woman watching TV in living room
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What to Look For in a 4K TV in 2021

When it comes to enjoying 4K content, the television must be up to the task. Ideally, your TV will be viewable from just about any angle and offer great contrast. You want the blacks to be deep and rich without losing clarity of important details in a dark-lit scene.

Some of the best TV models use full-array local dimming to dim parts of the screen that are supposed to be dark. This can vastly improve the contrast ratio, giving you a vivid, color-rich picture.

An excellent 4K TV will also provide a fast response time, so you don’t see lag or stuttering in your video. It will also offer you enough HDMI and USB ports to plug in your cable or satellite box, gaming console, and whatever other media devices you might want to enjoy. The “top of the line” models will provide the latest HDMI 2.1 ports, along with 120Hz refresh rates.

In our guide to choosing the best TV overall, we explain two leading display technologies available. Many models, especially budget TVs, use LED-lit LCD TVs. These can provide an excellent picture but suffer from contrast issues if they don’t use the latest technology.

Then there are self-emissive OLED displays, where each pixel creates its own light. An OLED display can “switch off” individual pixels, providing almost infinite contrast ratios but risk burn-in. These different screen types have their benefits and drawbacks. Make sure you fully understand how they differ before you make your purchase.

Now, let’s look at the best 4K TVs you can buy.

Best 4K TV Overall: Samsung QN90A Series

Samsung QN90A in living room
Samsung

Pros

  • Outstanding native contrast ratio
  • Excellent use of full-array local dimming
  • Wide viewing angles
  • Terrific HDR peak brightness for a rich image

Cons

  • Noticeable blooming around bright objects
  • A bit of a dirty effect near the center of the screen in some content
  • No Dolby Vision support

The Samsung QN90A is the flagship in the company’s new Neo QLED lineup. The most significant improvement over previous Samsung quantum dot models is that this lineup uses Mini LED backlighting, allowing the screen to get extremely bright when it needs to.

At the same time, full-array local dimming turns off pixels when they’re supposed to be dark, giving you plenty of visual contrast. The only drawback to this technology is you might notice a “halo” effect around bright objects on a dark background.

You’ll also love the wide viewing angles afforded by the QLED display since your picture will be crisp and clear almost anywhere you’re sitting. Response time is quite good for an all-rounder pick, and this model even supports HDMI 2.1 with a native 120Hz refresh rate for your gaming needs.

HDR content will pop due to its excellent brightness and wide color gamut. The QN90A offers HDR10+ support, but no Dolby Vision HDR. While this isn’t the best model for gaming, the 120Hz refresh rate and Samsung’s excellent Gaming Mode make it quite suitable for your latest Xbox or Playstation titles.

Best 4K TV Overall

Samsung QN90A Series

The flagship of Samsung's newest Neo QLED lineup, the QN90A offers a great display of just about any media you might play. It may not use OLED display technology, but you almost won't notice.

Best Budget 4K TV: Hisense U6G Series

Hisense U6G on grey floor
Hisense

Pros

  • Excellent contrast
  • Fantastic black uniformity
  • Great for SDR content even in the brightest rooms

Cons

  • Image quality drops off when viewed at an angle
  • HDR content doesn't get very bright
  • Ad-supported smart interface

Hisense’s entry-level model of ULED TVs, the U6G, is our top pick for 4K on a budget. The contrast is impressive and the black uniformity is great. The U6G backlighting has almost no discernable flicker, and the set even has a decent local dimming feature.

The only aspects you may not like are a limited viewing angle and advertisements scattered throughout the smart interface. As long as you don’t try this LED TV in a room with a wide seating arrangement or a large group of people, the Hisense U6G is terrific for watching sports, TV shows, and SDR movies in a bright room. You’ll want the room darkened for HDR movies since the display doesn’t get very bright in HDR mode.

Gaming is surprisingly good on this Hisense model, with excellent response time and an input lag low enough to rival more expensive televisions. If you’re looking for HDMI 2.1 support or variable refresh rates, though, this won’t be a good fit for you.

Vizio also offers an excellent range of budget 4K televisions, but our pick stays with the Hisense U6G because it provides similar performance and features at a more budget-friendly price.

Best Budget 4K TV

Hisense U6G Series

This entry-level 4K television may not support all of the latest features, but it's still an excellent choice for a budget 4K TV. You'll love the contrast and black uniformity, no matter what you're watching.

Best 4K TV for Gaming: LG C1 Series

LG C1 in living room
LG

Pros

  • Full support for HDMI 2.1 on all HDMI ports
  • Nearly infinite contrast ratio makes your game graphics pop
  • Perfect blacks without any visible blooming

Cons

  • Risk of permanent burn-in
  • Brightness is limited, especially for HDR content

LG hasn’t always beat out Sony for the best gaming TVs, but its new C1 series OLED manages to beat the competition. The 2021 LG C1 is terrific overall, offering an outstanding experience whether you’re watching your favorite TV series or HDR movies.

