Every TV shopper eventually asks "what size TV do I need?" As TVs get bigger and higher resolutions become common, matching the right size TV to the room gets a little more difficult. Even with all of the latest picture enhancements and smart functions, the basics of screen size and field of view don't change. A bigger screen offers a more immersive viewing experience, but you need to balance the tendency to go bigger with an understanding of how that impacts the ideal seating distance, the benefits of different resolutions and the comfort of the viewing experience.
The rules of thumb for older 1080p TVs aren't the same as for current 4K sets. And as 65-inch 4K TVs become the norm and larger 75 to 85-inch models get more affordable, figuring out where to put your new TV becomes a challenge. Many people purchase a new TV without even considering the room it will go in, assuming any TV will work in the same spot their old set was in. But finding the right size of TV raises questions about ideal resolution, what distance from the TV is best, and whether you really want a bigger screen.
- Check out the best TVs we've reviewed
- TV shopping? Everything you need to know about buying a TV
- The best TV mounts to hang your set on the wall
So, before you buy your next TV, here's how to determine the best size for your needs. This guide is intended to help you with your primary, family room television, but the same principles will work for your bedroom, den and office.
What size TV do I need? Quick Tips
Understand screen size. TV screens are measured diagonally from corner to corner, so a 65-inch TV is closer to 55 inches wide.
Know your resolution. TVs today offer three resolution options – 1080p, 4K and 8K. We recommend 4K for pretty much everyone, but the resolution will change how close you can sit to a set and how expensive it will be.
Figure out room size and position. Rooms don't get bigger to accommodate larger TVs, so find the right size for your space.
Screen size and resolution
First, remember that TV screens are measured diagonally. So a 55-inch screen measures 55 inches from one upper corner to the opposite lower corner. But the actual dimensions will be different, measuring roughly 49 inches wide and 29 inches tall.
Next, you have to consider the resolution of the TV. That's because the higher the resolution, the closer you can sit before you'll notice pixelation in an image. That means you can sit closer to a 4K TV (3840 x 2160) than you could a 1080p TV. This is an important factor to consider when thinking about screen size; because you can sit closer to a 4K set, you don't need to get as large a TV to fill your field of view as you would with a 1080p TV.
An 8K TV, on the other hand, will let you get closer to the screen without noticing individual pixels, but the larger size of most 8K TVs will still require sitting back at a distance so that you can properly view the entire display. Because of this size-to-resolution relationship, the viewing distances for 8K TVs will be the same as 4K TVs of the same size, despite the higher resolution.
Check out the top TV models in either resolution:
Room size and TV position
Consider the room in which the TV will sit. As long as the furniture in that room is not permanently attached to the floor — and you're willing to move it — then you have some flexibility in the size of the TV you can get.
There’s also the question of whether you plan to set up the TV using the included stand or use a wall-mount to hang it. Using the included stand to set the TV on a table or entertainment unit will place the set closer to the viewer, shortening the viewing distance. Be sure to account for both the depth of the TV stand and whatever furniture you plan to set it on. Some sets have relatively narrow stands, but others, like the 65-inch model seen in our Samsung QN90A Neo QLED TV review, extend back nearly 9 inches with the stand attached. Similarly, the 65-inch model from our TCL 6-Series Roku TV (R635) review is 13.7 inches deep, despite the TV having a 2.8-inch thick chassis.
Hanging the TV on the wall, on the other hand, can add a foot or more to the viewable distance, which can be the difference between a 60-inch TV and a 72-inch model. (Check out the best TV mounts for our favorite mounting hardware.) Depending on what sort of mount you use and the thickness of the TV, your screen will still sit a few inches from the wall, but the specifics will vary from one model to the next. Some, like the LG G1 OLED TV are designed to mount flush against the wall, but most will still need some space to accommodate mounting hardware.
Best TVs by size
We review TVs of all sizes, and while the majority of our TV reviews center on 55- and 65-inch models, some of the best TVs we've reviewed are also available in smaller and larger screen sizes.
You can also see our favorites for a wide range of sizes by checking out our size-specific guides to the best TVs.
Here are some of our favorites, hand-picked to give you the best performance at some of the common screen sizes, from small to extra large.
The 55-inch TCL 6-Series Roku TV (R635) offers enormous value for it's affordable price, offering premium picture quality and a great smart TV experience for much less than the competition. The current version of TCL's value champ 6-Series, the R635 ups the ante with mini-LED backlighting in addition to QLED. The result is impressive color and brightness, with some of the best HDR performance we've seen on anything this side of an OLED display.
