Best 4K TVs for 2023, Tested and Reviewed
Buying a new TV can be a daunting task, especially with so many options out there. In the end, most people make a decision based on the price of the TV and the features it offers. One feature that’s nearly become standard is 4K resolution support. It offers a better picture quality than HD TVs and is now the predominant resolution of most TVs released in recent years, so you’ll be able find it on a variety of models these days — even the best TVs under $500.
What are the best 4K TVs for all budgets?
The best 4K TV options run the gamut, encompassing a wide variety of models at budget and premium prices. One of our favorite affordable models is the TCL 4-Series, which starts at less than $300 for a 43-inch model. For a more premium pick, we love the LG OLED C2 — just keep in mind that it can get pricey.
4K resolution just means the TV has a certain number of pixels, 3,840×2,160 to be exact, along with the ability to display 4K TV shows, movies and games from streaming services, devices and game consoles like the Xbox Series X and PS5. There’s a lot more to picture quality than resolution, so you can’t ignore things like contrast, dynamic range, HDR performance and peak brightness. The best-performing TVs in our reviews excel in these areas. Additionally, if you’re looking for a gaming TV, you’ll also want to consider factors like input lag.
The list below represents the best 4K TVs (which are, let’s face it, the best TVs, period) that I’ve reviewed in CNET’s test lab, where I compare them side by side.
Read more: Change These TV Settings for the Optimal Picture
Best 4K TVs
How CNET tests 4K TVs
Our TV reviews follow a rigorous, unbiased evaluation process honed over nearly two decades of TV reviews. Our primary TV test lab has specialized equipment for measuring light and color, including a Konica Minolta CS-2000 spectroradiometer, a Murideo Sig-G 4K HDR signal generator and an AVPro Connect 8×8 4K HDR distribution matrix. We use Portrait Displays CalMan Ultimate software to evaluate every TV we review. In every CNET TV review, three or more similar TVs are compared side by side in various lighting conditions playing different media, including movies, TV shows and games, across a variety of test categories, from color to video processing to gaming to HDR. Our reviews also account for design, features, smart TV performance, HDMI input and gaming compatibility and other factors.
Read more: How We Test TVs
4K TV FAQs
I’ll post the answers to commonly asked TV questions below. If you have any others, feel free to reach out on Twitter (@dkatzmaier), or by clicking the little envelope icon on my CNET profile page. Doing so will let you send a message straight to my inbox.
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- Best TVs for Gaming
- Best 75-Inch TVs for 2023
LG 55 Inch Class UR9000 series LED 4K UHD Smart webOS 23 w/ ThinQ AI TV (55UR9000PUA)
LG 55 Inch Class UR9000 series LED 4K UHD Smart webOS 23 w/ ThinQ AI TV (55UR9000PUA) | LG USA
LG 55 Inch Class UR9000 series LED 4K UHD Smart webOS 23 w/ ThinQ AI TV
$49.01 OFFwas $549.00
4 interest-free payments of $124.99 with
- Home Cinema Experience with HDR10 Pro and FILMMAKER MODE™
- Engineered to immerse with the a5 AI Processor 4K Gen6
Enter ZIP for Estimated Delivery
Features and Specs
A Home Cinema Experience to Get in the Action
Enjoy movies and TV shows upscaled to 4K for a sharper image and vivid details. ¹ See it as the director intended with FILMMAKER MODE™.
Engineered to Immerse
Powered by AI, you will experience enhanced picture detail and improved sound from the α5 AI Processor Gen6 that detects room lighting to adjust color and picture contrast to optimal settings.1
Impressive 4K Upscaling
Transform your regular content into 4K for sharper definition and detail, even on our biggest screens.1
HDR10 Elevates Your Scene
Enjoy scene-by-scene picture adjustment with HDR10 to automatically adjust the quality of what you’re watching.
¹Image quality of upscaled content will vary based on the source resolution.
²Internet connection required; number of LG Channels subject to change.
³Google is a trademark of Google LLC. Google Assistant is not available in certain languages and countries. Apple, the Apple logo, Apple TV, AirPlay® and HomeKit are trademarks of Apple Inc. , registered in the U.S. and other countries. Supported menus and apps may vary by country. Voice Command availability may vary by products and countries. Menus displayed may be different upon release. Support for AirPlay® 2 and HomeKit may vary by region.
⁴Subscription and compatible gaming controller are required.
