- 4K TVs are available at many price points and performance levels.
- The best 4K TVs balance picture and smart features for stunning images and reliable streaming.
- With its sharp OLED panel and next-gen gaming support, LG’s CX is our pick for best 4K TV overall.
4K Ultra HD (UHD) TVs have become the norm for any buyer looking to purchase a new display in 2021. However, while all 4K TVs offer a resolution of 3,840 x 2,160 pixels, picture quality and smart connectivity can vary wildly between different models.
Some 4K TVs include advanced high dynamic range (HDR) for enhanced contrast and colors. Certain LCD models are able to achieve higher brightness than others, which makes them a better fit for rooms with a lot of ambient light. Other displays use OLED panels for perfect black levels that make their images pop when watching movies in a dark home theater.
Of course, picture quality is far from the only factor you should consider when buying a new display. Smart TV functionality, app selection, voice assistant support, and overall design can all make or break a 4K TV purchase. After all, what’s the point of a pretty picture if you can’t easily navigate through the TV’s menus to actually watch something?
With those factors in mind, we’ve selected the best 4K TVs on the market based on hands-on testing with a variety of models. Our picks represent a range of price points, but each of the displays we’ve selected is good enough to offer capable HDR playback and streaming app support. Since 65 inches is the standard flagship size for manufacturers, all of our selections fall into that category. That said, many of the models listed below are also available in smaller and larger sizes.
Here are the best 4K TVs you can buy:
- Best 4K TV overall: LG CX
- Best budget 4K TV: Vizio P-Series Quantum
- Best QLED 4K TV: Samsung Q90T
- Best high-end 4K TV: Sony A80J
The LG CX OLED presents the best balance between picture performance, smart connectivity, design, and value of any 4K TV you can buy.
Pros: OLED panel with infinite contrast, HDMI 2.1 ports, voice remote, several sizes to choose from
Cons: Can’t get as bright as an LCD TV, HBO Max app is missing, a little pricey
When it comes to balancing stunning picture performance and reliable smart features, the CX is the best 4K TV you can buy. Though LG released a 2021 successor to the CX, called the C1, the CX remains a better value since it costs less and offers very similar specs.
Unlike LCD TVs, including those branded as LED and QLED, the CX provides pixel-level contrast thanks to its OLED panel. This enables perfect black levels and precise highlights, which makes this an ideal TV for people who love to watch movies in a dark room. 4K HDR Blu-ray discs and streaming titles are especially stunning on this set, fully showing off what high dynamic range is all about.
Peak brightness is also solid for an OLED panel, with a max of around 700 to 800 nits. That should be more than enough for most living rooms, but buyers who watch TV with a ton of sunlight creeping into the room may need to opt for a brighter LCD model.
The CX is also a great fit for video games, including next-gen consoles like the PS5 and Xbox Series X. The panel offers low input lag and supports Variable Refresh Rate, Nvidia G-Sync, and 120Hz high frame rate. Gaming performance is so strong we actually think the 48-inch model is a perfect alternative to a traditional monitor.
When it comes to smart TV features, the TV uses LG’s webOS and ThinQ platforms for robust streaming app support and voice control. The magic remote also features a unique pointer function which allows you to navigate through menus with a virtual cursor you aim at the screen.
The best budget 4K TV
With performance that rivals more expensive sets from the competition, the affordable Vizio P-Series Quantum is the best 4K TV in its price range.
Pros: Full-array local dimming with 200 zones, quantum dot color technology, 120Hz panel, HDMI 2.1 ports, competitive pricing
Cons: On-screen app selection is limited, no voice remote, viewing angles are mediocre, some software glitches
The Vizio P-Series Quantum manages to pack in a lot of the same features you’d find on pricier TVs, but for less. There are some trade-offs, but if you want solid 4K HDR and streaming performance without breaking the bank, the P-Series Quantum is one of the best options out there.
While you won’t get OLED-quality contrast, the P-Series Quantum’s LCD panel does feature full-array local dimming. This tech enables the TV to dim and brighten in specific zones across the screen. As a result, the display can produce better black levels and more precise highlights than LCDs without dimming. Max brightness can hit 1,100 nits, which is fantastic for a display in this price range. HDR support is extensive as well, and the TV’s quantum dot technology enables a full spectrum of colors.
HDMI 2.1 ports and a 120Hz panel make the P-Series Quantum a good choice for gamers. That said, I did encounter some HDMI glitches early on, but these signal problems have been mostly corrected through firmware updates. The display is compatible with separate Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant devices as well, but the TV’s included remote does not feature a microphone for integrated voice control.
On the downside, like a lot of LCD TVs, viewing angles aren’t great. This means colors and contrast get washed out when you sit off to the side. And, while improvements have been made, Vizio’s SmartCast OS is still a bit lacking compared to other platforms. You can cast plenty of apps to the display from a mobile device, but the on-screen selection is currently limited.
The best QLED 4K TV
Samsung’s Q90T offers some of the best overall picture of any 4K TV model.
Pros: Bright screen with HDR10+ support, full-array local dimming, quantum dot color, wider viewing angles than typical LCDs, voice remote, HDMI 2.1
Cons: Lacks Dolby Vision support, contrast can’t quite match an OLED
Though brands like Vizio, TCL, and Hisense have done a great job bringing quantum dot color technology to their value-priced TV models, Samsung’s Q90T QLED TV remains a good buy for enthusiasts thanks to some key performance and style perks.
The TV features full-array local dimming for deep blacks and impressive HDR contrast thanks to its bright panel. The display can hit a peak of around 1,400 nits when in Filmmaker Mode (the most accurate). This allows the brightest highlights to really shine in ways they can’t on TVs with lower specs.
