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Samsung Q90/Q90R QLED TV Review

Tested using Methodology v1.5
Updated Apr 10, 2020 at 05:26 pm
Samsung Q90/Q90R QLED Picture
8.5
Mixed Usage
Value for price beaten by
: LG BX OLED
8.4
Movies
Value for price beaten by
: LG BX OLED
8.5
TV Shows
Value for price beaten by
: Samsung Q90/Q90T QLED
8.5
Sports
Value for price beaten by
: LG GX OLED
8.7
Video Games
Value for price beaten by
: LG BX OLED
8.4
HDR Movies
Value for price beaten by
: Sony A8H OLED
8.6
HDR Gaming
Value for price beaten by
: LG BX OLED
8.6
PC Monitor
Value for price beaten by
: Samsung Q80/Q80T QLED
This TV was replaced by the Samsung Q90/Q90T QLED
Type LED
Sub-Type
VA
Resolution 4k

The Samsung Q90R is an excellent 4k TV with impressive picture quality. It has a high native contrast ratio, great local dimming support, and excellent black uniformity that allow it to deliver deep blacks in a dark room. The TV can get very bright in SDR and HDR, and it has a wide color gamut that allows it to deliver HDR content full of vivid colors and highlights that pop. Although it has a VA panel, the viewing angles are decent thanks to the 'Ultra Viewing Angle' technology. Motion handling is excellent and it has a low input lag for a responsive gaming experience. Furthermore, it has a 120Hz refresh rate and it supports FreeSync to reduce screen tearing.

Our Verdict

8.5 Mixed Usage

The Samsung Q90R is an excellent TV for most uses. It delivers a great HDR experience with vibrant colors and bright highlights, and lower resolution content like cable TV or sports are upscaled without any issues. It has an exceptionally low input lag for gaming, and it supports FreeSync for a nearly tear-free gaming experience. It's also a good TV to use as a monitor, as it can display chroma 4:4:4 properly.

Pros
  • Excellent peak brightness in SDR and HDR.
  • Outstanding low input lag and FreeSync support.
  • Remarkable motion handling.
Cons
  • Some gray uniformity issues at the edges.
8.4 Movies

The Samsung Q90R is a great TV for watching movies. It can display deep uniform blacks in a dark room thanks to the high native contrast ratio and good local dimming. Motion is crisp and the TV can remove 24p judder no matter the signal source.

8.5 TV Shows

The Samsung Q90R is an excellent TV for watching TV shows. It can get very bright and can handle the reflections of a bright room very well. The 'Ultra Viewing Angle' technology allows the image to remain accurate when viewed from the side, so you can move around the room while watching your favorite TV show without losing image accuracy.

8.5 Sports

The Samsung Q90R is an excellent TV for watching sports. It's suitable for any room as it can get very bright and can handle reflections well. The TV displays fast-moving content with just minimal blur trail, and the image remains accurate when viewed from the side so you can watch your favorite game in a wide room with a group of friends. Finally, the game field is displayed free from annoying dark shades, thanks to the decent gray uniformity.

8.7 Video Games

The Samsung Q90R is an amaing TV for playing video games. It has a remarkably low input lag, which makes it very responsive, and it has a fast response time, delivering a clear picture with minimal motion blur. It supports FreeSync for a nearly tear-free gaming experience and it can even interpolate lower frame rate games without adding significant input lag.

8.4 HDR Movies

The Samsung Q90R is a great TV for watching HDR movies. It can display a wide color gamut, delivering rich and vibrant colors, and it can get extremely bright to bring out small highlights. With its full-array local dimming, this TV has an outstanding contrast ratio to produce deep blacks, making it a great choice for dark room viewing.

8.6 HDR Gaming

The Samsung Q90R is an excellent TV for playing HDR games. It's very responsive with a low input lag in HDR mode, and at the same time, it can display HDR content remarkably well. HDR content is full of rich colors and highlights that pop, thanks to the wide color gamut and the excellent HDR peak brightness.

8.6 PC Monitor

The Samsung Q90R is an excellent TV for use as a monitor. It has a very low input lag to make your desktop experience feel responsive and snappy, and it can display proper chroma 4:4:4, which is great for text clarity. It supports most common resolutions and there's no risk of permanent burn-in with its VA panel.

