► Getting a dash cam could save you money
► The best value for money you can get
► This article is constantly being updated with the latest deals
Dash cams have been growing in popularity over the past decade and it's easy to see why. There are probably more benefits to owning a dash cam than you’ve realised, and they currently represent peace of mind to over a million UK motorists and counting.
But which one to buy?
Our team looked at over 40 cameras to narrow down the cheapest dash cams for the highest quality. We know that finding a reliable model on a budget is not easy, and like we’ve found time and time again, paying the extra dollar doesn’t always mean you’re getting a better product. After interrogating the most reasonable dashcam options available today, we’ve found the below list to be our current top favourites.
So why do you need a dash cam?
Depending on your insurance provider, getting a dash cam can reduce your monthly premiums – and in the event of an accident, a dashboard camera can also be an invaluable piece of kit. As well as proving an accident wasn’t your fault, dash cams will often increase the speed of settlements and help you hang on to your no-claims bonus, too. That’s the dash cam essentially paying for itself right there. What’s more, they're a great safeguard against a more unsettling trend; those increasingly popular 'crash-for-cash' crimes.
The best cheap dash cams
Below our team have narrowed down the UK’s best value devices, ensuring the footage is accurate and useable to make it a worthwhile investment. This involves looking at the reliability of the recorded footage, the features included and the quality of the product overall.
You can spend much more than this, but you may not need to. For those looking to purchase a dash cam, but not sure of what they’re after exactly, we’ve also put together a handy buying guide at the end of this article.
The best budget dash cams:
Easy to use, reliable, and with sound performance, it's hard to disparage this budget dash cam. It's not very stylish but that hardly matters when it performs so well. The large three-inch screen is the same size as what you find on the top-end Nextbase dash cams, for example, and makes the dash cam simple to use.
The S680 records in FHD 1080p at 30fps; it has six infrared LEDs around the lens to help improve night vision, plus WDR software to improve image clarity. Having a 170° wide angle is also very useful and also 30° wider than Nextbase dash cams.
|• High image quality||• Some may find the larger screen intrusive|
|• Great value|
Orskey CameraCore S900 Bundle
Best value bundle
This Orskey bundle offers wonderful value-for-money, consisting of the dash cam, rear camera, and 32GB SD card. It's not some cheap nonsense: the rear camera is waterproof; and the dash cam has the usual features, including a 170u00b0 wide lens, but of particular note, the high quality Sony sensor making in excellent in low light.
It's very similar performance to the S680 above.
|• Great value bundle||• Not the best looking dash cam|
|• Intuitive functions|
Iiwey S3-4K Wi-fi Dash Cam
Best budget 4K dash cam
Upgrading from FHD to 4K is quite a big leap forward in recording quality. It's kind of like a modernising home renovation. There are a lot of cheap 4K dash cams on the market but we recommend this one because it balances value and quality rather than sacrificing the latter for the former.
It still features all the necessities: recording at 30fps; G-sensor; loop recording; and 170° wide lens. However, it also features a Sony sensor for improved night vision, Wi-Fi, GPS, and a large three-inch touch screen. It can be hard-wired too but requires the kit for it.
|• Small and discreet||• Small screen|
|• 4K recording|
|• GPS and Wi-Fi|
Ring Automotive RDC30
Best budget dash cam with GPS
GPS is a very handy, additional security feature that allows you to see the route you travelled at the time of an incident and how fast you were going. This can be really useful additional evidence if you are concerned about protecting yourself while on the roads from negligent drivers.
The RDC30 records in 1080p FHD and has a wide view angle of 150°. In addition to a G-sensor, loop recording, and Wi-Fi-enabled live view mode via Ring's dash cam app, you still get built-in GPS. Like the others here it has a three-inch screen, but we also like the simple magnetic mount. The only downside here is that the maximum memory card size the RDC30 will take is 32GB.
|• GPS and Wi-Fi||• Considerably more than the Orskey model|
|• Magnetic mount|
The best overall dash cam
We don't just test the budget models - some advanced dashcams and well-known brands are well worth the extra outlay, but whether it's worth spending more than the selection above really depends on how involved you want to get with the technology. Our overall favourite dash cam, the Nextbase 622GW (check the full in-depth review with footage here) below offers more than just basic recording, but many advanced features rely on smartphone interaction and extra apps.
The best of the best
If there's an Apple of dashcams, it's Nextbase. Over several years, they've evolved sensors, mounts and optics that refine the user experience to the point that now, the mounts are powerful magnets, the software's quick to set up, and the build quality is clearly superior to lower-cost alternatives.
Having said that, the focus on 'quality' does mean there are fewer crazy features. What the 622GW does offer is done incredibly well. From the first step - the mount - to the downloading and sharing functions, it's seamless and 'just works'. Magnetic attachment means no clips or dangling leads, and the mount design is efficient and unobtrusive, so finding the best position on the windscreen doesn't mean sacrificing your view out.
Even in the flat, tight-spaced confines of a Jeep windscreen it's possible to hide the camera entirely behind the mirror. For cars with bulky sensor arrays, it's low-enough profile to sit in a space as compact as the sunvisor. You can use a suction-cup or stick on mount, the former is preferable and at least when new and clean, stays firmly attached for weeks without leaving any residue, even in direct sunlight.
