The best 4K TVs under $500 for 2021

Let’s debunk a common myth: You don’t have to spend thousands of dollars on a high-quality 4K TV. The truth is, 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 4K TVs 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. Our top choice, the 55-inch TCL 5-Series, has loads of features and is bundled with the superb Roku smart TV software.

We’re finally getting the year’s newest models in our offices for full reviews and, depending on what we find, some of these new models could end up on this list, so check back with us regularly.

Want a bigger screen, or a TV that will make gaming more enjoyable? Check out our other affordable picks below.

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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. Even when these TVs do occasionally tip the scales, though, they still represent solid value for their cost.

Best 4K TVs under $500 at a glance

The best 4K TV under $500: 55-inch TCL 5-Series

TCL 5-Series (2020)

Why you should buy this: It’s brimming with features, and looks fantastic.

Who it’s for: Anyone who wants a versatile 4K TV with superb picture quality.

Why we picked the 55-inch TCL 5-Series 4K TV:

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.

Here’s a look at some of the instructions you can mumble its way:

  • “Play The Mandalorian on Disney+.”
  • “Switch to HDMI 2.”
  • “Mute the volume.”
  • “Turn off at 11 p.m.”

Gamers will appreciate the 5-Series’ automatic game settings like low-latency and optimized picture processing to ensure the on-screen action is as immediate as possible.

Factor in four 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 — the 55-inch TCL 5-Series is the clear winner.

The best 4K TV under $500 for movies: 55-inch Hisense H8G Quantum

Hisense H8G Quantum Series

Why you should buy this: It’s got an ultra-bright display for amazing HDR and Dolby Atmos, too.

Who it’s for: Movie fans searching for a TV that will look amazing even in bright rooms.

Why we picked the 55-inch 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 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, but the contrast is excellent, and blacks are nice and inky. 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.

The Hisense H8G is also a pretty good choice for gaming and sports, with 240Hz motion control and several auto game mode enhancements.

The best 4K TV under $500 for gaming: 55-inch Vizio M-Series Quantum

Vizio 2021 M-Series Quantum 4K HDR TV

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 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 support for 60Hz 4K signals, 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.

The best 4K TV under $500 with a wide-angle picture: 65-inch LG UN7000 Series

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 65-inch LG UN7000:

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.

And while it’s not quite as good for gaming as the Vizio, the LG UN7000 sports Auto Low Latency Mode, which helps gamers get the most out of this TV by automatically shutting down any picture processing that could lead to lag.

The best 4K TV under $500 for sports: 49-inch LG NanoCell 85 Series

LG NanoCell 85-series

Why you should buy this: Stunning image quality with a 120Hz refresh rate keeps fast-paced sports and games looking their best.

Who it’s for: Those who want tack-sharp precision and detail while watching sports or any other fast-movement content.

Why we picked the 49-inch LG NanoCell 85 Series:

The main thing to look for when buying a 4K TV for sports is a 120Hz native screen. But that’s a very expensive feature, which means that most TVs at this price have to “fake” that refresh rate through software. So even though the 49-inch LG NanoCell 85 Series is on the small side, the fact that it has a native 120Hz screen means we couldn’t pass up the opportunity to include it.

As proof that good things come in small packages, the NanoCell 85 Series is absolutely packed with the latest tech. It has support for every major HDR format including Dolby Vision. It’s got Dolby Atmos. It has an IPS screen for wide-angle viewing, and Dolby Vision IQ so that the screen can automatically calibrate itself to the surrounding lighting conditions.

Gamers get HDMI VRR, AMD Freesync, auto low latency mode, and HGiG — which ensures that HDR gaming looks its best. that’s not to mention the four HDMI ports, with support for HDMI eARC so you can get the best possible sound quality from an attached soundbar or A/V receiver.

LG’s excellent WebOS software, which can be controlled by the included gesture-based Magic Motion Remote, has tons of built-in apps for streaming, plus a pretty big bonus for sports fans: Sports Alerts, which you can program to keep you informed in real time about your favorite team from the NFL, NBA, MLB, NHL, Premier League, and more.

WebOS also features the Apple TV app on newer TVs — a great way to access all of your purchased iTunes content as well as being the home of Apple TV+, Apple’s subscription streaming service.

The LG NanoCell 85 Series also comes with Apple AirPlay 2 and HomeKit, plus built-in support for Google Assistant and Amazon Alexa — which you can access from the Magic Remote’s mic.

Research and buying tips

Are 4K TVs under $500 any good?

Almost all new TVs are 4K nowadays, so there are plenty of fantastic options to choose from in the sub-$500 sector.

What size 4K TV can I afford for $500?

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.

Can I buy a 4K TV with HDR for less than $500?

Yes, though its HDR performance may not be quite as striking as that of premium screens — so set your expectations accordingly.

Can I get an OLED TV for less than $500?

In short: No. OLED TVs are still considered the proverbial gold standard for TVs, alongside QLED, so they command a top-tier price.

Are 4K TVs under $500 good for gaming?

That’s contingent on the television, but if you find something with minimal input lag — like the Vizio M-Series Quantum — you should be impressed.

Can I use a 4K TV under $500 with a PC?

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.

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