  • 8.5 Mixed Usage
  • 8.4 Movies
  • 8.5 TV Shows
  • 8.5 Sports
  • 8.7 Video Games
  • 8.4 HDR Movies
  • 8.6 HDR Gaming
  • 8.6 PC Monitor
  1. Update 5/21/2020: Converted to Test Bench 1.5.
  2. Update 2/21/2020: Converted to Test Bench 1.4.
  3. Update 8/2/2019: We retested the Q90R with the latest firmware. The SDR Peak Brightness, HDR Peak Brightness, and Input Lag measurements and scores have been updated, and 4k @ 120Hz is no longer skipping frames.

Video

Test Results

perceptual testing image
Market Context
Market Context
Market Context

The Samsung Q90R is a high-end QLED TV. It's Samsung's 4k flagship, just under the 8k Samsung Q900R. It's the replacement of last year's Samsung Q9FN. The Q90R is comparable to most other high-end 4k models like the LG C9, the Sony A9G, or the LED Vizio P Series Quantum 2019.

Design
9.5
Design
Style
Curved No

The Samsung Q90R has an outstanding design. It has very thin bezels on all sides and the stand is a simple solid piece of metal that supports the TV well. The TV's inputs are housed in a separate unit called the One Connect box and they're connected through a single cable.

Design
Stand

The stand is metallic and very sturdy. It supports the TV well and doesn't allow much wobbling.

The footprint of the stand (65" model): 11.2" x13.4"

Note: The reflection depicted on the above picture is the result of the 'Ultra Viewing Angle' layer, explained here.

Design
Back
Wall Mount VESA 400x400

The back of the TV is plain. It's made of plastic and has a brushed texture.

Since most of the electronics are housed in the One Connect box, there's only a single cable connecting the box to the TV. There are grooves along the stand and the back of the TV that serves as cable management.

Design
Borders
Borders 0.43" (1.1 cm)

The borders of the Q90 are very thin and look good.

Design
Thickness
Max Thickness 1.54" (3.9 cm)

The Samsung Q90 is very thin and won't protrude much if you wall-mount it.

9.5
Design
Build Quality

The build quality is exceptional. The TV feels sturdy and the metal stand is very heavy. There are no obvious gaps in the construction and you shouldn't have any issues with it.

Picture Quality
8.4
Picture Quality
Contrast
Native Contrast
3249 : 1
Contrast with local dimming
11200 : 1

The Q90R has a great contrast ratio. It's lower than most TVs with VA panels, mainly due to the TV's 'Ultra Viewing Angle' layer, which improves viewing angles at the expense of contrast ratio. However, it's significantly better when local dimming is enabled. Note that the contrast ratio can vary between units.

The TV's local dimming can't be completely disabled using the normal settings menu. In order to measure the native contrast ratio, we had to disable PC Mode Dimming in the TV's service menu, and then activate PC Mode and Game Mode at the same time.

8.0
Picture Quality
Local Dimming
Local Dimming
Yes
Backlight
Full-Array

The Q90 has a great local dimming feature. There's very little blooming, but it tends to dim the edges of bright objects, causing a vignetting effect, and small highlights like stars are crushed. In Game Mode, the local dimming doesn't react as quickly to changes in a scene, leading to more visible blooming.

The local dimming can't be completely disabled. Even when set to 'Low' it can be distracting. This can be an issue if you often watch with subtitles.

We performed our testing with Local Dimming set to 'High'.

Note: There's a 55" variant of the Q90R available only in Europe that's advertised as having a weaker local dimming feature, but we haven't tested it and can't give further details.

9.0
Picture Quality
SDR Peak Brightness
SDR Real Scene Peak Brightness
831 cd/m²
SDR Peak 2% Window
1297 cd/m²
SDR Peak 10% Window
1363 cd/m²
SDR Peak 25% Window
1237 cd/m²
SDR Peak 50% Window
774 cd/m²
SDR Peak 100% Window
505 cd/m²
SDR Sustained 2% Window
1213 cd/m²
SDR Sustained 10% Window
1284 cd/m²
SDR Sustained 25% Window
1163 cd/m²
SDR Sustained 50% Window
773 cd/m²
SDR Sustained 100% Window
502 cd/m²
SDR ABL
0.052

Update 08/08/2019:We retested the real scene peak brightness, and it didn't change considerably.

