TCL C745K (55C745K) review

TCL redefines ‘bang for your buck’. Again Tested at £629 / AU$1699

4K TV: TCL 55C745K
(Image: © What Hi-Fi?)

What Hi-Fi? Verdict

Although quite a step down from TCL’s flagship C845K, the C745K still has lots to offer for relatively little money


  • +

    Exceptional value

  • +

    Good contrast and colour

  • +

    Flexible and enjoyable gaming display


  • -

    Some backlight limitations

  • -

    Big step down from the C845K

  • -

    Lacks a few subtle set-up options

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.

With TCL having redefined expectations of the £1000 (ish) 65-inch TV market in both feature and performance terms with its current C845K model, hopes have to be high that it will be able to achieve the same trick with its step-down C745K model – as represented here by the 55-inch 55C745K. 

This step-down model loses the Mini LED lighting of the C845K, as well as reducing the brightness and dimming zone count. Its full array with local dimming panel, Quantum Dot colours and eye-catching gaming features, though, mean that it still has more than enough goodies up its sleeve to make it another major bargain. Provided it actually performs well, of course.


4K TV: TCL 55C745K

(Image credit: What Hi-Fi?)

The 55C745K costs just £629 in the UK and $1699 in Australia – prices that put it so much towards the lower end of the mid-range market that it almost qualifies as a budget set. Despite its specifications and feature list sounding more appropriate to the higher end of the mid-range market.

The C745K range also includes 65- and 75-inch models priced at just £749 / AU$1399 and £978 / AU$1799 respectively. If you want to step up to TCL’s spectacularly bright, Mini LED-toting 55-inch 55C845K, meanwhile, you’ll need to find £849 .

The C745K range is not available in the US. The Q750G series seems to be the closest US model in specification and feature terms, but we can’t say confidently that this review should be considered as also applicable to the Q750G.


4K TV: TCL 55C745K

(Image credit: What Hi-Fi?)

The 55C745K looks decent enough for its money, but at the same time probably won’t be seen sashaying down any TV catwalks.

On the upside, the metallic-looking frame around its screen is narrow enough to almost let pictures feel borderless, and it’s nice to find such an affordable TV fixed to a fairly narrow, centrally mounted stand that can fit easily onto even quite small bits of furniture. The stand raises the TV just enough to fit a fairly slim soundbar under the screen if you wish.

The rear panel is quite chunky by today’s standards – though, aside from it making the TV stick out if you’re wall-hanging it, we don’t particularly mind a bit of rear bulk on a direct-lit LED TV given that trying to make such screens ultra-slim has the potential to upset their picture quality. 

TCL has tried to glam the chunky rear up a bit by etching into it a crosshatch pattern, but not for the first time we find ourselves reflecting that the vast majority of TV users don’t spend any amount of time looking at their TV’s behind anyway.

The 55C745K’s build quality feels a bit lightweight and plasticky when you’re first putting it together, but you can’t really notice this from a regular viewing distance. 

Shipped with the 55C745K is an unusually long and thin remote control that feels more comfortable to hold than you’d expect from looking at it, despite being a pretty plasticky affair. It sports a fulsome array of buttons rather than going for a stripped-back ‘smart’ approach, but those buttons include one for a mic so that you can control the TV by voice, as well as a decent selection of direct app buttons that includes Prime Video, Netflix and YouTube. 


4K TV: TCL 55C745K

(Image credit: What Hi-Fi?)

The TCL 55C745K is a 55-inch ‘Full array with local dimming’ TV. This means it’s illuminated with regular-sized (as opposed to Mini) LEDs positioned directly behind the screen, various zones of which can have their light output controlled independently of each other to produce more contrast. 

We counted 120 of these independent dimming zones – a high number for a 55-inch TV at this price, though a bit more of a step down than we’d ideally have liked to see from the 576 you get with TCL’s step-up, Mini LED-equipped C845K series. TCL rather grandly claims, though, that the 55C745K’s optical image microstructure can still support 10 million levels of fine light control.

The 55C745K’s colours are provided by a Quantum Dot system – another pleasingly premium finding for such an affordable TV that promises a wider colour gamut than you’d customarily expect at the C745K’s price point.

TCL 55C745K tech specs

4K TV: TCL 55C745K

(Image credit: What Hi-Fi?)

