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. Our top choice, the 55-inch TCL 5-Series, has loads of features and is bundled with the superb Roku smart TV software. Want a bigger screen, or a TV that will make gaming more enjoyable? Check out our other affordable picks below.
When TCL updated its TVs for 2020, the 5-Series was given a major boost to picture quality with the addition of quantum dots. It essentially acquired all of the 2019 6-Series’ characteristics but at the 5-Series’ lower prices, which makes it our current top pick for a 4K TV under $500.
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 of 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 5-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.
Hisense H8G Quantum
Hisense is another brand that is quickly establishing a reputation for high-quality TVs that are also incredibly affordable. The H8G pulls together some very impressive features like a quantum dot LED display, Dolby Vision and Dolby Atmos compatibility, and full-array local dimming. These are the kinds of things we’re used to seeing on much more expensive models.
The literal highlight for the H8G is its brightness. Whether it’s displaying standard or high dynamic range content, the display can get much brighter than most of the other TVs on this list, which not only helps with combatting brightly lit rooms, but it also lets HDR material pop more spectacularly.
The H8G uses a VA LCD panel, which means that viewing angles aren’t as good as the LG UN7000 below. To get way better contrast ratios, you’d need to spring for an OLED TV at more than double the price of this Hisense model. With Android TV, you get some great extra features, too. Chromecast is built-in, as is Google Assistant, which you can access from the voice-based remote control. Just like with a Roku TV, you can use voice commands to control the TV and volume, open apps, and manage playback. But because it’s a Google Assistant device, you can also ask it to do any of the things a Google smart speaker can do, like provide weather forecasts, or answer nagging questions about who directed that movie you just watched.
Vizio M-Series Quantum
Quite frankly, the Vizio M-Series Quantum is an amazing all-around TV, but we’re highlighting it for its unusually strong support for console and PC gaming. Variable refresh rate (VRR) is one of the most important features a TV can have when it comes to gaming. The M-Series Quantum has VRR, but not just standard VRR — it sports AMD’s FreeSync, which is used by Xbox consoles, as well as many PC gaming rigs. VRR ensures that the TV always stays in sync with a game’s changing frame rates. TVs that can’t do this create a “tearing” effect, which can be jarring and have a negative impact on overall gaming performance.
Add to this Vizio’s ProGaming Engine, which automatically adjusts several other settings to reduce input lag and response times, and you’ve got a great gaming TV for a great price. Vizio has added a lot of other valuable features to its smart TVs recently, like Apple’s AirPlay 2 and Chromecast, Siri-, Google Assistant-, and Amazon Alexa-compatibility, plus HDMI 2.1. These all make the 55-inch Vizio M-Series Quantum a very capable smart TV.
LG UN7000 Series
The 65-inch-inch LG UN7000 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. Because it’s a 65-inch TV — a hard size to find at this price — it hasn’t been loaded with some of the leading-edge features you’ll find on our other picks.
For instance, the UN7000 supports both HDR10 and HLG formats of HDR, but not Dolby Vision. It’s armed with WebOS, so 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, Hulu, and Netflix. There are also several more niche services available with just a few clicks, such as Sling TV, Vudu, and YouTube TV.
With AirPlay 2, as long as you have an Apple device, you can stream any unsupported content directly from your phone or tablet — HBO Max is a good example. There’s no built-in voice functionality, but the UN7000 is compatible with Google Assistant, Siri (thanks to Apple HomeKit), and Amazon Alexa devices for voice control.