The Samsung Q9F is the brand's highest-end QLED LCD TV and offers excellent performance for mixed usage. In dark rooms, the high native contrast ratio and great local dimming result in deep dark scenes, and in bright rooms, the excellent anti-reflective coating and high peak brightness help to overcome glare. Unfortunately, when watching sports, some dirty screen effect is noticeable due to nonuniform areas of the screen and the image loses accuracy when viewed at an angle.
Note that this is a different TV to the 2017 QLED Q9F. The 2018 Q9FN is also called the Q9F or Q9.
The design of the Samsung 2018 Q9FN QLED TV is excellent. It has a modern, simplistic design that will fit well in any decor. The One Connect box is bigger than last year's, but the cable now provides power as well, so when wall-mounted, the TV only has one very thin cable running to it that can be easily hidden. There are also two alternative stands available if you are looking for something more stylish.
The stand of the QN65Q9FNAFXZA is solid and well built. The design does not allow for a soundbar to be placed directly in front, but is designed for the One Connect box to fit neatly behind the TV. The TV is also compatible with replacement stands from Samsung if you are looking for something more stylish, like the Gravity Stand or the Studio Stand.
Footprint of the 65" TV stand: 18.7" x 14.4"
The One Connect box measures 15.4" x 5.2" x 2.6".
The back of the TV is very simple. There is only the One Connect cable running into the back. There is some flex in the back panel but this shouldn't cause any issues. There is a removable panel to install one of the alternative stands or for the Samsung No Gap Wall Mount.
The borders of the TV are thin and look good. There is a small gap between the inside edge of the border and the panel.
The Samsung Q9F is thin, it can sit flush with the wall when mounted. It is thinner than the Q8FN.
Fairly uniform temperature, with two warm spots along the back. The One Connect box gets up to 104°F (40°C), which is warm to the touch but shouldn't cause any issues.
Excellent build quality. There is a lot of plastic, but the border and stand are metal. Like the Q8FN, there is some flex in the back panel but not enough for there to be any issues.
Great picture quality on the 2018 Samsung Q9 QLED TV. It has an excellent contrast ratio and black uniformity, and the local dimming feature is very effective to improve dark scene performance. It is also one of the brightest TVs we have ever reviewed and has excellent reflection handling, making it a great versatile TV perfect for bright or dark room viewing. It has decent gray uniformity, but there is some dirty screen effect which is noticeable when watching sports. Like all VA panels, the viewing angle is narrow so the best seating is reserved for directly in-front. The Q9FN has a great wide color gamut, but color accuracy is not great out of the box.
Excellent native contrast ratio, and the local dimming feature helps to create even deeper dark scenes.
As with all Samsung TVs that support local dimming, it is not possible to disable local dimming in the menus. We used the hidden service menu to disable it for our tests.
Great local dimming on the 65" Q9FN. The algorithm is very aggressive at reducing blooming, which creates excellent deep blacks, but some detail may be lost in very dark scenes.
Here is a side-by-side with the Sony Z9D on the left, the Q9FN on the right. The local dimming on the Q9FN is very aggressive even when set to low, so small details in the stars are lost. Those who like the deepest dark scenes may prefer the local dimming algorithm of the Q9FN, but those who are weary about losing dark scene details will prefer less aggressive algorithms.
Excellent brightness for SDR content. While brightness in our real scene test is not as bright as the Sony X930E or Z9D, it is a significant improvement of the 2017 Q9. Small highlights in dim scenes are extremely bright as shown by our 2%, 10% and 25% windows. The Q9FN is an excellent choice even for very bright rooms as the whole screen can get bright as seen in the 100% white window.
Excellent peak brightness in HDR. The Samsung Q9F is one of the brightest TVs we have tested. The TV's local dimming is very effective at producing extremely bright small highlights in dark scenes as shown by the 2% and 10% window brightness.
With the 'Dynamic' picture mode displaying our 10% window, the Q9FN is able to briefly (<5s) spike the brightness as high as 3392 cd/m², the highest brightness level we have ever measured.
Decent gray uniformity of our QN65Q9FN. There is some dirty screen effect in the center which will be noticeable when watching anything with large areas of similar color, like hockey or football. The 5% test screen is much more uniform, which is good when watching dark scenes in sci-fi or horror movies.
The Samsung Q9F has a poor viewing angle, like other VA panels we've tested. Black levels shift significantly when viewed off angle, and the picture dims quite a bit. Colors shift when viewed off-axis, but the shift is not as noticeable. IPS-type LCD TVs like the SK9000 and OLED TVs like the C8 are superior in this regard.
