Best 43-inch, best 42-inch and best 40-inch TVs 2023: superb 'small' TVs

Best 40-43-inch TVs: the quick list

When I was growing up, our family TV was a 14-inch Sony Trinitron. It never seemed big, but neither was it considered to be very small, even as the five of us huddled around it for our weekly dose of Bullseye with Jim Bowen. Fast-forward roughly 30 years, and a 43-inch TV is considered by many – manufacturers included – to be pretty small.

The heyday of this size was the early 2000s (remember those 42-inch Pioneer Kuros?), but then manufacturers began pushing 55-inch TVs, then 65-inch TVs, and now they're trying to convince us all that, actually, wouldn't a 100-inch TV look great in your living room?

All of which is to say that the 40-inch to 43-inch size category has been a bit neglected in recent years, missing out on the top panel tech and fanciest specs.

Thankfully, this size category has now made a real comeback – 42-inch OLED TVs are now available and there are top-spec 43-inch QLEDs to give them a run for their (or, more accurately, your) money.

That isn't to say that budget 43-inch TVs aren't also still an option, because there are in fact loads of those about. The quality is very variable, though, so you mustn't take the plunge on a cheap 43-inch TV simply because it carries the name of a big brand.

With so many options and potential pitfalls, you'll hopefully be pleased to hear that we have a team of expert TV reviewers who test every major model launched at this (and every other) size. Below, you'll find only the best sets to have emerged from our rigorous review process; you can find out more about how we test these TVs here.

Written by
Tom Parsons
Written by
Tom Parsons

I’m What Hi-fi?’s TV and AV Editor, and I’ve been reviewing TVs (as well as soundbars, AVRs, speakers and a lot more besides) for over 16 years. In that time, 40-ish-inch TVs have gone from being considered huge to now being considered small. This is a great size for a small living room or second room, though, or as a desktop monitor for gaming. While quality was very poor around five years ago, you can now get flagship-level 42-inch OLEDs and 43-inch QLEDs, so you’re really spoiled for choice.

The quick list

The best 40-43-inch TV overall

Comfortably the best 'small' TV you can currently buy


Screen size: 42 inches (also available in 48in, 55in, 65in, 77in, 83in)
Type: OLED
Backlight: n/a
Resolution: 4K
HDR formats supported: HLG, HDR10, Dolby Vision
Operating system: webOS 23
HDMI inputs: 4 (4 x 48Gbps HDMI 2.1)
Gaming features: 4K/120Hz, VRR, ALLM, Dolby Vision game mode, HGiG
Optical output: Yes
Dimensions (hwd, without stand): 54 x 93 x 4.1cm

Reasons to buy

Sharp, solid and detailed without exaggeration
Amazing contrast
Exceptional gaming specs

Reasons to avoid

Minor upgrade on the C2
Weak sound
Slight lack of shadow detail

LG unveiled a whole new range of C4 OLED TVs back in January, but until those are available to buy – and, crucially, for us to review – the 42-inch C3 remains the very best ‘small’ TV you can currently get. 

What we have here is a near-perfect intersection of price, features and performance. There's simply no better-specified TV available at this size, with all four of the set's HDMI sockets being 48Gbps 2.1 affairs with full support for 4K/120Hz, VRR and ALLM. Gamers will also be pleased to discover that there's excellent HGiG implementation that results in more accurate HDR with many games, and Xbox Series X/S-owners will appreciate the Dolby Vision game mode, which works right up to 4K/120Hz.

The new version of webOS is slicker and quicker than before but just as app-packed as ever, and it's exceptionally easy to get the TV to produce its best picture performance.

Said picture performance features the sort of stunning contrast that only OLED can deliver, and the C3 is much punchier than rivals such as the Sony A90K (below). Colours are vibrant but natural, and there's plenty of subtlety to shading. The increased pixel density of having a 4K resolution crammed into a 42-inch display makes for superb sharpness and solidity, too.

Our only significant complaint about the 42-inch C3 is that it sounds very dull, but seeing that we almost always recommend budgeting for a dedicated sound system (such as a soundbar) with almost any TV you buy, we're not going to hold that against the little C3 unduly.

