What size TV do I need? It's a common question, and as TVs get bigger, understanding what sizes are the best fit for a room becomes more important then ever in making a smart buying decision.
As 65-inch 4K TVs become the norm and larger 70 to 80-inch models come in at more affordable prices, 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. This can lead to a less-than ideal experience when working your way through the best Netflix shows. 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.
We offer lots of buying advice on Tom's Guide, from general TV buying advice to in-depth reviews of the hottest new TVs. But sometimes the most basic questions are the most important.
- Check out the best TVs we've reviewed
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- What's the best TV brand? LG vs Samsung vs Sony
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.
Screen size and resolution
First, remember, TVs are measured diagonally. So a 55-inch screen measures 55 inches from one corner to the opposite 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.
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 LG CX OLED review, extend back nearly 10-inches with the stand attached. By contrast, the 55-inch model from our TCL 4 Series Roku TV (55S425) review is only 8 inches deep, despite the TV having a thicker 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. 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.
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.
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 2020 follow up to the 2019 TCL 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 of 2020, and it's not even close.
Read our full TCL 6-Series Roku TV (R635) review.
The LG CX OLED is the best 65-inch 4K smart TV out there, and the standout TV of 2020, with an amazing display, built-in Google Assistant and Amazon Alexa support, and a ton of other smart features. From LG's webOS 5.0 to the addition of smart home control and an intuitive motion-control remote, it's one of the smartest TVs we've ever seen.
LG has improved on its superb OLED with a more powerful processor, the addition of Dolby Vision IQ (which adjusts HDR performance based on the ambient lighting) and beefs up the sound with AI-powered audio tuning. And while the LG CX OLED's premium price might put off some shoppers, it packs in more premium value than more expensive OLED competitors, while still delivering an unparalleled picture. It's the TV to beat.
Read our full LG CX OLED review.
TVs are bigger than ever, but they aren't always great. Thankfully, the Sony X950G 75-inch Android TV manages to avoid most of the big-screen pitfalls, delivering great picture quality, wide viewing angles and a feature set that's just as impressive as the 75-inch display. It's the best TV we've seen in this larger class.
Sony has also polished up the smart TV experience, updating its TVs with the sleeker Android TV 8.0 and giving the TV a redesigned remote control. Pair this extra-large TV with a good soundbar or surround sound set, and you'll have a great home theater worth showing off to the neighbors. For an extra-large screen that's just as big on value, the Sony X950G 75-inch Android TV is a smart buy.
Read our full Sony X950G 75-inch Android TV 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, Amazon recommends first taking your viewing distance (in feet) and multiplying that by 7.7. So, if you have a 42-inch TV, 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.
If you're looking at a 4K ultra-high-definition television, the formula changes a bit. Because of the increased resolution, the recommended ideal viewing distance is between one and 1.5 times the screen size. So, if you bought a 50-inch TV, it should be placed between 50 to 75 inches away.
And as larger screen sizes become more affordable, you'll want to take these guidelines to heart. The recently reviewed Sony X950G Android TV is 75-inches and costs just over $3,000, making it expensive, but not so pricey that it's beyond the budget of many shoppers. 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)|
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 almost don't factor into the equation. 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.