4K for Less
Getting a 4K TV is more affordable than ever, with ultra HD TVs dropping in price even as larger screens and smarter features become the norm. And it's not just that higher resolution that's getting more affordable: Smart TV features such as video streaming, connected apps, voice control and high dynamic range (HDR) are also putting these once-premium features in reach of the price-conscious shopper. Whether it's for watching shows and movies, or kicking back and gaming, the best cheap 4K TVs offer great features for under $500.
We tested several 4K models, ranging from 40 inches to 55 inches, putting them through a battery of lab tests and then comparing them side by side. Read on to see the best cheap 4K TVs.
Illustration: Tom's Guide/HBO
What to expect for less than $500
You will have to sacrifice a few premium features if you want to keep the price of your 4K TV under five Benjamins. For one, you won't find many sets larger than 55 inches, and OLED display technology and 5.1 or 7.1 surround sound aren't offered in this price range. Nor will you get 3D support or curved displays, but those features are more flash than substance. Still, you can get a solid 4K TV with decent picture quality for less than $500.
For more ways to score a great TV for less, check out our guide to buying a cheap TV.
How we test TVs
In our benchmark testing for each TV, we look closely at three specific elements that combine to make a great display. Maximum brightness gives us a good sense of how the brightness level measures up from one TV to the next. The Delta-E rating is a measure of color accuracy, with higher numbers indicating a greater deviation from the actual color that should be displayed. The smaller the Delta-E score, the more accurate the color is.
Finally, we look at color gamut, measured in the Rec. 709 color space. This score is presented as a percentage, which indicates how close to 100 percent of the color spectrum the display can produce. The higher the percentage, the better the color reproduction.
Credit: N. Bush/Tom's Guide
TCL 43S517 Roku TV
The TCL 5-Series Roku Smart 4K TV (43S517) offers not only the great price and solid quality seen on many TCL sets, but also adds unexpectedly premium features like Dolby Vision, Dolby Atmos sound, and a better-than-average version of Roku TV. The 43-inch TV is small, but benefits from a sleek-looking narrow-bezel design, and TCL throws in unexpected features like a remote with an integrated mic for voice interaction.
It also boasts great color reproduction, with a wide color gamut (99.8 percent) and excellent accuracy (Delta-E of 1.7). It handled subtle color transitions better than sets that cost twice as much, but expected issues like haloing and inconsistent backlighting were still noticeable. The built in sound begs for a subwoofer, and with Dolby Atmos support, there's no good reason not to pair this set with an Atmos-capable soundbar.
If you want a TV that delivers premium features while still fitting into your apartment and budget, the TCL 43S517 Roku TV is hard to beat.
Screen Size: 43 inches | HDMI Ports: 3 | Refresh rate: 60Hz | HDR Support: HDR10, Dolby Vision | Dimensions (without stand): 37.8 x 22.1 x 2.9 inches
Vizio V-Series 50-inch (V505-G9)
The Vizio 50-inch V-Series (V505-G9) manages to be a pretty great smart TV for its low price, delivering good color and decent HDR support, with capable built-in audio. It's also a full-featured smart TV, with Vizio's SmartCast software, which includes apps, free content, built-in Chromecast and compatibility with Amazon and Google smart speakers.
The LCD panel offers a full-array LED backlight and support for HDR10, HLG and Dolby Vision HDR formats, along with solid picture quality. Color reproduction was a little disappointing at 96.7 percent, but color accuracy was among the best in this price range, with a DeltaE rating of 2.2.
We just wish it had the voice search we've seen on other smart TVs.
Screen Size: 50 inches | HDMI Ports: 3 | Refresh rate: 60Hz | HDR Support: HDR10, HLG, Dolby Vision | Dimensions (without stand): 44.1 x 25.6 x 2.4 inches
LG UK6300 43-Inch 4K TV
The LG UK6300 43-Inch 4K TV is a pretty great 4k tv for under $400, with good picture quality thanks to a wide color gamut and solid HDR support, and decent audio with strong volume and clarity. The 43-inch TV may not have premium features, but the compact set manages to be a solid option for value shoppers.
The LG impressed us in lab tests, with a color gamut of 99.8 percent, which is better than most competitors at this price range. The overall accuracy was less impressive, with a Delta-E rating of 3.6, but it's still better than some of the inexpensive TVs we've tested. Basic edge-lit backlighting hampers the HDR performance without local dimming, but no more than most competing sets. At the end of the day, the LG UK6300 is still a great choice for getting a full-featured smart 4K TV for under $400.
Screen Size: 43 inches | HDMI Ports: 3|Refresh rate: 60Hz|HDR Support: HDR10, HLG|Dimensions (without stand): 38.5 x 22.6 x 3.2 inches
Insignia 43-Inch 4K Fire TV Edition
Just when we were about to write off all Amazon-powered TVs, the Insignia 43-inch 4K Fire TV Edition came along and forced us to rethink things. With strong picture quality and sound, and built-in Alexa voice support, it's the best Fire Edition TV we've seen, and the first Amazon TV to get our recommendation.
When we tested it in the lab, the Insignia Fire Edition TV easily surpassed other Amazon-infused smart TVs, in both performance and features. With a color accuracy rating of 3.9, it's far from perfect, but it's the most accurate Amazon TV we've seen. The set's color gamut of 99.4 percent easily topped other Fire Edition models we've seen, making it not only the best Amazon TV, but also a strong performer compared to other sets in the sub-$500 price range.