Screen size 55 inches (also available in 65 and 75 inches)

Type LCD

Backlight Direct LED w/ local dimming

Resolution 4K

HDR formats HLG, HDR10, HDR10+, Dolby Vision

Operating system Google TV

HDMI inputs x 4 (2 x HDMI 2.1)

Gaming features 4K/120Hz, VRR, ALLM, Dolby Vision game mode


Optical output? Yes

Dimensions (hwd) 71 x 123 x 7cm

The C745K’s panel is VA rather than IPS, which experience suggests will deliver better contrast and black levels, and gamers will be very happy to hear that the screen supports 120Hz refresh rates for the latest in high frame-rate gaming. In fact, TCL claims the screen can deliver ‘144Hz’ motion clarity for people with 144Hz PC cards. 

That’s just the start of the C745K’s gaming story too, as it turns out. Also onboard are VRR (including the AMD FreeSync Premium Pro format), Dolby Vision gaming complete with a proper fast-reacting Dolby Vision game mode, and a dedicated game home screen that shows you key input signal information as well as providing quick access to gaming aids such as a shadow enhance mode for raising the light levels of dark areas to spot lurking enemies, and an aiming crosshair. 

The screen is very responsive, too – input lag with 60Hz feeds in Game mode is just 13.2ms, which more than halves with 120Hz game feeds.

The only gaming limitations we found are that only two of the TV’s four HDMIs support every gaming feature, and that it wasn’t possible to game in Dolby Vision at 120Hz. Our resident Xbox invariably reverted back to HDR10 when we tried to use 120Hz frame rates.

We’ve already revealed in passing that the C745K supports Dolby Vision HDR alongside the basic HDR10 and HLG systems. It turns out, though, that TCL’s TV also supports the HDR10+ system which, like Dolby Vision, adds extra scene-by-scene picture information to the HDR feed. This is an excellent bit of format open-mindedness to find on such an affordable TV. 

The format support doesn’t end there either, for the 55C745K has also been certified by IMAX as delivering pictures good enough to do justice to the specially mastered IMAX Enhanced films found on a few 4K Blu-ray titles and some streaming platforms.

Despite its price, the 55C745K is able to power its pictures with an AI-powered processor in the shape of the third generation of TCL’s AIPQ system. This has tendrils in most of the key elements of TV picture quality, though the way its workings are integrated into the TV’s menus is a bit inscrutable.

The C745K’s smart features are provided by Google TV. While this means you get the familiar attractive if rather ‘heavy’ Google TV menus, it also means you don’t get the catch-up services for all of the UK’s key terrestrial broadcasters. TCL has committed, though, to working around Google’s blind spots by sending out a free Roku stick to any British 55C745K buyer who requests one.

The Google platform means the built-in voice control is Google Assistant, but it also works with Alexa if you have an Alexa listening device. Google TV brings with it Google Casting support as well, of course, but Airplay 2 is also available for Apple users. 


4K TV: TCL 55C745K

(Image credit: What Hi-Fi?)

The TCL 55C745K joins its step-up C845K siblings in punching considerably above its price weight. Maybe not quite as far above it as the C845K, but more than enough to keep TCL’s reputation for unbeatable value intact.

As hoped, the combination of a VA panel, direct lighting and local dimming results in some very impressive black levels by the standards of such affordable LCD TVs. With the TV’s Local Dimming feature set to High, there’s only a faint hint of greyness hanging over dark scenes, meaning that such scenes look believable and consistent rather than flat and drab.

The local dimming system is good enough, too, to deliver these impressive black levels without robbing light image highlights of winning amounts of brightness and intensity. In fact, contrast looks substantially more punchy and high dynamic range sources appear with more of their available light range than they do on really any other similarly cheap TV we can think of. 

This combination of contrast and brightness plays nicely with the 55C745K’s Quantum Dot colours too, bringing out an impressively wide colour range but also making sure there’s more subtlety in fine blends and gentle tonal shifts than we typically see with ‘punchy’ affordable TVs. 

To be clear, we’re not talking about a level of colour mastery or refinement to threaten the best premium TVs. But it’s good enough on the C745K to stop even exceptionally vibrant HDR sources (including the latest HDR games, which, aside from a touch of motion blur when not gaming in 120Hz, look great) from looking cartoonish or coarse.

The C745K’s exceptional vibrancy does, it turns out, owe a big debt to a Dynamic Colour feature that’s available with all picture presets bar the accuracy-focused Movie one. Turn this feature off and saturations fall back to much lower mid-range TV ‘norms’. Yet the fact that the Dynamic Colour feature isn’t available with the Movie mode suggests that the colour punch it delivers is not entirely founded on accuracy. 

