Brilliantly showcases HDR
Great for next-gen gaming
No Dolby Vision
Noticeable light bloom
Would benefit from calibration
A truly premium TV experience, the QN90B delivers one of the brightest pictures we’ve ever seen, showcasing HDR content better than just about every LCD/LED TV on the market. It’s also a high-end gaming machine, with the hardware and software necessary to take advantage of next-generation gaming consoles.
Unfortunately, the QN90B lacks Dolby Vision support (though it does support HDR10 and HDR10+), and like most Samsung TVs we’ve seen in recent years, its out-of-the-box performance plays it fast and loose with accuracy in favor of a certain visual expression that picture purists might not go for. Additionally, while the mini-LED backlight control is improved over the QN90A’s, the QN90B still falls victim to minor light bloom, particularly when viewed from an off-axis position.
That said, if you’re looking for a bright, high-quality picture—especially if your living room is sitting in some sunlight—the QN90B will undoubtedly be one of the year’s best options.
About the Samsung QN90B
The QN90B is available in seven size options ranging from 43 inches all the way up to a gargantuan 98-inch model. Our review unit is a 55-inch version we purchased ourselves.
Here’s how the series shakes out in terms of pricing:
- 43-inch (Samsung QN43QN90BAFXZA), MSRP $1,199.99
- 50-inch (Samsung QN50QN90BAFXZA), MSRP $1,599.99
- 55-inch (Samsung QN55QN90BAFXZA), MSRP $1,899.99
- 65-inch (Samsung QN65QN90BAFXZA), MSRP $2,599.99
- 75-inch (Samsung QN75QN90BAFXZA), MSRP $3,499.99
- 85-inch (Samsung QN85QN90BAFXZA), MSRP $4,699.99
- 98-inch (Samsung QN98QN90BAFXZA), MSRP $14,999.99
While we don’t expect there to be too much of a difference in performance from one size to the next, it’s important to remember that each version features a different amount of local dimming zones. Generally speaking, a higher number of zones is ideal for controlling contrast (with performance being proportional to screen size).
With sizing and pricing out of the way, let’s take a look at the TV’s specs:
- Resolution: 4K (3,840 x 2,160)
- Display type: Mini-LED with quantum dots (VA-style panel)
- HDR support: HDR10, HDR10+, HLG
- Dolby Atmos: Yes (native decoding)
- eARC support: Yes (HDMI 3)
- Native refresh rate: 120Hz
- Smart platform: Tizen OS
- Color: DCI-P3 color space/10-bit chroma resolution
- Variable Refresh Rate (VRR): Yes
- Auto Low Latency Mode (ALLM): Yes
- Processor: Neo Quantum Processor 4K
- Other features: FreeSync Premium, Game Bar 2.0, Filmmaker Mode, Samsung Health, Multi View, Ambient Mode+, Amazon Alexa, Google Assistant, Bixby
The QN90B ships with Samsung’s Solar Cell remote control, which uses indoor/outdoor light to charge its internal battery. The remote also features a USB-C charging port for emergency charging, and its battery level can be checked in one of the TV menus.
Being a flagship TV, it’s no surprise that the Samsung QN90B is ready to slot right into a high-level home theater setup. Unlike last year’s QN90A, which only featured one HDMI port capable of 4K/120Hz playback, all four of the QN90B’s HDMI inputs offer high-bandwidth, 2.1 support.
Here’s what you’ll find on the back of the QN90B’s panel:
- 4x HDMI 2.1 (4K @ 120Hz, 1x HDMI ARC/eARC)
- 2x USB 2.0
- RF connection (cable/antenna)
- Ethernet (LAN) input
- Digital audio output (optical)
All of the QN90B’s inputs face to the right side of the panel—the ideal layout for anyone hoping to wall-mount the TV.
Before testing each TV, we make sure the panel is on and receiving a continuous signal for at least 24 hours, allowing the pixels plenty of time to warm up. Our 55-inch QN90B received this standard warm-up time before any readings were taken. In addition, the TV received the latest firmware updates at the time of testing.
For both SDR and HDR tests, we’re using the QN90B’s Filmmaker picture mode. We’ve chosen this setting because of its accuracy, but performance may vary depending on which picture mode is enabled. For example, you might experience a brighter picture with different settings enabled, but it may interfere with color temperature and overall color accuracy.
For additional context, I also conducted both SDR and HDR tests in the TV’s Movie and Standard picture modes, but these test results are not reported below.
