Samsung QN90A QLED TV Review

Tested using Methodology v1.6
Reviewed Mar 26, 2021 at 08:42 am
Samsung QN90A QLED Picture
8.6
Mixed Usage
Value for price beaten by
: LG BX OLED
8.5
Movies
Value for price beaten by
: LG BX OLED
8.6
TV Shows
Value for price beaten by
: Samsung QN85A QLED
8.5
Sports
Value for price beaten by
: LG GX OLED
8.8
Video Games
Value for price beaten by
: LG BX OLED
8.6
HDR Movies
Value for price beaten by
: Sony A8H OLED
8.8
HDR Gaming
Value for price beaten by
: LG BX OLED
8.8
PC Monitor
Value for price beaten by
: Samsung Q80/Q80T QLED
Type LED
Sub-Type
VA
Resolution 4k

The Samsung QN90A QLED is an excellent TV. It's Samsung's flagship 4k TV in their new Neo QLED lineup, which is an upgrade from their traditional QLED lineup because it uses Mini LED as its backlighting. This allows the TV to get extremely bright, enough to combat glare or bring out highlights in HDR content, and it provides more control over its full-array local dimming feature. The local dimming does a great job at improving the picture quality, but you may notice there's some blooming around bright objects. It's packed with gaming features like FreeSync variable refresh rate (VRR), but there's no G-SYNC compatibility. It also has HDMI 2.1 support, but some people may be disappointed that it's limited to one input. Despite having a VA panel, it has fairly wide viewing angles thanks to Samsung's 'Ultra Viewing Angle' technology, so it should be a good choice for fairly wide seating arrangements.

Our Verdict

8.6 Mixed Usage

The Samsung QN90A is an excellent TV for any use. Its VA panel provides an excellent native contrast ratio and great local dimming to display deep blacks. It gets bright enough to combat glare and has fantastic reflection handling if you want to use it in a well-lit room. Also, gamers should enjoy its VRR support, low input lag, and quick response time for a responsive gaming experience.

Pros
  • Excellent native contrast ratio.
  • Great Mini LED full-array local dimming feature.
  • Fairly wide viewing angles.
  • Incredible HDR peak brightness.
Cons
  • A bit of blooming noticeable around bright objects.
  • No G-SYNC support.
8.5 Movies

The Samsung QN90A is excellent for watching movies. It has a VA panel with excellent native contrast and great local dimming to display deep blacks. It also upscales lower-resolution content well, like from Blu-rays, and automatically removes 24p judder from any source.

Pros
  • Excellent native contrast ratio.
  • Great Mini LED full-array local dimming feature.
  • Removes 24p judder from any content.
Cons
  • A bit of blooming noticeable around bright objects.
8.6 TV Shows

The Samsung QN90A is excellent for watching TV shows. It easily gets bright enough to combat glare in well-lit rooms and has fantastic reflection handling, so visibility shouldn't be an issue. It has fairly wide viewing angles, so the image remains accurate when viewing from the side. Lastly, it upscales lower-resolution content like cable TV without any issues.

Pros
  • Gets bright enough to combat glare.
  • Fantastic reflection handling.
  • Fairly wide viewing angles.
Cons
  • Some dirty screen effect visible in the center.
8.5 Sports

The Samsung QN90A is excellent for watching sports. Fast-moving content looks smooth thanks to its very quick response time, and it has a Black Frame Insertion feature to help reduce motion blur. It's great for viewing in bright rooms thanks to its fantastic reflection handling and very high peak brightness. It also has fairly wide viewing angles if you want to watch the big game with a few friends.

Pros
  • Gets bright enough to combat glare.
  • Fairly wide viewing angles.
  • Very quick response time results in smooth motion.
Cons
  • Some dirty screen effect visible in the center.
8.8 Video Games

The Samsung QN90A is amazing for gaming. It's packed with gaming features like HDMI 2.1 and VRR support, but it doesn't support G-SYNC. Its 120Hz panel has a very quick response time, resulting in smooth motion, and input lag is very low. It's great for dark room gaming thanks to its excellent native contrast ratio, even though local dimming is only decent in 'Game Mode'.