Update 08/02/2019: We've retested the Q90R with the latest firmware, and the SDR peak brightness has increased a bit. We've updated our measurements and scores.

Outstanding SDR peak brightness. Small highlights in dark scenes are very bright and the TV's overall brightness can easily fight glare in a bright rooms.

We performed our measurements after calibration with picture mode set to ‘Movie,’ Local Dimming set to ‘High,’ Auto Motion Plus set to 'off,' and Backlight set to 'Max.' Different settings may produce a brighter picture. The setting that controls the backlight brightness is called Backlight.

9.0
Picture Quality
HDR Peak Brightness
HDR Real Scene Peak Brightness
1287 cd/m²
HDR Peak 2% Window
1145 cd/m²
HDR Peak 10% Window
1487 cd/m²
HDR Peak 25% Window
1275 cd/m²
HDR Peak 50% Window
816 cd/m²
HDR Peak 100% Window
536 cd/m²
HDR Sustained 2% Window
1082 cd/m²
HDR Sustained 10% Window
1410 cd/m²
HDR Sustained 25% Window
1235 cd/m²
HDR Sustained 50% Window
814 cd/m²
HDR Sustained 100% Window
532 cd/m²
HDR ABL
0.050

Update 08/08/2019:We retested the real scene peak brightness, and it didn't change considerably.

Update 08/02/2019: We've retested the Q90R with the latest firmware, and the HDR peak brightness has increased a bit. We've updated our measurements and scores.

The Samsung Q90R has outstanding HDR peak brightness. This TV can deliver very bright highlights when displaying HDR content.

We performed our measurements without any calibration, picture mode set to ‘Movie,’ Local Dimming set to ‘High,’ and Auto Motion Plus set to 'off,' which are also our recommended settings. Some settings may produce a brighter image. For example, the 'Dynamic' picture mode can get brighter but has much worse picture accuracy.

7.3
Picture Quality
Gray Uniformity
50% Std. Dev.
4.127 %
50% DSE
0.187 %
5% Std. Dev.
0.545 %
5% DSE
0.103 %

The Samsung Q90R has decent gray uniformity. There's some vignetting around the corners and at the edges of the screen, but the center is very uniform, with no noticeable dirty screen effect. The uniformity is significantly better in dark scenes. There's a slight blue tint when displaying gray content, such as black and white movies. Note that gray uniformity can vary between units.

6.9
Picture Quality
Viewing Angle
Color Washout
32 °
Color Shift
37 °
Brightness Loss
42 °
Black Level Raise
70 °
Gamma Shift
23 °

The Samsung Q90R has okay viewing angles. As you move off center, the image remains accurate for wider angles. The contrast stays relatively constant and this prevents the image from looking washed out.

VA panels normally have poor viewing angles, but the Q90 has an optical layer that Samsung calls 'Ultra Viewing Angle', which greatly improves the viewing angles at the expense of a lower native contrast ratio.

The TV's local dimming can't be completely disabled using the normal settings menu. So in order to measure the lightness viewing angle we had to disable PC Mode Dimming in the TV's service menu, and then activate PC Mode and Game Mode at the same time, which finally allowed us to measure with local dimming 'off'.

8.9
Picture Quality
Black Uniformity
Native Std. Dev.
0.745 %
Std. Dev. w/ L.D.
0.452 %

Black uniformity is excellent. The little blooming that you can spot in our overexposed image isn't really noticeable in normal content unless you watch a very dark scene in a dark room. Local dimming makes black uniformity nearly perfect in some very dark scenes. Note that black uniformity can vary between units.

The TV's local dimming can't be completely disabled using the normal settings menu. Just like in other measurements, in order to measure the native black uniformity, we had to disable PC Mode Dimming in the TV's service menu, and then activate PC Mode and Game Mode at the same time, which allowed us to turn local dimming off.