⁵Sound Bar can be purchased separately.
Screen images simulated. All comparisons and animations are dramatizations for illustrative purposes.
Images may be simulated and dramatized for illustrative purposes. Actual features, functionality, and other product specifications may differ and are subject to change without notice. Prices, promotions, and availability may vary by model, store, and online. Prices subject to change without notice. Quantities are limited. Check with your local retailers for their final price and availability.
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4K and Ultra HD TV. What is the relationship between them and what is the difference?
Is it worth buying a 4K TV for use at home? And Ultra HD – what is it? Can we say that 4K is identical to Ultra HD, or are there still some differences between them? According to advertising, the refresh rate on 4K TVs exceeds 1000 Hz, is this true? Let’s try to answer all these questions in our article.
See also: Does it make sense to buy an HDR 4K TV in 2018
Let’s start with some theory. The need to switch to higher technologies was due to the increase in the screens of modern TVs. The HDTV format has become unable to meet the needs of the extra-large LCD panels used in today’s OLED and LED TVs.
4K, Ultra HD and Full HD
Let’s start with a quick tour of the technical information to understand what we’ll talk about next:
- Full HD – 1920 by 1080 pixels at an aspect ratio of 16 to 9.
- Ultra HD (UHD) – with the same aspect ratio, the resolution is 3840 by 2160 pixels (the entire matrix has eight megapixels).
- 4K (full frame) – 3996 by 2160 pixels, and the aspect ratio is four to three (matrix resolution is twelve megapixels).
- 4K (cached) – the same resolution as the previous one, and the aspect ratio is Flat at a matrix resolution of eight and a half megapixels.
From the data above, you can see that Ultra HD has a different resolution than 4K, of which it is a variant, only with a different name. 4K stands for four thousand horizontal pixels.
Ultra HD differs from Full HD in almost twice as many dots (pixels), while the resolution is also twice as high both horizontally and vertically. Accordingly, the total number is more than 4 times. What’s the point of this?
The answer is simple: the size of the pixel (the controlled luminous dot) is reduced, resulting in a clearer picture when viewed even on huge displays.
About TV screen resolution and size
There is no direct relationship between resolution and screen size. The main indicator is the number of pixels located inside. To make it clear, you can refer to the phone camera. Let’s assume in its characteristic it is spoken about sensitivity equal to eight megapixels. This indicates the location in the interior of the receiving matrix, whose size does not exceed half an inch, eight million pixels. They are just very small.
Now back to TVs. Suppose one 4K TV has a diagonal of 20″, and the other has a diagonal of 100″. They both have the same number of pixels, just the size of each in the latest model will have a fivefold difference.
The presence of more pixels provides a clearer picture regardless of the screen size. This can be seen in the two adjacent pictures, but there are some nuances:
The exception, or deception, if you like, is the artificially lowering of both color and contrast in the first illustration, which shows the resolution used in Full HD. The reality looks a little different, since the light emitted by the pixels has the same brightness in relation to each of the color segments.
Having an updated format on huge screens will bring viewers closer to them. In addition, Ultra HD will be actively used in monitors, and those on which they design. Since it is in the performance of this type of activity that great importance is attached to the ideality of clarity.
Should I buy a 4K TV at home?
To answer this question, it is necessary to assess its advantages and, if any, disadvantages. Let’s start with the fact that 4K TVs typically have curved screens. Therefore, you should be prepared for their significant cost.
The next question is the availability of 4K shows and movies. The appearance of such content should be preceded by the development and release of equipment capable of shooting with such a resolution. And this is still in its infancy.
Watching movies or programs on a 4K TV, as well as an analog signal, is pointless, because in the old days no one even stuttered about eight megapixels.
Shooting must be done at 120 Hz to view in Ultra HD resolution. But for such an impressive flow, it is necessary to have means of transmission and storage. If the “weight” of one film in Full HD resolution is 20 or 40 GB, then by a simple calculation for Ultra HD we get a size from 80 to 160 GB!
With such dimensions it is meaningless even to talk about online views and the Internet. It will be possible to use exclusively media set-top boxes using a hard drive of several terabytes in size. Provided that someone uploaded at least a dozen or two films to it.
In order to be able to transfer content to a TV from media set-top boxes, the user will need not only an interface, but also a cable that complies with the HDMI 2.0 standard. Using the old HDMI 1.4 to transfer a lot of streaming 4K video will not work.