Pros
  • Excellent native contrast ratio.
  • Very quick response time results in smooth motion.
  • FreeSync VRR support.
  • Very low input lag.
Cons
  • A bit of blooming noticeable around bright objects.
  • No G-SYNC support.
8.6 HDR Movies

The Samsung QN90A is excellent for watching HDR movies. It displays a wide color gamut, and supports HDR10+, but not Dolby Vision. It gets bright enough to make highlights pop, has an excellent native contrast ratio, and its full-array local dimming feature helps it display deep blacks. It also has fantastic black uniformity, but there's still some blooming around bright objects.

Pros
  • Excellent native contrast ratio.
  • Great Mini LED full-array local dimming feature.
  • Incredible HDR peak brightness.
  • Displays wide color gamut.
Cons
  • A bit of blooming noticeable around bright objects.
  • No Dolby Vision support.
8.8 HDR Gaming

The Samsung QN90A is amazing for HDR gaming. It's excellent for gaming thanks to its very quick response time and low input lag. It has native FreeSync support, but not G-SYNC. In terms of HDR, it displays a wide color gamut, and has incredible HDR brightness in 'Game Mode'. It also has an excellent native contrast ratio to provide a great dark room gaming experience, but its local dimming isn't as good in 'Game Mode'.

Pros
  • Very quick response time results in smooth motion.
  • FreeSync VRR support.
  • Incredible HDR peak brightness.
  • Displays wide color gamut.
Cons
  • A bit of blooming noticeable around bright objects.
  • No G-SYNC support.
8.8 PC Monitor

The Samsung QN90A is an excellent choice to use as a PC monitor. It has a very low input lag and quick response time to provide a responsive gaming experience. Thanks to its wide viewing angles, the image should remain mostly accurate at the edges if you sit too close. You also shouldn't have any issues in a well-lit room as it gets bright enough to combat glare and has fantastic reflection handling.

Pros
  • Gets bright enough to combat glare.
  • Fairly wide viewing angles.
  • Very quick response time results in smooth motion.
  • Very low input lag.
Cons
  • Some dirty screen effect visible in the center.
  • 8.6 Mixed Usage
  • 8.5 Movies
  • 8.6 TV Shows
  • 8.5 Sports
  • 8.8 Video Games
  • 8.6 HDR Movies
  • 8.8 HDR Gaming
  • 8.8 PC Monitor

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Video

Test Results

perceptual testing image
Market Context
Market Context
Market Context

The Samsung QN90A is the flagship 4k LED model in Samsung's 2021 North American lineup, and it replaces the Samsung Q90/Q90T QLED. It sits above the Samsung QN85A QLED and below the 8k Samsung QN800A. However, in Europe, there's the Samsung QN95A above it, which features the One Connect box. We expect its main competitors to be the Sony X95J, LG QNED90, and the Vizio P Series Quantum X 2020.

Design
Design
Style
Curved No

The Samsung QN90A has a premium design that looks very similar to the Samsung Q90/Q90T QLED, except it's much thinner. It has a clean look with thin bezels that would look good in any setup. The center-mounted stand also elevates the TV enough off the table so that you can place a soundbar in front and not worry about blocking the screen. Overall, it's a very well-built high-end TV.

Design
Stand

The screen is a bit wobbly on the metal stand, but it's not too noticeable.

Footprint of the 55 inch TV: 11.8" x 9.2".

Design
Back
Wall Mount VESA 200x200

The back is made of an etched plastic panel and there are tracks for cable management. Like the Samsung Q90/Q90T QLED, the inputs are side-facing, so they're easy to access when the TV is wall-mounted.

Design
Borders
Borders 0.35" (0.9 cm)
Design
Thickness
Max Thickness 1.06" (2.7 cm)

The Samsung QN90A is an extremely thin TV, even with the inputs built-in. It should look great and sit flush against a wall when mounted.

9.0
Design
Build Quality

The Samsung QN90A's build quality is fantastic. Although the entire TV, except for the stand, is made out of plastic, it feels very solid and well-put-together. The textured plastic feels premium. There aren't any obvious issues or loose parts, which is what you'd expect from a high-end model. It's a bit wobbly, but that's because the panel is so thin and easy to move, and it shouldn't be an issue during regular use.