But TCL keeps delivering more, like THX Certified Game Mode, which makes the 6-Series one of the best gaming TVs available, even for yet-to-be-released consoles like the PS5 and the Xbox Series X. From the design's smart touches, like cable management in the stand, to the always-solid Roku TV platform, the TCL 6-Series R635 is the best TV value on the market, and it's not even close.
Read our full TCL 6-Series Roku TV (R635) review.
The Samsung QN90A Neo QLED TV combines Samsung's highly refined quantum dot technology with the tight control of mini-LED backlighting, resulting in one of the best TV displays you'll ever see. Brilliant color and unmatched brightness make for superb performance, and Samsung pairs that with a bounty of smart TV functions and genuinely intelligent features, like a solar-powered remote control that eliminates the need to swap out batteries – delivering eco-friendly design and unbeaten convenience at the same time.
The whole thing is packed into a gorgeous 1-inch-thick design that contains a huge array of smart features, potent Dolby Atmos sound and some of the best performance we've ever seen. HDMI 2.1 connectivity comes standard, along with gamer-friendly features and impressive 12.6-millisecond lag time for an unparalleled gaming experience. It's the best 65-inch TV we've seen this year, and the winner of the 2021 Tom's Guide Award for Best TV, and a second award as the best gaming TV of the year.
Read our full Samsung QN90A Neo QLED TV review.
The 85-inch TCL 4 Series Roku TV 85S435 is one of the best TV values you'll find in any size. It has good color accuracy and supports HDR10 — but not Dolby Vision — for improved contrast. It uses Roku’s system software, which provides one of the best smart TV experiences available and has plenty of apps to choose from. With a low lag time of 14 milliseconds, this set also will handle fast-paced gaming well. And with a price of $1,599 it's one of the most affordable 85-inch TVs we've seen.
Read our full TCL 4-Series Roku TV (S435) review.
How to calculate the best size TV for your room
Measure the distance (in inches) between where you plan to mount the TV and where you plan to sit. For a 1080p TV, many industry experts such as Amazon and Crutchfield give a range of 1.5-2.5 times your screen size, though there are almost as many formulas as there are experts.
For example, if you have a 42-inch TV with 1080p resolution, you can sit 84 inches (7 feet) away for a comfortable and immersive experience. If you want to be safe and split the difference, you end up with a factor of 2:1, which is easy to remember. Just double the screen size for a comfortable viewing distance range.
Let's say you have a big room, a big couch, and a big coffee table between you and the television, resulting in a comfortable viewing distance of 10 feet (120 inches). You then would take 120 and divide by two, to get 60 inches.
And 4K resolution is even easier to figure out, since the size of the screen matches the recommended distance. For a 42-inch TV with 4K resolution, the optimal viewing distance is 42 inches (3.5 feet). A 65-inch 4K TV would have an optimal distance of 65 inches. You can sit farther away, but may lose the ability to distinguish some of the finer details offered by 4K.
And as larger screen sizes become more affordable, you'll want to take these guidelines to heart. Whether you're trying to fit a 75-inch or 55-inch TV into your home, remember that the goal is to see the picture, not the pixels.
|TV size||Recommended minimum distance for 4K TV||Recommended minimum distance for 1080p TV|
|40 inches||40 inches (3.3 feet)||80 inches (6.7 feet)|
|42 inches||42 inches (3.5 feet)||84 inches (7 feet)|
|48 inches||48 inches (4 feet)||96 inches (8 feet)|
|50 inches||50 inches (4.2 feet)||100 inches (8.3 feet)|
|55 inches||55 inches (4.6 feet)||110 inches (9.2 feet)|
|60 inches||60 inches (5 feet)||120 inches (10 feet)|
|65 inches||65 inches (5.4 feet)||130 inches (10.8 feet)|
|75 inches||75 inches (6.25 feet)||150 inches (12.5 feet)|
|85 inches||85 inches (7.1 feet)||170 inches (14.2 feet)|
Thanks to the higher pixel density of 8K TVs, you can get closer to an 8K set without seeing the individual pixels, but the larger screen sizes of most 8K models don't lend themselves to closer seating arrangements. As a general rule, the viewing distances for 8K TVs will be similar to the guidelines for 4K TVs.
What's comfortable for you?
The typical TV-watcher sits 9 feet from the screen, which brings us to the comfort factor: Most people like to sit far enough away from a TV that the pixels on the screen can't be distinguished. So, feel free to experiment with the placement of your new TV, and it never hurts to go a little bigger than what you think you'll need.
Whether you're shopping for a TV for your home or a home for your TV, you can now figure out the perfect viewing distance with just a couple of quick calculations.
If you've narrowed down your TV shopping by brand, price range or screen size, check out our picks for the best TVs in each.
And don't forget to watch out for the latest TV reviews.