This article was last updated by Digital Trends staff writer Nick Woodard on 5/15/2020.
It’s a common misconception that you must spend thousands of dollars for a high-quality 4K TV. Fortunately, you might not need to break out the piggy bank on this one—even if you’re on a budget, there are plenty of vibrant 4K TVs to pick from.
Our experts have spent hundreds of hours testing televisions that range from budget HDTVs to high-end OLED televisions that cost more than $5,000. While premium televisions deliver jaw-dropping image quality, excellent technology has trickled down to even the most affordable options. Our favorite 4K TVs under $500 will impress anyone upgrading from an older 1080p television.
A quick disclaimer: TVs tend to fluctuate in price over time, so it’s possible that one of the displays below may briefly cost more than $500.
Can’t find what you want here? Check out our lists of the Best TVs under $1,000 and the Best TVs for 2020.
Best 4K TVs under $500 at a glance
Why you should buy this: It’s big, brimming with features, and looks fantastic.
Who it’s for: Anyone who wants a large, versatile 4K TV that doesn’t cost a ton of dough.
Why we picked the 55-inch TCL 6-Series 4K TV:
First, we have to come clean. At times, the TCL 55-inch 6-Series jumps above $500, which technically prices it out of this list. That said, if you can spare a few bucks more, this is the hands-down best TV available in this price range.
TCL has fast become one of the leading television manufacturers. Its recipe for success? A partnership with streaming titan Roku that sees its flexible Roku OS smart software bundled on all of its latest televisions, offering customers instant access to a bottomless collection on-demand content through leading providers like Amazon Prime Video and Hulu right out of the box.
Priced to cater to budget shoppers, the TCL 6-Series has no trouble holding its own against more costly alternatives from rivals LG and Samsung. This isn’t a bare-bones 4K Ultra HD viewing experience. Far from it, in fact. There’s Dolby Vision HDR, which is used to draw additional detail from supported content, and voice control for hands-free navigation.
Here’s a look at some of the instructions you can mumble its way:
- “Play Breaking Bad on Netflix.”
- “Switch to HDMI 2.”
- “Mute the volume.”
- “Turn off at 11 p.m.”
Factor in three HDMI slots for hooking up all your accessories, be it a streaming device (although seeing as this particular model comes bundled with Roku streaming software, you shouldn’t need one), a gaming console, a DVR, or maybe even all three, and — ding, ding, ding — we have a clear winner.
Why you should buy this: You’d be hard-pressed to find a bigger TV for a more affordable price.
Who it’s for: Movie fans searching for the biggest feature-packed screen possible on a budget.
Why we picked the 60-inch Vizio V-Series:
It’s truly remarkable what TV manufacturers are able to pack into budget displays these days. A few years ago, it would have been unheard of to find a 65-inch TV for less than $1,000. Now, not only is that entirely possible, but these screens are providing serious bang for the buck.
What Vizio provides with its 65-inch V-Series is a 4K display with Dolby Vision HDR, capable of producing a wide range of colors across the picture. It’s also got a full array backlight screen, allowing for better contrast and blacks compared to an edge-lit screen.
The Vizio has plenty of features to make streaming movies a breeze, including built-in Chromecast support, Apple AirPlay 2, and voice control to toggle between content without using a remote. Vizio’s interface isn’t our favorite TV operating system, but it still does plenty to give you everything you need to stream freely.
The V-Series comes with three HDMI inputs, a single USB port, as well as ARC, Analog and Digital Audio outputs, setting it up well as a versatile addition to your home theater.
Why you should buy this: It’s one of the few TVs in this price range with features tailored specifically for gamers.
Who it’s for: Gamers looking for a quality display to accurately portray what they’re playing.
Why we picked the 55-inch LG Nano 8 Series:
The original MSRP for the LG NanoCell TV priced it just out of this list, at $599. But the TV has dropped by $100 at different points. If timed right, this could be a great option for budget-minded gamers.
Not to downplay the LG 8 Series’ other features, like local dimming or a quad-core processor, but a few features in particular stick out for gamers. The screen has what LG describes as an “Intense Black” canvas, meant to create an immersive experience for gameplay, and to bring out more of the hidden details and color on your screen.
