The best 4K TVs for 2023, as chosen by experts

Treat your eyes to the best 4K TVs money can buy.

Best budget OLED

The LG C2 OLED TV

LG C2

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Best overall

The Samsung S95C OLED on a stand in a room with two chairs

Samsung S95C OLED

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Best budget

TCL 55" Class 6-Series 4K Mini-LED TV

TCL 6-Series

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If you’re buying a new TV in 2023, it really should be a 4K TV. Those 1080p models can still keep up at smaller sizes, but the centerpiece of your living room really deserves the full 2160p experience. At the same time, 8K is still crawling along when it comes to affordable TVs and available native content. 4K really is the sweet spot, and it will be for some time. But choosing a specific model can be complicated. What backlight technology do you want? Do you need a 120Hz refresh rate? What the heck is VRR? Luckily, we’re here to break down these variables and provide expert insight into which TV should handle most of your binge-watching and video gaming needs. Let us help you pick the best 4K TV for your space, budget, and viewing habits.

How we chose the best 4K TVs

The editors and writers at Popular Science have decades of collective experience when it comes to covering, reviewing, and generally nerding out over TVs. The authors of this story have written for countless publications, from general to enthusiast, including Maxim, Men’s Journal, Engadget, and Sound & Vision.

We’ve tapped into our collective experience to parse the specific differences between models for these selections. These selections are based on a foundation of personal hands-on experience, spec comparisons, user feedback, and opinions from other trusted names in the industry. We nerd out about TVs in our free time, too.

The best 4K TVs: Reviews & Recommendations

Now that you know what to look for when picking out the best 4K TV for you, you can go out and take your pick. Of course, if you need help getting started, our list features the cream of the crop. For most people, one of these five models will be the best 4K TV.

Best overall: Samsung S95C OLED

Samsung S95C OLED TV

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Specs

  • Size: 55”, 65”, 75”
  • Display: OLED
  • Refresh rate: 120Hz
  • HDR: HDR10, Dolby Vision
  • Ports: 4 HDMI 2.1, RF, Ethernet

Pros

  • Exceptional OLED picture quality
  • Bright enough for rooms with moderate light
  • 4K/120Hz
  • Ports live on a separate box connected with a cable for easy installs
  • Solar-powered remote

Cons

  • Expensive
  • UI can feel bloated

You’ll see this TV pop up in many “best of” TV articles this year. The reason is simple: Samsung did a wonderful job with its most recent OLED display. This is a flagship TV, so it isn’t cheap, but it offers almost anything you could want from a current-generation TV. It offers four HDMI 2.1 ports to support current (and future) gaming consoles. Plus, all its ports live on a separate box connecting to the ultra-thin panel with a single wire. That makes this TV super versatile when it comes to installation.

When it comes to picture quality, I was very impressed during my viewing time with it. I hooked up a PS5, then played several games and watched a few high-res Blu-ray titles, including the latest Venom movie, which is particularly challenging in terms of color and contrast. Samsung’s OLED looked fantastic throughout all of it.

The built-in speakers aren’t phenomenal, but that’s easy to forgive on a wildly skinny TV. You’re best off adding a soundbar or other external audio. The UI can also get a bit clunky, but that’s more of a general Samsung thing than it is specific to this TV.

Quibbles aside, the real star here is the picture quality. It maintains the super-deep blacks that make OLED so appealing. But, due to Samsung’s new display tech, it’s considerably brighter than many OLEDs that came before it. I had no trouble watching content in a fully lit room with strong overhead lights on full-blast. If you have an absurdly bright room, you may still be better off with something like a QLED, but most viewers should be stoked on this TV if they can stomach the relatively high cost.

Best budget: TCL 6-Series Google TV

Best budget

All the Pixels For a Lower Price

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Buy it used or refurbished: eBay

Specs

  • Size: 55”, 65”, 75”
  • Display: QLED
  • Refresh rate: 120Hz
  • HDR: HDR10, Dolby Vision
  • Ports: HDMI 2.1 x 3, USB 2.0 x 2, Ethernet, Bluetooth

Pros

  • Mini-LED QLED 4K display
  • Three HDMI 2.1 ports
  • 4K/120Hz
  • Affordable

Cons

  • TCL makes three “6-Series” TVs, which can get confusing

If you are shopping on a budget, the TCL 6-Series with Google TV makes it very easy to cut some small technical corners and get a great 4K TV at a lower price than our other picks. It features a vibrant, color-accurate QLED 4K display and excellent brightness that can easily combat the sunniest living rooms. TCL also supports HDR10 and Dolby Vision, so you can enjoy the latest season of Stranger Things on Netflix the way it was meant to be seen. The R646 also features two HDMI 2.1 ports, so you can play games in 4K at 120Hz, with features like variable refresh rate available. At this price point, the TCL R646 is unbeatable, offering an impressive 4K picture and a brightness that provides the kind of “wow factor” that matches more expensive alternatives.

