TCL 65C845K 4K Mini LED TV review

The features and price of TCL's 65C845K just don't seem compatible with each other. Here we have a 65in TV that boasts more than 2000 nits of brightness, uses Mini LED lighting and 576 separately controlled local dimming zones, and supports all the latest and greatest gaming features, yet the price tag attached to at reads just £1,049.

To put this into context, some other Mini LED models at the same size from rival brands launched at more than twice the price, and even after reductions are typically around £1,500. And some don't have as many dimming zones as this TCL telly either. The brand obviously has no intention of moving away from its strategy of somehow offering Mini LED TVs (a technology it has been at the forefront of developing) for astonishingly low prices.

If £1,049 is still beyond your budget, TCL offers the C745K lineup, which ditches Mini LED but retains direct LED lighting and local dimming. Step down even further and you reach the C64 models, which lose local dimming and use a 60Hz panel, meaning there's no native 4K/120Hz support.

TCL will Roku
Back to the 65C845K and a curious situation surrounding its smarts. Like other brands, TCL has opted for the Google TV system. And, just as with that Philips model, this means there's currently a lack of some UK TV catch-up apps, including BBC iPlayer. So TCL is offering UK buyers a free Roku TV dongle (if you contact them to request it) to make up for it.

As mentioned, the 65C845K has gamers in its sights. 4K/120Hz playback, variable refresh rates (including AMD FreeSync Premium Pro) and auto low latency mode switching are offered on two of its four HDMIs. It also carries a Dolby Vision game mode, a Shadow Enhancement mode, an aiming aid, and gets input lag down to 15.3ms in its Game preset.


Other screen sizes available are 55in, 75in and 85in

In addition to multi-HDR support including Dolby Vision IQ and HDR10+ Adaptive, the 65C845K is also one of the most affordable TVs we've seen to be awarded IMAX Enhanced status, meaning it's been deemed good enough to unlock the potential of the IMAX Enhanced mastering system used by a few 4K Blu-rays and streaming platforms.

The 65C845K's colours are created by Quantum Dots, as we'd now expect to find on a premium TV, and the third generation of TCL's AiPQ processor is provided to marshal the impressively wide range of features the set throws at its pictures.

Sound comes from an Onkyo-designed, 2.1-channel 40W speaker system capable of playing the Dolby Atmos and DTS Virtual:X formats. This setup delivers an impressively large soundstage with Atmos soundtracks, spreading to the left and right of the screen, while also achieving at least a vague sense of height.

Dialogue throughout Mad Max: Fury Road on 4K Blu-ray is clear, detailing is abundant and well balanced, and high volume levels can be achieved without it beginning to lose treble composure.

Most of the time, the TV's rear-mounted bass driver contributes a decent amount of presence and depth to Fury Road's set-pieces, and its low frequencies are well integrated with the rest of the audio band. On occasion, however, it can get a touch 'crunchy', and soundstage separation could have been more distinct during the film's biggest, densest scenes.

Explosive imagery
As plenty of buyers will use a separate sound system, the 65C845K's audio performance is just an accompaniment to the main event; its 4K HDR picture performance. And this is almost ridiculously good for a £1,049 65in TV.

Its brightness is nothing short of explosive. Daylight desert sequences in Fury Road appear more vibrant, dazzling and real (in the sense that you feel like you're watching real daylight, at least) than I can remember seeing them on a set south of £1,500. And it's not just when the screen is filled with daylight desert shoot-outs and chases that the 65C845K looks radiant; its Mini LED/local dimming-inspired light controls deliver peak HDR highlights, such as the reflections of the sun off the bodywork and glass of Fury Road's vehicles, with real fierceness.


The C845K features an LCD/Quantum Dot panel, lit by a 576-zone Mini LED backlight system

Measurements confirm that the 65C845K can pump out a massive 2,380 nits of brightness with a white HDR window covering 10 per cent of the screen in its default standard picture preset. None of the other main presets see the brightness dropping below 2,200 nits, either. These are remarkable numbers you'd normally only find on high-end LCD rivals costing thousands of pounds more.

Even when I flooded the whole screen with a white HDR test signal, the brightness output still reached between 895 and 974 nits across its different picture presets. That's around four times as bright as you'll get with regular OLED screens in the same circumstances.

