As much as we loved Samsung's flagship 4K Mini LED TV for 2023, the QN95C range, for some regions - including the US - this flagship telly is sadly absent from the lineup. Instead, that job is reserved for the QN90C.
Whether this is a pricing decision is unclear, but certainly in the UK, where both models are sold, the QN90C can be picked up for significantly less money than its QN95C sibling - around £800 less, in fact, for the 65-in version.
That means the flagship Mini LED TV for 2023 in the US may be better value than some of the competition - so long as, of course, the QN90C's performance can hold its own against them. Here's my full review.
Samsung QN90C Neo QLED 4K Smart TV (2023)
While it lacks the design glamour and extreme backlight prowess of Samsung's QN95C and can't offer quite the same local contrast that you'd get with an OLED TV, the QE65QN90C delivers an outstanding Mini LED picture performance for its money.
- Excellent black levels
- Strong brightness and colour with HDR content
- Excellent connectivity
- Some minor backlight issues
- No Dolby Vision support
- Viewing angle limitations
Pricing, specs and availability
The QN90C is available now in 43, 50, 55, 65, 75 and 85-inch versions and starts from $1099.99/£999.99 for the 43in, rising to $3299.99/£3999 for the 85in. The model tested here is the 65in version and costs $1699.99/£1699.
Samsung QN90C Neo QLED 4K Smart TV (2023)
- 96 x 62 x 22cm
- Display Technology
- Mini LED (Neo QLED)
- Refresh Rate
- 4K (3840 x 2160)
- Yes, HDR10/HDR10+/HLG
- 4 x HDMI (4K/120Hz), 2 x USB, 1 x optical, 1 x ethernet
- Yes, Freesync Premium Pro
- VRR (Variable Refresh Rate)
- ALLM (Auto Low Latency Mode)
- Screen sizes (inches)
- 43, 50, 55, 65, 75, 85
The QE65QN9doesn'tn't enjoy the spectacul'r 'Infinity 'ne' design sported by the step-up QN95C, so its connections are built into the main TV bodywork rather than being placed on an external connections box. While still remarkably triits rear panel isn'tn't as monolithically flat or minimalistic as that of the QN95C.
doesn'tn't boast the gleaming metallic side panels you get with the QN95C range either and it also feels a bit wobbly - to use the technical term - when placed on its centrally positioned metal stand. Not so much that a bit of draft through the door might tip it over or anything, but enough thI'dI'd be at least a little concerned about it if I had a large and boisterous dog in the house.
Losing out in the glamour stakes to a much more expensive (and, in some regions, inaccessible) sibling does not mean, though, that the QN90C is in the slightest bit ugly. In fact, while the border around its screen might not be quite as barely there as the one around the QN95it'st's still slimmer than most and distracts barely at all from the picturyou're're supposed to be watchinIt'st's still impressively trim around the back for a TV that uses direct backlighting, too (potentially making it an elegant wall-mounting option), and tscreen'sn's build quality is reassuringly meaty.
T65QN90C'sC's connections are excellent. Four HDMI and three USB ports lead the way on the physical connections front, ait'st's great to find that all four of those HDMIs are built to handle all the latest cutting-edge gaming features. Wi-Fi and Bluetooth are also present and correct, of course, with Airplay 2 available for sharing content from Apple devices.
Perhaps driven by its old animosity to OLED TVs (until it started selling its own last year), Samsung has always taken a uniquely premium approach to Mini LED technology. This continues with the 65QN90C, which divides the hordes of tiny Mini LEDs (one 40th the size 'f 'nor'al' TV LEDs) packed into its 65-inch screen into 720 separately controlled dimming zoneThat'st's way more than you get TCL'sL’s 65C845K (576 zonesHisense'se’s 65U7KQ (384) Sony'sy’s 65X95L (480). And while we know by now that dimming zone numbearen'tn't the be-all and end-all of LCD TV picture quality, having 720 of them is one heck of a place to start.
I should say thSamsung'sg's step-up of 65QN95C remarkably ups the dimming zone count to 1,344, giving it the biggest justification for its price hike over the 65QN90C. But t65QN90C'sC’s 720 zones are backed up by the same Neo Quantum 4K processor that drives the dimming zones so well on the more expensive model.
One Samsung'sg's biggest reasons for putting so much store Mini LED technology (apart from its immunity from permanent image retention) is how bright it can get compared with most OLED screens. A tradition the 65QN95C continues by pumping out a measured 1800 nits on a 10 per cent window in Movie mode. And perhaps more significantly, givSamsung'sg's main argument for Mini LED rather than OLED TVs, 602 nits on a 100 per cent windoThat'st's around 400 nits and 300 nits more, respectively, than the latest QD-OLED (liSamsung'sg's own S95C) and MLA OLED (liLG'sG's G3) can manage.