Excellent black uniformity on the Samsung Q9FN 2018. There is very slight clouding around our test cross, but it shouldn't be noticeable and dark room viewing is excellent.
Note that the local dimming can't be disabled through the regular settings menu, so we disabled it through the service menu in order to evaluate the overall panel's native black uniformity.
The Samsung Q9 2018 has excellent reflection handling. The screen finish reduces the intensity of reflections significantly, even in a bright room with lots of direct light.
Out of the box color accuracy is poor. Greens and yellows especially are inaccurate. We took our readings with a 100% window, as the local dimming is very aggressive with our regular 18% window and cannot be disabled.The overall color temperature is not too bad, and gamma is following a curve closer to 2.4 than our target 2.2.
Update 04/12/2019: This TV was incorrectly measured with Brightness +2, instead of at 0. This only has a small impact on the results (slightly dimmer dark scenes below about 30 IRE) and so we don't plan to retest it.
Calibration is done with a 100% window instead of our standard 18% window, as the local dimming causes inconsistent readings of smaller windows. Post calibration the color temperature is very close to our target, and gamma follows our target almost exactly.
You can see our recommended settings here.
Upscaling of DVDs or other 480p content is good, with no obvious artifacts or over-sharpening.
Upscaling of 1080p content such as Blu-rays or game consoles looks good. The image is sharp and there are no obvious issues.
The Samsung Q9F has an excellent color gamut, covering almost all of the SDR color space. HDR coverage is very good, the Q9FN displays a wide color gamut, but it is unable to reproduce some of the new green tones in the Rec.2020 color space, very few TVs can. The performance is almost the same as the Q8FN, and we expect that the differences are due to small panel variances.
Update 05/24/2018: HDTVTest has shown that for lower brightness HDR infoframes (such as 1000 nits) the TV produces scenes which are brighter than intended (see his video here). You can see more about this in the Additional review notes.
The Q9FN has great color volume. It is able to produce very bright and very dark colors, across its entire color gamut. It is much similar to the 2017 QLEDs, and much better than the LG C7, B7A and C8.
The color volume on the Q9FN is very similar to that of the Q8FN. The difference should not be noticeable and is likely due to unit variance.
The Q9FN QLED is able to display color gradients without much banding. Some issues are visible in darker colors, such as <10% green but overall the result is great.
There is no temporary image retention on the Samsung Q9F.
We don't expect VA panels to experience permanent image retention. The VA panel in our long-term test appears immune.
If you do experience burn-in, Samsung guarantees their QLED screens against burn-in for 10 years.
The Samsung Q9FN has great motion handling. It has an excellent response time, and there is very little persistence trail. Like the Q8FN, the backlight has been improved over the 2017 QLEDs, and now flickers at an imperceptible 480 Hz in most modes. It also has an improved optional Black Frame Insertion feature, which can now flicker at 60 Hz in Game Mode to help games appear more fluid and can interpolate lower frame rate content up to 120 Hz, even in Game Mode.
The Samsung Q9FN has an excellent response time. The blur in the photo is due to persistence, there is almost no motion trail.
The response time results were obtained with the 'Standard' picture mode, because 'Movie' mode had a bug with our 20% gray slide (see our Additional Review Notes); however the TV's picture mode should not have any impact on response time.
The Samsung Q9 uses PWM to dim the backlight, and it flickers regardless of backlight setting. Similar to the Q8FN, the backlight flicker changes depending on settings. In 'Movie' mode it flickers at 480 Hz which should not be noticeable to most people and doesn't cause any motion duplication.
When in 'Game' or 'Standard' mode, or when 'Auto Motion Plus' is enabled, the backlight changes to a more noticeable 120 Hz flicker.
The Samsung Q9FN has an optional BFI mode called 'LED Clear motion', that adjusts the backlight flicker to 60Hz to help motion appear more fluid.
For 120fps content, 'Auto Motion Plus' should be turned 'On' with 'LED Clear Motion' disabled.
The Samsung Q9FN can interpolate lower frame rate content up to 120 Hz to help reduce stutter. This function is commonly known as the 'Soap Opera Effect'. Some people find the effect strange, and in scenes with lots of motion there are artifacts. When motion gets too intense the Q9FN, like all Samsung TVs, will stop interpolating, preferring accuracy.
Interpolation is activated by setting 'Auto Motion Plus' to 'Custom'. The 'Judder Reduction' can be adjusted for low frame rate content, and the 'Blur Reduction' slider can be adjusted to help clear up motion on 60 fps content. When interpolation is enabled, the backlight changes to a 120 Hz flicker as seen on the Q8FN here.
