These are a few of the very best panels that qualify for the glorious mantle of 'cheap 4K TV under $500'. It really is great that we live in a time that compromising on your budget now doesn't mean nearly as many compromises are needed in terms of size and quality.
And, in terms of those specific metrics of quality and clarity, you can easily get a 4K TV that punches well above its weight for less than $500. It is important to adjust expectations a little, as what you won't get with budget 4K TVs are things like OLED or QLED panels, and you'll also need to invest in a nice PS4 headset or Xbox One headset, if you want some top-quality audio. But, being savvy will get you one of the best gaming TVs for a lot less cash.
So, how do you get a cheap 4K TV under $500, and still get something great? While the bigger sales events throughout the calendar year help, it is possible to grab a total bargain on the ever-so-slightly-older last year's models outside of these events and at all the usual retailers. While tech in 4K TVs moved fast when 4K was new, it's now more about refinements and additional features, like voice control and app integration. So, 2018 and 2019's best TVs are still almost as good as the ones of recent months. As/if/when 8K becomes more of a thing, this will only serve to drive down, too.
However, picking out a great 4K TV from last year will save you loads of money, and will get you a panel that still performs exceptionally well. Generally speaking (and using a bit of a broad brush) new TVs come out around springtime every year so you'll often get a double whammy in the January sales as the 'current' ones start to go out of favor and get discounted due to the time of year. This means you can pick up an awesome TV that's very recent, for less, and that's why we've rounded up the best 4K TVs you'll find for less than $500.
The best cheap 4K TVs under $500
1. Samsung 50" 4K TV (NU6900)
If you're looking for the best performance vs price model, you need the Samsung NU6900 range. Samsung splits its TV ranges into two types - LED and QLED. The QLEDs are incredible TVs, but also very expensive, while the LEDs are cheaper panels but stuffed with great features and gaming enhancements. Of all the LED sets, the NU8000 is the best (and the 55" version is currently on sale at Walmart for $727, which is a superb price), but the NU6900 offers incredible value as you can now pick one up for around $330. What you get is a panel that can handle 4K easily, with HDR10+, and all kinds of smart features built in.
You get streaming services, wireless connectivity to your router, and access to many of the features available on QLEDs, like the Universal Guide and control via Samsung's Smart Things app. For gaming, there's a specialist Game Mode, and Steam Link for PC play. That's a hell of a lot to cram into such an inexpensive TV. It being a Samsung, the picture is good quality, the build of the TV is solid, and everything just works as it should do. Sure, there are bigger and better TVs out there, but for the price you'll struggle to beat this, even with some of the cheaper, less reliable manufacturers.
2. TCL 49S405 49”
While all of the options on this list come in under $500, the 49S405 is significant cheaper, available for less than $250 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. As for the manufacturer... well, TCL started out pretty bad, but its TVs get better with every generation, so you're actually getting a bargain set here.
3. LG 49UK6300PUE 49”
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.
4. TCL 55S517 55”
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.
5. Sony Bravia X800E
How strict is your budget? Because if you can stretch it a little higher than $500 (or wait for a slightly better sale price) you can afford this 43 inch Sony Bravia X800E, which is a superb 4K TV. While it's the smallest panel on this list, it has the best picture quality, and the smartest tech behind it. Sony's TVs offer superb pictures because the actual technology inside the TV is so well made, which means colors seriously pop, and motion is nice and smooth whether you're watching native 4K content or upscaling older games, movies and TV shows.
The Bravia X800 series comes with support for Alexa and Google Assistant, so you've got almost full control over the TV with your voice, and it offers the usual range of streaming services already built in. Usually, you'd pay $1000+ for this line of Bravias, but the prices have dropped recently, putting this TV at (almost) $500. Almost. It's a bit of a cheat, but if you want the best panel you can afford for roughly $500, this is one to consider.