Combine all of this with a fairly sleek-looking design, built-in voice assistant and decent audio, and the Insignia 43-inch 4K Fire TV Edition is the only Amazon-powered smart TV we recommend.
Screen Size: 43 inches|HDMI Ports: 3|Refresh rate: 60Hz|HDR Support: HDR10|Dimensions (without stand): 38.2 x 22.5 x 3.2 inches
Credit: Best Buy
TCL Roku 55S405
Another great 55-inch option is the TCL Roku 55S405, which puts the same Roku smart TV functions in a 55-inch display and adds HDR to the mix. But while the feature list is generous for the price, it’s not entirely perfect.
The set has a max brightness of 314 nits in our testing, which puts it in the middle of the pack among inexpensive 4K TVs, but the addition of HDR support is a major plus that most inexpensive sets can’t match. Instrumental testing pegs the color accuracy at a respectable Delta-E rating of 2.2, but our hands on viewing saw skewed colors, with noticeably purplish blues. It also had some unwanted shadows in the corners of the screen, but aside from these minor problems, it offers a great smart TV experience on a pretty good display.
Screen Size: 55-inch|HDMI Ports: 3|Refresh rate: 60Hz|HDR Support: Yes|Dimensions (without stand): 49.1 x 28.5 x 3.0 inches
Vizio 55-inch D-Series (D55x-G1)
The Vizio D-Series is among the most affordable you'll find for 4K resolution and smart TV functions, but Vizio manages to offer a lot of capability with its SmartCast platform. You'll have a wealth of free content options right out of the box, and a built-in Google Chromecast makes sharing apps and content from your phone dead simple. With support for both HDR10 and Dolby Vision, you'll get the same performance for pretty much any HDR content you have.
We were disappointed to see that while the display offered vibrant brights and decent black levels, the midtones and shadowed details that make HDR so impressive are not as well represented, but it's not out of line with other inexpensive TVs. We also noticed a bit of a buzz when the speakers were dialed up past 50 percent, caused by reverberation in the TV's plastic housing.
The set offers middling brightness (227 nits) and a slightly more limited color gamut (98.5 percent) than we'd like, but color accuracy was decent (DeltaE rating of 3.4) and overall performance was perfectly enjoyable without any of its flaws being distractions during normal viewing.
Screen Size: 55 inches | HDMI Ports: 3|Refresh rate: 60Hz|HDR Support: HDR10, HLG|Dimensions (without stand): 48.9 x 28.4 x 3.4 inches
Polaroid 55-inch (55T7U)
Rating: 3/5 stars
The Polaroid 55T7U may not be from the best known TV makers – you may have done a double take when you saw the name Polaroid – but it offers 4K picture and basic smart TV functions at prices you might feel compelled to consider. Unfortunately, we weren't thrilled with every aspect of this affordable TV.
While technically a smart TV, the Polaroid's app selection is limited to a handful of pre-installed apps (only 7) and there is no app store for finding new content or services. Tested performance wasn't fantastic either, with sever color issues (DeltaE rating 9.4) and the most limited color gamut we've seen in this price range (94.8 percent).
It also suffers from most of the problems you might see on an LCD display, with glowing greys instead of blacks, inconsistent backlighting with shadowy corners, bright halos around objects and narrow viewing angles. Fast action smears and blurs, and dense detail positively shimmers when it's on screen. HDR content had good midtones, but muted specular highlights, which dampens the HDR effect overall. The Polaroid 55T7U is fine for the viewer who isn't picky about things like oversaturated color, but there are better options in this price range.
Screen Size: 55 inches | HDMI Ports: 3|Refresh rate: 60Hz|HDR Support: HDR10|Dimensions (without stand): 49 x 31.4 x 2.3 inches
Toshiba 55-Inch 4K Fire TV Edition
The Toshiba 55-inch 4K Fire TV Edition (55LF621U19) is Amazon's second crack at selling its own smart TVs, which have one big selling point: Amazon’s Prime Video and Alexa voice controls are baked right in. In addition to Prime Video’s extensive catalogue of movies and shows, you’ve got one of the best voice assistants on the market as close as your remote. And it’s not some half-measure – the Alexa on your TV can do everything Alexa can do on the Amazon Echo, with skills for smart home control, looking up weather and restaurants and much more. All of this is built into the 55-inch Toshiba 4K TV, which sells for an affordable sub-$500 price.
The switch from last year’s Westinghouse models to Toshiba bring all sorts of improvements, like improved display quality, HDR support and a more refined user experience, but it’s held back by mediocre picture quality and middling audio. Edge-lit backlighting and limited HDR support just drive home the most frustrating thing about Amazon’s TV’s thus far – no matter how good Amazon’s Fire TV is as a smart TV platform, it’s not enough to strongly recommend the TV on its own merits.
In our tests, the Toshiba Fire TV had problems with unwanted haloing, due to the backlighting, but did well with detail and clarity. Color accuracy wasn’t fantastic, with a Delta-E rating of 5.05 (closer to 0 is better), and there were frequent issues with banding when smooth color gradients should be seen. Brightness isn’t bad for a budget-friendly TV, measuring 358 nits, but it’s not fantastic.
Screen size: 55 inches | HDMI ports: 3|Refresh rate: 60 Hz|HDR Support: HDR10|Dimensions (without stand): 28.7 x 49.1 x 3.7 inches