The best TVs under $500 in 2024

Best Cheap TV: Quick Menu

The best TVs under $500 can be tricky to find with proper specs and color accuracy, but that's why we're here. That being said, don't expect to find any major panel technologies, like those among the best OLED TVs. At $500, you're limited in your reach for worthy options, but there's still a variety of good models to choose from at that range. 

When looking for a TV on a budget, you'll have to make compromises, but that shouldn't be in overall picture quality. You can expect to find serious contenders out of Roku, TCL, and Hisense, all of whom make arguably the best TVs below the $1,000 range. That's because they're kitted with incredible value. 

You'll still want above-average performance in everything from sound to color. That's why we've wrangled the best TVs under $500 that meet most everyday user needs. They don't slouch when it comes to their cost to performance, delivering excellent numbers where it counts, including in gaming and general content viewership. 

With years of data and TV testing under our belts, we know more than enough about a good TV deal. We've got hours of in-lab testing across a wide range of TVs, including those well above the $1,000 mark. We know a thing or two about netting a quality TV that's right for a particular user, and these models among the best TVs under $500 will meet your demands and then some. 

The best TVs you can buy under $500

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The quick list

The full list: Best TVs under $500

Roku Plus series TV 2023Editor's Choice

(Image credit: Roku)
Roku’s first QLED TV is the best TV under $500

Specifications

Available Screen Sizes: 55, 65, 75 inches
Screen Type: QLED
Refresh Rate: 60 Hz
HDMI ports: 4 HDMI 2.0
Size: 33.1 x 57 x 4 inches
Weight: 36.7 pounds

Reasons to buy

+
First-rate HDR color
+
Good sound
+
Solid Roku TV smart interface

Reasons to avoid

-
Only 60Hz refresh rate
-
No HDMI 2.1 ports

The Roku Plus sports a surprising value as a QLED TV from the makers of one of the best streaming devices. It supports all the latest HDR standards including HDR10, HDR10+, Dolby Vision and HLG, plus it comes with four HDMI 2.0 ports. It looks great for just $499 for the 55-inch model, which usually drops down to $450 on sale.

The Roku Plus Series has a limited bezel around the exterior of the screen and uses one of the most beloved smart platforms. It is, however limited to a 60Hz native refresh rate, which makes it less-than-ideal for watching sports and it probably won't find itself among the best gaming TVs, and its brightness is lower than other QLED TVs from Samsung. 

These aren't deal-breakers by any means. This is still as good of a display as you can get for around $500 — it is, after all one of the best Roku TVs — it's just important for you to know why it's priced so low. If this is how far your budget stretches, then you won't be disappointed with Roku's first-ever 4K HDR TV, and it could find a new victor in the Roku Pro Series, which launched recently. 

Read our full Roku Plus Series 4K QLED TV review.

Best TV under $400

TCL 5-Series Google TV (S546)

(Image credit: TCL)
Best Google TV under $400

Specifications

Available Screen Sizes: 50, 55, 65, 75 inches
Screen Type: QLED
Refresh Rate: 60 Hz
HDMI ports: 3 HDMI (1 eARC)
Size: 43.8 x 25.5 x 3 inches
Weight: 26 pounds

Reasons to buy

+
QLED display with local dimming for excellent HDR performance
+
Great color quality and smooth motion
+
Google TV is a serious upgrade from Roku

Reasons to avoid

-
Limited viewing angles
-
Audio is good, but not great

If you're on the opposite side of the Roku vs Google TV debate, you might want to check out the 50-inch TCL 5-Series Google TV. This option among the best TVs under $500 proved impressive due to its combination of smart TV features, solid performance and excellent value. 

Building on the foundation of the well-beloved 5-Series, the move to Google TV gives the affordable 4K smart TV platform a more premium interface, one that offers personalized and customizable movie recommendations and Google Assistant integration that can help it serve as the brains of your entire smart home.

Not only is it feature-rich for its $400 sticker price, but it's a strong performer in the picture presentation arena as well. It offers exceptional color saturation and strong HDR performance, which deem it among the best TCL TVs. TCL has done an excellent job with the 5-Series' motion smoothing, too. 

Color does desaturate as you move off-axis, which could be a reason to go for, say, an OLED or Mini-LED like the one found below. But, if you're watching it straight-on, then you won't have many issues with it. For a smart TV that sells for under $400, it's easily one of the best around.

Read our full TCL 5-Series Google TV (S546) review. 

Best TV around $300

The Hisense U6K in a home office.

(Image credit: Future)
The reigning king of $300 TVs is this Hisense Mini-LED TV

Specifications

Available Screen size: 55, 65, 75 inches
Screen type: Mini-LED
Refresh rate: 60Hz
HDMI ports: 4 HDMI 2.0 (1 w/ ARC)
Size: 57.1 x 33.1 x 3.1 inches
Weight: 43.1 pounds

Reasons to buy

+
Mini-LED display
+
Excellent color and contrast
+
55-inch for $350

Reasons to avoid

-
Laggy smart platform
-
Slight upscaling issues

Both the Roku and TCL are great for their sticker prices, but if you want the absolute cheapest TV that doesn't deserve a spot in an e-cycling bin, I whole-heartedly recommend the Hisense U6K. It's the only model among the best TVs under $500 that I return to watch day after day and it's been well-worth every penny. 

