Best 43-inch TVs in 2021, small but still cinematic 4K TVs

The best 43-inch TVs still offer high-end 4K Ultra HD picture quality, even if you can't fit a giant wonder-screen into your life

Included in this guide:

Best 43-inch TVs 2021, Samsung AU9000 TV sitting on a wooden TV bench, in front of a curtain and window
(Image credit: Samsung)

The best 43-inch TVs remain massively popular, though you might not realise that when looking at the latest elite-level models, which tend to only come in larger sizes. Giant TVs sell well, no question, but for so many people a 43-inch TVs is all they want – or need, depending on the size of your room!

That's definitely true if you're looking for a TV for back-to-school season – a 43-inch TV is about the biggest that most people's bedrooms can accommodate, or is ideal for a shared living room TV in a student house.

Happily, while the best 43-inch TVs might not include the absolutely peak of TV technology, they do come in some excellent mid-range models that make for excellent value when balancing image quality with price. And even better, when it comes to smart TV features, they tend to be exactly the same as even the highest-end models, so for ease-of-use, these are top-notch.

You'll find that the best 48-to-50-inch TVs start to really add some options for higher picture quality at a higher price, and that only builds if you step up to the best 55-inch TVs – but you'll also see that there's a huge amount of crossover between the TVs we have here and larger sizes. For most people, the quality of these TVs is right at the sweet spot.

So don't expect the same ultra-high-end panel tech as the very best TVs (in particular, there are zero OLED TVs available in this size so far) but you will find advanced image processing and streaming features here, and those are some of the most important things. Some will include great gaming features too, though at the moment none has the HDMI 2.1 features that the best gaming TVs offer (though perhaps that isn't a problem for you).

And there's no lack of support for HDR formats for truly modern viewing – that, and they're all 4K, naturally! You can get some really impressive stuff, especially when you consider that all of these models are well-priced enough to be in our lists of the best TVs under £500 and best TVs under £1,000. If you're keen on HDR, make sure you keep an eye out for brightness levels, if you can get 600 nits or higher, you're likely to have a very good experience. 

But there's well-priced, which you'll find here all year round, and then there's super well-priced, which is where the best Black Friday deals really excel. If you're ready to pick up a 43-inch TV and are waiting for a price that fits your budget, then November is the time to buy. And with our live prices below always displaying the best deals around, you're guaranteed to bag yourself a bargain just in time to kick off the festive season.

Best 43-inch TVs: the list

Samsung The Frame (2021) looks more like a work of art than a TV

(Image credit: Samsung)

QLED image quality in a smaller screen

Reasons to buy
+Impressive 4K QLED screen+Displays artwork when powered off +Loads of smart features
Reasons to avoid
-No Dolby Vision support-Average sound quality

A stunning 43-inch set you should take a look at is the Samsung The Frame (2021) - it's one of the smallest TVs with Samsung's QLED technology. 

The benefits of QLED are far-reaching but to sum it up, you get a wider range of colours, higher peak brightness, and support for HDR10+. It also boasts the AI-enhanced Quantum Processor to upscale HD and SD content, and get the best out of the 4K panel.

You’re guaranteed to be impressed by the image quality but that’s not what makes this TV so special. Samsung has put a lot of thought into making this a part of your living room decor and not an addition to it. Samsung The Frame (2021) has customisable bezels which you can match to your living room, and when it’s switched off, it transforms into an artwork or digital photo frame. You’ll no longer be plagued by a big unsightly slab of glass hanging on your wall, this is game-changing. 

You can choose from 1,400 different pieces of art from the Art Store if you pay a monthly subscription fee. Or upload all of your favourite shots from your phone to the set. 

So surely there must be a downside right? Well, the sound isn’t amazing. In fact, it’s pretty average, so it could be worth investing in a soundbar as well if you choose this set. 

Outside of that though, this is an impressive masterpiece of a TV, you can find out more about it in the Samsung The Frame (2021) review

Samsung AU9000 on white background

(Image credit: Samsung)

2. Samsung 43AU9000

The best budget 43-inch TV

Reasons to buy
+Excellent 4K image quality+Easy-to-use smart TV system+Great for gaming
Reasons to avoid
-Not great sound-No Dolby Vision

This is Samsung's highest-end TV from 2021 that doesn't include its QLED panel technology. This brings the price down nicely compared to its 2021 QLED sets, but you won't feel like you're getting budget image quality. When it comes to detail especially, this really takes advantage of being a 4K set – everything is beautifully sharp and crisp. It's also really strong at upscaling from HD, so the majority of stuff on streaming services still looks great on all those pixels. Colours and contrast are handled better than you might expect too, while motion control is also impressive. 

