If like most of us mortals you don’t have access to an unlimited budget for discretionary spending, the most premium 4K TVs might seem like an unattainable luxury. But don’t be put off by those intimidating four figure price tags - 4K is more universally available than ever before, and there are a growing number of great panels to be had for a fraction of the price of the most expensive sets. That's how we were able to put together this guide to the best 4K TVs for less than $500 AND have all the TVs in it be actually good.
What makes for a great budget TV? You want a panel that looks great and comes with the features you crave, while cutting out extraneous features you don’t necessarily need. If you don’t mind sacrificing some high end options, things like OLED or ultra-fast refresh rates, there are a number of impressive TVs that will suit your home viewing needs without requiring a second mortgage. And spending less doesn’t mean missing out on some of the latest technology. Whether you’re looking to chat up your television through the latest consumer AI, or you want to experiment with the new curved panel trend, there’s a budget television out there to fully satiate your gadget lust. If you decide to up your budget, however, here are the best gaming TV options on the market. And if you want to go REAL top-end, here are the very best 4K TVs for gaming.
Sony KD43X720E 43”
Best overall choice
Screen size: 43 inches | Panel technology: LED | Refresh rate: 60hz | Dimensions: 38.25 x 2.88 x 22.5 in
Of the TVs in the sub-500 range, Sony’s KD43X720E boasts some of the clearest, sharpest images, particularly when displaying native 4K content. Though the panel is the smallest on this list at 43”, its clarity and feature set more than make up for a few spare inches. It’s also blessed with very low input lag, which is a boon for gamers, particularly anyone playing fighting games or competitive first-person shooters online. Sony’s Motionflow solution also reduces a lot of the motion blur you see when gaming on a 4K panel or watching frenetic actions films. The sleek design is very attractive, a slender unit with a tiny bezel and an elegant, understated stand. And for anyone looking to purchase an affordable 4K TV to use a dedicated PC monitor this is a fantastic choice, one use case where its slightly smaller frame is actually more pro than con.
TCL 49S405 49”
Best budget pick
Screen size: 49 inches | Panel technology: LED | Refresh rate: 120hz | Dimensions: 43.7 x 8.5 x 27.7 in
While all of the options on this list come in under $500, the 49S405 is significant cheaper, available for less than $320 at the time of this writing. For the price, it has a remarkably robust list of features: a 49” screen, 4K Ultra HD, HDR, and a 120hz refresh rate. At first glance it may seem too be good to be true, and it is a tremendous bargain, though the fairly restricted viewing angle is a bit of a hindrance and the picture quality isn’t extraordinary (though it’s certainly competent). Still, if you’re not looking for a panel to be the centerpiece of a huge room, or are likely only going to be watching alone or with a small group of friends on the couch, this set offers a lot of value for very little cheddar. As a second TV for a bedroom or office, it’s one of the best choices available.
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LG 49UK6300PUE 49”
Best with Alexa
Screen size: 49 inches | Panel technology: LED | Refresh rate: Trumotion 120hz | Dimensions: 43.7 x 9.3 x 27.8 in
For anyone enamored with the idea of a hands-free TV viewing experience, LG’s 49UK6300 is a great starting point. Built with LG’s proprietary ThinQ artificial intelligence technology, not only are the panel and all its apps and entertainment options fully controllable through voice commands (including via Amazon's Alexa) but it’s also capable of acting as the hub for your smart home. Connect your other devices to the set and you can direct everything from lighting and climate controls to your AI powered refrigerator without leaving the comfort of your couch. And all this smart tech doesn’t mean sacrificing quality in other areas: the 49UK6300 has a sharp display with wide viewing angles that supports both HDR10 and HGL HDR. It’s a great anchor for your burgeoning smart home that also just happens to be a very solid, very affordable television.
TCL 55S517 55”
Best for gaming
Screen size: 55 inches | Panel technology: LED | Refresh rate: 120hz | Dimensions: 48.34 x 10.59 x 30 in
Gamers tend to have very specific needs when it comes to picking a TV—low input lag, a high number of inputs for consoles and PC, and a big screen in case you need to split it for local multiplayer or pack a bunch of friends around it while you’re passing around a controller. TCL’s 55-inch offering fills all these requirements with virtually no lag, three HDMI and one USB inputs, and a big screen that doesn’t suffer when viewed at an angle. It also features an impressively wide gamut of HDR color and an excellent contrast ratio. Its simple, no frills design won’t win any awards for design aesthetics, but it blends in well in a living or dorm room, and it’s light and slim enough to move around without much strain.
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Sceptre C558CV-U Curved
Best curved option
Screen size: 55 inches | Panel technology: LED | Refresh rate: — | Dimensions: 48.66 x 11.28 x 30.8 in
You’d be forgiven for being curious about the curved TV trend without wanting to shell out a big stack of bills. The core idea of a curved panel is that it allows you to see more of an image with minimal eye travel—the extreme edges of an image are pulled closer to the viewer by the display’s curvature, so sliding over to them is faster and less straining. If you want to experience the phenomenon for yourself, or are already sold on the curved concept but are working within a tight budget, Sceptre has a great, low price option that delivers a sharp image on a big 55-inch panel. Though it doesn’t feature HDR, it’s a crisp, clear display, that stands out with its elegant arch and minimalist design.
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