You can choose a default frame rate and resolution - with a 16GB card there's no reason to use anything less than 4K, but you can also film in HD resolutions at 120 frames per second; while that would be good for accident assessment, you need to select it - it doesn't automatically change modes when detecting an incident. Of course, what's most important is the quality of the image. Clarity, exposure and detail are very good. NextBase were one of the first to use a circular polariser to cut reflections and enhance the readability of number plates, and this is now perfectly integrated; everything about the 622GW has been fully developed and researched, unlike quickly-packaged reference designs branded by overnight firms.
Where the 622GW shines for the end user is in the sheer ease of use, from automating the smartphone's Wi-Fi connection to What Three Words location, and automatic connection to emergency services in the event of an accident, it's a thorough, polished system all the way through. The high cost is justifiable if you want the best.
How to buy the right dash cam, and what to look for
When it comes to finding the best dash cam for you, there’s a fair few factors that contribute to making a model the right one for your needs.
The first and most obvious is the quality of the footage. In the event of an incident, if you can’t rely on that footage to prove your case, it’s a waste of an investment so you need to make sure it’s reliable in all conditions. This is the first thing we looked at when rating the above dash cams.
The main specification that you need to look out for here is the video resolution, so for this the recording needs to be 1080p at least - 720p just isn’t good enough. All of the dash cams mentioned here are 1080p or above, but there are other image quality features that come into play to really make it a quality product.
These include the frame rate (how many frames are captured per second), having ‘low light performance’ features (meaning it can see well at any time of day), a high dynamic range (good levels of contrast in the image) and the widest lens possible (minimum 120 degrees).
Other features that might impact which dash cam is best for you, come down to your use of the camera, how it looks & is mounted and accessing the footage. For instance, screens are useful if you are doing more one-off recordings such as a specific journey or track run, but for everyday driving where you are continually recording, you may want something less intrusive. However, if you don’t care about aesthetics, this may not be an impact factor.
Mounting can be another important feature, since you may wish to move the cam between vehicles. Most dash cams utilise suction cups that fit the windscreen, however, some models come with 3M double-sided adhesive stickers to offer a more permanent and secure solution.
Accessing the footage can either be done via mobile apps or by plugging the device into your computer; the former of course offers more instant access to footage, but this bonus usually comes with a heftier price tag. If you’re happy to take on the hassle of unmounting, connecting and manually downloading the files, you’re likely to save a good few pennies, but it depends on what’s important to you. You can spot which cams can connect to your mobile by seeing which ones have Wi-Fi smartphone features.
We’ve outlined all the things that you need to consider when choosing your dash cam in a quick checklist below.
Checklist for choosing a quality dashcam:
• HD Quality Video (1080x1920)
• High frame rate
• Has 'low light performance' features (measured in ISO)
• Ideally has a wide lens type (120+ degrees)
• High/wide dynamic range (good levels of contrast)
• G-force sensor (most have this) when the sensor is triggered it specifically saves that segment
Optional but useful features:
• Ease of installation
• Ease of access to footage (eg. phone apps)
• GPS – tags the video at location
One thing to note is that we found the cleanliness of the windscreen and back window hugely impacted the quality of the video. It might seem obvious but it’s a key point to bear in mind if you’re going to make the investment, especially if your visits to the car wash are somewhat infrequent; for optimal results, ensuring that your car is well-maintained will be one of the greatest factors in obtaining clear, usable footage.
Fitting your dashcam
Cheap dash cams are often reasonably priced for a reason, be that a slightly more fiddly setup, or wires that need a bit of negotiating, but if you’re looking to save on pennies, a cheaper model can certainly be worth the extra effort. The same goes for the dash cam installation: you can either plug the cam into your cigarette lighter and go; opt to fit the dash cam yourself with an installation kit costing between £5-£20; or get it fitted professionally.
Service stores such as Halfords offer fitting services from £30, or if you buy your dash cam through RAC they can include the fitting as part of the dash cam package, however the first cam we would consider buying from their range starts at £69.00, and that still has a limited angle range of 140 degrees.
Since cigarette lighter sockets usually turn off with your engine, you may wish to hardwire the cam to take advantage of parking sensor features. The internal battery of some cams may last a little while, but they can never outlast a hardwired cam. If you drive every day, the cam can recharge via the cigarette lighter port, but otherwise hardwiring your cam is the cleanest and best option to leverage overnight monitoring.
If you’re worried about the dash cam draining your car’s battery (possible, if you don’t drive that frequently) you can also install a battery pack to keep things topped up. Since these can cost anything from £100-£300 though, you might just want to run to the shops once a week to keep your car battery healthy and happy.
We really rate this unit but it's currently out of stock, we'll update this article when it's available again.
This dash cam offers real-time display and replay on its 3-inch screen, with a fairly intuitive interface. But some may find this larger screen intrusive. Along with the usual features, it also offers a 170 degree field of view, F2.0 aperture, 1920x1080p FHD and 60fps lens, making it the best quality non-4K camera in our list. The DC001 also has audio recording options, and both suction cup and adhesive mounting stickers.