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Updated , Dimitris Katsaounis

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

Best TVs under $500
206 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 77 TVs and below are our recommendations for the best TVs under $500 you can buy at the end of 2018. See also our recommendations for the best cheap TVs and the best smart TVs.

Note: Prices and availability fluctuate a lot at the end of the year and especially after Black Friday. 

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

    Usage Ratings - Version 1.2

    Test Benches:

    • 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 under $500 is the Vizio E Series 2018 E55-F1. It is a good 4k UHD TV with decent picture quality and an excellent contrast ratio that delivers deep, uniform blacks that look great in a dark room. It has a fast response time, so fast sports action has only a small blur trail. The input lag is low and this makes the Vizio very responsive to your actions which is great if you play video games or use the TV as a PC monitor. 

    Unfortunately, the viewing angles are bad and the picture quality deteriorates when you are not sitting directly in front. The Vizio E55-F1 can have minor gray uniformity issues but that depends on your panel. 

    Overall, the Vizio E Series 2018 performs well in most usages and will hardly disappoint anyone. 

    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 49S517

    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 a TV that can deliver better HDR performance than the Vizio E Series 2018, get the TCL 5 Series 49S517. Unfortunately, the TCL does not have a local dimming feature and cannot handle reflections as well as the Vizio. The S517 has a wide color gamut and can display HDR content full of rich colors and highlights that pop. The overall picture quality is decent with deep blacks and an optional motion interpolation feature. Finally, the TCL S517 is a good choice for gamers as it has a very low input lag.

    See our review

  4. Best Value for Size under $500: Insignia NS-55DF710NA19

    Usage Ratings - Version 1.2

    Test Benches:

    • 1.2: Winter 2018
    • 1.1: Summer 2017
    • 1.0: Winter 2015
    • 0.9: Winter 2014
    • 0.8: Winter 2013
    6.8
    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:
    6.2
    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:
    6.8
    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.
    7.3
    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.
    6.3
    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:
    7.0
    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.
    7.1
    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 you want the best value for size TV under $500, then get the Insignia Fire TV NS-55DF710NA19. It is a basic entry level 4k LED TV that accepts HDR content although it cannot deliver the creators intent. It has a high native contrast ratio and a decent picture quality, but apart from the large size and the excellent integration with the Amazon Alexa voice assistant, the Insignia Fire TV does not have many features where it performs well. It is, however, one of the cheapest 55 inch TVs available in the market.

    Overall, it is a good choice for a large secondary TV where picture quality and performance are not the primary concern.

    See our review

Notable Mentions

  • LG 49UK6300. Decent TV, but the TCL S517 is worth the extra cash. See our review
  • Toshiba Fire TV 2018 55LF621U19. Decent TV, but the Insignia Fire TV is cheaper. 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. 

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