The C1 truly shines when paired with the latest gaming consoles, and is the best 4K TV for the PS5 and Xbox Series consoles. It offers four HDMI 2.1 ports with 120Hz refresh rates on all, so you won’t be disappointed by its performance with the latest game consoles.

The built-in Game Optimizer settings will also help you navigate getting the best performance, and the television fully supports AMD’s FreeSync, NVIDIA’s G-SYNC, and HDMI Variable Refresh Rate technology.

The nearly infinite colors and contrast will amaze you in your gaming sessions, especially if the lights are out. Just be careful to turn the TV off when you step away for a break, as OLED displays are notoriously susceptible to burn-in.

Best 4K TV for Gaming

LG C1 Series

Gamers love fast response times, low input lag, and fantastic contrast when they're playing their favorite games. The LG C1 offers all of that, and more.

Best 4K TV for Movies: LG G1 Series

LG G1 wall-mounted on marble wall
LG

Pros

  • Near-infinite contrast ratio with perfect black tones
  • No blooming or haloing around bright objects
  • Excels at handling HDR10 content

Cons

  • Risk of permanent burn-in
  • Automatic Brightness Limiting can get distracting

The LG G1 series hits all the high points when it comes to watching movies. Movies, especially the latest HDR content, need special consideration to really shine.

A good television for movies isn’t just about fantastic contrast for enjoying the landscapes in your movies. You also want great response time, so the action scenes don’t lag or suffer jerkiness or strobing. The LG G1 handles all of that in style, allowing you to immerse yourself in your movies and thoroughly enjoy them.

Naturally, you also want to share your experience with friends and families, hosting your own viewing parties. This TV won’t let you down, as its wide viewing angles allow people to see and enjoy the movies, even off to the side of the display.

Whether you’re watching the latest blockbuster on Bluray or a classic film, you’ll love the features of this TV. Not even 24 frames per second (24p), a filmmaking standard for years is a problem as the G1 automatically removes 24p judder.

There are only two drawbacks to the LG G1 series. First, since it utilizes an OLED TV display, there’s the risk of permanent burn-in. Second, the television’s Automatic Brightness Limiting (ABL) can get too aggressive at times. This can be slightly distracting when you’re watching sports or playing games, but only slightly.

Overall, if you’re a movie buff, you can’t go wrong with the G1.

Best 4K TV for Movies

LG G1 Series

This television is wonderful for any content, but it's especially well-suited for movies. The nearly-infinite contrast and fast response time will keep you immersed in your favorite films.

Best 75-Inch Class 4K TV: LG C1 77-Inch

LG C1 on yellow background
LG

Pros

  • Full support for HDMI 2.1 (and 120Hz refresh rates) on all HDMI ports
  • Nearly infinite contrast ratio makes all your content look gorgeous
  • Perfect blacks without visible blooming

Cons

  • Risk of permanent burn-in
  • Brightness is limited, especially for HDR content

You know what they say—Go big or go home! LG’s C1 77-inch 4K TV happens to goes big at home with its large screen size.

The C1 offers one of the best displays on the market, with a practically infinite contrast ratio. It provides inputs for nearly anything you might want to plug into it, with four HDMI 2.1 ports, three USB ports, Wi-Fi, and Bluetooth support. Naturally, it also has an RF antenna jack, but it does lack component-in or composite-in plugs.

What it lacks in older technology, the C1 makes up for in newer. All four HDMI ports support 120Hz refresh rates, and the television is compatible with all primary forms of variable refresh rate technology. You can pass your audio through to your home stereo receiver via HDMI or an optical cable, with support for Dolby Atmos and 5.1 Dolby Digital.

The downsides to this TV are minimal for most. There’s a risk of permanent burn-in, as with all OLED TVs. Also, the TV may not be bright enough for very bright or sunny rooms. This is a television that’s happiest when lighting is more subdued or completely dark.

But if you want a large TV set to watch movies and play games on while still looking great, you’ll want the 77-inch LG C1.

Best 75-Inch Class 4K TV

LG G1 77 4K Smart OLED TV

If you're watching the big screen, make it big and beautiful. Its almost-infinite contrast ratio and fast response times will make this 4K television a fantastic centerpiece for your home theater space.

The Best TVs of 2021 for Gaming, Movies, and More

Best TV Overall
LG C1
Best Budget TV
Hisense U7G
Best 8K TV
Samsung QN900A 8K
Best Gaming TV
LG G1
Best TV for Movies
Sony A90J
Best Roku TV
TCL 6-Series R635
Best LED TV
Samsung QN90A
Profile Photo for Jeff Butts Jeff Butts
Jeff Butts was a nerd long before they got their revenge. He’s been voiding warranties since the early 1980s, when he took apart his uncle’s 286 to try coaxing a bit more power out of the Hercules graphics controller. He holds a Master of Arts in Professional Writing & Editing as well as a Master's in Computing and Information Systems. In addition to his work at How-To Geek, Jeff also writes for The Mac Observer.
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