9.5
Picture Quality
Reflections
Screen Finish
Glossy
Total Reflections
1.1 %
Indirect Reflections
0.9 %
Calculated Direct Reflections
0.2 %

Reflection handling is outstanding. The glossy finish diffuses light well, but it has a relatively high 'Indirect Reflections' as a result of the 'Ultra Viewing Angle' layer, which scatters light across its surface, producing rainbow reflections across the screen. We'll revisit this scoring in the next test bench update.

7.1
Picture Quality
Pre Calibration
White Balance dE
3.79
Color dE
2.58
Gamma
2.21
Color Temperature
5859 K
Picture Mode
Movie
Color Temp Setting
Warm 2
Gamma Setting
2.2

Before calibration, the color accuracy is decent. The 'Movie' Picture Mode gives the best result, although there are still inaccuracies with several colors and shades of gray. With color temperature set to 'Warm 2', it's a much warmer color temperature than our target of 6500k, resulting in a slightly red-yellowish tint. The gamma follows the target curve fairly well, so most scenes appear at the correct brightness. Note that color accuracy can vary between units.

9.5
Picture Quality
Post Calibration
White Balance dE
0.30
Color dE
1.09
Gamma
2.22
Color Temperature
6473 K
White Balance Calibration
20 point
Color Calibration
Yes
Auto-Calibration Function
Yes

Color accuracy is outstanding after calibration. White balance and gamma are nearly perfect, and the remaining inaccuracies shouldn't be noticeable to the naked eye. The TV has an auto-calibration function, but it still requires a colorimeter and specialized software.

You can see our recommended settings here.

8.0
Picture Quality
480p Input

Older, 480p digital content looks good, with no obvious upscaling artifacts or oversharpening.

8.0
Picture Quality
720p Input

Upscaling of 720p content such as cable TV or older game consoles looks good.

9.0
Picture Quality
1080p Input

Upscaling of 1080p content such as Blu-rays or game consoles looks good. The image is sharp and there are no obvious issues.

10
Picture Quality
4k Input

Native 4k content looks great and is displayed perfectly.

0
Picture Quality
8k Input

The Samsung Q90R can't display an 8k signal.

Picture Quality
Pixels

Unfortunately the TV's 'Ultra Viewing Angle' optical layer makes the pixels hard to see clearly. We observed the same issue on the Q900R pixel photo.

8.3
Picture Quality
Color Gamut
Wide Color Gamut
Yes
DCI P3 xy
90.92 %
DCI P3 uv
94.14 %
Rec 2020 xy
68.66 %
Rec 2020 uv
76.76 %

The Samsung Q90R has an impressive wide color gamut; however, it's possible that the TV's 'Ultra Viewing Angle' layer is reducing its coverage. The 'Movie' EOTF is a little brighter than the input stimulus until it starts to roll off near the TV's peak brightness. In Game Mode, the PQ curve remains relatively similar to the 'Movie' mode, but at lower input stimulus, some scenes may appear too dim.

If you find HDR too dim, you can make it brighter by setting Brightness to '5,' and Contrast Enhancer to 'High.' This will produce a much brighter image, as you can see here.

Update: 04/23/2019 In the review of the Q9FN we observed that for lower brightness HDR infoframes (such as 1000 nits), the TV produces scenes which are brighter than intended. You can read more about it here. We haven't measured the 1000 nits infoframe for this TV but we expect it to be similar to the Q9FN.

7.9
Picture Quality
Color Volume
Normalized DCI P3 Coverage ITP
88.3 %
10,000 cd/m² DCI P3 Coverage ITP
53.8 %
Normalized Rec 2020 Coverage ITP
70.4 %
10,000 cd/m² Rec 2020 Coverage ITP
43.6 %

The Samsung Q90 has very good color volume with good coverage of the DCI P3 color space and decent coverage of the wider Rec 2020. Like most LED TVs, it can produce bright and dark colors across most of its gamut, but can't produce very bright blues.

This performance is close but not as good as last year's high-end QLEDs. This is most likely the result of the not so wide color gamut when compared to last year's Q9FN and Q8FN.

