A few years ago, if you wanted to buy a decent LCD TV, chances were that you wouldn't be able to find any good models under $500. Although the best models are still priced higher, you can find cheap models that can serve you well in this price category, depending on your use. Keep in mind that most models are available in a wide range of sizes as well, so if you want the best TV under $500 but aren't willing to compromise on quality, you can always go for a smaller-sized set.
Note: Some TVs in this recommendation are slightly over $500 because TV prices are slightly rising. However, we think these recommendations are worth the slight price increase.
We've tested over 80 TVs under the latest test bench, and below are our recommendations for the best TVs under $500 you can buy. You may also want to check out our recommendations for the best budget TVs, the best 48-49-50 inch TVs, or even the best 4k TVs under $1,000.
The best 4k TV under $500 is the Hisense 55U6G. You can either consider it the best 50 inch TV under $500 or the best 55 inch TV because both sizes are in this price range, and although the 55 inch model is slightly over the price limit, it's worth the extra money. It's great overall with solid performance for most uses that most people should be happy with. We tested the 65 inch model, but the 55 inch should perform the same.
It performs well both in bright and dark environments. It gets bright enough to combat glare and has excellent reflection handling, so glare shouldn't be an issue in most bright rooms. Even in a dark environment it displays deep blacks, has remarkable black uniformity, and the full-array local dimming feature does a decent job at improving the picture quality in dark scenes. This TV comes with Android TV built-in, which is fairly user-friendly and has an excellent selection of apps available to download.
Unfortunately, it has narrow viewing angles, which is expected for a VA panel TV, so it's not a good choice for watching sports or shows with a large group of people. It doesn't have any gaming features like variable refresh rate (VRR) support, but it still has low input lag and a quick response time. Luckily, it doesn't have any trouble upscaling lower-resolution content, which is great for watching DVDs or cable TV. All things considered, it's the best TV under $500.
The best TV under $500 available in a small size is the Samsung UN43AU8000FXZA. This 43 inch entry-level TV is decent overall and is well-rounded enough for most people. We tested the 65 inch model, and expect our results to be valid for the 43 inch model too. There's also a 50 inch variant that you can get for just over $500 if you need something bigger.
It has great smart features as the built-in Tizen is easy-to-use and the menu navigation feels smooth. The remote has a mic for voice control, making it easy to play your favorite content. This TV has a VA panel with a high native contrast ratio for deep blacks when viewed in a dark room, but there's no local dimming feature to improve it. Although its SDR peak brightness is just okay, it has great reflection handling so it performs well in rooms with a few lights around too. The out-of-the-box accuracy on our unit is good, but this can also vary from unit to unit.
Unfortunately, motion doesn't look the best because it has an only okay response time, and it's particularly slow with dark transitions, leading to black smearing with dark objects. There's a black frame insertion feature to try to reduce persistence blur, but it creates image duplication. There's also a motion interpolation feature, but that also doesn't work well overall either. If you don't need any of these extra motion settings and need a simple 43 inch TV, you should be happy with this.
If you have a wide seating arrangement, then the best TV under $500 is the LG 55UP7000PUA. It's a basic entry-level model that comes with an IPS-like panel with wide viewing angles, so the image remains fairly accurate no matter where you're viewing it from. Keep in mind that we tested the 65 inch model, but we expect our results to be valid for the 55 inch model, too.
It doesn't have any trouble upscaling lower-resolution content, which is great for watching cable TV, and you can leave it on your favorite news channel all day without worrying about the risk of permanent burn-in. It's not bad for use in well-lit rooms because it has okay peak brightness and decent reflection handling, but it's best to avoid using it in a room with strong light sources. It comes with LG's webOS smart system like any other higher-end TV, which is easy-to-use and has a ton of apps available to download. However, its remote doesn't have a built-in mic for voice control.
Sadly, it's not a good choice for watching movies in SDR or HDR. Its panel has a low contrast ratio that makes blacks look gray, it has disappointing black uniformity, and it doesn't have a local dimming feature to improve it. In terms of HDR, it only supports HDR10 and doesn't display a wide color gamut, and it doesn't get bright enough to make highlights pop. Besides these issues, it's the best TV under $500 with wide viewing angles.
If you prefer something bigger, then check out the Hisense 65A6G. Unlike the LG UP7000, it costs more than $500 for the 65 inch model, but it's worth the cost. If you prefer something smaller, the 55 inch model should perform the same, but the 60 and 50 inch models don't perform like the 65 inch variant we tested because it uses a different panel type with worse viewing angles. The A6G has better smart features than the LG because its remote comes with a mic for voice control, and the Google Play app store has a massive selection of apps available to download. Picture quality isn't the best due to the low contrast and low brightness, but it doesn't have any upscaling issues.
If you want the best TV under $500 with wide viewing angles, then check out the LG, but if you want a 65 inch model, look into the Hisense.
Sep 14, 2021: Replaced the Hisense H8G with the newer Hisense U6G; removed the Vizio M7 Series 2020 and the TCL 5 Series 2020 because they're over $500 and made the Samsung AU8000 a main pick; added the Hisense A6G as an alternate; updated Notable Mentions based on market availability.
Jul 20, 2021: Replaced the Samsung TU8000 and LG UN7000 with the newer Samsung AU8000 and LG UP7000; updated Notable Mentions based on market availability.
May 21, 2021: Updated text for clarity; added the LG UP8000, Hisense R6090G, and Vizio V Series 2020 to Notable Mentions.
Mar 23, 2021: Checked that picks were still accurate with minor updates to text.
Jan 22, 2021: Moved the Samsung TU8000 to 'Smaller Gaming Alt', replacing the Samsung TU7000 as 'Larger Alt' because the 65 inch model is more than $500. Added the TCL 5 Series 2020 as 'Roku Alt' to the Hisense H8G. Replaced the LG NANO81 with the LG UN7000 because the NANO81 costs more than $500.
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 TV reviews, sorted by price from low to high. 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.