Picture Quality
8.5
Picture Quality
Contrast
Native Contrast
3510 : 1
Contrast with local dimming
26534 : 1

The Samsung QN90A has an excellent contrast ratio. Although its native contrast is lower than most VA panel TVs due to the 'Ultra Viewing Angle' layer, its local dimming feature helps it display very deep blacks. Keep in mind that contrast may vary a bit between units. If you want a TV with a near-infinite contrast ratio, consider the Sony A90J OLED.

9.4
Picture Quality
SDR Brightness
Real Scene Peak Brightness
1428 cd/m²
Peak 2% Window
1235 cd/m²
Peak 10% Window
1477 cd/m²
Peak 25% Window
1456 cd/m²
Peak 50% Window
1216 cd/m²
Peak 100% Window
691 cd/m²
Sustained 2% Window
1221 cd/m²
Sustained 10% Window
1434 cd/m²
Sustained 25% Window
1443 cd/m²
Sustained 50% Window
1207 cd/m²
Sustained 100% Window
689 cd/m²
Automatic Brightness Limiting (ABL)
0.038

The Samsung QN90A has outstanding SDR brightness and it gets much brighter than the Samsung Q90/Q90T QLED. It easily gets bright enough to combat glare, but it has an aggressive Automatic Brightness Limiter (ABL) that causes large areas of bright colors, like in a hockey or basketball broadcast, to be more dim.

We tested SDR brightness after calibration in the 'Movie' Picture Mode with Color Tone set to 'Warm2', Brightness to its max, and Local Dimming on 'High'.

If you want the brightest image possible and don't mind losing some image accuracy, set the Picture Mode to 'Dynamic' with Color Tone on 'Standard'. We reached 1,789 cd/m² in the 10% window using these settings.

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

The Mini LED full-array local dimming feature is great. It greatly improves the contrast ratio, making blacks appear deep when viewed in the dark. There's a bit of blooming around bright objects that you may notice if you're sensitive to blooming, but overall, it's not that distracting. It also doesn't cause the rest of the screen to light up as everything else remains black. However, the blooming becomes more obvious when viewing off-angle. The screen is uniform and for the most part, there aren't any issues with black bars, but you may notice some light from subtitles and sources may bloom into them. There's a bit of black crush, but it's only really noticeable with background highlights, like the far-away stars in a night sky; large, bright objects are recognized by the TV well and it makes them pop. Subtitles look alright, but once again, you may notice just a bit of blooming around letters. Fast-moving objects transition between zones fairly well in real content, but it's more noticeable in our test pattern. They also move quickly between the zones, and even though it's not distracting, you may notice how the zones are just a tad slow to turn on and off. We tested it with Local Dimming on 'High', and overall, the full-array local dimming feature provides a nice viewing experience.

7.0
Picture Quality
Local Dimming In Game Mode
Local Dimming
Yes
Backlight
Full-Array

The local dimming feature in Game Mode is decent. It looks similar to outside of Game Mode, except the dimming zones look bigger and cause the entire screen to look more gray than black. Blooming is a bit more aggressive than outside of Game Mode, and it could be more noticeable, but it's still good overall. There's less black crush, but that's because the whole screen is just a bit over-brightened. Fast objects move between zones just a bit slower than outside of Game Mode, which could be more distracting. We experienced a strange issue where text in the center of the screen causes the entire top half of the screen to turn on all of the dimming zones. If you notice the same thing, let us know.

9.4
Picture Quality
HDR Brightness
Real Scene Highlight
1800 cd/m²
Peak 2% Window
1554 cd/m²
Peak 10% Window
1591 cd/m²
Peak 25% Window
1633 cd/m²
Peak 50% Window
1218 cd/m²
Peak 100% Window
762 cd/m²
Sustained 2% Window
1537 cd/m²
Sustained 10% Window
1560 cd/m²
Sustained 25% Window
1620 cd/m²
Sustained 50% Window
1211 cd/m²
Sustained 100% Window
758 cd/m²
Automatic Brightness Limiting (ABL)
0.040

The Samsung QN90A has remarkable HDR brightness. Small highlights stand out the way they should, but like in SDR, large areas are less bright due to the aggressive ABL. Surprisingly, real content gets even brighter than our test slides.