Because this TV relies on Mini LED tech, it can provide more localized dimming for content. That means light won’t seep into the dark areas and ruin the contrast ratio. That can seriously detract from the overall visual appeal. If you don’t want the Google TV version, TCL also offers a Roku version if you prefer that platform.

Best budget OLED: LG C2

Best 4K TV

4K Perfection

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Buy it used or refurbished: eBay

Specs

  • Sizes: 42, 48”, 55”, 65”, 77”, 83”
  • Display: OLED evo
  • Refresh rate: 120Hz
  • HDR: HDR10, Dolby Vision
  • Ports: HDMI 2.1 x 4, USB 2.0 x 3, Ethernet, Bluetooth

Pros

  • Sharp, vibrant picture
  • 4K/120Hz support
  • Four HDMI 2.1 ports
  • Up to 20 percent brighter than previous models

Cons

  • OLED panel could be brighter

The LG C2 has just about everything you could want out of a TV even though it’s technically last generation’s model. As the OLED designation suggests, it provides spectacular color and contrast. But, thanks to the latest generation OLED evo panel, it’s also 20 percent brighter than its predecessor. It maintains the deep blacks for which OLED TVs are renowned while pumping up the maximum brightness and overcoming one of OLED’s only inherent weaknesses. As a result, the C2 is a phenomenal all-around TV that will fit in just about any space or use case. It offers a full suite of HDMI 2.1 ports for connecting to game consoles and streaming devices. It offers an array of variable refresh rate modes to prevent artifacts and jaggies during gaming sessions. Plus, it supports just about every form of HDR you could want. If you’re not ready to jump to the C2, you can still find pretty great deals on the C1 out there. If you’re not putting it in a super-bright room, then the C1 should perform excellently while saving you some money.

Best QLED: Samsung QN90C

Samsung Q90C

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Specs

  • Sizes:
  • Display:
  • Refresh rate: 120Hz
  • HDR: HDR10, Dolby Vision
  • Ports: HDMI 2.1 x 4, USB 2.0 x 3, Ethernet, Bluetooth

Pros

  • Very bright
  • 4K/120Hz support
  • Four HDMI 2.1 ports
  • Excellent overall picture quality

Cons

  • Ports live on the TV instead of on an auxiliary box

If you want a bright display, QLED still reigns over almost everything else on the market. It’s not just about brute force brightness, however. Samsung has been refining its QLED TVs for years, and the company has managed to squeeze exceptional picture quality out of its QLEDs at every level. This is the high-end stuff, though, and it’s worth the extra investment. Samsung employs some of its most powerful image processing in this display, which allows it to excellently upscale content of just about every kind.

Despite its relatively skinny stature, this TV offers excellent built-in sound. I was genuinely impressed with the stock sound performance during my review period with the TV. I fired up Godzilla vs. Kong on Blu-ray, and the visuals were predictably meticulous, but the sound was also impressively boomy and clear despite the lack of extra help.

I still find Samsung’s TV UI clunky. I typically just remember the buttons that get me where I want to go rather than trying to navigate the on-screen menus. And I would have loved for Samsung to put the ports on an external box like it has with the OLEDs and other high-end models. But that’s not a deal breaker.

At the end of the day, this is a killer TV that will perform in literally any room. While it’s capable of impressive brightness, it doesn’t rely on it as a selling point. With Film Maker Mode turned on, it can reproduce all the color and contrast accurately and elegantly.

