If you're looking for the best 4K TV money can buy in 2021, you’re in the right place. In this guide, we’ve selected the top 4K TVs to suit a range of budgets and use cases, combining 4K OLED, 4K QLED and LED displays from the likes of LG, Samsung and Sony to help you find the perfect 4K TV for your home setup.
However, all 4K TVs aren't made equal – and some are better than others. We’ll walk you through the price, specs and features of each TV, comparing elements like Dolby Vision and Atmos support, HDR color range and panel technology.
Naturally, many of these displays remain pricey – OLED TVs, in particular – but they still pale in comparison to the eye-wateringly expensive 8K TVs available right now. If price is top of mind for you, we’ve thrown in some budget 4K TV models too, like the TCL 6-Series, to offer the broadest choice possible.
Best 4K TVs in 2021
The LG C1 OLED is the follow up to TechRadar’s best 4K TV of 2020, the LG CX OLED. You can understand, then, why our expectations for the C1 OLED were immense – and yet, it has managed to deliver on all of them.
That’s because LG has made a number of small tweaks to last year’s model. It’s now using LG’s Alpha a9 Gen. 4 processor for better upscaling and virtual surround sound audio, and with four separate HDMI 2.1 ports, it’s ready for the PS5, Xbox Series X, Xbox Series S, and whatever next-gen consoles can throw at it. Gamers will also appreciate the new Game Optimiser menu that gives you the option to quickly adjust brightness, contrast and VRR on the fly.
The LG C1 isn’t flawless, as we did encounter issues around how the new Alpha a9 Gen. 4 upscales faces, and how reflective the all-glass screen is in the daylight, but the issues are few and far between.
There are, of course, higher resolution UHD TVs out there right now like the LG Z1 OLED, which offers 8K resolution, and the new LG G1 Gallery Series that uses the coveted OLED evo panels that offer better brightness. However, we feel that the LG C1 OLED offers the best blend of price and performance and should be high up on your list for potential UHD TVs to buy in 2021 and beyond.
Read the full review: LG C1 OLED
Sony hasn’t held back in pricing the new A90J 4K TV with OLED, but we believe the performance does justify the hefty price tag.
Picture quality, from any source, is about as good as it currently gets from any 4K screen, and in every meaningful department – motion control, contrast, edge definition, detail levels, you name it. For those moments when you’re reduced to watching sub-4K content, it’s great at upscaling, too.
The Sony A90J is more than a few steps ahead when it comes to sound quality. Using the entire surface of the screen as a speaker is still novel and effective, and backing it up with two conventional bass drivers means the A90J sounds fuller, more direct and just, well, better than any alternative that doesn’t feature an off-board sound system.
Add in a smart new Google TV interface, the usual Sony standard of build and finish, feet that change position to accommodate a soundbar, an exclusive movie streaming service, and an authentically well-designed remote control, the A90J looks like the complete package. Although complete packages seldom come cheap.
Read the full review: Sony A90J OLED TV review
When we discovered that the new TCL 6-Series 2020 QLED (R635) would use MiniLED back at CES, we were shocked. That’s because, just last year, that same technology came to the high-end 8-Series and cost hundreds of dollars more than the ultra-affordable 6-Series.
It's not the end-all, be-all LED-LCD we were dreaming it would be due to its limited brightness and poor motion handling, but it truly is an exceptional value and one that we'd recommend to nearly everyone.
The 6-Series is brighter than before, more colorful and doesn’t have a single hint of haloing or light bleed. It’s designed in a new way to hide your cables and it’s the first TV to come with THX Certified Game Mode for 1440p/120Hz gaming.
It's not exactly the TV we'd recommend to next-gen-ready gamers looking for a perfect companion for the Xbox Series X or PS5 that can push 4K at 120 fps, but if you're buying a TV to binge Netflix, stream Hulu or, well, basically just enjoy your viewing experience, this is the 4K UHD TV that we'd recommend for you.
Read the full review: TCL 6-Series 2020 QLED with MiniLED (R635)
The Sony X90J could be a good shout for those with a large enough budget who aren't bothered about a high-end OLED screen.