The Neo QLED branding Samsung applies to its Mini LED TVs also alerts us to another of t65QN90C'sC's key features - its use of Quantum Dots to make its colours rather than the more basic, narrower gamut and less brightness-friendly traditional RGB filter approach.
As well as making it easier to achieve high brightness without requiring excessive amounts of power, the Quantum Dot colour approach should also be more able to deliver enough colour range to keep up with tscreen'sn's brightness, so ydon'tn't end up in a situation where the brightness causes colours to start looking a bit pale.
As with all Samsung TVs, the 65QN90C supports the HDR10, HLG and HDR10+ formats of high dynamic range video but not the popular Dolby Vision format. The HDR10+ support extends, too, to gaming, with the first HDR10+-supporting title, The First Descendant, arriving soon.
Samsung has at least worked with Dolby to get the 65QN90C Dolby Atmos support, which is delivered here by a 60W, 4.2.2-channel version Samsung'sg's Object Tracking Sound system (versus the slightly more powerful 70W 4.2.2-channel setup on the 65QN95C).
This system sees speakers ranged around tscreen'sn's bodywork in an attempt to make sound effects appear to be coming from the correct part of the screen. Just note that ywon'tn't get the edge-mounted tweeters or bank of eight rear-mounted mid-range drivers that are found on the QN95C.
Apart from not supporting Dolby Vision gaming from Xbox Series X consoles and some PC cards, the 65QN90C offers a strong range of gaming features across all four of its HDMIs. These include 4K resolution graphics at 120Hz, variable refresh rates (in the AMD FreeSync Premium Pro form as well as the standard HDMI form), auto game mode switching, and a number of gaming assistants available via the dedicated game onscreen menu that comes up when the TV detects a game is being played.
These aids include a minimap zoom feature, a superimposed aiming crosshair, support for the ultra-wide aspect ratios available with some PC games, the ability to inject more brightness into dark game areas to make enemies easier to spot, and the option to apply a little motion smoothing processing at the cost of the screen taking a little longer to render tgame'se's graphics.
At its fastest, with no motion smoothing active, t65QN90C'sC's Game Mode takes just 9.9ms to render graphics, which is about as good as it gets in 2023.
Finally, the65QN90C'sC's smart features are provided withSamsung'sg's own Tizen-powered interface. This new full-screen interface has improved from its pretty unhelpful debut in 2022, with more sensible choices of content aggregation on the home page and a slightly more intuitive navigation systeIt'st's still not as easy to follow and navigate as some rival systems - thouSamsung'sg's highly effective voice control system means you can actually avoid the menu system you're're adventurous enough to talk to your tellSamsung'sg's smart system is very strong, though, when it comes to content, catering for every video streaming service we could think of. The only thing doesn'tn't have - for UK owners, at least - is the Freeview Pl'y 'wrap'er' app, meaning that while you can access all of the key UK terrestrial streaming services directly, ycan'tn’t access them through the nicely presented Freeview Play interface.
One last handy feature for AV enthusiasts who value picture accuracy is t65QN90's0's support fSamsung'sg's Smart Calibration system, where you can perform an impressively accurate calibration of your TV using just your smartphone camera (assumiit'st's a reasonably recent model) and a series of test signals output via tTV'sV's smart calibration menu option.
The Samsung QE65QN90C quickly establishes itself as an excellent TV, which, while not quite as cutting edge as its much more expensive QN95C sibling, gets closer than the price difference might suggest. It also offers enough to give it a raisd'etretre to consider against one of the many excellent OLED TVs now available for around the same sort of price point.
Two key points in particular stand out. How bright its pictures can get, but also how dark its pictures can get.
On the brightness side, bright HDR scenes blaze off the screen with a degree of radiance - and accompanying colour volume - that manages to deliver on the age-old luminance argument in favour of high-end LCD TVs.
I should say right away that the new generation of OLEDs, both QD-OLEDs from Samsung itself and MLA OLEDs from LG, Panasonic, and, soon, Philips, get much, much closer to the brightness the QN90C produces with full-screen bright content than any previous OLED technologies would have. But the advantage remains nonetheless, helping to sell the full extent HDR'sR's capabilities and becoming especially worth considering you're're looking for a TV for a bright room. Though, I'll'll explore later, the 65QN90C does have a couple of consistency issues where its brightness is concerned.
When it comes to tQN90C'sC's handling of dark scenes, the screen really is capable of delivering black colours that are pretty much as deep and free of low-contrast greyness as those you get with OLED TVs. Even in shots that contain a broad mix of very dark and quite bright elements, black levels still look remarkably deep and cinematic - despite the Samsung screen using LED backlighting rather than self-emissive pixels.
For the most part, t65QN90C'sC's handling of its light, particularly when it comes to balancing the control of its huge number of dimming zones, is outstanding - a crucial cut above the performance in this respect of recent eye-catching budget challengers from Hisense and TCL. In particular, backlight blooming, where extraneous light can appear around stand-out bright objects, is extremely well suppressed for an LED TV capable of so much brightness and such good black levels.