8.1
Picture Quality
Gradient
Color Depth
10 Bit
Red (Std. Dev.)
0.112 dE
Green (Std. Dev.)
0.126 dE
Blue (Std. Dev.)
0.089 dE
Gray (Std. Dev.)
0.096 dE

Great gradient performance. There's very little banding visible in the darker grays and in the medium greens. Setting the Digital Clean View to 'Auto' can effectively remove most of the banding but can lead to a loss of fine detail.

Unfortunately, during testing, the TV's local dimming (that can't be disabled) interfered with our gradient test, tampering with the data and making it score a bit worse than it should. However, while not perfectly accurate, the score is still within the same ballpark as our subjective impression. We had the same issue with the Q900R.

We also compared the Q90R (top) with the Q9FN (bottom) and confirmed this.

10
Picture Quality
Temporary Image Retention
IR after 0 min recovery
0.00 %
IR after 2 min recovery
0.00 %
IR after 4 min recovery
0.00 %
IR after 6 min recovery
0.00 %
IR after 8 min recovery
0.00 %
IR after 10 min recovery
0.00 %

There are no risks of temporary image retention; however, this can vary between units.

10
Picture Quality
Permanent Burn-In Risk
Permanent Burn-In Risk
No

We don't expect VA panels to experience permanent image retention, as the VA panel in our long-term test appears immune.

Motion
8.5
Motion
Response Time
80% Response Time
3.7 ms
100% Response Time
9.6 ms

The Samsung Q90R has an outstanding response time. There's only a very small blur trail behind fast-moving objects, but there's significant overshoot is the 0-20% transition, causing some artifacts in dark scenes.

9.9
Motion
Flicker-Free
Flicker-Free
No
PWM Dimming Frequency
960 Hz

This TV uses PWM dimming to dim the backlight. Flicker is always present but becomes more severe at lower brightness. However, since the flicker frequency is 960Hz most people won't see it.

We tested the TV in 'Movie' mode with Auto Motion Plus disabled. However, in 'Movie' mode, the flicker rate changes to 120Hz if you set Auto Motion Plus to 'Custom' or 'Auto.' In 'Standard' and in 'Game' modes the flicker is always at 120Hz.

10
Motion
Black Frame Insertion (BFI)
Optional BFI
Yes
Min Flicker for 60 fps
60 Hz
60 Hz for 60 fps
Yes
120 Hz for 120 fps
Yes
Min Flicker for 60 fps in Game Mode
60 Hz

The Samsung Q90R has an excellent black frame insertion feature that helps make the image crisper. Just setting Auto Motion Plus to 'Custom' changes the flicker to 120Hz, as explained in the Flicker-Free box. If you do not want to add any soap opera effect you should set Blur Reduction and Judder Reduction to '0.' If you enable LED Clear Motion, the flicker changes to 60Hz.

In 'Game' mode, the flicker frequency is always 120Hz, and enabling LED Clear Motion in Game Motion Plus changes the flicker frequency to 60Hz.

Motion
Motion Interpolation
Motion Interpolation (30 fps)
Yes
Motion Interpolation (60 fps)
Yes

The Samsung Q90R can interpolate content up to 120fps. To enable motion interpolation you must set Auto Motion Plus to 'Custom.' The Blur Reduction slider affects only high frame rate content (ex. 60 fps). The Judder Reduction slider affects low frame rate content (ex. 30 fps). To obtain the best possible results you should adjust those sliders to your liking. For our test, we kept both at max. Motion interpolation looks okay although some artifacts can be noticed at times. When the action becomes too intense the TV stops interpolating.

In 'Game' mode, there's a Game Motion Plus option, which, however, doesn't look as good, but adds far less input lag. You can read more about it in the Input Lag box.

Note: When Auto Motion Plus is enabled, the TV's flicker changes to 120Hz, as explained in the Flicker-Free box.

6.7
Motion
Stutter
Frame Hold Time @ 24 fps
32.1 ms
Frame Hold Time @ 60 fps
7.1 ms

Due to the very fast response time of the Samsung Q90R, low frame rate content is held on screen for longer periods of time, which can cause the image to appear to stutter. If you find this stutter bothersome, you can reduce it by enabling motion interpolation or the optional black frame insertion feature.