Due to the fact that a 4K signal has an impressive density and complex processing, it may be interrupted. This probability is greatest when displaying image elements that move quickly. And mobility is the prerogative of all cult modern films.
To summarize. To make our conclusion clearer, let’s draw an analogy with a car. Buying a 4K TV for home is almost the same as buying a powerful fancy car that can accelerate to a speed of 300 km/h in a few seconds and drive it through city streets with a speed limit of 60 km/h. Of course, such an owner will be called cool, stylish, antler, but … .. not very smart.
Bigger is better, but is it always?
The ideal option is a full match between the resolution in which the shooting was made and the same indicator on the TV. After all, even with a slight discrepancy, the occurrence of a directly opposite effect, similar to that arising in the scaling process, is not ruled out.
Look at the example below. It would seem that all the lines have exactly the same thickness and the Full HD monitor, but even this does not allow you to hide the visual errors that occur during the scaling process. One gets the impression that the difference in the thickness of the lines if the scale changes.
And finally. If, sitting at a comfortable distance in front of a home TV, the user does not see pixels, then why overpay money for a trendy model?
For many years, 1080p (1,920 by 1080) was considered high definition. It’s time for updates. This is where Ultra High Definition or UHD comes in. Or 4K. Technically, it’s UHD according to the Consumer Technology Association, but the two terms have become interchangeable. And now these terms matter a lot when choosing and buying a TV, as 4K is finally a mature, affordable technology.
What is 4K?
UHD or 4K Display – A display with at least 8 million active pixels. For TVs, this resolution has been standardized to 3840 by 2160. 4K digital cinema (the resolution in 4K theaters) is slightly higher at 4096 by 2160. However, you notice it as it is four times larger than a 1080p display and more than 23 times the resolution of a standard definition TV
First of all, it’s obvious that 4K is much sharper than 1080p. In place of one pixel at 1080p resolution on a 4K TV, there can be four. This is a significant difference in image clarity, assuming you have 4K content to watch at that resolution.
Since the resolution is much higher, more bandwidth is required for transmission. The HDMI 2.0 standard was developed to support 4K and allows you to display video in 2160p at 60 frames per second. Older HDMI standards can only work with a 4K source to some extent. You can also stream 4K video over the Internet, which also requires a very fast connection; Netflix recommends a stable data rate of 25 Mbps for watching 4K content.
If you do not have 4K content, a 4K TV can still improve the quality of movies when you watch them. All 4K TVs use some sort of upconverter to display 1080p and lower resolution video. These upconverters do more than just split each pixel into four identical pixels; they use anti-aliasing and noise reduction algorithms to produce a sharper image. When the converters work correctly, you get video that looks natural on a 4K screen (although they don’t add any actual new detail, just sharper lines and even even color and light). When it doesn’t, the image may look a bit blotchy, like a painting.
4K is another significant leap in terms of clarity and detail, especially as people are becoming more and more accustomed to the incredibly tiny pixels displayed by today’s Retina-style HD screens on mobile gadgets. This is an important factor for large TVs, since 55 inches has become the lower limit of that big screen.
High Dynamic Range (HDR) is a video format available on some high-end TVs. HDR content has the same resolution as regular 4K video, but each pixel can be assigned a much wider and more granular range of color and light. This allows HDR video to look significantly more accurate and realistic than standard dynamic range video. However, you need an HDR compatible display and the content must be encoded in an HDR format such as HDR10 or Dolby Vision. If you don’t have an HDR TV, don’t worry; all physical media and streaming services that offer HDR content may display SDR versions of the same material on screens that do not support the format.
4K TVs now
4K TVs have been on the market for several years and are finally affordable and functional. At the moment, you can get a decent 4K TV for about the same price as last year’s mid-range 1080p TV.
The Vizio Du and LG UH8500 series offer great picture quality at reasonable prices, and if you’re looking to save even more money (and are willing to compromise on picture quality), Roku’s TCL UP130 Series 4K TVs are even cheaper.
Want a flagship model? The new panel from LG Signature OLED65W7P (pictured below) is the most impressive display of its kind.
Thanks to Amazon and Netflix, there is a large amount of 4K content that you can watch if you have a fast enough internet connection. You can find many films in this format: Breaking Bad, Jessica Jones and Luke Cage. Both services are constantly adding new 4K content, and if that’s not enough, YouTube supports 4K video from video studios to GoPro users.