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17 Feb 2021

How much should you spend for a good TV?

Our tests show that a bigger price may not mean a better TV. We reveal what to expect at different price points, and how to get a great TV whatever your budget
Someone shopping for a TV on a laptop

Now is a fantastic time to buy a TV. In a couple of months, 2020 models will be replaced by TV brands' 2021 ranges, so those old sets will need to make way for new ones. And many retailers will be cutting the prices of 2020 TVs to help them off the warehouse shelves.

But even TVs with end-of-life discounts will still cost anywhere from £300 to more than £2,000. So wherever your budget lies on that spectrum, how good a TV can you expect?

The differences between a cheap TV and an expensive one might be less significant than you think. Pay more and the bezels (the edges around the screen) might be a bit thinner, the screen a bit bigger and you'll find more HDMI inputs at the back - but more zeroes on the price doesn't necessarily mean a better TV.

We've analysed the scores of the hundreds of TVs we tested in 2020 to reveal the quality you can expect of TVs in different price ranges.

It's a great time to buy a new TV - get one of the best by choosing from our pick of the top five 4K TVs.

TV price range: £500 or less

This may be the cheapest bracket, but there are plenty of TVs that cost less than £500. Typically the TVs at this price will be pretty basic, but there are some mid-range models.

Even cheap TVs are typically 4K sets, with contrast-boosting HDR, but they will likely only support the basic formats (HDR10 and HLG) - our HDR guide explains why this matters.

You'll usually get the same smart TV features on cheap LG, Panasonic and Samsung TVs as on higher-end models, as smart TV platforms are surprisingly consistent across TVs at different prices. The exception is Sony, which didn't use the superior Android TV platform on its cheapest 4K TVs from 2020.

How good are TVs at this price?

You won't find many exceptional TVs in this price range, and plenty aren't worth even their low cost, but you'll also find the odd gem; our top scorer is a Best Buy.

  • Average test score: 60%
  • Highest score: 72%
  • Lowest score: 39%

TV price range: £501 to £750

If you can afford a bit more than £500, you'll start seeing Dolby Vision HDR on some 2020 TVs. This can adjust contrast to suit each scene, which helps prevent HDR content looking too dark or bright.

Unfortunately you won't find any OLED TVs in this price range - these use the latest technology to deliver exceptional screen quality in very slim sets - as these cost £1,000 or more.

However, there are some QLEDs available. Samsung is the champion of these displays, which use quantum dots to create a brighter, more vivid image. At least that's the claim. Our guides to OLED TVs and QLED TVs explain how each technology works.

How good are TVs at this price?

There are Best Buys in this price range, but there are also plenty of sets that miss the mark by miles, so you'll need to be selective.

  • Average test score: 62%
  • Highest score: 74%
  • Lowest score: 44%

TV price range: £751 to £1,000

You're getting into high-end territory now, with more QLEDs, though you'll still need to spend a touch more to get the cheapest OLEDs.

Advanced HDR formats are all but guaranteed and superior processors lead to a more precise image as well as SD and HD footage that looks closer to 4K - or at least, that's the hope.

How good are TVs at this price?

High-end tech doesn't always work as it should and manufacturer promises can come to nothing. You're more likely to get a good TV if you spend this much, but there are still some unimpressive models to avoid.

  • Average test score: 67%
  • Highest score: 78%
  • Lowest score: 56%

Samsung QE65Q800T

TV price range: £1,001 to £1,500

There aren't many TVs that will be out of your grasp if this is your budget, though 8K TVs, and very big OLEDs cost more.

You can expect cutting-edge features and technology, including higher frame-rate screens for a smoother viewing experience - particularly when gaming, plus HDMI eARC inputs that support higher-quality audio signals with sound bars and home cinema systems.

How good are TVs at this price?

There are some exceptional TVs at this price, including one of our two best TVs of 2020, and you shouldn't buy anything other than a Best Buy.

  • Average test score: 70%
  • Highest score: 81%
  • Lowest score: 58%

TV price range: more than £1,500

Our top scorer in this price range, while impressive, failed to beat the best-scoring TV in the next price range down, showing you don't need to spend top dollar for a stunning TV.

You may want to, though, particularly if size matters. If you want an OLED 65 inches or bigger or an 8K TV, you're looking at spending close to £2,000, or even more.

How good are TVs at this price?

Your chances of getting a great TV are pretty good at this price range, but we've also tested some sets that are downright disappointing given the high cost.

  • Average test score: 72%
  • Highest score: 81%
  • Lowest score: 62%