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 80 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, but it may not be the easiest to use at times.
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. Both casual and serious gamers should enjoy its quick response time that results in minimal motion blur and 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 in a wide seating arrangement. Also, while it's good for HDR content due to its wide color gamut, it can't get nearly as bright with HDR content as some more expensive options, so HDR images don't pop how they should. That said, this is a very good option for its price and is the best TV under $500 that we've tested.
If you prefer something with Roku TV as its smart operating system, then check out the TCL 55S535. It doesn't get as bright as the Hisense H8G, but the Roku interface is easier to use than Android, and it provides smoother menu navigation. You can also easily find your favorite apps in the app store. In terms of picture quality, the 5 Series is good and should please most people. It performs best in dark or dim rooms because it has an outstanding contrast ratio and decent local dimming feature that make blacks look deep and inky. However, it's not the best choice for well-lit rooms because it doesn't get bright, and the reflection handling is just decent. It also displays a very wide color gamut for HDR content but may not get bright enough to truly make highlights stand out.
If you want the best all-around TV under $500, you should be happy with the Hisense, but if you simply prefer Roku TV, then look into the TCL.
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 very well-lit environments.
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 to get the lowest input lag possible.
Unfortunately, its narrow viewing angles make images look washed out from the side, so it isn't the best option for wide seating arrangements. 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. Overall, this is a feature-rich TV that should please most people.
If you don't have as much space available and want something smaller, then look into the Samsung UN43TU8000FXZA. It doesn't have VRR support or a local dimming feature like the Vizio M7 Series Quantum 2020. However, the built-in Tizen OS isn't as laggy as Vizio's SmartCast, and it has an app store, so you can download many apps from it. The Samsung offers similar performance in terms of gaming with a decent response time, a Black Frame Insertion feature, and incredibly low input lag. It's also great for dark room gaming thanks to its outstanding native contrast ratio and incredible black uniformity. Unfortunately, it's not a good choice for HDR gaming because it fails to display a wide color gamut and doesn't get bright enough to make highlights pop the way the creator intended. If you have older game consoles, it luckily upscales lower-resolution content without any artifacts.
If you want the best TV under $500 for gaming, you can't go wrong with the Vizio, but if you need a 43 inch model, the Samsung is a good alternative.
The best TV under $500 that we've tested with wide viewing angles is the LG UN7000. This entry-level 4k TV is available in a wide range of sizes in this price range, from 43 to 65 inches, so you can get whichever size fits your needs. However, the 50 and 60 inch models have a VA panel, which has a better contrast ratio and narrow viewing angles compared to the 55 inch model we tested, which has an IPS panel. If you want wide viewing angles, you should avoid those sizes.
The models with an IPS panel are great for wide seating arrangements as you won't lose much image accuracy when viewing from the side. Although this TV doesn't get very bright, it's still a decent choice for moderately or fairly well-lit rooms thanks to its great reflection handling. If you want to use it for watching cable TV or DVDs, it upscales lower-resolution content without any obvious issues. The built-in WebOS is easy-to-use and offers a ton of apps that you can download. Lastly, it's decent for casual gaming thanks to its low input lag and decent response time.
Sadly, one trade-off of having an IPS panel is its low contrast ratio that makes blacks appear gray when viewed in the dark. It also doesn't display a wide color gamut and doesn't get bright in HDR, so HDR content doesn't look all that different from SDR content. Our unit has some uniformity issues that could get distracting during sports, but this may vary between units. Regardless of these small problems, if you want a TV with wide viewing angles, you should be happy with this one.
01/22/2021: 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.
11/24/2020: 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.
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.