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 260 TVs 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 so far is the Hisense 55H8G. This TV 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.
This TV 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 TVs with a VA panel, its viewing angles are quite poor, so it's not the best choice if you watch TV with a large group of people. Also, while it's a good TV 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 TVs, so HDR images won't pop the way they should. That being said, this is an impressive TV for its price and is among the best 4k TVs 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.
If you have a room with a wide seating arrangement and don't usually sit straight in front of your TV, check out the LG 55UM7300PUA. It doesn't have the Hisense H8G's dark room performance, and blacks tend to look 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 to date and a very fast response time that'll keep gamers and those wishing to use it as a PC monitor happy.
If viewing angles don't matter to you and you want a TV with much better overall picture quality, go with the Hisense. However, if your living room is set up in such a way that you tend to view your television from the side, the LG is a much better choice.
The best value for size TV under $500 is the TCL 5 Series/65S525 2019. This TV is along the same lines as other TCL TVs, as it has a VA panel that can produce deep blacks, great for dark room viewing. It has an impressive color accuracy right out of the box, so you likely won't need to calibrate it to get accurate color reproduction. Unfortunately, while it has a good peak brightness, it may not be enough to fight glare in very bright rooms, and it's certainly not enough to deliver a convincing HDR experience.
Like most VA panels, the viewing angles on this TV are sub-par, so images look washed out when viewed from the side. There are also some gray uniformity issues, as there's vignetting at the corners of the screen as well as some dirty screen effect. On the upside, this TV upscales lower resolution content well, its 10-bit panel has great gradient performance, and its response time is excellent, resulting in very short blur trails behind fast-moving objects. Gamers should be happy with its low input lag, but there's no FreeSync support and the refresh rate is limited to 60Hz.
If you often use streaming services, then you're in luck. This TV runs on Roku OS, which is a very user-friendly platform that has a large selection of apps available. It runs very smoothly and takes very little time to launch apps; however, there are ads and suggested content on the home screen, and they can't be disabled. Overall, this TV is a great bargain and is worth considering.
If you're on a very limited budget, the TCL 4 Series 2019 65S425 is a good option. It has similar features to the TCL 5 Series/S525 2019, but it doesn't have a motion interpolation feature and doesn't support Dolby Vision. You get the same outstanding contrast ratio thanks to its VA panel, and it has a remarkably low input lag for gaming. The biggest downside of this TV is its peak brightness, as it's bright enough for a moderately lit room, but may struggle in well-lit rooms. It can get a bit brighter in HDR mode, but not enough to make HDR content an enjoyable experience. Last but not least, if you care about color accuracy, this TV has a rather disappointing performance compared to the other TCL.
Overall, there's very little difference in price between the two models, which makes the 5 Series a better choice for most people, but if you want to save a few bucks, the 4 Series is a decent choice.
07/28/2020: Replaced the Hisense H8F with the newer Hisense H8G due to availability. Updated text for clarity and accuracy.
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.
10/29/2019: Replaced the TCL S Series 65S405 with the TCL 4 Series 2019 65S425, and the TCL 4 Series 55S425 with the TCL 5 Series/55S525 2019.
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.