Samsung Neo QLED QN90A TV review — Bright and beautiful mini LEDs
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The Samsung Neo QLED QN90A is one of the best gaming TVs you can get right now. It excels in contrast, brightness, HDR and local dimming thanks to its mini LED rear panel. I also really like its fast interface as well as its smart design.
The Samsung QN90A is now available in various sizes, but I’m testing a 65-inch model that costs $ 2,100 on the Samsung website.
Starting with the design, Samsung uses a center-facing bracket that descends in an L-shape. This allows you to mount the screen on most surfaces without a problem. It also creates a neat little nook for most standard size soundbars. I also like the minimalist remote control – especially since the UX is so quick to navigate. I don’t like having to dig through menus to get to settings, but the TV automatically shows game mode information and options when you switch to a console.
The game mode is also very pleasant. While only HDMI 4 uses the HDMI 2.1 standard, the rest are HDMI 2.0. This means that all inputs can automatically switch to and from Game mode. And the settings bar immediately shows if you’re getting 120Hz and other important stats.
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I wish the TV had more 2.1 inputs, but if you get a TV to go with your PlayStation 5 or Xbox Series X / S or a new GPU, then one input is probably OK. But the TV picture is so good that you’ll always want to get the most out of it.
It’s a whole bunch of bright mini LEDs
In terms of image quality, the QN90A stands out with its very good contrast and stunning brightness. While Samsung’s displays cannot compete with OLEDs in terms of contrast ratio and perfect blacks, the QN90A’s mini LED technology comes close. But when it comes to brightness and HDR quality, Samsung easily outperforms the LG CX model I have for comparison.
With local dimming enabled, you get a contrast ratio of around 25,000: 1 for the Samsung TV. And in fact, you can’t easily turn off local dimming. But thanks to the mini LEDs, which Samsung packs behind its screen in the hundreds, this TV has excellent local dimming with only a minor halo effect. This bloom is a bit more visible in the game mode, which you can see below.
But then pair that excellent contrast with maximum HDR brightness far above the gold standard of 1,000 nits, and you get picture quality that jumps off the screen. According to RTings, the screen reaches 1,862 nits in gaming mode and 1,800 nits in HDR brightness in other modes. It matches what I see, although I can’t measure it myself. It is also extremely bright for SDR content.
This means that QN90A will make your HDR games fantastic. And it also ensures that the screen works well in a dark or bright room. In fact, if you mainly play in a room with lots of windows and lots of sunlight, I think you should definitely go for a Samsung.
The biggest flaws in picture quality are only really noticeable in synthetic scenarios. I noticed bands in a color test, but I have never seen anything like this while playing video or while gaming.
Also, the screen has decent uniformity, but I did notice some vignetting in the corners during the uniform gray test. Again, this is not something I have ever noticed when consuming real content.
Finally, the biggest flaw of the QN90A is that it does not support Dolby Vision. It can do variable refresh rate and the aforementioned automatic low latency mode for gaming mode. But Dolby Vision is an even better version of HDR, and that’s something the Xbox Series X / S supports. In actual use you probably won’t notice it because the QN90A looks so good, but still, I understand you want a TV that supports all the features of your latest hardware.
The other gaming TV to get
I am really torn. I know the common and accepted wisdom is to choose the LG CX OLED TV (or now the C1) for gaming. And it’s still a great screen for gaming. The OLED picture is amazing and LG supports Dolby Vision and even Nvidia GSync. But I’m someone who really loves HDR, and I think the QN90A often outperforms the LG CX in a Pepsi-style scenario because of its stunning brightness.
And like I mentioned, if you’re playing in a bright room, the Samsung is the go-to buy. If you don’t, then the choice is more difficult. But I also think it depends on taste and your particular situation. If you need Dolby Vision, get the LG. If you want that contrast ratio, get the LG CX or C1. If you prefer HDR, go for the Samsung.
But as for me, while I still have these sets to test, I think I will personally go for the Samsung QN90A. I am so impressed.
The Samsung QN90A is available now starting at $ 1,450 for 50 inches. GamesBeat tested a 65-inch loaner sample, which currently sells for $ 2,100.
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