side, meaning it's not the best for accommodating wide seating arrangements. Although it lacks VRR support, gamers should also be pleased by its low input lag. All in all, this is the best value TV for its price that we've tested in a 65 inch size.
For an even bigger TV that offers a lot of value for the size and price, check out the Samsung UN75TU8000FXZA, which comes in reasonably-priced 75 and 85 inch options. While it doesn't have a wide color gamut or a local dimming feature like the TCL 5 Series/S535 2020 QLED, it has slightly better viewing angles and exceptional black uniformity, though uniformity can vary between units. It has a decent response time, so there's a bit of motion blur, but the slower response time means it has less stutter in lower frame rate content like movies. It also has an outstanding contrast ratio, and even though it's not quite as high as the TCL's contrast, it's more than capable of producing deep blacks.
The TCL is better overall, with a wide color gamut, local dimming, and a faster response time, but if you have a space that can fit a bigger TV, the Samsung is a solid alternative that offers 75 or 85 inch options with good value.
The best budget TV for gaming that we've tested is the Vizio M7 Series Quantum 2020. It's a well-rounded, low-cost model that provides very good gaming features. It performs best when used in dark rooms, but it's not a bad choice for well-lit rooms either. Despite having a 60Hz panel, it still have VRR technology to reduce screen tearing, which is a great addition to a budget TV.
It's good for gaming because it has a quick response time with minimal motion blur in fast-moving scenes. The backlight isn't flicker-free as it flickers at 480Hz unless you set its backlight setting to its max, but that's high enough that it shouldn't bother most people. Also, there's a Black Frame Insertion feature to try to reduce motion blur. Input lag is incredibly low, and it stays low with VRR enabled but sadly increases when playing 1440p games. There's an 'Auto Low Latency Mode' that automatically switches the TV into 'Game' mode when a game from a compatible device is launched.
Sadly, it's not the best for HDR gaming because even though it displays a wide color gamut, it doesn't get bright enough to bring out highlights, and the local dimming feature isn't the best as it actually lowers the contrast. Luckily, its native contrast ratio is still excellent thanks to its VA panel, so it displays deep blacks. All things considered, if you're looking for the best budget TV for gaming, you should be pleased with this one.
The TCL 4 Series 2020 is the best cheap TV that we've tested. An entry-level 4k TV in TCL's 2020 lineup, it offers okay overall performance. It has built-in Roku TV, which is easy to use, and the menu navigation is very smooth. There's a great selection of apps available to download, so you won't have to worry about buying an external streaming box if you don't want to.
Like most TVs in this recommendation, it has a VA panel with an outstanding native contrast ratio and alright black uniformity, but this may vary between units. This means it displays deep blacks, which is great for viewing movies in dark rooms. Our unit has excellent out-of-the-box color accuracy, so you may not need to get it calibrated to enjoy it to the fullest. It upscales lower-resolution content without any issues, so it displays content from DVDs and cable boxes well. Its built-in speakers are okay and get loud, but they don't produce much bass.
Unfortunately, it doesn't get bright and fails to make highlights stand out the way the creator intended. It also can't display the wide color gamut needed for HDR content and doesn't have a local dimming feature, so HDR content doesn't look good on it, but that's somewhat expected for a cheap TV. It's okay for casual gaming, but it has a slow response time that results in some motion blur. That said, most people should at least be pleased with the best cheap smart TV that we've tested.
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.
Jan 18, 2021: Minor text and structure changes; no change in recommendations.
Dec 18, 2020: Removed the Samsung TU7000 and Vizio V Series 2020; added the TCL 4 Series and Vizio M7 Series Quantum 2020 as 'Best Gaming'.
Oct 27, 2020: Removed the Vizio M Series, TCL 6 Series 2019, TCL 3 Series 2019, and TCL 4 Series 2019; added the TCL 5 Series 2020, Samsung TU8000 as 'Bigger Alternative', Vizio V Series 2020, and the Samsung TU7000 as 'Gaming Alternative'.
Aug 28, 2020: Replaced the LG UM7300 with the LG UN7300.
Jun 30, 2020: Replaced the Hisense H9F with the H8G, replaced the TCL 5 Series with the Vizio M Series, and added the TCL 6 Series as smart features alternative. Moved the 4 Series to replace the TCL 1 Series as a larger alternative to the best cheap TV.
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.