Now you see him...
The 65C845K's Mini LED/local dimming combo also works well at the opposite end of the HDR experience. During the 2020 chiller The Invisible Man (4K BD), when Cecilia discovers she is being watched by her invisible adversary in her dark bedroom, this TV produces deep, convincing black colours affected by far less low-contrast grey mist than you'd think possible at this price point – provided, anyway, that you've got the local dimming setting on 'High'. I'll come back to this point later.

Fade to blacks, meanwhile, go completely black. At the same time, bright highlights in dark scenes, such as the car and screen lights that punctuate Cecilia's night-time escape from her abusive husband at the film's start, retain impact despite the depths of the blackness around them; a hugely difficult thing for any LCD-based TV to achieve.

The vivid hues, meanwhile, of Mad Max: Fury Road's blue skies, exploding fireworks and exaggerated flames, are dazzlingly potent on the Quantum Dot-packing 65C845K. Indeed, the image appears too pumped up using the set's default Standard picture setting, which feels more like a demonstration of just how far the screen can be pushed than a setting you'd actually want to watch for any length of time.

You can tame the colour to a more sensible level simply by turning off the TV's Dynamic Colour setting. Otherwise, the Movie and IMAX Enhanced presets give you more controlled colours without sacrificing too much brightness. Colours are also much better managed by the 65C845K with Dolby Vision sources.

Pumped up performance
The TV's startling brightness can also go a bit too far, causing subtle details and colour shades to clip out of the picture from time to time. And TCL's full-bore approach to brightness and colour can cause grain and colour noise to feel a little exaggerated – especially with Fury Road – if you turn all noise reduction off (something I'd normally recommend with 4K sources). So for once I'd suggest leaving the basic NR system set to Low for 4K viewing, even though this can occasionally marginally soften parts of the picture.

Really dark scenes, like the aforementioned creepy visit to Cecilia's bedroom in The Invisible Man, can highlight some limitations with TCL's Mini LED and local dimming system. Faint pools of light can spread, sometimes for a few inches, around high-contrast parts of the picture. These areas of blooming don't have particularly defined boundaries, which limits their intrusive quality, but they can cause dark scenes to look a touch uneven.

Furthermore, adjustments being made by the local dimming system are occasionally noticeable within a dark tracking shot. And some of TCL's image presets can crush out subtle shadow details in dark picture areas. The main solution to this, reducing local dimming to Low, unfortunately causes black levels to take rather a drastic hit.

For the majority of the time, though, the crisp 4K transfer of The Invisible Manlooks clean and three-dimensional, with no sense that TCL's TV is over-sharpening the image even when using its aggressive out-of-the-box settings.

The sharpness of 4K sources, on this 65in panel, is really enticing. Fast motion, however, isn't a particularly strong point. The 65C845K's default processing causes lots of smearing and haloing artefacts. Reducing the judder reduction component to around its 4 setting, rather than the default 10, makes things look much better.

Bargain hunt over
You can't reach any conclusion about TCL's 65C845K Mini LED that doesn't focus on its extraordinarily competitive price for such a well-featured flatscreen. With that in mind, its few relatively minor imperfections don't come close to stopping it from being one of the biggest bargains to date. That sound you can hear is TCL throwing down the gauntlet...

HCC Verdict: 5/5

TCL 65C845K
Price: £1,049

We say: While it needs a little care during setup, there's no other TV on the market today that provides as much brightness, colour and contrast for so little money.


4K: Yes. 3,840 x 2,160 HDR: Yes. HDR10; HLG; Dolby Vision; HDR10+ TUNER: Freeview HD/satellite HD CONNECTIONS:: 4 x HDMI (two v2.1); Ethernet; 1 x USB; composite video input; optical digital audio output 4K/120 PLAYBACK: Yes SOUND (CLAIMED): 40W (2.1-channel) BRIGHTNESS (CLAIMED): 2,000 nits CONTRAST (CLAIMED): 7000:1 (native) DIMENSIONS (OFF STAND): 1,446(w) x 832(h) x 76(d)mm WEIGHT (OFF STAND): 23kg

FEATURES: Wi-Fi; Bluetooth; USB media playback; Google TV (plus Roku TV dongle if requested); Dolby Atmos and DTS Virtual:X audio; built-in subwoofer; Apple AirPlay 2; AiPQ gen 3 processor; Filmmaker Mode; FreeSync Premium Pro and HDMI VRR; eARC; ALLM; Mini LED lighting; 576 local dimming zones; Quantum Dot colour