Read the full LG OLED42C3 review

The best 40-43-inch TV for sound

An astonishingly good ‘small’ OLED TV


Screen size: 42 inches (also available in 48in)
Type: OLED
Backlight: n/a
Resolution: 4K
HDR formats supported: HLG, HDR10, Dolby Vision
Operating system: Google TV
HDMI inputs: 4 (2 x 48Gbps HDMI 2.1)
Gaming features: 4K/120, VRR, ALLM
Optical output: Yes
Dimensions (hwd, without stand): 55 x 93 x 5.7cm

Reasons to buy

Supremely sharp and detailed
Excellent motion handling
Solid set of gaming features

Reasons to avoid

Not as rich or vibrant as some
Occasional black crush
LG C2 is even better for gaming

There are very few TVs out there that aren’t easily improved with the addition of a soundbar, but if you really can’t spare the space for a Sonos Ray or Sony HT-SF150, the Sony XR-42A90K does a better job of tying the audio to the on-screen action than any other TV of this size. 

It’s all down to actuators that imperceptibly vibrate the screen in order to create sound. The result is very clear, detailed, direct audio, although it’s a bit thin and light on bass, so we’d still recommend adding one of our top-rated soundbars if you can. 

The A90K uses the same panel as the LG C3 (above), so you get flagship picture performance that majors on authenticity and accuracy, particularly in regard to colours, which are rich and vibrant when required, but also subtle and nuanced. It's not quite as outright punchy and bright as the LG, but it’s brilliantly detailed and sharp, with Sony's processing including a feature that automatically enhances the depth of the image, resulting in excellent solidity and three-dimensionality. Motion-handling is still peerless, too.

Gamers will be pleased to learn that the A90K has HDMI 2.1 sockets, albeit just two of them (the LG C3 has four). These support 4K/120Hz, VRR and ALLM. There's no HGiG mode, which is a slight shame, and despite supporting Dolby Vision for movies, there's no Dolby Vision game mode. In short, the A90K is very good for gaming, but the LG C3 is even better. For movies, though, this is a great but expensive option.

If you're wondering whether there's a replacement for the A90K on the way, there isn't at this stage. While 2022's A80K and A95K models have been replaced (with the A80L and A95L respectively), the 42-inch and 48-inch A90K models are remaining in Sony's TV lineup for an extra year.

Read the full Sony XR-42A90K review

The best cheap 40-43-inch TV

Delivers a surprisingly balanced and consistent picture for such an affordable TV


Screen size: 43 inches (also available in 50, 55, 58, 65, 70, 75 and 85 inches)
Type: LCD
Resolution: 4K
HDR formats supported: HLG, HDR10, Dolby Vision
Operating system: VIDAA
HDMI inputs: 3
Gaming features: ALLM
Optical output: Yes
Dimensions (hwd, without stand): 56 x 96 x 7.4cm

Reasons to buy

Incredibly cheap
Decent black levels
Well-balanced colours

Reasons to avoid

Soft-looking motion
Limited viewing angles
Limited brightness

Considering it costs just £229 in the UK, the Hisense 43A6KTUK really has no business being as good as it is.

Just because it’s cheap doesn’t mean the spec sheet is sparse either. The 4K panel supports HDR including Dolby Vision, AI is on hand to help out with picture processing, and it runs Hisense’s unfussy VIDAA smart TV interface, which means you get all the main streaming and catch-up services. Support for Apple Airplay and Google Home devices is handy, too.

Of course, all of that would be pointless if the picture quality was no good, but it delivers surprisingly good colour and contrast for a TV at this price, with balanced and realistic tones. It’s not particularly bright, motion can be a little soft, and viewing from too much of an angle can introduce some patches of greyness, but the all-round impression is one of a TV that punches above its weight. 

Sound is also pretty good for such a cheap TV, with a wide soundstage and a decent amount of volume, and while the design is on the chunkier side, it’s mainly the back that carries the extra weight, so you won’t see that once it’s in place anyway. 

All things considered, it’s hard to be too harsh on this incredibly affordable all-rounder.

Read the full Hisense 43A6KTUK review

Also Consider

LG OLED42C4: It hasn't been released yet, but based on the prior two generations we have high hopes for this 42-inch OLED TV. It's set to get brighter this year, and include a handful of new PC-related gaming features, making it an even better choice for those who plan on using it as a desktop monitor replacement. You'll have to wait until our full review later this year to find out if its a top performer.