To get a sense for the TV’s average performance, we use a standard ANSI checkerboard pattern for most of our basic contrast tests. We also use white and black windows ranging from 2% to 90% to test how well the contrast holds up while displaying varying degrees of brightness.
Our peak brightness measurements are taken with sustained windows to represent the TV’s peak brightness over a sustained period of time. Specular highlights (like brief flashes of reflected light) might reach higher brightness levels, but not for sustained periods of time.
All of our tests are created with a Murideo Seven 8K signal generator and tabulated via Portrait Displays’ Calman Ultimate color calibration software.
I'll expand on our test results throughout the review, but for now, here are some key takeaways:
• HDR contrast (brightness/black level): 944.4 nits/0.066 nits (ANSI checkerboard)
• SDR contrast (brightness/black level): 437.9 nits/0.025 nits (ANSI checkerboard)
• HDR peak brightness (sustained): 2,472 nits (10% white window)
• HDR color gamut coverage (DCI-P3/10-bit): 91%
• SDR color gamut coverage (Rec.709): 100%
These readings were taken with the QN90B’s Picture Clarity settings turned off and Intelligent Mode disabled. In addition, Local Dimming was set to High and both Contrast Enhancer and Brightness Optimization were turned off.
For SDR tests, the TV’s Gamma was set to 2.2 and its Brightness slider was kept at its default setting of 22.
For a slightly dimmer picture with less aggressive local dimming performance, we recommend setting the QN90B’s Local Dimming function to Standard.
What we like
One of the brightest TVs you can buy
In 2021, Samsung’s lineup of Neo QLED TVs served up some of the highest brightness levels we saw all year. The QN90B picks up right where its predecessors left off, delivering a stupendously bright image regardless of content type.
If all you’re planning on doing is watching cable TV, broadcast channels, and a fair share of streaming shows or movies, the QN90B is sure to impress—even in bright, sun-drenched living rooms. Most of these types of content are mastered for Standard Dynamic Range (SDR), and our SDR tests indicate that the QN90B’s full-field brightness is at least twice as bright in SDR as most of the TVs we’ve seen recently.
Daytime viewing shouldn’t be an issue here, provided you don’t set the QN90B up in a spot that gets hit with a direct sunbeam every day. Where the QN90B really shines, however, is during HDR content.
It showcases HDR brilliantly
High Dynamic Range (HDR) is a relatively new format designed to take advantage of the improved brightness and color saturation of contemporary displays. You can find HDR content on newer UHD Blu-rays and across most streaming platforms, but how well an HDR TV is able to deliver HDR content is entirely dependent upon the TV’s performance. As expected, the high-octane brightness and impressive contrast control of the Samsung QN90B makes it a perfect choice for the HDR format.
The QN90B’s HDR performance is its bread and butter; the TV is capable of getting wildly bright during HDR, with average overall luminance that dominates the TVs we’ve seen so far. Most impressive are the QN90B’s specular highlights (small, concentrated regions of light that only last a few moments). Sharp reflections, sparks of light, and fiery explosions look stunning on the QN90B—these are the moments where you’ll really experience the benefits of its high-end display technology. I measured a small, 10% white window at around 2,500 nits—significantly outshining last year’s QN90A.
It's important to note that, while many of our measurements indicated that the QN90B is brighter than the QN90A, you might not notice a serious increase in brightness in every scenario. HDR Specular highlights on the QN90B are noticeably brighter than those on the QN90A, but for bright, basic content like sports, the overall brightness between the two TVs is very similar.
The QN90B pairs its crackling highlights with superb black levels for a TV of this type. In HDR, the TV outputs an average black level of around 0.06 nits. When the picture is mostly dark, the black levels drop even further, as the QN90B doesn’t collaterally lift these areas by pumping brightness elsewhere on the screen.
The QN90B’s incredible contrast—combined with its ability to really juice the brightness where it matters—is this TV’s biggest strength. To my eye, it’s also the area of performance where the QN90B has improved the most over its predecessor. It’s easy to appreciate the fact that Samsung seemingly set out to improve what it correctly assessed as the most impactful area of performance.
A great TV for next-gen gaming
If you skipped over the Samsung QN90A and the Samsung QN85A because they only featured a single HDMI input ready to take advantage of next-gen gaming consoles, you’ll be thrilled to learn that the QN90B has seen a significant upgrade. In fact, it’s shaping up to be one of the best gaming TVs of the year.