Given how flat things look without this feature in play, though, our bet is that most 55C745K buyers will prefer to leave it on and get both a more engaging experience and a fuller flavour of what the TV is capable of. Though in an ideal world, it would have been nice if TCL had provided more control over this powerful feature – even if only by adding a ‘medium’ strength setting for it.

Despite its good brightness and colour response for such a cheap TV, the 55C745K manages to avoid heavy clipping (loss of subtle shading and details) in the brightest areas of HDR white and colour. Provided, anyway, that you don’t use the ‘Brightness Priority’ setting of the TV’s Dynamic Tone Mapping feature. 

The Balanced Priority option of this unusually presented but actually quite logical feature delivers the best all-round results with most content, while the final Detail Priority option tends to make things a little too dull for comfort in its bid to ensure that no highlight of an HDR feed goes unshown. 

The need for care when setting the 55C745K up also extends to its Local Dimming system. Setting the local dimming to Low or Off rather than High causes a startling reduction in the screen’s black levels, introducing so much greyness that shadow details start to go missing, dark scenes become much less natural and immersive, and you suddenly start to see lots of backlight clouding that wasn’t there before.

It’s fortunate, then, that as mentioned earlier the High local dimming setting works so well for the most part. That’s not to say it’s perfect, however. In particular, it can sometimes leave you clearly able to see the local dimming system’s workings during dark shots. Different LED lighting zones sometimes quite visibly adjust their light levels, for instance, while at other times different light zones noticeably pop in and out of the picture as bright objects move around a mostly dark backdrop. 

These signs of slight backlight overactivity disappear with the local dimming setting on Low or Off. But then, as hinted previously, you lose much of the black-level prowess that’s such a key part of the C745K’s success. Ultimately, we couldn’t help but wish TCL had provided the TV with a bit more flexibility in the Local Dimming setting – an extra Mid-strength setting, perhaps. 

To be clear, overall the 55C745K’s backlight handling is generally still far above what you have any right to expect for such a low price. It’s just that with a bit of fine-tuning, it could have been even better – and a bit less of a step down from the backlight performance of TCL’s C845K range. 

Now that we’ve started in on comparisons with the C845K, there are a couple more of note. too. First, while bright by sub-£650 TV standards, the C745K is substantially less bright than its more expensive sibling. Second, the C745K’s pictures aren’t as consistently crisp or sharp – chiefly because the C745K’s panel suffers more with blur/resolution loss when showing moving objects and camera pans. An issue that isn’t fixed in any useful way by the TV’s motion processing options.   

Of course, though, it’s only to be expected that a cheaper model in a brand’s range won’t perform as well as a step-up one. Judged against more direct competition its pictures remain very good – just not quite as stand-out good relative to the competition as those of the C845K.


4K TV: TCL 55C745K

(Image credit: What Hi-Fi?)

The C745K’s sound is, like its pictures, better than you’d expect for its money, but quite a step down from the C845K.

On the upside, favourite movie and TV show soundtracks enjoy a detailed, crisp presentation underpinned by a dynamic and open mid-range that’s able to move through a decent number of gears as action or horror scenes escalate towards raucous and dense climaxes. 

Vocals emerge with clarity even during very dense soundtrack moments, yet at the same time don’t sound artificially bright or over-exposed, and all of these above strengths are at least partly down to the C745K being able to get pretty loud for such an affordable TV without the speakers starting to distort or drop out.

Bass is nowhere near as potent and deep as that delivered by the C845K’s large dedicated low-frequency woofer, but again it’s still richer and more consistently present than it is on the majority of TVs in this price range. It can start to crackle and pop a bit during movie excesses such as the opening bass drops of Blade Runner 2049, but such monumental moments cause many more expensive TVs problems too.

One other niggle is that treble sound effects can get a little shrill and bright at high volumes. But neither the C745K’s bass nor treble limitations are severe or common enough to represent a serious issue on a 55-inch TV that only costs this much.


4K TV: TCL 55C745K

(Image credit: What Hi-Fi?)

The 55C745K is another strong TCL contender that delivers seriously impressive bang for your buck. Its features, picture quality and sound performance are all comfortably above par for its price point, and we can’t think of any other TV in the same price ballpark currently that can double up so effectively as a gaming monitor. 

It’s a little bit more of a step down from TCL’s brilliant C845K range than we’d ideally have liked given that the price difference is relatively small, but if £630 / AU$1700 is as far as your budget can stretch, the 55C745K represents truly outstanding value.


  • Picture 4
  • Sound 4
  • Features 5


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