I should immediately add that some of the things the 65QN90C has to do to achieve its outstanding black levels can impact timage'se's consistency - something elI'll'll be getting into later. But most of the time,, its combination of brightness and contrast is quite sensational by LCD TV standards.
you'du'd hope for a Quantum Dot screen capable of brightness and black levels as impressive as those of the 65QN90C, it also stands out with its colour performance. Rich, bright tones share space with impressive levels of subtlety and blending that pretty much fully dispenses with the sort of colour striping issues Samsung HDR TVs could suffer with a few years ago.
Combining such a range of colo'r 'volu'es' with such strong colour tone subtlety contributes to a picture that looks natural and three-dimensional rather than cartoonish and flat. So long, anyway, as you avoid the over-eager Dynamic picture preset.
The 65QN90C delivers 4K images packed with sharpness, texture and density, yet without leaving them looking processed or prone to picture noise. Especially actually, if you turn off the noise reduction feature found in tTV'sV's Picture Clarity menu section.
Thanks to the extensive machine learning inpthat'st's gone into the latest Neural Quantum Processor 4K picture engine, meanwhile, the 65QN90C also upscales HD and even SD images to tscreen'sn's 4K resolution superbly, adding a genuine sense of resolution (rather than just making upscaled images lo'k 'den'er') without exaggerating any source noise or compression artefacts. In fact, tupscaler'sr's ability to spot the difference between noise and real picture information as part of its upscaling process is one of its greatest strengths.
WhiSamsung'sg's motion processing is a bit of a mess in its default settings with most presets, causing too many unwanted processing side effects and leaving motion looking unnaturally fluid, choosing a Custom setting for tTV'sV's Picture Clarity features and setting the blur and judder components to around their three our four-level yields much cleaner, more cinematic results.
Excellent though t65QN90C'sC's pictures are for such a relatively affordable Samsung Mini LED TV, there are a few other niggles to be aware of. Starting with the fact that while the 65QN90C generally does an excellent job of suppressing light blooming around stand-out bright objects, light bleeding does become much more noticeable if you have to watch the TV from an angle. The vertical viewing angle at which blooming becomes noticeable is really quite limited - something to bear in mind you're're thinking of wall-mounting your TV above your seated head height.
As usual, too, Samsung tends to dim down on the 65QN90C, the intensity of very stark,, -stand-outout, bright objects when they appear within an otherwise very dark image frame. So small HDR highlights, such as the gleam Pennywise'se's eyes as he talks to Georgie from a rainwater drain near the start of It Chapter One on 4K Blu-ray, look significantly subdued compared with how they look on self-emissive OLED displays. Thoudon'tn’t forget, I've've mentioned before, that the 65QN90C can look brighter than OLED TVs with full-screen bright HDR images.
Supposeu're're watching a scene that features sharp cuts between very dark and very bright shots using tTV'sV's Dynamic and default Standard presets. In that case, meanwhile, you can also sometimes see the picture suddenly adjust its baseline brightness after a momentary delay to try and make the bright shot look brighter and black levels more effective in the dark shots.
Fortunately, this issue disappears in the Movie preset - and since this preset also delivers a natural, balanced picture without significantly greying tscreen'sn's eye-catching black levels or robbing the picture of too much colour puncit'st's a great option to have on hand if the typically most engaging (if not most accurate) Standard preset causes too many brightness-jumping artefacts during a particular film.
Despite not carrying the rack of eight large rear-mounted drivers you get with the QN95C, the 65QN90C still sounds pretty satisfying for TV sound.
In an ideal world, its sound would push forward into your room with more directness and impact, and the speakers would be able to pump out more raw volume. Within these limitations, though, it still manages to create a large soundstage that spreads an effective distance from tTV'sV's bodywork without becoming brittle or disjointed and populates that soundstage with impressive amounts of clear and reasonably accurately positioned details and placement effects.
The object-tracking sound systisn'tn't quite as effective at positioning effects as the QN95C, bit'st's good enough to compensate at least a bit in terms of immersiveness for the lack of forward projection.
The 65QN90C also does well at presenting high-pitched sounds without harshness and low-frequency sounds without succumbing to distortions, dropouts, crackles 'r 'chassis b'zz'. Samsung seems to have limited t65QN90's0's bass extension more than that of the QN95C, but the bass is still respectably present, and reining it in before it might start causing distortions or distractions feels like a sensible choice.
While the 65QN9isn'tn't as dazzling to look at, as precise with its backlight controls or as effective with its OTS sound system as its QN95C flagship siblinit'st's still an outstanding LCD TV that both sustains the sort of high brightness that LCD'sD's main point of difference versus OLED and gets closer to the performance of the QN95C than you might expect considering it is significantly cheaper.