We tested it in the 'Movie HDR' Picture Mode with Local Dimming on 'High', and Brightness and Contrast at their max, with all other image processing disabled.

The EOTF follows the target PQ curve fairly well, but the overall image looks brighter than it should be. If you still find it too dim, then set Contrast Enhancer to 'High' and ST.2084 to its max. This results in a noticeably brighter image, as you can see in this EOTF.

9.3
Picture Quality
HDR Brightness In Game Mode
Real Scene Highlight
1862 cd/m²
Peak 2% Window
709 cd/m²
Peak 10% Window
1614 cd/m²
Peak 25% Window
1655 cd/m²
Peak 50% Window
1110 cd/m²
Peak 100% Window
757 cd/m²
Sustained 2% Window
702 cd/m²
Sustained 10% Window
1597 cd/m²
Sustained 25% Window
1639 cd/m²
Sustained 50% Window
1106 cd/m²
Sustained 100% Window
755 cd/m²
Automatic Brightness Limiting (ABL)
0.051

The HDR brightness in Game Mode is incredible. It gets slightly brighter overall than outside of Game Mode, except small highlights are more dim, and once again, large areas are also dim. However, because of the worse local dimming in Game Mode, HDR content doesn't look as good and blooming is more aggressive.

We tested it with Game Mode enabled, Local Dimming on 'High', Brightness and Contrast at their max, Color Tone set to 'Warm2', Sharpness at '0', and Color Gamut on 'Auto'. There's a new Game HDR setting that you can enable in the 'Game Mode Settings' page, and this is meant to optimize the brightness according to the content. It resulted in a less bright image than we originally tested, but feel free to enable it if you find it looks better with your game.

The EOTF follows the target better than outside of Game Mode, but some bright scenes are still over-brightened. You can make it brighter by using the same settings as outside of Game Mode.

7.1
Picture Quality
Gray Uniformity
50% Std. Dev.
2.967 %
50% DSE
0.218 %
5% Std. Dev.
0.680 %
5% DSE
0.102 %

The Samsung QN90A has decent gray uniformity, but this may vary between units. The edges of the screen are slightly darker, and there's a bit of dirty screen effect in the center, which could get distracting during sports. Uniformity is much improved in near-dark scenes.

9.0
Picture Quality
Black Uniformity
Native Std. Dev.
0.737 %
Std. Dev. w/ L.D.
0.211 %

The black uniformity is fantastic. It displays deep blacks, and there's only minimal blooming around the center cross with local dimming enabled. However, without it, the screen looks blue-ish, and there's a bit of clouding.

7.0
Picture Quality
Viewing Angle
Color Washout
24 °
Color Shift
49 °
Brightness Loss
44 °
Black Level Raise
70 °
Gamma Shift
23 °

The Samsung QN90A has decent viewing angles thanks to Samsung's 'Ultra Viewing Angle' technology. The image remains accurate when viewing from the side, but you may notice the screen looks darker. Still, it's a good choice for fairly wide seating arrangements.

9.1
Picture Quality
Reflections
Screen Finish
Glossy
Total Reflections
1.7 %
Indirect Reflections
0.9 %
Calculated Direct Reflections
0.8 %

The Samsung QN90A has fantastic reflection handling. It handles external light sources well, but the way that the light scatters across the screen and creates a rainbow effect can be distracting.

9.2
Picture Quality
Pre Calibration
White Balance dE
0.85
Color dE
1.39
Gamma
2.20
Color Temperature
6620 K
Picture Mode
Movie
Color Temp Setting
Warm 2
Gamma Setting
2.2

The Samsung QN90A has exceptional out-of-the-box accuracy. It's one of the best we've seen on any TV, but this may vary between units. Any white balance and color inaccuracies can't be spotted by the human eye, and the color temperature is close to the 6500K target. Gamma follows the target curve well overall, but dark scenes are too dark, and bright scenes are over-brightened.

9.5
Picture Quality
Post Calibration
White Balance dE
0.24
Color dE
1.07
Gamma
2.20
Color Temperature
6529 K
White Balance Calibration
20 point
Color Calibration
Yes

The accuracy post-calibration is remarkable. Gamma now follows the target curve a lot better and the color temperature is even closer to the target.

