A few years ago, if you wanted to buy a decent LCD TV, chances are that you wouldn't be able to find any good models under $500. Although the best models are still priced higher, you can find models that can serve you well in this price category.
The TCL 6 Series/55R617 2018 is the best TV under $500. Its price fluctuates around the $500 mark, so it might be a few dollars more expensive when you check it out, though it's still worth it. This TV has great picture quality and can get very bright both in SDR and in HDR. It has impressive HDR performance thanks to its wide color gamut and it can display HDR content with saturated colors and highlights that pop. Its dark room performance is also impressive. The TV displays deep blacks thanks to the high native contrast ratio and full array local dimming support. Gamers will enjoy a responsive gaming experience due to the low input lag. The response time is very fast, and motion looks crisp with little motion blur trail behind fast-moving content. This TV has very good motion handling features like BFI, motion interpolation, and judder removal.
Unfortunately, the image loses accuracy when viewed at an angle, and there have been reports that the TV had issues with gray uniformity, although gray uniformity wasn't bad on our unit.
Overall, this is the best 4k TV under $500 we've tested.
If you want something a bit cheaper than the TCL 6 Series/R617 2018, check out the Hisense 55H8F instead. This TV is great and has a very similar performance overall to the TCL. The TCL is significantly brighter, which is excellent if you have a bright room, and it has better motion handling. That said, the Hisense looks much better in a dark room and has better reflection handling.
For the best performance in under $500, get the TCL, but if you'd like to save some cash without compromising much in performance and don't need as bright a TV, get the Hisense.
If you have a room with wide seating arrangement and don't usually sit straight in front of your TV, then check out the LG 43UM7300. It doesn't have the size or the dark room performance of the TCL 6 Series/R617 2018, and blacks tend to look like gray in a dark room. It also can't get very bright to fight bright room glare. On the upside, it has an IPS panel that delivers a decent picture quality with an image that remains accurate when viewed from the side. It has one of the lowest input lags we've measured up until now, and a very fast response time that'll keep gamers and those wishing to use it as a PC monitor happy.
Overall, if you sit straight in front of your TV, the TCL is the better choice; otherwise, if you don't need as big a TV, the LG will serve you well.
The best value for size in the under $500 category is the TCL S Series/65S405 4k 2018. Just like its bigger sister, the TCL 6 Series/R617 2018, its price fluctuates around the $500 mark, so it might be a few dollars above or below, especially as it's becoming harder to find. This is a good entry-level 65 inch TV, with decent picture quality and deep blacks thanks to its native contrast ratio. It lacks local dimming support to further improve dark room performance but offers a responsive gaming experience due to the low input lag, and its fast response time makes motion look crisp. It's a good choice for use as a gaming TV, although it lacks some of the more advanced gaming features like FreeSync support. Like all TCL TVs, it runs the excellent Roku TV smart platform with many apps and streaming channels, where you'll surely find what you need.
Unfortunately, it doesn't have wide viewing angles and can't deliver a great HDR performance, since it can't get very bright and doesn't have a wide color gamut.
Overall, this is a decent 65" TV that you can get for just under $500, and it'll serve you well for its cost.
If you like the Roku TV interface of the TCL S Series/S405 4k 2018 but you want a smaller alternative, then get the TCL 4 Series/55S425 2019. It has the same Roku TV interface and a very similar performance to the other TCL, but it can't remove judder from the native apps. On the upside, it has a slightly higher contrast ratio, which is great for watching movies in a dark room, and a slightly lower input lag, which is great for gamers.
If screen real estate is important, get the S405; but if you want to save some cash but want the same Roku TV interface, then get the 55S425, which is smaller but just as good.
Our recommendations above are what we think are currently the best TVs under $500 to buy for most people. We factor in the price (a cheaper TV wins over a pricier one if the difference isn't worth it), feedback from our visitors, and availability (no TVs that are difficult to find or almost out of stock everywhere).
If you would like to do the work of choosing yourself, here is the list of all our reviews of TVs that are less than $500. Be careful not to get too caught up in the details. While no TV is perfect, most TVs are great enough to please almost everyone, and the differences are often not noticeable unless you really look for them.