Samsung QN90D 43-inch: An alternative to OLED, Samsung's upcoming Neo QLED set features Mini LED backlighting, a stylish-looking pedestal stand and an impressive suite of gaming features. We gave last year's QN90C a glowing review, so we're looking forward to seeing if Samsung can deliver a follow up that's equally impressive.

Philips OLED808 42-inch: We haven't tested this size of the Philips OLED808, but the larger 55-inch model thoroughly impressed us when it landed in our test room. This is Philips' first OLED at this size, as the company has opted for larger sets traditionally. We're not saying that picture performance will be identical at this size, but we're confident that this pint sized OLED should impress, especially if you're a fan of Ambilight. 

How to choose the best 40-43-inch TV for you

The first thing to consider when buying a TV is what panel technology you want. OLED and QLED are the two main panel technologies competing in the world of TVs currently, with both featuring on this list.

OLED, the premium panel technology that powers many of our favourite TVs, features perfect blacks and striking contrast. It's capable of producing these thanks to the self-emissive pixel technology in which each pixel can light and switch off individually. The tradeoff here is brightness, as standard OLED sets struggle to hit the brightness figures of their LED backlit counterparts, and QD-OLED and MLA OLED TVs don't come in 42-inch sizes (yet). 

QLED uses LED or Mini LED backlighting based on the set and uses Quantum Dots for enhanced colour vibrancy and enhanced brightness. Although, it does so at the expense of black depths in most cases. 

Small TVs are also not the best-equipped sets when it comes to the built-in audio department. We'd recommend pairing your TV with a Dolby Atmos soundbar or AVR and home cinema speaker package to combat the weak speakers in these TVs. However, if you'd like to cut the clutter and don't mind the dropoff in sound quality, then you can check the dedicated sound section in all of our TV reviews. 

Gamers are likely drawn to these TVs thanks to their desk-friendly form factors, as these TVs are ideal monitor alternatives if you're keen on picture quality and feature sets. That being said, you'll want to check that these TVs support the latest next-generation console features; we make this easy by mentioning gaming chops in the features section of our TV reviews. Look out for 4K/120Hz support over HDMI 2.1, VRR support and ALLM if you want to get the most out of your Xbox Series X and/or PS5.


Should you buy a 40 inch TV?

You're here to look at the best 42- and 43-inch TVs, but should you actually buy one?

As we've mentioned, 40ish-inch TVs were once considered sizeable, but now its the 55- and 65-inch TVs that we test most often. 42- and 43-inch TVs still certainly have their place though, ideally in smaller living rooms or on desktops as feature-rich monitor alternatives. The LG C3, for example, makes for a great desktop gaming display. 

TVs this size are also suited to bedrooms, or for use as secondary TVs in other rooms of your house. While you can certainly go smaller if you like, you likely won't find 4K TVs smaller than this. 

Should you buy a 4K or Full HD TV?

This question is pretty much moot now, as the vast majority of TVs are now 4K. It's actually rather hard to find Full HD (1080p) models, even at relatively small sizes.

If you're buying a TV below 32 inches and can save a lot of money on a Full HD model, by all means go for it (4K won't be a huge benefit at that sort of size anyway), but otherwise 4K is both worthwhile and, in all likelihood, your only option.

Should you buy an HDR TV?

High Dynamic Range is without a doubt a much bigger deal than 8K, and certainly something you should consider before buying your next TV.

Essentially, the higher the dynamic range (brightness and colours), the more lifelike the picture. HDR offers greater subtlety and depth of gradations of colours, plus stronger contrast.

There are various types of HDR out there, and with different TV brands backing different variants, it can be a minefield trying to find the best option. Allow us to explain.

First up is HDR10, which is essentially the core HDR format that every HDR TV should support.

HDR10 is a static HDR format that applies the HDR values on a scene-by-scene basis (i.e. whenever the camera cuts to a new scene). Dolby Vision, on the other hand, applies this image information (called metadata) on a frame-by-frame basis. This dynamic form of HDR, when implemented properly, has the potential to improve upon the standard HDR10 presentation.

HDR10+ is a rival format to Dolby Vision. Created by Samsung, it also uses dynamic metadata but, whereas Dolby Vision is licensed, HDR10+ is a free, open format that any company can deploy as it sees fit.

Of these two 'dynamic' HDR formats, Dolby Vision is by far the most prevalent, both in terms of TVs and content, and if you have to choose between one and the other, that's the one we'd recommend. That said, you can now buy TVs from the likes of Philips and Panasonic that support both Dolby Vision and HDR10+.