Samsung’s display also makes use of a special filter combined with unique light output techniques to enable wider viewing angles than most competing QLED sets. As a result, the Q90T has some of the best viewing angles I’ve seen on a TV of this type. Buyers who can’t sit right in front of the display shouldn’t worry too much about distorted colors.
Voice control is enabled via the included remote and you can choose between Samsung’s Bixby, Amazon Alexa, or Google Assistant. Samsung’s Smart Hub platform, powered by the Tizen OS, provides responsive navigation with on-screen support for a big selection of apps.
One HDMI 2.1 port is included as well, enabling next-gen gaming features when hooked up to a PS5, Xbox Series X, or compatible PC.
It should be noted, however, that Samsung recently released the 2021 successor to the Q90T, dubbed the QN90A Neo QLED 4K TV. The new model uses mini LED technology which could improve contrast and black level performance. That said, it costs quite a bit more than the Q90T. We’ll be testing the 2021 model soon for consideration in our guide.
The best high-end 4K TV
Sony’s A80J is the premium TV champ when it comes to image accuracy, but it’s a bit pricey.
Pros: OLED panel with infinite contrast, advanced processing for superior image accuracy, acoustic surface audio technology, HDMI 2.1
Cons: Can’t get as bright as LCD TVs, no VRR support yet (coming in future firmware)
Sony’s brand-new A80J OLED (2021) serves as the successor to its highly rated A8H (2020). Though most people will be satisfied with the older model, both TVs are currently available for the same price and the A80J features a few key upgrades that help it clinch this spot.
Most notably, the new 2021 model adds HDMI 2.1 ports, enabling next-gen gaming features like 4K/120Hz. It also uses Sony’s new image tech which relies on cognitive processing to cross-analyze picture elements at the same time rather than individually. It’s hard to say how big of an improvement this upgrade makes without a side-by-side comparison with the A8H, but the A80J certainly looks stunning in person.
During annual TV competitions, Sony’s OLEDs consistently come the closest to matching the look of professional broadcast monitors and we expect the A80J to be no different. This means, when calibrated, the A80J has the potential to present movies closer to how directors intend for them to look than most competing displays.
Unlike traditional TVs, the A80J also features a unique audio system with acoustic surface technology. Instead of typical speakers, this process uses actuators behind the panel to create sound from the screen itself. This allows dialogue to sound as if it’s truly coming from the mouths of people on screen.
The A80J is also one of the first TVs to launch with the new Google TV platform rather than the older Android TV system. The new interface has a stylish look and emphasizes content rather than apps. It works well, but I’ve run into a few glitches here and there that forced me to reboot the display. Google TV has a lot of potential but some kinks still need to be worked out via firmware updates.
The best deals on 4K TVs from this guide
Every week we see discounts on dozens of TVs, however, it can be difficult to know what you’re buying. There are hundreds of options floating around and some retailers offer different models, which makes it hard to compare. As you might expect, the best time to buy a TV is during events like Black Friday, Cyber Monday, and Amazon Prime Day. If you can hold out for one of these sales, you might be able to snag one of our TV picks for over $100 less.
Below, we’ve gathered the best deals we found on the sets we actually recommend, so you’ll be absolutely sure that you’ll get a great value.
What to look for in a 4K TV
There are some key specifications that you should look for when choosing which TV is the best fit for your needs.
If you’re buying a new display with image performance as a top priority, you’ll want to make note of a TV’s high-dynamic-range (HDR) capabilities. Even more so than resolution, HDR has become the defining factor for picture quality in modern TVs. This feature allows a TV to offer enhanced contrast and colors when playing specially graded HDR shows and movies on many streaming apps and 4K Blu-ray discs.
There are a few competing HDR formats, including HDR10, HDR10+, and Dolby Vision. HDR10 is the default and it’s supported on all HDR TVs. Dolby Vision and HDR10+ offer more advanced capabilities, but Dolby Vision content is more common than HDR10+.
OLED vs. LCD
Brightness capabilities (measured in nits), black levels, contrast ratio, color gamut, and viewing angles are all major factors that help contribute to a TV’s overall picture performance. Panel type then plays a large role in determining how well a display can handle all of these elements.
There are currently two main types of 4K TV panels: OLED and LCD (the latter is often branded as QLED or LED). Each has its own strengths and weaknesses. OLEDs excel at black levels, contrast, and viewing angles. LCDs excel at brightness, which can make them better for rooms that let in a lot of light. LCD models also tend to be less expensive than OLED models and they present no risk for burn-in.
HDMI 2.1 ports
HDMI 2.1 support is another feature that buyers should keep in mind. The latest HDMI spec enables next-gen gaming features like 4K/120Hz and VRR, which could be important for people who plan to buy a PS5 or Xbox Series X.
Smart TV features
Smart TV connectivity is essential as well, and each manufacturer either uses their own specific operating system or a third-party system like Roku TV, Google TV, or Fire TV. All of these platforms have their own strengths and weaknesses when it comes to app selection and performance, but most will get the job done just fine for basic streaming needs.
If you’re unhappy with your TV’s built-in system, we recommend buying a separate streaming stick or box. These devices typically offer the best streaming app support, and entry-level models with 4K playback are frequently on sale from Roku for as little as $30.
Check out our other TV buying guides
Though flagship TVs can get pricey, there are plenty of budget-friendly displays out there with solid performance. There are even models with genuine HDR support for surprisingly affordable prices.
OLED TVs offer some key performance benefits compared to traditional LCD displays, including better black levels and uniformity. While all OLED TVs tend to be very similar when it comes to picture quality, certain models feature premium design upgrades that make them a bit more expensive.