It has excellent image quality, thanks in part to a new Cognitive XR processor rolled out to Sony's top 2021 sets, making for excellent upscaling and contrast control. The X90J also sports the new Google TV smart platform, for easy setup and broad app support as well as the perks of Google Cast from Android devices. There's Dolby Vision HDR and Dolby Atmos audio packed in too.
When it comes to gaming, the X90J has a 120Hz panel with 4K resolution and two full-spec HDMI 2.1 ports for your Xbox Series X and PS5, with VRR (variable refresh rate) and ALLM (auto low latency mode, for sub-10ms lag) to really up your gaming experience. Just be sure to head into the picture settings and switch on 'Enhanced format' for your selected HDMI port, otherwise you won't get the benefit of its 2.1 specification.
There are still a few lingering issues, including middling off-axis viewing and struggles with direct daylight – and the X90J will no doubt be beaten by the capabilities of its step-up X95J model for a small uptick in cost. Still, the Sony X90J succeeds in delivering stellar performance for a reasonable price.
Read the full review: Sony X90J 4K TV
Why buy the QN85A? This Neo QLED TV delivers blacks that give OLED a run for its money, and highlights that are free from blooming. A stylish design and comprehensive feature-set make for an impressive 4K TV that’s sure to please.
Not only is it adept enough with both black and white tones to allow contrasts to pop from the screen but it can output brilliant colors, draw edges with absolute confidence and it has nice wide viewing angles. It’s blessed with one of the very best smart TV interfaces around and it’s able to support all the clever features of your next-gen games console (as long as you only own one of them).
That said, the QN85A isn’t perfect – its sound is nothing to write home about, it can’t upscale properly low-resolution content with much conviction and it will occasionally have ‘a moment’ when the on-screen motion gets particularly testing. But taken as a package, and with the price/screen-size ratio uppermost in your mind, the QN85A emerges from this test with a lot more in the ‘positive’ column than in the ‘negative’.
Still, we think it's an excellent TV and well-worth considering.
Read the full review: Samsung QN85A Neo QLED TV
The LG G1 OLED is a knockout television that builds on the sleek design of last year's Gallery Series OLED and somehow makes it better.
The real hero here is LG's new OLED evo technology, which updates the panel structure to eke out even more brightness – without increasing blooming effects or, we're told, the chance of burn-in.
It's an expensive set, and the Dolby Atmos sound system isn't the best for bass – something that will effect all the other LG OLEDs in this guide. But the breathtakingly slim design makes it a real centerpiece television, with the contrast and color benefits of OLED pushed to new, lighting-enhanced heights.
The new a9 Gen 4 AI processor is even more capable of smartly upscaling and processing onscreen objects, too, with motion processing in particular getting an upgrade.
The G1 is really designed to be wall-mounted, though, and it won't come with a TV stand or feet out of the box. You can buy a floorstanding Gallery Stand alongside, or find a third-party solution for placing on a counter, if you need.
Read more: LG G1 OLED TV review
Hisense's H8 Series has long offered high quality at a very reasonable price, but these days it's getting harder and harder to make waves in the budget TV market – Samsung and LG now offer plenty of great 4K UHD TVs well under the $1,000 mark, while TCL has been making headlines with its $600 TCL 6-Series.
Hisense's latest H8G range of smart televisions have all of the features of the other brands without the high price. You can debate the finer points of OLED versus ULED all day, but in the end, the main decision when considering the Hisense H8G Quantum is whether you want features like 8K, HDMI 2.1 and eARC, or if you can live with a gorgeous screen without next-gen features.
At just $700 for the 65-inch version of the Hisense H8G, it’s an outstanding value, the apps are easy to find and use, Google Assistant support is handy, and the technical specs rival much pricier models.
Read the full review: Hisense H8G Quantum
The Vizio P-Series Quantum X (2020) is a consistently impressive LED-LCD TV that combines the brightness of a QLED and some of the best black levels this side of an OLED. Offering upwards of 2,000 nits of peak brightness, it lights up any home cinema and cuts through ambient lighting to become one of the best TVs for brightly lit living rooms – and thanks to a recent firmware update, it's now a great match-up for the Xbox Series X and PS5 with 4K/120hz support, auto-low latency mode and responsive 13ms lag time with 4K/60 games.