All four of the QN90B’s HDMI 2.1 ports support 4K gaming at 120fps—a centerpiece feature of the Xbox Series X and PlayStation 5. The QN90B also supports Auto Low Latency Mode (ALLM) and Variable Refresh Rate (VRR), which ensures low-latency gaming free of visual artifacts like screen tearing. FreeSync Premium Pro and G-Sync are both accounted for, should you choose to use them.
Nearly all of the TV’s gaming enhancements can be monitored and tweaked via the QN90B’s Game Bar, a menu that works alongside the TV’s dedicated game mode. Game Bar offers information about the current frame rate, the status of VRR, and lets users change various picture and gaming-related settings depending on the situation.
As far as motion handling goes, the QN90B really sings—whether you’re gaming or not. Its native 120Hz panel is more than capable of keeping up with the action, with a zippy response time and almost no motion artifacts. I did notice some slight stutter during certain filmic content (some panning shots during an episode of Our Planet looked particularly troublesome), but by and large, the QN90B is great in the motion department.
Nevertheless, the QN90B features a toolbox of motion enhancements across all picture presets, so if you’re looking for a smoother look during games, sports broadcasts, or movies, you can tweak the TV’s motion settings via the Picture Clarity submenu (or by way of the Game Bar, if you happen to be in-game). Depending on the type of content and the look you’re going for, both Blur Reduction and Judder Reduction will introduce artificial smoothing, while LED Clear Motion will toggle the TV’s black frame insertion functionality.
Despite its hardware limitations, we loved the QN90A as a gaming TV, and the QN90B has only improved on its predecessor’s formula. Now that all four of its HDMI ports can get the most out of next-gen consoles, folks who own more than one console won’t need to juggle cables whenever they want to jump from one platform to another.
Samsung TVs tend to look sharp, and the QN90B is no exception. While obviously not as thin as an OLED TV due to its backlighting technology, its panel is impressively thin—and uniformly so—for a TV with such a complex array of display hardware.
The chassis is wrapped in heavy, textured plastic, but because it’s so tightly bound to the panel, the presentation comes with a premium feel. The metallic, pedestal-style stand is similar to the one affixed to Samsung’s QD-OLED TV—it’s thin, flat, and sits incredibly close to its surface, offering ample room for a soundbar.
Whether you place it on a TV cabinet or mount it to the wall, the QN90B is an attractive piece of tech. Every corner has been designed with care, despite its lack of eye-catching flourishes.
What we don’t like
Samsung’s mini-LED tech is improved, but not perfect
I should start by saying that Samsung’s Neo QLED technology (a recipe consisting of mini-LEDs, quantum dots, and Samsung software) is, pound for pound, better executed this year than it was last year—at least when comparing certain key performance metrics between the QN90B to the QN90A.
Despite the small stature and high number of mini-LEDs, a TV that relies on backlighting and local dimming will never deliver the contrast-related precision of OLED TVs, which are capable of turning all of their pixels on or off independently. Still, when it comes to accurately controlling the light and dark elements of a picture, mini-LEDs are better suited for the task than just about every other backlight display technology currently available in the LCD/LED TV space.
Now that I’ve made it through that preamble, we’ve got to talk about the tech’s ongoing limitations. When the picture is mostly dark but there are significantly bright elements in play—say, a planet floating in space or fireworks splashed across a night sky—the QN90B struggles to limit light bloom. In all likelihood, the planet will feature a faint halo of light that bleeds into the vacuum of space, and blue-tinted light from those fireworks will pollute their nighttime backdrop.
Because one of the QN90B’s greatest strengths is how much it pushes the brightness in small, concentrated regions of the picture, the blooming effect is more noticeable when those specular highlights are popping off of a dark background. Despite how fast the QN90B’s mini-LEDs go to work—and I think they work faster than the QN90A’s mini-LEDs—you can often see them trailing behind bright, fast-moving picture elements right before they shut themselves off.
When seen from a head-on vantage point, light bloom is at its most contained. As you drift further off-axis, the effect gets more severe. If you’re shopping for one of the bigger sizes in the series and hope to entertain a crowd, your friends and family sitting off to the side might not have as clean of a picture as the folks sitting front and center.
Its out-of-the-box settings may need calibration
Like most contemporary Samsung TVs, the QN90B is engineered out of the box to deliver a punchier look that only loosely adheres to certain performance standards—certainly looser than what we’ve seen from Sony’s Custom picture preset and LG’s Filmmaker mode in recent years. That means picture purists who buy the TV will want to either calibrate it thoroughly or hire a professional.
