Preferred tv store
Updated

The 4 Best 4k TVs under $500 - October 2018
Reviews

Best under $500 TV
202 Televisions Tested
  • Store-bought TVs; no cherry-picked units
  • Retest after major updates
  • Easily comparable results
  • No ads; unbiased reviews
Learn more about our approach to product reviews here.

A few years ago, if you wanted to buy a decent LCD TV, chances are that you would not 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 that price category.  

We've tested 18 TVs currently available under $500 and below are our recommendations for the best ones you can buy in 2018.

  1. Best 4k TV under $500: Vizio E55-F1

    Usage Ratings - Version 1.2

    Test Benches: test

    • 1.2: Winter 2018
    • 1.1: Summer 2017
    • 1.0: Winter 2015
    • 0.9: Winter 2014
    • 0.8: Winter 2013
    7.6
    Mixed Usage
    What it is General purpose. The TV will be used for a variety of content and usages. Movies at night, TV shows during the day, video games from time to time, etc.
    Score components:
    7.1
    Movies
    What it is Movies in the dark. The TV will be used for watching movies in a controlled environment, directly in front, in a home theater way. Mostly only high quality content, like Blu-rays, UHD Blu-rays, streaming and a little bit of HDR.
    Score components:
    7.3
    TV Shows
    What it is TV Shows in a bright living room. The TV will be used in to watch TV shows, in a bright room during the day, from multiple viewing positions at different angles. The content watched has an average quality: cable, streaming, SD channels, etc.
    Score components:
    7.4
    Sports
    What it is Sports in a living room. The TV will be used to watch sports during the day, like football or hockey. Usually watched with a group, so from multiple viewing position.
    8.4
    Video Games
    What it is Video games. The TV will be used to play video games, directly in front, in a controlled light environment. Usually fast games, like online FPS, where motion blur and input lag is important.
    7.3
    HDR Movies
    What it is HDR Movies and TV shows. The TV will be used to watch 4k UHD HDR content, with a wide color gamut and a high peak brightness. Either via UHD Blu-rays or HDR streaming.
    Score components:
    8.1
    HDR Gaming
    What it is HDR Gaming. The TV will be used to play HDR video games using consoles that support it or on current generation gaming PCs. Xbox One S, PS4 Pro, GTX 10 series and AMD RX series graphics cards.
    8.0
    PC Monitor
    What it is PC Monitor. The TV will be used as a PC monitor, from 2-3 feet away, either for productivity purposes or gaming. Sharp text is important, as well as a high resolution.
    Score components:
    Type : LED
    Sub-Type
    What it is: Type of display technology used by the TV.
    When it matters: Different technologies have different performance and are suited to different uses
    Good value: IPS maintains good color accuracy at an angle, but has a poor contrast ratio from in front. VA has great picture quality in front, but loses saturation at an angle. OLED maintains good color accuracy at an angle without any of the other issues seen with IPS and VA, as they keep good brightness and contrast at an angle.
    :
    VA
    Resolution : 4k

    The best TV we’ve tested that is available under $500 is the Vizio E55-F1. The E Series 2018 is a good 4k UHD TV. It has an excellent contrast ratio and remarkable black uniformity (better than the more expensive TCL R617) that allow it to display deep dark scenes well. Motion handling is decent, and the response time is fast, so only a short blur trail is visible when watching sports or playing games. It also has a low input lag that gamers will appreciate.

    Unfortunately, the picture quality deteriorates when viewed from the side and the local dimming isn’t very effective at further improving picture quality. Also depending on your TV's panel, some might experience slight gray uniformity issues.

    Overall, it is a good TV that will keep most people happy considering the price tag.

    See our review

  2. Wide Angle Alternative: Sony KD43X720E

    Type : LED
    Sub-Type
    What it is: Type of display technology used by the TV.
    When it matters: Different technologies have different performance and are suited to different uses
    Good value: IPS maintains good color accuracy at an angle, but has a poor contrast ratio from in front. VA has great picture quality in front, but loses saturation at an angle. OLED maintains good color accuracy at an angle without any of the other issues seen with IPS and VA, as they keep good brightness and contrast at an angle.
    :
    IPS
    Resolution : 4k

    If you have a large room with lots of seating space, the viewing angles of the Vizio E55-F1 might not be ideal; we then suggest going for the Sony XBR43X720E. However, the screen size is 43 inches compared to the Vizio’s 55 inches, for approximately the same price. You also won’t be able to observe deep blacks due to the sub-par native contrast ratio and there is no local dimming feature on this IPS panel. Nevertheless, you will still get a decent picture quality and excellent low input lag if you choose to go with the Sony X720E.

