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, depending on your use, you can find models that can serve you well in this price category. 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.
We've tested over 70 TVs in the past two years, 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 and the best 48-49-50 inch TVs, or if you don't mind spending a bit more, the best 4k TVs under $1,000.
The best 4k TV under $500 that we've tested is the Hisense 55H8G. It performs surprisingly well considering its low price point and has fairly thin bezels that help it look more premium than its price would suggest. It uses the Android TV smart interface, which gives you access to a very large selection of apps and allows for a ton of customization.
It has an excellent native contrast ratio that's further enhanced by its full-array local dimming feature, something that's impressive to see included in this price range. This makes it a great choice for watching movies in a dark room, and its high peak brightness means that you shouldn't get too much glare, even if you watch a lot of daytime TV in a bright room. Fans of sports and games will also appreciate the good response time and incredibly low input lag.
Unfortunately, like with most models with a VA panel, its viewing angles are quite poor, so it's not the best choice if you watch with a large group of people. Also, while it's good for HDR content due in part to its wide color gamut, it can't get nearly as bright with HDR content as some more expensive options, so HDR images won't pop the way they should. That said, this is an impressive option for its price and is the best TV under $500 that we've tested.
If you're looking for something smaller, then check out the Samsung UN43TU8000FXZA, which is also available up to 55" under $500. It doesn't have a local dimming feature and can't get as bright as the Hisense H8G, but it has even lower input lag and significantly better black uniformity. Unfortunately, due to its lower peak brightness and much narrower color gamut, it isn't nearly as good for HDR content, and it isn't quite as good with motion handling. On the bright side, thanks to its small size and the ability to properly display chroma 4:4:4, it's a great choice to use as a very large computer monitor.
Overall, if you want a TV with much better overall picture quality and better HDR performance, get the Hisense; however, if you want something a bit smaller, go with the Samsung.
The best TV under $500 for gaming we've tested is the Vizio M55Q7-H1, also known as the M7 Series Quantum 2020. It's an overall good model that performs well for most content. It's well-suited for gaming in the dark, as it has a VA panel that can produce deep blacks. It has good reflection handling but doesn't get very bright, which means that visibility can be an issue in well-lit environments. Unfortunately, its narrow viewing angles make images look washed out from the side, so it isn't the best option for wide seating arrangements.
It has a low input lag to make gaming feel incredibly responsive and a good response time to deliver clear images in fast-moving scenes. Also, it has an optional Black Frame Insertion feature to further reduce motion blur. The refresh rate is limited to 60Hz, but it should be good enough for most casual gamers. It supports FreeSync variable refresh rate, delivering a nearly tear-free gaming experience. It also has an 'Auto Low Latency Mode', which enables 'Game' mode when a game is launched from a compatible device, saving you the hassle of having to do it manually.
If you game in HDR, it has an outstanding color gamut to produce a wide range of colors, but it doesn't get bright enough to make highlights pop. Also, its full-array local dimming feature is mediocre and can be distracting in dark scenes as it raises black level considerably, making blacks look slightly grayish. On the upside, its VA panel is immune to permanent burn-in, so you don't have to worry about playing the same game for long periods. Overall, this is a feature-rich TV that should please most people.
If you find a 55 inch TV too small, you can get a bigger 65 inch Samsung TU7000 and remain within a $500 budget. Like the Vizio M7 Series Quantum 2020, it has a VA panel that's well-suited for dark rooms. It also has low input lag, but its response time is a bit slower, resulting in slightly more motion blur in fast-moving scenes. Unfortunately, there's no VRR support to reduce screen tearing, and the overall HDR experience is sub-par because it can't display a wide color gamut and doesn't get very bright. Samsung's Tizen OS has more apps, though, making it a good option for those who get their content through streaming services.
Overall, the Vizio is better for gaming due to its faster response time and VRR support. However, if you want something bigger and don't mind a few compromises, go with the Samsung.
The LG NANO81 is the best TV under $500 with wide viewing angles we've tested. It's an overall decent model that uses an IPS panel, so you get an accurate image when viewed from the side, great for large rooms and wide seating arrangements. It has an outstanding design with thin borders on all sides and should fit easily into most settings. It's better suited for a moderately-lit room, as it doesn't get bright enough to fight intense glare, and its low contrast ratio makes blacks look grayish in the dark.
The response time is decent, which results in just a short blur trail behind fast-moving objects, but there's no Black Frame Insertion feature to improve clarity. Fortunately, its somewhat slower response time means there's almost no stutter in lower frame rate content like movies. Also, it can remove judder from 24p sources and native apps. It has incredibly low input lag for gaming, but sadly, it doesn't support any variable refresh rate technology.
While it has excellent coverage of the DCI P3 color gamut for HDR content, it simply doesn't get bright enough to make highlights stand out the way they should. On the bright side, LG's WebOS platform is excellent, as it has an interface that's easy to navigate, and there are plenty of apps available for download. The remote has a microphone built-in, allowing you to use voice control to search for content. Overall, it should please most people, and it's the best TV under $500 with wide viewing angles we've tested.
11/24/2020: Minor text and structure changes. Added Vizio M7 Series Quantum 2020 and LG NANO81. Removed TCL 55S535 and LG UN7300.
09/25/2020: Added the TCL 5 Series 2020 as 'Best Gaming' and the Samsung TU7000 as an alternative; added the LG UN7300 as 'Best with Wide Viewing Angles'; removed the LG UM7300, TCL 5 Series 2019, TCL 4 Series 2019.
07/28/2020: Replaced the Hisense H8F with the newer Hisense H8G due to availability.
03/31/2020: Replaced the TCL 6 Series 2018 with the Hisense H8F as a main pick, added the Samsung TU8000 as an alternate. Updated Notable Mentions to reflect market prices.
01/02/2019: Made the TCL 65S525 main pick for 'Best Value for Size', with TCL 65S425 as 'Slightly Cheaper Alternative'. Changed LG 49UM7300 to LG 55UM7300 and Hisense 55H8F to 50H8F to reflect recent price changes.
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. 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.