Best for gaming: Sony Bravia XR A90J

Best for gaming

Gaming Nirvana

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Buy it used or refurbished: eBay

Specs

  • Size: 55”, 65”, 83”
  • Display: OLED
  • Refresh rate: 120Hz
  • HDR: HDR10, Dolby Vision
  • Ports: HDMI 2.1 x 2, HDMI 2.0 x 2, USB 2.0 x 3, Ethernet, Bluetooth

Pros

  • Gorgeous picture
  • Ample ports and features for gaming
  • Built-in Chromecast and AirPlay

Cons

  • Expensive

The Sony Bravia XR A90J features a fantastic 4K picture that produces perfect blacks and a relatively bright HDR experience for an OLED. It also supports a wide color gamut, high contrast ratio, and a fast response time, ensuring every game, movie, and TV show looks flawless. It also features Variable Refresh Rate support, a gaming staple, and special PS5-exclusive features, like automatically switching in and out of HDR mode when you start playing a game or other HDR-compatible content on the console. If we’re being honest, the A90J is pretty close to fitting in our “overall” and “best OLED” categories, but we feel it’s best suited for gaming, especially if you’re playing on a PS5.

Because this model is technically a generation old, you can typically find it at a very affordable price, compared to other TVs with similar overall picture quality and specifications. Don’t be afraid to save yourself some cash to buy video games.

Things to consider when choosing the best 4K TVs

When searching for the best 4K TVs, we focused on finding models that balance display quality, color accuracy, port selection, gaming features, and price. Together, these elements help us distinguish between a good TV and a great one.

QLED vs. OLED

Two luxury display technologies are central in lighting up the best 4K TVs. On a technical level, OLED and QLED take different approaches, but both enhance the brightness and contrast of your TV, improving its picture quality over older models.

Organic Light-Emitting Diode displays, or OLED for short, are currently considered the cream of the crop among high-end 4K TVs. Though it shares three letters with “LED” TVs you’re more familiar with, OLED is actually an entirely new display technology. In OLED TVs, each pixel generates its own light, allowing these sets to turn individual pixels on and off. This gives viewers more life-like blacks, rather than the darkest possible gray. You also won’t see any light bleeding out into on-screen shadows, as they do on older LCD TVs.

Quantum Dot Light-Emitting Diode displays, commonly known as QLED, are a next-generation upgrade of the conventional LED TV. QLED TVs feature a transmissive layer of “quantum dots” in the screen panel, enhancing a TV’s color, brightness, and contrast. High-end QLED TVs pair that with a backlighting feature called “local dimming,” which allows your TV to enhance or reduce its brightness in specific areas to improve contrast, not unlike OLED displays.

OLED displays offer sharper contrast and “true” blacks that QLED can’t replicate, so they are the premier choice if money is no object. On the other hand, OLED TVs feature comparatively low brightness, which may be a liability in a living room with a lot of natural light. However, manufacturers have begun to remedy that problem by introducing new materials into the OLED formula.

Since QLED panels are based on LED technology, you can find them in a wider variety of price points than OLED. That said, there’s a big difference between an affordable QLED TV with moderately enhanced colors and a top-of-the-line QLED model with local dimming and other enhancements.

As always, the best way to find your preference is to go to a showroom and see the difference for yourself. Short of that, we recommend letting price and logistical considerations guide you to one type of TV or the other.

High dynamic range (HDR)

High Dynamic Range, or HDR, is a display technology that allows your TV automatically its brightness to create more contrast between well-lit and darkened on-screen elements. In situations with challenging lighting, it enhances the overall image with greater detail and color depth. Let’s say you’re looking into a dark room from the outside: HDR can simultaneously display detail in the bright space outside and inside the dimly lit room. TVs with HDR are also capable of displaying more vibrant, varied colors. In addition to enabling more precise contrast, bright colors will look more full and vibrant.

There are a few different standards of HDR, including HDR10, HDR10+, and Dolby Vision. HDR10 is the most widely adopted and is an open, free standard supported by everything from 4K TVs to Blu-ray players. Dolby Vision offers a few advantages over HDR, including “dynamic” metadata, which allows your TV to adjust its brightness on a scene-by-scene or frame-by-frame basis. HDR10 uses “static” metadata, which means it sets brightness levels once for the content you consume. HDR10+ also uses dynamic metadata similar to Dolby Vision.

Generally, today’s top TVs feature support for a few different HDR standards, but for the best possible HDR experience, you’ll want Dolby Vision or HDR+.