That said, it's not without its faults. 4K UHD TVs this bright are bound to have some blooming, which can be noticed when you’ve got white text on a black background, and its upscaling - while much better than previous years - still isn’t at the same level of LG, Samsung or Sony TVs. SmartCast, similarly, is a lot better than it’s been in past years thanks to the addition of Apple TV Plus, Disney Plus and Peacock, but it’s still frustratingly slow at times.
If you truly have deep pockets and want the best image quality out there, then it’s still worth going for LG's OLED or Samsung's QLED TVs – but in the absence of a six-figure salary, the $1,599 Vizio P-Series Quantum X P75QX-H1 is clearly an excellent option for those that want quantum dot tech in a smart TV at Vizio-level prices.
Read the full review: Vizio P-Series Quantum X (2021)
What is 4K?
4K is, essentially, an ultra-high-definition screen resolution. Also called UHD or 4K UHD, the display technology has become the default screen resolution across all of the TVs that you’re likely to see in stores today – as well as many PC monitors, too.
The very best UHD TVs pack over eight million pixels in their high-res displays – that’s four times the amount you’ll find on the Full HD panels in today's small TVs.
You don’t necessarily need access to 4K entertainment content to enjoy the benefits of 4K resolution, either, since many of the best 4K TVs (and most of those on this list) boast impressive upscaling technologies that enhance content filmed in HD.
The other reason 4K TVs have taken off in recent years is the 4K support offered by games consoles like the PS4 Pro, Xbox One X, PS5 and Xbox Series X, as well as 4K Blu-ray players and streaming devices.
Should I buy a 4K TV in 2021?
The short answer: yes! As much as 8K TVs are beginning to carve out a space in the home display market, they’re still not widely available – most brands only offer a handful of 8K models – and, of course, they’re much, much more expensive.
What’s more, 4K TVs are more affordable than they’ve ever been. The advent of 8K technology and ever-increasing TV screen sizes means some of the best regular-sized 4K TVs are no longer the inaccessible, wallet-hungry products they once were.
Sure, some (like the Sony A90J OLED) still demand the big bucks, but there’s such a great range of 4K displays nowadays that you’d be hard pressed not to find a 4K TV within your budget that can deliver an amazing viewing experience.
What types of 4K TV are there?
There are plenty of different screen types out there, all working in different ways to produce the same results. Each technology has its own unique strengths and weaknesses, so here are some basics to consider when looking for the right 4K TV for your needs:
LED TV: Direct LED
These displays are backlit by an array of LEDs (light emitting diodes) directly behind the screen. This enables localised dimming – meaning immediately adjacent areas of brightness and darkness can be displayed more effectively – and greatly improves contrast. LED TVs are also more power efficient and capable of a wider colour gamut than CCFL sets. Because of the extreme cost of mounting these arrays of LEDs, cheaper TVs usually use Edge-Lit LED screens over Direct or Full-Array LED screens.
LED TV: Edge LED
With these TVs, LEDs of the backlight are mounted along the edges of the panel. This arrangement enables radically slender displays and offers superior contrast levels to CCFL, but can't achieve the same picture quality as directly lit LED sets. However, they do come in far cheaper which is why most LED TVs out there now use this technology.
The backlighting on OLED (organic light emitting diode) sets is achieved by passing an electric current through an emissive, electroluminescent film. This technique produces far better colours and higher contrast and also enables screens to be extremely thin and flexible. This is the holy grail display technology and LG, Sony, Philips and Panasonic have all adopted it in their flagship sets.
Quantum Dot is Samsung's big play in the LED TV space. With it, the brand claims that it's able to produce more colorful pictures than LG and Sony while offering even brighter panels. LG's Super UHD TVs all use a variation of Quantum Dot called Nano Cell, and Hisense makes a number of Quantum Dot TVs for the US and China.