There is very little stutter with 24 fps content. This is one advantage of the QLED over OLED TVs, the frame is not held on the screen as long so there is less visible stutter, especially on wide-panning shots.
The Q9FN is nearly judder free. When playing 24p content through a 60i source, like from a cable box, the Q9FN was inconsistent in removing judder. In a 24 frame test, there is judder in only 2 of the frames. This probably won't be noticeable to most people. Like other Samsungs we have tested recently, this result is unexpected and we will retest this with future firmware updates.
The Samsung Q9F does not currently support a variable refresh rate. We tested with the Freesync 2 on the Xbox One S and with a PC with a Radeon RX 580 GPU.
Update 05/23/2018: Firmware version 1103 has added Freesync support. We are currently testing it and will update the review shortly.
Update 06/08/2018: FreeSync has been tested and the score has been updated. FreeSync was supported from our Xbox One S and our Radeon RX 580 GPU, in 1080p, 1440p and 4k resolutions. FreeSync is activated by enabling the TV's Game mode and FreeSync settings; PC mode is not required. We tested in Ultimate mode because it has the widest range, and we only recommend Basic mode when you experience problems with Ultimate.
The Samsung Q9FN has excellent low input lag and supports most of the common resolutions and refresh rates. Like the Q8FN, chroma 4:4:4 is not properly supported in PC Mode with a 1440p@120Hz signal. It supports auto low latency mode, and the TV will automatically switch to game mode when a game is played on a supported console.
1440p @ 120 Hz: 10.8 ms
Excellent low input lag on the 2018 Q9FN across all input resolutions, as long as Game Mode is activated. Excellent low input lag at 120Hz, which is great for gaming.
With Game Motion Plus enabled, input lag is 21.0 ms with 60 Hz interpolation, and 27.3 ms with 120 Hz interpolation.
Update 06/05/2018: Input lag of 1440p @ 120 Hz: 25.2 ms. This input lag was tested at the same time as the others, but was omitted from the review by mistake.
Update 06/11/2018: 1440p @ 120 Hz performance has improved as of firmware version 1103. The 1440p @ 120 Hz input lag is now 10.8 ms, down from 25.2 ms.
Update 01/07/2019: Firmware 1103 also added VRR support (see the VRR box), but we were unable to test the VRR input lag because the TV's backlight flicker caused problems with our input lag tool. We expect the Q9FN's VRR input lag to be very similar to that of the Q8FN, as all the other 2018 QLED models had similar VRR input lag.
Most of the common resolutions and refresh rates are supported, including 1440p@120 Hz, which is new this year. When in that mode, colors are not displayed properly in chroma 4:4:4.
Like all Samsung TVs we have tested this year, DTS passthrough is not supported on the Audio Return Channel or through optical. This should not be an issue since most media supports both.
The sound quality of the Samsung Q9F 2018 is about average. This TV gets loud enough for most use cases and does produce well-balanced dialogs. However, it lacks a lot of bass, doesn't have a room correction system, and produces compression artifacts when put under maximum load. For a better sound, a dedicated sound system is recommended.
The frequency response of the Samsung Q9FN is about average. Low-frequency extension (LEF) is at 113Hz, which is mediocre, especially since the LFE worsens as the TV is put under more load. This results in a bass that's lacking considerable amount of punch/kick, and has no thump/rumble. However, the response above the TV's LFE is quite well-balanced, but since it doesn't have a room correction system, it wasn't able to remove out test room's modes around 200Hz. Also, this TV gets loud-enough for most use cases too, but there will be pumping and compression artifacts present as the TV approaches its limits.
The distortion performance of the Q9FN is above-average. The overall amount of harmonic distortion is rather elevated at 80dB SPL. However, compared to 80dB SPL, there is not a big jump in THD under maximum load, which is good.
The Samsung Q9F QLED TV runs the latest version of Samsung's Tizen OS, also known as Smart Hub. It has a good layout and is easy to use, but the current version has performance issues, and it froze multiple times for 2-3 seconds (see our Additional Review Notes). The included content store has a wide selection of apps as well as the ability to rent movies and TV shows directly.
The interface of the Samsung Q9F is well laid out and easy to use. Unfortunately the interface's animations drop frames intermittently, and the current firmware version (1056) has a few bugs, such as freezing occasionally for three seconds (see our Additional Review Notes).
Like all Samsung TVs, the interface has ads throughout the home menu as well as suggested content in the content store. There is no option to disable them.