Refresh rate

Refresh rate, measured in Hz (Hertz), refers to the frequency your TV refreshes what’s on the screen every second. Refresh rate has been a core feature on computer monitors for some time but has only become a serious consideration for TVs in the last two years. If you’re buying a high-end TV for gaming and own either a PlayStation 5 or Xbox Series X, you should hold out for one that supports a higher refresh rate.

Prior to 2020, all TVs supported the same 60Hz refresh rate. Most TVs still do, and that’s perfectly fine for watching streaming services, cable, movies, and playing most consoles. With the PS5 and Xbox Series X, though, you have the ability to play some games at up to 120 frames per second, unlocking smoother animations. Likewise, some live sports broadcasts will benefit from a higher refresh rate.

HDMI 2.1

To enable 4K at 120fps, your TV must support HDMI 2.1, the newest version of the standard TV connection for plugging everything from cable boxes to game consoles to streaming devices.

HDMI 2.1 can transfer data at up to 48Gbps, theoretically allowing you to watch 10K video at 120Hz on the right TV. For now, you only need it to watch or play in 4K at 120Hz on the small number of games that support those specs on PS5 and Xbox Series X

There are other reasons you’ll want it, though. HDMI 2.1 supports many other features that can enhance your viewing and gaming experiences, including Auto Low Latency Mode (ALLM), a feature that enables Game Mode on your TV (if that feature is available) and typically reduces input lag. It also opens the door for Variable Refresh Rate (VRR) over HDMI, which can stabilize volatile frame rates in games.

Unfortunately, TVs equipped with HDMI 2.1 don’t always support every feature introduced by the latest standard. Making matters worse, manufacturers aren’t always transparent about the HDMI 2.1 features supported by their TV. You’ll have to pay close attention to what the manufacturer says when purchasing … and then get coordinating HDMI cables.

FAQs

Q: How much does a 4K TV cost?

Since buying a new TV almost always means buying a 4K TV, prices range from a few hundred dollars for a budget 40-inch TV to upwards of $4,000 for a top-of-the-line 70- to 80-inch OLED. Beyond size, brand name, display technology, and other factors may impact the price from model to model. We’ve broken down the top TVs by size, display technology, and more, so check with our other, more specific guides if you’d like more help narrowing down your options.

Q: What size 4K TV should I choose?

Ideally, you should pick the size of your display based on the size and layout of the room where you will put it. According to the Society of Motion Picture and Television Engineers, you want to place your TV far enough away so that it fills up at least 30 degrees of your horizontal field of view.  For a 55-inch 4K TV, ideal for bedrooms and dorm rooms, you should sit about 7.5 feet away. That is the target, but getting a little closer or further away is fine, depending on your room and what size TV you can afford.

For more help figuring out where to put your TV, check out our handy guide.

Q: Should I get an 8K TV?

Short answer? No, not yet.

While manufacturers are pushing the technological envelope with giant 8K TVs, there is currently little to no 8K content available right now. An 8K TV can upscale 4K content, making it look sharper, but we wouldn’t recommend buying an 8K TV just for that. Realistically, there will be better, more powerful, and more affordable 8K TVs on the market by the time it makes sense for even a niche home theater fan to buy an 8K TV.

Final thoughts on the best 4K TVs

You can’t go wrong with our recommendations if you want to upgrade to a 4K TV. You’ll get top-notch picture quality, ample port selection, and support for next-generation technology, including HDMI 2.1 and the latest HDR standards. The good news is there has never been a better time to jump on the bandwagon with more ways to enjoy 4K content, thanks to streaming services and next-generation consoles. The LG C1 is, pound-for-pound, the best 4K TV available, hitting all the essential benchmarks while offering an incredible OLED image. Once you see the higher resolution yourself, you’ll wonder what took you so long to upgrade. 

Why trust us

Popular Science started writing about technology more than 150 years ago. There was no such thing as “gadget writing” when we published our first issue in 1872, but if there was, our mission to demystify the world of innovation for everyday readers means we would have been all over it. Here in the present, PopSci is fully committed to helping readers navigate the increasingly intimidating array of devices on the market right now.

Our writers and editors have combined decades of experience covering and reviewing consumer electronics. We each have our own obsessive specialties—from high-end audio to video games to cameras and beyond—but when we’re reviewing devices outside of our immediate wheelhouses, we do our best to seek out trustworthy voices and opinions to help guide people to the very best recommendations. We know we don’t know everything, but we’re excited to live through the analysis paralysis that internet shopping can spur so readers don’t have to.