The best 8K TVs have done what seemed impossible just a few years ago – made 8K resolution televisions seem like a reasonable investment.
It wasn't long ago that 8K TVs seemed entirely superfluous: the result of TV brands trying to push the limits of screen technology for the sake of impressive buzz words, and to an extent that still holds true. There's little 8K content to enjoy, and today's streaming bandwidths can't really cope with it, so having dedicated 8K hardware isn't a necessity by any means – but for those that can afford it, it does offer a level of detail above even Ultra HD.
The 8K TVs of today really do offer some of the most exciting and next-gen technologies on the market, and those with the capacity and budget for a larger screen will certainly get some benefit from all those added pixels (four times the number of pixels of 4K TVs). Not to mention the added goodies you'll usually find on high-end sets, such as state-of-the-art processors, premium design, HDMI 2.1 support, and next-level audio systems.
Vastly improved upscaling makes even HD sources look exceptional on 8K screens, while the gradual implementation of HDMI 2.1 ports paves the way for 8K gaming on next-gen consoles like the PS5 and Xbox Series X.
- What is 8K resolution? Here's everything you need to know
The highest-specified new Samsung TVs are all 8K yet again, including the five-star flagship Samsung QN900 Neo QLED, and a successor to last year's entry-level Q800T QLED. LG is set to bring out two new 8K TVs, the LG Nano9Z QNED 8K TV, which is this year’s highest-spec ‘QNED’ television, as well as a step-down LG Nano9X model with a 60Hz panel.
You can find our pick of the best 8K TV available below, with three runner-up models definitely worth your consideration. Be sure to check back to see what’s changed later in the year too, as the 2021 ranges of the world's biggest TV makers start releasing to market.
Ushering in a new era in television technology, Samsung's Mini LED-sporting QN900A Neo QLED 8K TV offers stunning picture quality, exceptional color and brightness, terrific sound and outstanding blacks – all in a package that's unmatched in terms of design.
For the uninitiated, Samsung's 'Quantum' Mini LEDs are 1/40th the thickness of a regular light-emitting diode, meaning thousands of smaller LEDs can be packed together in a much tighter fashion, allowing for far more accurate dimming zones and black levels that are practically indistinguishable from an OLED to this reviewer's eyes.
Of course, that doesn't mean Samsung's Neo QLED is to able to produce lights and colors at the individual pixel-level like an OLED TV can, only that it does a comparable job when it comes to contrast.
Outside of its new lighting technology, the QN900A excels in terms of picture quality, with an astonishing 8K resolution display that does a brilliant job of upscaling 1080p and 4K content thanks to the AI-based 'Neo Quantum Processor 8K'.
The Samsung QN900A is a pricey television, as is to be expected from this year's flagship, but three sizes across 65-inch, 75-inch and 85-inch allow for some variation of budget – starting at $4,999 / £5,999 for the smallest size.
Read more: Samsung QN900A Neo QLED 8K TV review
As ever, Sony has put out a truly stylish, well-crafted television – the fact that it's 8K is just a bonus. The Z8H/ZH8 Master Series OLED exemplifies everything so good about Sony's debut 8K television, the Z9G/ZG9, but drastically drops the asking price. Whereas the previous model started at $13,000/£14,000, you can get a 75-inch size for the new model for a far lower $4,999/£4,999.
With 2,500 nits of brightness, HDR pictures look truly dazzling, and Sony’s approach to backlighting means that the brightness is retained with peerless consistency, even while ensuring shadow detail isn't lost in the mix. Wrapping up a stellar all-round performance is some of the most detailed, powerful and clean sound we’ve heard from a built-in TV audio system yet.
You will find support for HDMI 2.1, albeit for only one port – rather scant provision compared to some other TV makers. However, the lack of VRR (variable refresh rate) and ALLM (auto low latency mode) at launch has since been fixed by an over-the-air update.
Samsung earns the top spot for its superior upscaling, and packing in more 8K-compatible inputs, but we wager you won't be disappointed with this alternative either.
Read more: Sony Z8H 8K TV review
Samsung has carved the way for 8K TVs, nowhere more so than with the Q800T 8K QLED.
Samsung launched three different 8K QLEDs last year, rather than the single flagship in 2019, and it means 8K shoppers have some choice around how premium they really want to go.
It's not quite as eye-grabbing as Samsung's 'bezel-free' designs, but there's no denying the strength of the picture. Upscaling is still market-leading, and even HD sources look incredibly detailed on this 31 million-pixel display, even more so than on Samsung's 2019 models.
Black level performance, too, is surprisingly hard-hitting. You won't confuse the set for an OLED, but there are still very inky blacks on show – largely thanks to new Samsung tech that redistributes power between dimming zones to better control the amount of light coming through.
The Q800T also features OTS (Object Tracking Sound), and while it doesn't pack as many drivers as the Q950TS, it's still a knockout audio experience.
Read more: Samsung Q800T 8K QLED TV review
8K resolution on an OLED TV? So far, only LG dares to do it.
Bringing these two premium technologies together is nothing short of a marvel, and we can attest to the brilliant picture quality, OLED-level colors and crisp contrast – with a wide soundstage that puts the audio output on an even keel with this exceptional 8K panel.
LG judges its 8K TVs slightly differently from the competition, using a CM (contrast modulation) measurement that stresses the ability of individual pixels to distinguish clearly between each other, and certainly succeeds on that metric (all of its 8K TVs surpass 90% CM, despite only needing a 50% baseline) more than Samsung.
It's a shame that LG doesn't rank higher in this list, but the combination of a massive price tag and its restrictive size options temper our excitement somewhat. LG is leaning more in 8K models these days, but the offering in OLED is still limited.
2020's LG ZX OLED does improve matters, adding a cheaper 77-inch size ($12,999 / £12,999) alongside an 88-inch model ($19,999 / £19,999), whereas the previous LG Z9 only had the latter options. You can read our review of the LG Z9 OLED to get a sense of what's on offer, or have a look at prices for the more recent ZX model below.
8K TV FAQ
8K TV FAQ: quick questions answered
- What resolution is 8K? 8K resolution measures 7,680 x 4,320 pixels, for a total of 33 million pixels.
- Is 8K better than 4K? 8K displays have four times the number of pixels, making for a huge jump up in detail from 4K displays. However, there's little native 8K content available, and truly low-resolution video needs very capable processing to look, well, normal on an 8K screen.
- What's native 8K? 'Native' 8K is video that's filmed in 8K, and formatted to be watched on an 8K screen.
- Can you get 8K OLED TVs? Yes: the LG OLED Z9. Check out OLED TV vs 8K TV guide too.
- Who makes 8K TVs? In 2020, Samsung and LG will both release three 8K models, while Sony, Hisense, TCL, and Panasonic are also in the mix. Everybody's doing it!
- Are 8K TVs expensive? Oh, yes. But prices will drop as time goes on.
- How big are 8K TVs? 8K displays aren't really worth it without a screen big enough to see all those pixels at work: the smallest you'll find is the 55-inch Samsung Q950R QLED.
- Can the human eye even see 8K? Technically, yes, but you'll need to sit closer to the screen than with 4K to see the difference (via Stari).