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The Samsung Neo QLED QN90A is one of the top gaming TVs you can get right now. It excels in contrast, brightness, HDR, and local dimming thanks to its mini LED back panel. I also really like its snappy interface as well as its smart design.
The Samsung QN90A is available now for in various sizes, but I am testing a 65-inch model that is $2,100 on Samsung’s website.
Starting with the design, Samsung uses a center-oriented stand that comes down in an L shape. This enables you to fit the screen on most surfaces without issue. It also creates a neat little nook for most standard-sized soundbars. I also like the minimalist remote control — especially since the UX is so quick to navigate. I don’t like having to dig into menus to get to settings, but the TV automatically brings up Game Mode info and options when you switch to a console.
The Game Mode is also really nice. 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 makes it clear 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’re getting one TV to go with your one PlayStation 5 or Xbox Series X/S or a new GPU, then one input is probably OK. But the TV’s picture is so good that you’ll always want to get as much out of it as possible.
That’s a whole lot of bright mini LEDs
In terms of pictures quality, the QN90A stands out for its really great contrast and stunning brightness. While Samsung’s displays cannot compete with OLED in terms of contrast ratio and perfect blacks, the mini LED tech of the QN90A gets it close. But when it comes to brightness and HDR quality, Samsung actually easily outperforms the LG CX model I have for comparison.
With local dimming on, you get a contrast ratio of around 25,000:1 for the Samsung TV. And you actually cannot easily turn off the local dimming. But thanks to the mini LEDs, which Samsung packs behind its display in an array of hundreds, this TV has great local dimming with only a minor halo effect. That blooming is a little bit more noticeable in the game mode, which you can see below.
But then pair that excellent contrast with peak HDR brightness well above the gold standard of 1,000 nits, and you have picture quality that leaps off the screen. According to RTings, the display hits 1,862 nits in game mode and 1,800 nits in HDR brightness in other modes. That tracks with what I’m seeing — although I cannot measure it myself. It’s also extremely bright for SDR content.
What this means is that QN90A is going to make your HDR games look fantastic. And it also ensures that the display works well in a dark room or a bright room. In fact, if you primarily play in a room with a lot of windows that gets a lot of sunlight, I think you definitely have to go with a Samsung.
The picture quality’s biggest downfalls are really only noticeable in synthetic scenarios. I noticed some banding in a color test, but I’ve never seen anything like that during video playback or during gameplay.
Above: Banding in the brighter colors.
Also the screen has decent uniformity, but I noticed some vignetting around the corners during the uniform gray test. Again, that’s not something I ever noticed when consuming real content.
Finally, the QN90A’s biggest flaw is that it doesn’t support Dolby Vision. It can do variable refresh rate and the aforementioned automatic low latency mode for Game Mode. But Dolby Vision is an even better version of HDR, and it’s something that Xbox Series X/S is getting support for. During actual use, you likely won’t notice because the QN90A looks so good, but still — I understand wanting a TV that supports all of the features of your latest hardware.
The other gaming TV to get
I’m actually torn. I know that the common, accepted wisdom is to pick up the LG CX (or now the C1) OLED television for gaming. And that is still a great display for gaming. The OLED picture is incredible, and LG supports Dolby Vision and even Nvidia GSync. But I’m someone who really likes HDR, and I think the QN90A often outperforms the LG CX in a Pepsi-challenge-style scenario because of its eye-searing brightness.
And as I mentioned, if you play in a bright room, the Samsung is the must-buy. If you don’t, then the choice is more difficult. But I also think it comes down to taste and your specific circumstances. If you need Dolby Vision, then get the LG. If you want that contrast ratio, get the LG CX or C1. If you prioritize HDR, then go with the Samsung.
But as for me, while I still have these sets for testing, I think I am personally going to choose the Samsung QN90A. I’m that 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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