With 8K TVs already available (but with little content), the best 4K TVs are more abundant and affordable than ever. Now, many of our favorite shows and movies are streamed in 4K. And once you experience 4K quality on a TV built for it, it’s difficult to go back.
But 4K isn’t necessarily new — in fact, 4K TVs have been around since around 2013. It was just hard to justify spending thousands of dollars on a 4K TV when in reality, there just wasn’t much, if any, 4K content around. Now that 4K content has finally caught up, right as 8K is starting to creep into the picture, it’s dropped the price of 4Ks. On top of that, brands like Samsung and Sony have already released 2021 models of their most popular flatscreen TVs. That means consumers can choose from a premium 2021 model or save a few hundred dollars on the 2020 model, many of which are still on the cutting edge of high definition video.
For all these reasons, Spring 2021 is actually the perfect time to buy the best 4K TVs.
But before we leap into our recommendations, here’s everything you need to know about 4K.
4K TVs: Frequently Asked Questions
The easiest way to explain: 4K has four times the pixels as a 1080p screen, which ultimately means a better much better resolution. Cool. So, what’s a pixel? A single pixel is a digital representation of an image. Have you ever seen those mosaic pictures that are made up of tiny little pictures?
Look at this photograph:
That 311 album cover is a crude example of what is happening inside of your television — a bunch of individual pixels making up a larger picture. In a 1080p TV, there are two million of those pixels making up the imagery. Since there are four times as many pixels in a 4K TV compared to 1080p (4 x 2,000,000), there are eight million of those tiny little things jam-packed inside of your display.
And as you can see in the 311 album cover above, with relatively large pixels, the overall image is a little blurry. When you introduce more pixels, your image becomes sharper, hence why 4K has better image quality than 1080p.
When you venture into the world of 4K TVs, you’re bound to run into HDR. HDR stands for high dynamic range, and although is a little more tricky to define, it works in tandem with 4K. In the most consumer-friendly definition possible, HDR is essentially the range of colors each pixel can display.
Let’s say a company has two accountants. Bob the accountant rounds all expenses to whole dollar amounts — $10.11 becomes $10, $12.87 becomes $13, so on and so forth (not great, Bob!). Jenny the accountant doesn’t do that, and uses the actual values to input expenses. At the end of the month, Jenny’s accounts will paint a more accurate picture than Bob’s of the company’s expenses, because she was using more specified dollar amounts. Bob will also probably get fired.
That analogy is essentially how HDR works. Standard dynamic range uses a limited amount of the color gamut to display colors (like whole dollar amounts). HDR uses more finite precision ($10.11) to display a more accurate color representation. Because more of the color gamut is available in HDR, totaled with better resolution, the picture quality is more vibrant and sharp.
If you’re looking for a new TV to be the perfect complement to your new Xbox, Switch or PS5, you’re going to want a TV with these specs:
- At least 120Hz refresh rate
- OLED, QLED or mini-LED technology
- At least three HDMI ports (most TVs on this list have four)
- Input lag of 40ms or less
If you’re unsure what TVs have those specs, don’t worry, we have you covered. Below you’ll find the best 4K TVs for gaming that can handle even you most intense gaming sessions. It’s time to hop online and start owning the competition.
The short answer is, no. If you apply that same math from 1080p to 4K, now from 4K to 8K, we end up with four times the resolution of 4K. Wow, seems great, right? But the same problem occurs with 8K as it did with 4K in the past — there just isn’t much 8K content yet. And to stream 8K content, you need a ton of bandwidth and HDMI cables that can handle that sort of information load. Above and beyond that, the benefit of 8K is most noticeable on TVs that are larger than 75 inches. They're also wildly expensive.
The Best 4K TVs for Sale in 2021
Now that you’re up to speed on the technology inside of the best 4K TVs, it’s time to go out and get one. And now is the perfect time to upgrade, with 4K being more affordable than ever. Plus, with all the streaming and live 4K content available today, watching TV in 1080P almost feels primitive at this point. Do yourself a favor and upgrade to a 4K TV if you haven’t already.
Below you’ll find our recommendations for the best 4K TVs for sale.
1. LG CX 65-Inch OLED 4K TV
BEST TV OF 2021
Look, we’ve been raving about the LG CX OLED TV since last year, and there’s only so many times we can tell you it’s currently the best TV you can buy in 2021. Of course, we’re not the only ones who love this TV, which has a ton of advanced features and stunning picture quality. And while it may be a 2020 model, none of the 2021 models are so much better that they justify the higher price tags. That’s how close to perfection the LG CX comes. And so for as long as the LG CX is still available, we think it it’s the best 4K TV you can buy in 2021.
For gamers, this TV boasts a 120Hz refresh rate and NVIDIA G-Sync support. LG’s WebOS smart TV platform is super user-friendly and unlocks all of your favorite streaming apps. On top of that, you get Dolby Vision IQ, Filmmaker Mode, support for Alexa and Google voice assistants, and Chromecast and AirPlay 2. It’s a smart TV in the truest sense of the word, and you just can’t beat the picture quality of the best OLED TVs.
2. Samsung Q80A 65-Inch QLED 4K TV
When it comes to the best 4K TVs that hover between premium and mid-range, there are few that can stand up to the Samsung Q80A QLED TV. Although it lacks the same impressive mini-LED technology that Samsung’s high-end Neo QLED TVs feature, the Q80A still has full array local dimming, which produces plenty of brightness for quality HDR performance. On top of that, the Q80A is well-suited for a variety of environments use cases. In addition to some best-in-class gaming features, such as 120Hz support, low input lag and the ability to simulate a 32:9 aspect ratio, this TV also has impressively wide viewing angles and speakers that have the ability to make people and objects sound like they’re moving across the screen.
