Cheap vs Expensive 4K TV: What’s The Difference?

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The biggest differences between a cheap vs expensive 4K TV is the picture quality, features included, I/O, and processing power. All of these can effect your experience with your new TV. More expensive 4K TV’s are typically objectively better – however, does that matter?

As the holiday season and Black Friday approaches, the need to know what TV to buy becomes more apparent.

There is a lot of marketing that exists to make you think that you need to buy an expensive 4K TV. But, are all of the features that they include really worth it? Or should you just go with something that is cheaper?

Well, we’re going to go over 4K TV’s as a whole, types of features you should expect, and things to consider when purchasing.

Check out our Guide to the Best 4K TV Under $300!

What is a 4K Resolution (4K TV)?

4K refers to the resolution of pixels that is output by the display. Technically the resolution is 3840 x 2160 pixels (also referred to as 2160p). It is nicknamed 4K (or 4,000) because there is almost 4,000 pixels in horizontal resolution of the display.


When it comes to 4K vs 1080p or 2160p vs 1080p, there is a large difference in pixels. We go more in-depth on the difference between 2160p and 1080p here, but it’s basically 4 times more resolution!

Smaller vs Larger 4K TV (Screen Size)?

In 4K TV’s, the screen size will determine the pixel density. So, if you have two 4K TV’s, 42-inch and 65-inch, they’re both the same amount of pixels. However, the 65-inch screen will have more real estate for the pixels to be spread out over. So, you have a lower pixel density in the 65-inch compared to the 42-inch.

This is an important thing to consider when purchasing any TV or monitor. When you’re considering 4K TV’s, always remember that a bigger screen doesn’t give you better resolution, all 4K TV’s have the same resolution.

What to Look for in a 4K TV?


What features should you be looking for in a 4K TV? When it comes to cheap vs expensive 4K TV’s it is important to remember what is important to you and your viewing experience.

  • Location: Consider where the TV will be going; living room, basement, bedroom. This can help you determine how bright your TV should be (based on if the room is going to be very bright), if you need external speakers, and how you’re going to mount it.
  • Screen Size: Along with location, make sure the TV will fit wherever you’re planning on placing it. Also, make sure it’s the right size for your needs. If you’re going to be sitting very close, smaller is better, and vice-versa.
  • Speakers: Speakers are one of the most overlooked pieces of a good TV viewing experience. External speakers or sound bars are incredibly important in a setup and should not be overlooked.
  • Design: While this isn’t as important as it used to be, your TV should match your room well and fit the look.
  • Curved vs Non-Curved: Curved TV’s have been less and less common because they really don’t do a whole lot for viewing experiences. But, you should know which type of TV you’re looking for and what is best for your room.
  • Mounting: Consider how your TV will be mounted; stock legs, wall-mount, shelf-mount, or TV stand.
  • WiFi / Smart Features: Smart TV’s are almost uncommon nowadays. However, it is still a feature you need to consider. If you plan on using an external device (like an Amazon Fire Stick for example), then you might not need the best Smart features. But, if you don’t then that might be something you should look for.
  • HDMI / Ports: Often overlooked, having an adequate amount of I/O connections on the back of your TV is extremely important. If you need to hook up things like a gaming console, Smart device, cable box, or other connections, you need enough ports!

So, those things are a bit more complicated to look for because it really depends on your specific use case. However, there are several features in 4K TV’s that you should look for regardless (or at least be aware of).

  • Brightness
  • Color Accuracy
  • LED / OLED / LCD
  • Compatibility
  • Brand
  • Bezels
  • Thickness

Cheap 4K TV’s


When it comes to a cheap 4K TV you don’t typically loose features that you would on an expensive 4K TV. Although you won’t have them all, you usually get “not as good” versions of these features.

For example, a cheap 4K TV will usually have a very slow processor and poorly designed Smart TV hub. While this might not sound like a huge deal, it makes an enormous difference. Processors can drastically affect the speed of your TV, therefore affecting the experience of using it.

Additionally, while cheap and expensive 4K TV’s will both have the same number of pixels (resolution). They will not have the same quality of pixels. The difference between OLED and LED is unbelievable and makes a huge difference.

Cheaper TV’s might also lack a lot of I/O ports. So you’ll only have 1-2 HDMI’s, 1 audio output and maybe only one USB port (they have been getting better about this though).

There are several other differences in the features, however the biggest for us is the Smart features. Having a fast, responsive and working Smart TV is very important. There is two ways to accomplish this; use a Smart Device or get a good Smart TV. When it comes to speed, performance and reliability you definitely get what you pay for when it comes to 4K TV’s.

Expensive (Premium) 4K TV’s


Expensive or premium 4K TV’s are basically the opposite of cheap ones. They have a lot of premium features, as you would expect! However, do you really need these features is the question?

One feature that we really think everyone or most everyone should use is the upgraded processor and software. This can make a huge difference in your experience. But, if you don’t ever plan on using the TV’s software (and use something like a Fire Stick), then you shouldn’t have any worries.

However, when it comes to features such as Smart Color or Motion modes, we typically shut those off and they aren’t worth paying the premium for. Even certain audio systems that are marketed with TV’s, for us, we prefer an external speaker setup. So, those included systems that you’re paying for are useless to us.

Additionally, you’re paying for an upgraded screen quality, which is a big difference for some people. But, for some, they will never even notice the difference between a $500 TV and a $3000 TV. You also will get smaller bezels, a thinner display and a more sophisticated stand (although TV’s have become pretty much thin enough).

Final Verdict: Cheap vs Expensive 4K TV

So, when it comes to 4K TV’s, should you go cheap or expensive? The main differences between a cheap and expensive 4K TV is the features, performance and quality of the product. While you might get a objectively much better product with a more expensive 4K TV, you might also not use half of the features they include.

It really comes down to what you’re using the TV for, and what you’re looking for – if you are a cinema buff with the eye for the slightest detail, then yes a more expensive TV is for you. But, if you are just a person looking for a bigger TV that works, then the sky is the limit!

I would recommend something in the $700-$1200 for most individuals. While this can vary depending on screen size, this price range is in the medium level for 4K TV’s and should provide you with the best value.

In conclusion, your best bet is to find the best value in any screen size you’re looking at and go for that one! But, before you do, check out our Guide to the Best 4K TV Under $300!

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