In its most accurate picture mode (Filmmaker), the QN90B slightly overemphasizes blue and green across the grayscale, and its white point is slightly warmer than it ought to be in both SDR and HDR. In addition, without calibration, the QN90B’s secondary color points in HDR (cyan and magenta) skew toward green and red, respectively, and yellows come with a green tinge.
While the Samsung “house style” is something I expected out of the box, I didn’t expect the QN90B’s HDR color gamut coverage to fall shorter than what we measured on last year’s QN90A. While the QN90A’s DCI-P3 color gamut coverage clocked in at around 97%, the QN90B’s comes out to around 91%.
Make no mistake: Colors on the QN90B look mostly terrific, particularly during HDR content. But to my eye, colors—especially reds, greens, and yellows—lack some of the psychedelic pizzazz I’ve come to expect from Samsung QLEDs, appearing slightly washed out at times.
To be fair, I don’t suspect many people will look at the QN90B’s colors and run for the hills. Its bright, colorful picture will look great in SDR and HDR, calibrated or not. Nevertheless, it’s interesting that the TV seems to underperform its predecessor—however slightly—when it comes to saturated color.
No Dolby Vision or DTS audio
Like all Samsung TVs, the QN90B does not support HDR content mastered for Dolby Vision. Instead, in addition to general HDR and HLG, the QN90B supports HDR10+, a royalty-free version of HDR that deals in its own dynamic metadata. While it’s nice to have HDR10+ on board, Samsung’s universal lack of Dolby Vision support continues to disappoint, especially if you spend a lot of time watching Dolby Vision content from streamers like Netflix.
There are plenty of HDR10+ Blu-rays available, and HDR10+ content isn’t too hard to track down on certain streamers like Amazon Prime Video. Still, it would certainly be nice to play Dolby Vision games on the QN90B or to rent new movies mastered for the format.
The QN90B also lacks DTS audio support. If you’re planning on connecting directly to the TV with a Blu-ray player and you have a fair few Blu-rays with DTS soundtracks, you won’t be getting a full DTS experience. That said, If you connect your player to an A/V receiver or a supported soundbar, it'll decode the DTS audio for you.
The smart platform might test your patience
The newest version of Samsung’s Tizen-based smart platform is located entirely within a dedicated home screen rather than a small menu bar that covers the bottom portion of the screen. This means that, in order to change inputs or jump from one app to another, you have to pause whatever it is you’re watching.
Like most smart platforms, Tizen OS is filled to the brim with sponsored content. The stable of pre-installed apps is quite thorough (all of the usual suspects are accounted for), but skipping over the free movies, shows, and live TV options can feel like a slog, especially since load times between various menu options can feel slow.
The simple solution here is to pair the QN90B with an external streaming device, which will cut down on how much you rely on Tizen.
Should you buy it?
Yes—especially if you’re looking for a premium, bright-room option
The Samsung QN90B just looks great. It maintains a high level of performance regardless of what you’re watching and when you’re watching—SDR, HDR, night, or day. It’s bright enough to watch in a sunny living room and its contrast looks stunning in a dark room. For gaming, only a handful of TVs offer a similar level of flexibility.
While I could nitpick about the smart platform, color inaccuracies, or its light bloom, it's Samsung’s lack of Dolby Vision that’s most disappointing. But if you’re shopping for a Samsung, you’ve probably made peace with that already.
The QN90B doesn’t come cheap, but if you’re already prepared to spend this amount of money and you’re looking for some alternatives, the LG C2 and the Samsung S95B are two world-class 2022 TVs that, in many ways, eclipse the QN90B. Unfortunately, being OLED TVs, the LG C2 and the S95B won’t get nearly as bright as the QN90B. They’re completely free from light bloom, deliver better picture uniformity, and produce perfect black levels, but their picture might wilt during daytime viewing.
If high-octane brightness is what you’re after, there are plenty of LCD/LED TVs on deck for 2022 from Sony, Samsung, LG, TCL, and Vizio. Many of these models will feature display technology similar to the QN90B’s. It might be worth your while to wait and see how these TVs stack up before reaching for your credit card.
If you can’t hold out and need a premium TV as soon as possible, the Samsung QN90B is a terrific option that will look great for years to come.
Meet the tester
Senior Staff Writer@Reviewed
Michael Desjardin graduated from Emerson College after having studied media production and screenwriting. He specializes in tech for Reviewed, but also loves film criticism, weird ambient music, cooking, and food in general.
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