Samsung Tizen smart TV platform is one of the best around, combining comprehensive app support with being really easy to use and to navigate. Connectivity here is solid, and the extremely low response time in the gaming mode will be really welcome to gamers. It's just a really impressive package overall, with the one exception being the sound, which is average at best. Here's our full Samsung AU9000 review.

sony x85j led 4k tv

(Image credit: Sony)

3. Sony KD-43X85J

The best 43-inch TV for gaming

Reasons to buy
+Absolutely superb image processing+Excellent built-in sound system+Chromecast, AirPlay and HomeKit
Reasons to avoid
-One HDMI 2.1 port is also the eARC

The Sony X85J is a very impressive 4K TV, with some features that'll appeal to gamers including twin HDMI 2.1 ports, low input lag and a 120Hz variable refresh rate. It's a backlit LED TV with strong contrast and impressive blacks, but the absence of localised dimming means you may notice some grey haloing in darker scenes.

The big draw here is Sony's image processing, which just goes from strength to strength: the picture quality here is excellent, with vivid, realistic colours and impressive HDR. The processing is handled by the 4K HDR Processor X1, and Sony's Triluminos Pro delivers a wide colour gamut and more natural-looking colour than many similarly specified rivals. The upsampling is particularly good on 2K images, but it's pretty great on Full HD too. And the built-in speakers are much more meaty than the timid tweeters you often find in LED TVs.

The downsides? One of the HDMI 2.1 ports is also the eARC, so you may need to sacrifice HDMI 2.1 to your soundbar or AV receiver, and until a week ago some of the promised gaming features weren't yet available; that's been fixed now, and there's a firmware update that adds ALLM, HGiG and VRR to the X85J.

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Samsung AU7100 TV on white background

(Image credit: Samsung)

4. Samsung 43AU7100

The best ultra-cheap 43-inch TV

Reasons to buy
+Great 4K detail+Strong colours and even contrast+Top smart TV platform
Reasons to avoid
-Not very deep blacks-Only two HDMI ports-No Dolby Vision

This is Samsung's cheapest 43-inch TV from its 2021 range, and it's a very impressive performer for the price. Colours are rich thanks to HDR support (including HDR10+), its detail with 4K movies and TV is truly impressive, and it upscales from Full HD 1080p pretty well.

It struggles with standard definition content by comparison, and its black levels are more 'very dark grey' than 'black', but that's standard for budget TVs. This set makes sure that its very dark grey is even across the whole panel, though, which means it's very watchable overall – our full Samsung AU7100 review notes just how well it performs compared to anything else that's so budget-focused.

And Samsung has still packed in its excellent Tizen smart TV platform, meaning that it's just as capable as much more expensive TVs when it comes to streaming service support and ease of use. If you want a really low-price TV that feels like a more premium set when you're scrolling through the menus, this is perfect.

Hisense A7200G TV on white background

(Image credit: Hisense)

5. Hisense R43A7200G

A budget 43-inch TV with good specs and Roku's smart TV platform

Reasons to buy
+Well-specced for the price+Roku TV is excellent+Strong image quality
Reasons to avoid
-Limited upscaling from SD video-Not great sound

This set really belies its extremely low price. The image quality won't compete with the likes of QLED sets, naturally, but it's pleasant to watch, delivering composed 4K pictures with natural and convincing colours from HDR sources. It reaches reasonably deep for black levels, and white highlights are clean, though the brightness is limited – no surprise given the cost.

It handles upscaling from Full HD well, though SD viewing is more significant downgrade. That's again typical for the price, and it's no worse than most of the competition. Similarly, the sound is fine, but not fantastic.

But the provision of three HDMI ports and the Roku smart platform are real bonuses. The Samsung TV above only has two HDMI ports, so this is much more future-proofed for attaching multiple consoles/set-top boxes and so on. And Roku's software is absolutely wonderful – it's very slick, very easy to use, and is packed with essential streaming apps. Our full Hisense A7200G review talks more about it.

Sony KD-43XH8505 on white background

(Image credit: Sony)

6. Sony XH85 KD-43XH8505

The best high-end 43-inch TV

Reasons to buy
+Attractive design+High-end features+Dolby Vision & Dolby Atmos
Reasons to avoid
-No HDR10+

The Sony XH85 benefits from the company’s design expertise, showcasing a striking metal finish that uses an aluminium bezel and metal blade stand. However this attractive 43-inch 4K TV isn’t all surface cosmetics, and also uses an Ultra HD Triluminos panel with edge LED backlighting. It includes the latest X1 4K HDR image processor that enables wider colours and brighter highlights for HDR, while Sony’s Motionflow XR 800Hz motion processing results in smoother and more detailed motion.