Finally in our rundown of HDR formats is HLG (Hybrid Log Gamma), which was developed specifically for broadcasting by the BBC and Japan's NHK. It's used to deliver all of the HDR content offered by the BBC and Sky, so can be considered very important. Luckily, it's now almost as common as standard HDR10 in TV spec lists, so you should have little problem finding a model that supports it.

What inputs and outputs does your TV need?

These days, it's all about HDMI, which is used to connect everything from set-top boxes to video streamers, Blu-ray players to games consoles. Thanks to ARC/eARC (Audio Return Channel / Enhanced Audio Return Channel), a single HDMI connection can even be used to output sound to an AV receiver or soundbar at the same time as it receives a video signal.

Currently, three HDMI connections is standard on budget and mid-range TVs, while four is the norm for premium models.

The specification of the HDMI connections tends to differ depending on the price of the TV, too, with premium models now commonly getting at least one or two HDMI 2.1 sockets. These have greater bandwidth than their HDMI 2.0 counterparts and can support advanced formats such as 4K@120Hz and 8K@60Hz. Fancy gaming features such as Auto Low Latency Mode and Variable Refresh Rate are often supported via HDMI 2.1 (and some HDMI 2.0) sockets, too, though not always. It's sensible to check the specs thoroughly if there are particular features you're after.

After HDMIs, USB ports are the most abundant on modern TVs. You can use these to keep devices charged (often particularly useful for stick- or dongle-style streamers), and some TVs allow the connection of flash drives and hard drives for the recording of live TV content.

On the subject of live TV, you can expect practically every TV to have an aerial socket via which it can receive Freeview broadcasts, but many also have a satellite connection. Be warned, though; the presence of a satellite connection doesn't guarantee that there's a Freesat tuner on board. Without one, you'll receive only a patchy and disorganised selection of satellite TV channels.

Other useful connections include optical and stereo outputs, which can be used in lieu of HDMI ARC to connect legacy audio equipment. Headphone outputs are still fairly common, too, though Bluetooth is also supported by most TVs now and some models now feature the latter but not the former.

Lastly, while some TVs feature composite inputs (often via an adapter), most – even at the budget end – have phased out legacy connections such as SCART. So those clinging on to old video cassette recorders, for example, should be aware of that.

Which TV smart features and streaming apps do you need?

As with 4K, it's now hard to buy a TV that doesn't have a smart platform packed with streaming apps. Almost every TV will have Netflix, Amazon Prime Video and Disney+ on board, and Apple TV (which is great for pay-as-you-go movies as well as the Apple TV+ subscription service) is becoming increasingly common, too.

Also expect to find lots of region-specific apps such as BBC iPlayer in the UK, HBO Max in the US and Stan in Australia.

It's always worth checking that the TV you're looking at does definitely have the apps you use (or want to use), but if it comes to it any gaps can be plugged pretty inexpensively by a streaming stick or dongle.

Should you buy an OLED, QLED or LCD TV?

LCD TVs, which require a backlight usually made up of white LEDs to show a picture on the LCD panel, are available in a wide variety of screen sizes and, thanks in part to the technology's low cost of production, at affordable prices.

OLED (Organic Light-Emitting Diode) is a panel technology that uses self-emissive particles – so there's no need for a backlight. This allows OLED TVs to be unbelievably slim, while also offering convincing pitch-dark blacks, strong contrast and superb viewing angles. LG, Sony, Panasonic, Philips and now Samsung are the big brands with OLED TVs in their line-ups and, broadly speaking, they're excellent.

QLED (Quantum-dot Light-Emitting Diode), meanwhile, is Samsung’s rival technology to OLED. A QLED TV is an LCD TV but with a quantum dot coating over the backlight. However, the quantum dots (tiny semiconductor particles) in current QLEDs do not emit their own light. So QLED TVs, like conventional LCDs, rely on a backlight. The advantages of a QLED TV? You tend to get brilliantly vibrant colours, plus bright, sharp and crisply detailed images. Samsung's QLEDs have got better and better over the years, existing as a fine alternative to OLEDs TVs. Interestingly, Samsung has now launched its own range of OLED (QD-OLED) TVs, though we expect it will be a long while before those are available in the 42-inch size.

What are the drawbacks of 42- and 43-inch TVs?