10
Motion
24p Judder
Judder-Free 24p
Yes
Judder-Free 24p via 60p
Yes
Judder-Free 24p via 60i
Yes
Judder-Free 24p via Native Apps
Yes

The Samsung Q90R can remove judder from any source. To remove judder set Auto Motion Plus to 'Custom,' and Blur Reduction and Judder Reduction to '0' (if you don't want motion interpolation).

Note: When Auto Motion Plus is enabled, the TV's flicker changes to 120Hz, as explained in the Flicker-Free box.

9.4
Motion
Variable Refresh Rate
Native Refresh Rate
120 Hz
Variable Refresh Rate
Yes
HDMI Forum VRR
Yes
FreeSync
Yes
G-SYNC Compatible
No
1080p VRR Maximum
120 Hz
1080p VRR Minimum
< 20 Hz
1440p VRR Maximum
120 Hz
1440p VRR Minimum
< 20 Hz
VRR Supported Connectors
HDMI

Update 12/17/2019: A flaw was discovered in the way we were testing for G-SYNC compatibility with TVs. We've corrected the flaw, and have retested the 2019 Samsung and LG TVs, and found that the Samsung Q90R doesn't work properly with NVIDIA's current Adaptive Sync drivers.

Update 08/02/2019:4k @ 120Hz is now working properly in 'Game' mode; the TV is no longer skipping frames. We still can't test the 4k VRR range properly though, as our FreeSync PC doesn't support 4k @ 120Hz.

The Q90 supports FreeSync variable refresh rate to reduce screen tearing when gaming on an Xbox One or a PC with an AMD graphics card. Unfortunately, it doesn't work with NVIDIA's Adaptive Sync drivers.

We tested the TV on 'Game' mode, and we used FreeSync set to 'Ultimate' to obtain the widest possible range.

Inputs
8.7
Inputs
Input Lag
1080p @ 60 Hz
14.7 ms
1080p @ 60 Hz Outside Game Mode
77.2 ms
1440p @ 60 Hz
14.6 ms
4k @ 60 Hz
14.7 ms
4k @ 60 Hz + 10 bit HDR
14.6 ms
4k @ 60 Hz @ 4:4:4
14.5 ms
4k @ 60 Hz Outside Game Mode
57.1 ms
4k @ 60 Hz With Interpolation
21.2 ms
8k @ 60 Hz
N/A
1080p @ 120 Hz
6.0 ms
1440p @ 120 Hz
6.1 ms
4k @ 120 Hz
7.1 ms
1080p with Variable Refresh Rate
5.9 ms
1440p with VRR
6.1 ms
4k with VRR
14.1 ms
8k with VRR
N/A
Auto Low Latency Mode (ALLM)
Yes

Update 08/02/2019: We've retested the TV with the latest firmware, and the input lag has decreased slightly across the board. We were also able to test the 4k @ 120Hz input lag. 4k @ 120Hz is now working properly in 'Game' mode; the TV is no longer skipping frames. We've updated our numbers and scores.

Outstanding low input lag. To get the lowest input lag you must set the TV to 'Game Mode,' even when you are in 'PC Mode.' Chroma 4:4:4 is properly shown only when in 'PC Mode.'

The Samsung Q90R has low input lag with motion interpolation enabled. In the Game Motion Plus settings menu, when the Blur Reduction slider is increased, the TV interpolates up to 60 fps but also increases the input lag a bit, although it's still very low. If the Blur Reduction slider is increased further, the TV then interpolates up to 120 fps and the input lag increases slightly to 22.7 ms, which is still low enough for casual gaming.

If you want an even lower input lag for gaming, check out the Samsung Q90T.

9.6
Inputs
Supported Resolutions
1080p @ 60 Hz @ 4:4:4
Yes
1080p @ 120 Hz
Yes (native support)
1440p @ 60 Hz
Yes (native support)
1440p @ 120 Hz
Yes (native support)
4k @ 60 Hz
Yes
4k @ 60 Hz @ 4:4:4