The XH80 doesn’t just deliver minimalist looks and impressive picture quality, it also sounds great thanks to decent speakers, powerful amplification and Sony’s Clear Phase technology. As with all of Sony’s TVs the XH80 uses the Android operating system, making it an excellent 43-inch Smart TV that not only includes built-in Google Assistant, but also works with Amazon Alexa. Overall the Sony XH80 is a superb 43-inch HDR TV that proves even at smaller screen sizes, you can still have a high-end experience.

Sony XH8096 on white background

(Image credit: Sony)

7. Sony KD-43XH8096

The best 43-inch TV for sport

Reasons to buy
+Excellent image processing+Great motion for sport+Dolby Vision & Dolby Atmos
Reasons to avoid
-No HDR10+

The Sony XH80 boasts all the picture processing features associated with the Japanese manufacturer, making it the ideal 43-inch LCD TV for sports fans. The 4K Triluminos panel uses edge LED backlighting and includes the X-Reality PRO image enhancing engine. As a result colours are wider and highlights brighter for HDR, while Sony’s Motionflow XR processing produces smoother and more detailed motion with fast-paced sports action.

The XH80 doesn’t just deliver an impressive picture, it also delivers the sonic goods thanks to decent speakers, plenty of amplifier grunt and Sony’s Clear Phase technology. This is also a great 43-inch Smart TV thanks to the Android OS which includes built-in Google Assistant, although it also works with Amazon Alexa. Overall, the Sony XH80 is a solid 43-inch 4K TV regardless of what you’re watching, but will particularly please sports fans.

TCL EP658 sitting on grey surface, with white background

(Image credit: TCL)

8. TCL 43EP658

The best budget 43-inch TV

Reasons to buy
+Dolby Audio+Good smart features+Great value
Reasons to avoid
-No Dolby Vision/HDR10+-No Dolby Atmos

If you're looking for a solid 43-inch Smart TV, but only have a limited budget, then the TCL EP658 ticks the key boxes for a remarkable price. This 4K LCD TV uses an edge-lit 10-bit panel, with micro dimming, AI image enhancement tech, quad-core processing, and support for HDR10. There’s also Dolby audio and a solid sound system that uses full-range speakers with decent amplification for a TV.

However, where the EP658 really impresses at this price is with its smart platform, which uses the same Android operating system found on more expensive models from Sony – including the two above! As a result, it offers all the associated benefits, including a built-in Google Assistant, extensive video streaming apps, and support for Freeview Play, which provides easy access to all the UK catch-up services. Here's our full TCL EP658 review, which talks about where it excels, and where its limitations are.

Best 43-inch TV: What to look for

For many people, a 43-inch TV is the perfect size for smaller UK living rooms. It’s big enough to deliver a detailed picture at a sensible viewing distance, but not so big that you feel you’re in the front row of the cinema. 

As a general rule, the best viewing distance is around twice the diagonal screen distance. So for a 43-inch smart TV, you should ideally be sitting about seven to nine feet away, though these are only rough guidelines.

A 43-inch TV is the first screen size where you can really begin to enjoy the higher resolution benefits of 4K Ultra HD. LCD panel technology still dominates because the smallest OLED TV is 48 inches, but you will start to see manufacturers employing direct LED backlights and local dimming for a superior picture. 

The HDR performance will also improve, with wider colours from technologies such as QLED, and increased brightness.

Some manufacturers will also include their full smart TV platforms, which is a bonus, since it gives you access to catch-up TV and streaming services without any additional boxes needed.

The one thing you shouldn't expect from many 43-inch TVs is blockbuster built-in sound. A few have more impressive speaker systems than others, but the small size and lower price means it just isn't a huge focus for most of them. Their sound will be perfectly adequate, of course, but not cinematic. Our list of the best soundbars has some excellent compact options in a range of budgets, though, if you want to upgrade the audio.

Stephen Withers
Stephen Withers

Steve Withers is a professional calibrator and freelance journalist who regularly contributes to T3, reviewing audio and video products, and writing articles. Steve has been writing about audio and video products for over ten years and, along with T3, he also contributes to TechRadar, Trusted Reviews, Expert Reviews, AVForums, Pocket-lint, Home Cinema Choice, and Wired. Steve is Level 2 certified with THX, the Imaging Science Foundation (ISF) and the Home Acoustics Alliance (HAA). As such, he remains abreast of all AV technology developments and the latest industry standards as we transition into a new era in home video and audio.