You can see our recommended settings here.

8.0
Picture Quality
480p Input

480p content like DVDs is upscaled without any issues.

8.0
Picture Quality
720p Input

The Samsung QN90A upscales 720p content like cable TV well.

9.0
Picture Quality
1080p Input

The Samsung QN90A displays 1080p content almost as good as native 4k.

10
Picture Quality
4k Input

The Samsung QN90A displays native 4k content perfectly and without any issues. The Mini LED backlighting doesn't improve the picture quality in terms of resolution, and there aren't any visible artifacts.

0
Picture Quality
8k Input

The Samsung QN90A is a 4k TV that can't display an 8k signal.

Picture Quality
Pixels

The Samsung QN90A uses a BGR sub-pixel layout, which can affect how text is rendered when using the TV as a PC monitor. You can read more about that here. The pixels look a bit blurry due to the 'Ultra Viewing Angle' layer.

8.4
Picture Quality
Color Gamut
Wide Color Gamut
Yes
DCI P3 xy
95.05 %
DCI P3 uv
95.52 %
Rec 2020 xy
70.74 %
Rec 2020 uv
76.49 %

The Samsung QN90A displays an impressive wide color gamut for HDR content, and it's an improvement over the Samsung Q90/Q90T QLED. It has exceptional coverage of the commonly-used DCI P3 color space and decent coverage of the wider Rec. 2020.

8.0
Picture Quality
Color Volume
Normalized DCI P3 Coverage ITP
89.6 %
10,000 cd/m² DCI P3 Coverage ITP
59.8 %
Normalized Rec 2020 Coverage ITP
69.5 %
10,000 cd/m² Rec 2020 Coverage ITP
46.4 %

The Samsung QN90A has a great color volume. It displays bright and dark colors well, thanks to its high peak brightness and contrast ratio.

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

The Samsung QN90A has great gradient handling. It looks a bit worse than the Samsung Q90/Q90T QLED, but not by a lot. Most of the banding is in the greens and reds; the Noise Reduction setting helps reduce banding in real content but may cause a loss in details.

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 signs of temporary image retention after displaying a high-contrast static image for 10 minutes.

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

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

Motion
8.7
Motion
Response Time
80% Response Time
3.3 ms
100% Response Time
8.9 ms

The Samsung QN90A has an excellent response time. For the most part, motion looks smooth and there's minimal blur. However, there's some overshoot in the darker transitions, which could lead to some artifacts in dark scenes.

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

The backlight flickers at such a high frequency that you shouldn't notice it. However, the flicker frequency drops to 120Hz in the 'Dynamic', 'Natural', 'Standard', and 'Filmmaker' Picture Modes, or if you enable the Game Mode or Picture Clarity settings.

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

The Samsung QN90A has a Black Frame Insertion feature to help reduce motion blur. It flickers at 120Hz if you enable Picture Clarity or Game Mode. For it to flicker at 60Hz, you need to enable LED Clear Motion in the 'Picture Clarity' settings page. Note that our BFI scoring is based on whether it can flicker at 60Hz and 120Hz, and not the actual performance.

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

The Samsung QN90A has a motion interpolation feature. It can interpolate 30fps and 60fps content up to 120fps, known as the 'Soap Opera Effect'. It works properly in slow scenes, but a ton of small artifacts appear when there are fast-moving objects on the screen. It can get distracting during busy scenes.

See here for the settings that control motion interpolation.

6.5
Motion
Stutter
Frame Hold Time @ 24 fps
32.8 ms
Frame Hold Time @ 60 fps
7.8 ms

Due to the fast response time, lower-frame rate content can appear to stutter as each frame is held on longer. If it bothers you, you can try enabling the motion interpolation 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 QN90A automatically removes judder from all sources, and there aren't any settings you need to enable.

9.4
Motion
Variable Refresh Rate
Native Refresh Rate
120 Hz
Variable Refresh Rate
Yes
HDMI Forum VRR
Unknown
FreeSync
Yes
G-SYNC Compatible
No
4k VRR Maximum