The 8 Series also has Auto Low Latency Mode, designed to deliver impressive graphics with minimal stutter at fast speeds. With input lag widely regarded as one of the biggest annoyances of modern gaming, this feature positions the NanoCell TV as a solid gaming option.
Why you should buy this: It has an IPS rather than a VA screen, which delivers a superior viewing angle.
Who it’s for: Those looking for a TV to sit at the center of their home entertainment setup, immersing everyone in the room.
Why we picked the 55-inch LG UM7300AUE:
The 55-inch-inch LG UM7300AUE delivers what we deem to be the best viewing angle of any 4K TV under $500, ensuring everyone in the room is immersed in the on-screen action, even if they aren’t sitting right in front of the screen — without suffering notable color or contrast degradation. How? Because it’s an IPS screen, rather than a standard LCD.
It’s a thumbs-up in the software department, too. The LG UM7300AUE has a ton of smarts that are otherwise reserved for high-end televisions that retail for north of $500, including both gesture and voice control (without the need for additional hardware, like an Amazon Echo or Google Home), and the maxed-out, latest version of the firm’s webOS smart software.
Included in the box is LG’s love-it-or-loathe-it Magic Remote that lets you use either gestures, the on-remote buttons, or the manufacturer’s trademark Intelligent Voice Control to interact with the TV. By default, you’ll be expected to wave the remote around to move the cursor over to the menu option you wish to select, but with the touch of a button, you can dictate your commands.
Here’s a taste of the sort of directions you can throw its way:
- “Play Designated Survivor on Netflix.”
- “Switch over to HDMI 1.”
- “Find A Series of Unfortunate Events.“
- “Mute the volume.”
- “Turn off after this episode of Friends.”
Since it’s armed with webOS, the TV is also a direct portal into the wonderful world of streaming. You’ll have nearly instant access to a seemingly endless catalog of both on-demand and live content from the likes of Amazon Prime Video, HBO Go, Hulu, and Netflix. There are also several more niche services available within a few clicks, such as Sling TV, Vudu, and YouTube TV.
Why you should buy this: It’s big, overflowing with streaming services, and looks great.
Who it’s for: Anyone who wants a large, versatile 4K TV that can tap into all the latest sports streams — no cords attached.
Why we picked the 65-inch TCL 5-Series:
The main thing to look for when buying a 4K TV for sports is a 120Hz native screen. Here’s the kicker: That’s more of a high-end feature that’s reserved for costlier TVs, so those looking for something with similar performance for less than $500 should expect a screen that’s capable of achieving a 120Hz refresh rate through a combination of software features that reduce motion blur.
The TCL 6 Series possesses that feature, so the best TV on our list would technically be our pick for best TV under $500 for sports. The TCL 5 Series has a 60Hz refresh rate, but seeing as its otherwise near-enough the same and is currently identically priced for 10 extra inches of screen, we think it’s a better buy. Just like the TCL 6-Series, the TCL 5-Series has a slew of features that are ideal for tuning in to the latest sporting event, like Roku OS smart software.
There are dedicated MLB, NBA, NHL, and UFC applications, for example, as well as ESPN and FuboTV, which can be used to stream the action live or catch up. Sure, you’ll have to fork out a few bucks for the convenience, but it’s still a no-cords-attached solution to a viewing predicament that would usually involve a costly cable subscription and a monthly sports add-on.
Research and buying tips
Almost all new TVs are 4K nowadays, so there are plenty of fantastic options to choose from in the sub-$500 sector.
The answer to that depends on the brand, but you’ll be looking at around 60-inches or less. With Sony TVs, for example, that lowers to 49-inches or less.
Yes, though its HDR performance may not be quite as striking as that of premium screens — so set your expectations accordingly.
In short: No. OLED TVs are still considered the proverbial gold standard for TVs, alongside QLED, so they command a top-tier price.
That’s contingent on the television, but if you find something with minimal input lag — like the Vizio E-Series — you should be impressed.
Yes, so long as your computer has an HDMI output. Adapters can be used for other output types but frequently do not pass along audio.