6. Vizio P-Series Quantum X 65-Inch QLED TV
Vizio makes some of the best flat-screen TVs in any size for budget shoppers, which includes one of the best 65-inch TVs under $500. The Vizio P-Series Quantum X is another great option that provides an incredible amount of bang for your buck. But just because this is a great value when it comes to the best 4K TVs, don’t think that you have to make major compromises when it comes to performance.
For starters, 480 local dimming zones help create strong contrast (albeit not true black) to make the picture really pop. And with the help of Dolby Vision HDR and HDR10, the picture comes to life thanks to brilliant colors and impressive brightness. When you add in extra features like Apple Airplay and Chromecast support, the P-Series Quantum X starts to feel like more and more of a steal.
3. Samsung QN90A 65-Inch QLED 4K TV
While there wasn’t much of a difference between the Samsung Q90T and Q80T televisions in 2020, that isn’t the case with Samsung’s flagship TVs in 2021, making the Samsung QN90A one of the best non-OLED TVs around. The reason for this is that the Samsung’s Neo-QLED technology, which is essentially their way of saying this TV uses mini-LED backlighting. And what this delivers is a brighter picture and a superior contrast ratio to Samsung’s standard QLED TVs, such as the Q80A. While some Samsung TVs can be expensive relative to what they offer in terms of features, the Q line of TVs have always been worth the higher price tag because of their strong performance and feature set that makes them suitable for nearly any type of use.
4. Sony Bravia XR A90J 65-Inch OLED TV
Sony’s Master Series line of OLEDs may have taken a break in 2020, but in 2021, it’s back. The Sony Bravia XR A90J offers performance that’s nearly unrivaled by the best 4K TVs, and a big reason for that is because the A90J features Sony’s new XR OLED Contrast technology that makes it one of the brightest OLEDs on the market.
XR OLED Contrast uses AI to optimize the light output and make sure that the picture is the brightest in the areas that need it the most. And in order to keep the temperature down, which is a challenge when dealing with millions of OLED pixels packed into a single panel, it uses materials such as aluminum to help dissipate heat along the surface of the screen. (And this is part of the reason y the A90J is able to offer more brightness). Considering brightness is the one area where OLED TVs are inferior to LED TVs (and is something that is crucial for good HDR performance), the high price tag of the Bravia XR A90J will be worth it for hardcore cinephiles and A/V enthusiasts.
5. LG C1 65-Inch OLED 4K TV
Having to follow in the footsteps of the LG CX (aka the best TV of 2020) is no enviable position. But the LG C1 takes everything great about its predecessor and offers a few light improvements where it makes sense. This includes an upgraded image processor and the latest version of the WebOS smart TV software. While the LG CX is still the better buy, thanks to its lower price tag, it will eventually go out of stock. And when it does, the LG C1 will be in the conversation when people discuss the best 4K TVs you can buy.
6. Hisense H9G 65-Inch QLED TV
The Hisense H9G hangs with TV’s titans (LG, Samsung and Sony) by producing incredible color and brightness, while keeping the price affordable. When set to Theater mode, the color production is accurate, balanced and great for watching everything from Planet Earth to Mission Impossible. Gaming mode slows down lag time with a 120Hz refresh rate for a smooth gaming experience suitable for even the most hardcore gamers. It’s a versatile and great-looking 4K TV, especially when you factor in the $999 price tag.
7. Sony A8H 65-Inch OLED 4K TV (2020)
If you have the extra cheddar and you want an incredible gaming experience, the Sony A8H is a top-tier, A+ gaming TV. The OLED panel looks amazing and provides incredible detail, making even the most finite parts of the image pop. Turn on Game Mode and max out the image motion capabilities and brightness for ultra-smooth and incredible gameplay. And beyond all the gaming stuff, it works with Alexa, has Apple HomeKit support and Google Assistant.
8. Vizio H1 55-Inch OLED 4K TV (2020)
This Vizio can hang with the titans in the TV world. With an OLED panel, you get incredible contrast to go along with 120Hz refresh rate for detailed and smooth picture. Toss in HDR format compatibility like HDR10, HDR10+ and Dolby Vision, and we’re talking a TV that’s on par with the likes of Sony and LG, but with a more consumer friendly price tag. Don’t sleep on this 4K gaming TV from Vizio.
9. TCL 6-Series 65-Inch QLED 4K TV (2020)
Even though TCLs are known as more of a budget option with the great Roku platform, the TCL 6-Series has enough under the hood to be your go-to gaming TV. The 4K resolution along with a true 120Hz variable refresh rate make for detailed gaming with minimal motion blue. And the QLED technology combined with the mini-LED backlit display gets plenty bright for gaming quality picture. TCL has put out an impressive TV in the 6-series, and you should consider it.
10. Hisense 55-Inch Class H8 QLED 4K TV (2020)
If you are a little more strapped for cash, but still want a good 4K TV, the Hisense 55-inch H8 is a smart choice. It’s under $600, but sports full 4K capabilities and has Dolby Vision and HDR. Combine that with Motion Rate 240 to smooth out fast moving objects on the screen, and now we’re talking about a solid performing 4K TV for gaming. Sure, it doesn’t get as bright or have as much contrast as some of the heavy hitters like Sony, Samsung or LG, but for the money, this is a really solid option.