The reason it's so great is that it uses a Mini-LED panel that gives it great contrast and strong black levels. It doesn't get incredibly bright, but because I use it in my bedroom at night, I don't have any reason for it to get as bright as my downstairs living room TV that's constantly fighting against ambient lighting. 

Not only is its contrast surprisingly well-rounded for the price, its color saturation is also off the charts. Gamers will appreciate the VRR support, but keep in mind that it's still a 60Hz panel so there's no way to play games at 4K/120fps, making this display not ideal for the best PS5 games

The Hisense U6K is one of the best budget TVs I've ever tested, especially when you factor in its remarkable $350 price point for a 55-inch screen size. You can't do any better than that.

Read our full Hisense U6K review.  

How to choose the best cheap TV

How to choose the best TV under $500

Scoring a TV for less than $500 means giving up some of the nicer features and design touches for a more affordable price. But you can still get some excellent features without blowing the budget. Here are a few things you can still easily find in your price range.

4K resolution: 4K resolution is so affordable, and the quality so much better than 1080p or 720p, that we always recommend going for 4K. Unless you're on a shoestring budget, getting a proper 4K TV won't even save you much money, but you will notice the difference.

Screen size: You may not always be able to score a premium 65-inch TV for under $500, but you can still get a decent 55-inch model, so don't settle for some dinky 43-inch set unless it's the right size for the space.

HDR support: If there's one feature we recommend, it's high dynamic range (HDR). Even basic HDR support provides better color, brighter highlights and richer shadows, giving you a better picture in every respect. If you can find a set with Dolby Vision, that's even better, but you may pay more for that feature.

Connectivity: More HDMI ports are always better, so you don't find yourself having to awkwardly swap plugs on the TV every time you want to fire up a Blu-ray or jump into a game.

Gaming: For affordable gaming TVs, we recommend looking for sets with higher refresh rates of 60Hz, but the latest Xbox Series X and PS5 consoles can actually go higher. Lag time is another concern, so check out individual reviews to find sets that have a lag time of shorter than 20 milliseconds for the best performance. 

What features are worth paying more for?

While budget-friendly TVs are pretty good, there's no denying that spending more will get you some features that you just won't be able to find for less than 500 bucks. If any of the below sound like a must-have for your new TV, consider spending a little bit more.

Screen size: If you're lucky, you will find one or two 65-inch TVs selling below the $500 mark during sales events. And going larger than that will always cost more. If you want something like a 75-inch TV, the only option is to pony up more money.

Picture quality: 4K resolution is great, but today's premium TVs have taken picture quality to new levels of excellence with better color, brightness and contrast, not to mention super-smooth motion handling. If you want the best picture quality, you'll want to consider paying more for technologies like quantum dots, mini-LED and OLED.

Sound quality: Today's budget TVs do a lot of things well, but sound quality usually isn't one of them. We recommend pairing your new TV with one of the best soundbars to get better audio than the tiny speakers crammed into a thin TV chassis could ever produce. 

How we test the best cheap TVs

How we test TVs

Evaluating TVs is about more than just kicking back to watch a movie. We lab test every TV, measuring color gamut, color accuracy and brightness to objectively see which sets are the best for these key indicators. We also test for lag time – a key detail for gaming – measuring to the millisecond how long it takes for content to travel from the original source to the screen. We use these results to make numbers-based comparisons about color and display quality.

We also spend time with each set for real-world evaluation and see how our lab results translate into more subjective performance. We also compare sets side by side and view samples from the latest movies, specialized test patterns that highlight strengths and weaknesses of each display, and a range of content across several sources. With that information, we can tell you which TVs look best, sound best and offer the best viewing experience.

Finally, we evaluate the smart TV functions and apps for each TV, looking at everything from the remote control design to the voice interaction. 

We put all of that data together with our real-world testing and stack it against the price of the TV. The result is a score that we feel best represents the totality of that model, and how well it stands up against its contemporary rivals. A TV that scored highly five years ago may not score as highly against a newer model, but we do our best to update reviews when newer models become available.

Interested in a specific TV brand, price range or screen size? Check out our picks for the best TVs in each.

Best TVs | Best 4K TVs | Best smart TVs for streaming | Best TVs for gaming

The best TVs under $1000 | The best TVs under $500

Best TV brands | Best Samsung TVs | Best TCL TVs | Best LG TVs | Best Roku TVs | Best OLED TVs | Best QLED TVs | Best 8K TVs | Best HDMI 2.1 TV | Best TVs with ATSC 3.0 | Best TVs with Chromecast

The smallest smart TVs | Best 43-inch TVs | Best 50-inch TVs | Best 55-inch TVs | Best 65-inch TVs | Best 70-inch TVs | Best 75-inch TVs | Best 85-inch TVs 

Nick Pino
Managing Editor, TV and AV

Nick Pino heads up the TV and AV verticals at Tom's Guide and covers everything from OLED TVs to the latest wireless headphones. He was formerly the Senior Editor, TV and AV at TechRadar (Tom's Guide's sister site) and has previously written for GamesRadar, Official Xbox Magazine, PC Gamer and other outlets over the last decade. Not sure which TV you should buy? Drop him an email or tweet him on Twitter and he can help you out.

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