There's plenty to like, but these TVs aren't totally perfect.

While there are plenty of fans of smaller sets here on the What Hi-Fi? team, we have to face some of the criticism of these models. While we've selected a set that has good sound, we find that more often than not, these TVs sound fairly poor. The smaller chassis size leaves little room for substantial sound systems, which means that audio quality is set aside. This can be rectified with a soundbar or AVR and speaker package combo, but its worth knowing in case you plan on using the built in speakers of these models.

These TVs also tend to be less cinematic than their 55-inch and above counterparts. The smaller screens often struggle to deliver the cinematic thrills that larger TVs are capable of delivering, but that's to be expected. 

How we test TVs

Testing a TV is a much more involved process than it sounds, as TVs are much more advanced than they were a decade ago. There are a lot of picture formats to consider, with 1080p, 4K and even 8K TVs on the market, and that's before we dig into HDR which comes in a variety of formats. We aim to test every aspect of the picture performance, but let's not forget what else modern TVs offer. 

Smart platforms like LG's webOS, Samsung's Tizen and Google TV (which features on a range of TVs from various manufacturers), offer a plethora of internet streaming apps including Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, Disney Plus, Apple TV+, BBC iPlayer, Channel 4 and more. We check thoroughly to ensure the TVs we review feature full compatibility with these apps. The only way to do so is by manually testing each app to ensure its outputting picture and sound in the correct formats, which can take a while.  Just because an app supports Dolby Vision and Dolby Atmos, it doesn't mean it will output it.

We also connect one of the latest gaming consoles (PS5 and/or Xbox Series X) to a TV to confirm whether it supports the latest gaming features, such as 4K/120Hz, VRR and ALLM, as well as gaming-specific HDR formats like Dolby Vision gaming. Finally, we use a Leo Bodnar device to measure input lag. 

We'd be foolish to evaluate a TV's performance with the 'out-of-the-box' settings applied, and while we don't calibrate the TV using professional specialist tools, we use our knowledge and expertise from testing hundreds of prior TVs to amend the settings. But why don't we professionally calibrate TVs? Simple, we believe you shouldn't have to go through this process to get the most out of your TV. 

We've touched upon picture and streaming smarts, but the other integral part of the TV reviewing experience is testing the sound system. While we virtually always recommend an external option (a soundbar or AVR and speaker package combo), we understand that many people will opt to use the built-in speakers with their TV; so we test them thoroughly too. 

We have dedicated testing facilities in London and Reading in which our expert team of reviewers test all of the latest TV, home cinema and hi-fi gear. These rooms are built to eliminate external factors that could influence performance variations, ensuring we have consistency across the board. We also ensure that each review verdict is agreed upon as a team, as to eliminate any personal preferences or potential outliers in the testing process. 

Each product on this best buy list, as well as all of our other best buy lists has been through our thorough review process, so you can rest assured knowing any product you decide to purchase on this list is officially What Hi-Fi? approved. 

Recent updates

  • 12th March 2024: updated our how we test, added "should you buy a 40-inch TV?" and added upcoming models
  • 28th February 2024: added new information to the 'How to Choose' section, more photos of each TV and this 'Recent Updates' section
  • 7th February 2024: converted to a new format with the 'Quick List' section at the top of the page, replaced the discontinued Samsung UE43AU7100 with the Hisense 43A6KTUK
  • 3rd October 2023: replaced the LG C2 with the LG C3 as price cuts had made the newer C3 more affordable and therefore the better buy
  • 28th March 2023: removed the Xiaomi F2 due to a lack of availability

Why you can trust What Hi-Fi? Our expert team reviews products in dedicated test rooms, to help you make the best choice for your budget. Find out more about how we test.

Tom Parsons

Tom Parsons has been writing about TV, AV and hi-fi products (not to mention plenty of other 'gadgets' and even cars) for over 15 years. He began his career as What Hi-Fi?'s Staff Writer and is now the TV and AV Editor. In between, he worked as Reviews Editor and then Deputy Editor at Stuff, and over the years has had his work featured in publications such as T3, The Telegraph and Louder. He's also appeared on BBC News, BBC World Service, BBC Radio 4 and Sky Swipe. In his spare time Tom is a runner and gamer.

With contributions from
  • Rowethren
    I was looking at this guide and was very interested in the top rated Samsung but none of the 3 variants are available anywhere. Is there an updated version of these available?