    See our review

  3. Alternative with Wide Color Gamut: TCL 55S517

    Type : LED
    Sub-Type
    What it is: Type of display technology used by the TV.
    When it matters: Different technologies have different performance and are suited to different uses
    Good value: IPS maintains good color accuracy at an angle, but has a poor contrast ratio from in front. VA has great picture quality in front, but loses saturation at an angle. OLED maintains good color accuracy at an angle without any of the other issues seen with IPS and VA, as they keep good brightness and contrast at an angle.
    :
    VA
    Resolution : 4k

    If you want something with better HDR capabilities, get the TCL 5 Series 55S517. The S517 is much brighter in HDR and SDR and is better able to overcome glare in a brightly-lit room. It is able to display a wide color gamut, so colors are more realistic in HDR. Like the TCL S405, the S517 doesn't have a local dimming feature, but it performs decently and should please most people.

    See our review

  4. Best Value for Size under $500: TCL 55S405

    Usage Ratings - Version 1.2

    Test Benches: test

    • 1.2: Winter 2018
    • 1.1: Summer 2017
    • 1.0: Winter 2015
    • 0.9: Winter 2014
    • 0.8: Winter 2013
    7.3
    Mixed Usage
    What it is General purpose. The TV will be used for a variety of content and usages. Movies at night, TV shows during the day, video games from time to time, etc.
    Score components:
    6.6
    Movies
    What it is Movies in the dark. The TV will be used for watching movies in a controlled environment, directly in front, in a home theater way. Mostly only high quality content, like Blu-rays, UHD Blu-rays, streaming and a little bit of HDR.
    Score components:
    7.1
    TV Shows
    What it is TV Shows in a bright living room. The TV will be used in to watch TV shows, in a bright room during the day, from multiple viewing positions at different angles. The content watched has an average quality: cable, streaming, SD channels, etc.
    Score components:
    7.0
    Sports
    What it is Sports in a living room. The TV will be used to watch sports during the day, like football or hockey. Usually watched with a group, so from multiple viewing position.
    8.3
    Video Games
    What it is Video games. The TV will be used to play video games, directly in front, in a controlled light environment. Usually fast games, like online FPS, where motion blur and input lag is important.
    6.7
    HDR Movies
    What it is HDR Movies and TV shows. The TV will be used to watch 4k UHD HDR content, with a wide color gamut and a high peak brightness. Either via UHD Blu-rays or HDR streaming.
    Score components:
    7.8
    HDR Gaming
    What it is HDR Gaming. The TV will be used to play HDR video games using consoles that support it or on current generation gaming PCs. Xbox One S, PS4 Pro, GTX 10 series and AMD RX series graphics cards.
    8.0
    PC Monitor
    What it is PC Monitor. The TV will be used as a PC monitor, from 2-3 feet away, either for productivity purposes or gaming. Sharp text is important, as well as a high resolution.
    Score components:
    Type : LED
    Sub-Type
    What it is: Type of display technology used by the TV.
    When it matters: Different technologies have different performance and are suited to different uses
    Good value: IPS maintains good color accuracy at an angle, but has a poor contrast ratio from in front. VA has great picture quality in front, but loses saturation at an angle. OLED maintains good color accuracy at an angle without any of the other issues seen with IPS and VA, as they keep good brightness and contrast at an angle.
    :
    VA
    Resolution : 4k

    If the Vizio E55-F1 is out of your budget, the best value for size under $500 TV is the 55 inch TCL S405. Since this TV is less expensive, it’s normal that it won’t come packed with features. It doesn’t have any local dimming (note this feature doesn't perform well on the Vizio E-Series), has poor viewing angles and doesn’t get very bright, which isn’t ideal for a well-lit environment, but will do fine in a darker room thanks to its great native contrast ratio.

    On the other hand, it runs Roku TV, a user-friendly smart platform that allows you to easily get direct access to streaming channels on the TV instead of using a mobile device like you would have to do on the Vizio.

    Overall, the TCL 55S405 is a decent entry-level 4k smart TV for mixed usage.

    See our review

Notable Mentions

  • LG 55UK6300. Bad picture quality for the price. See our review
  • Toshiba Fire TV 2018 55LF621U19. Decent TV, but the TCL S405 is better. See our review
  • Vizio D55-F2. Good versatile TV, but not easy to find yet. See our review

All Reviews

Our recommendations above are what we think are currently the best 4k 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. 

LOG IN

JOIN RTINGS.com

Be part of the most informed community and take advantage of our advanced tools to find the best product for your needs.
Join our mailing list:

Create Discussion

Preview Back to editor Format guide

The editor uses special characters (aka. markdown).

To post formatted content follow these rules:

What you typeWhat it will look like
*italic text*italic text
**bold text**bold text
[link](http://rtings.com)link
> quoted text
quoted text
# header

header

- item 1
- item 2
- item 3
  • item 1
  • item 2
  • item 3

* Quotes and lists must be followed by a blank line