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Sony X95K vs Samsung QN90B: Which mini-LED should you buy?

These two TVs bring the brightness.

The Samsung QN90B showing some underwater corals on the screen. Credit: Reviewed / Betsey Goldwasser

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In the world of LED TVs, the hottest hardware on the market are mini-LEDs. These little lights pack a powerful punch, and their small stature allows for impressive contrast control.

This year, two of the most popular mini-LED TVs are the Sony X95K and the Samsung QN90B. Their top-end tech and sought-after features make them tantalizing options for anyone shopping in a premium price bracket. Choosing between the two might seem a bit daunting, but we’ve tested both and can help. Here’s how they compare, from price to performance.

Buy the Sony X95K at Amazon

Buy the Samsung QN90B at Amazon

Price

The X95K and the QN90B are still relatively new TVs at the time of publishing, so you’ll most likely have to wait a bit longer for significant sale prices to take effect. Here’s how each series stacks up in terms of sizing and pricing.

Sony X95K:

  • 65-inch (Sony XR-65X95K), MSRP $2,799.99
  • 75-inch (Sony XR-75X95K), MSRP $3,799.99
  • 85-inch (Sony XR-85X95K), MSRP $5,499.99

The Sony X95K is only available in three sizes, and all of them are big. Big-screen enthusiasts will appreciate the 75- and 85-inch options, but anyone shopping for a 55-inch TV is out of luck with this series.

Samsung QN90B:

  • 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

The QN90B Neo QLED comes in an array of flexible size options ranging from 43 to 98 inches. Along with 98-, 55-, 50-, and 43-inch options, the three X95K sizes are represented, and in all cases the QN90B is the more affordable option.

The QN90B’s additional size options along with its lower price make this category an easy win for Samsung’s Neo QLED.

Our pick: Samsung QN90B

Design

The TV stand of the Samsung QN90B with a remote on top.
Credit: Reviewed / Betsey Goldwasser

The Samsung QN90B (seen here) uses a pedestal-style stand that is quite accommodating for soundbar placement.

Due to the nature of mini-LEDs, the QN90B’s chassis isn't saddled with a bulky midsection, and it’s among the narrowest you’ll see in its class. It features a metallic, slab-like stand that props the TV up from its center. The stand’s flat shape provides ample room for a soundbar, although there’s only around 2.5 inches of soundbar clearance. We love the look of the QN90B, but there are really only two options for its setup: using the center stand on a surface or mounting it on the wall.

The X95K, on the other hand, is a paragon of TV customizability. Its two diamond-shaped feet can be set to three different formations, depending on your living room layout or preference. The narrowest formation keeps the bottom of the TV’s panel flush against its surface, while two alternative positionings lift the panel up, depending on how much clearance you need.

The home screen displayed on the Sony X95K.
Credit: Reviewed / Betsey Goldwasser

The Sony X95K (seen here) rests on a pair of feet that can be configured in three different positions depending on your preference.

Like the QN90B, the X95K’s panel is impressively narrow, and the back of the TV is wrapped in an elegant, textured plastic that features a pleasing crosshatch pattern. I also appreciate the X95K’s anti-reflection coating, which gives the screen a matte-like appearance.

Both of these TVs feature impressive designs that reflect their premium price tags, but the X95K is one of the best-designed TVs of the year. Its multiple stand positions offer a ton of flexibility, and its build quality is sturdy and stylish.

Our pick: Sony X95K

Features and smart platform

The X95K and the QN90B share a number of the same features. Before we discuss what sets them apart, let’s break down what makes them similar.

A hand holding up a remote in front of the X95K.
Credit: Reviewed / Betsey Goldwasser

The X95K (seen here) runs Google TV with ease. We much prefer it over this year’s iteration of Samsung’s Tizen OS.

Although both TVs offer plenty of pre-installed apps and a seemingly endless influx of downloadable software, Sony’s Google-based smart platform is far more responsive and easier to use. Folks who are familiar with Android TV will feel right at home, as Google TV borrows most of its design philosophy from the Android operating system it’s based on.

By comparison, Samsung’s Tizen smart platform is sluggish and more confusing to navigate. Jumping from one input to another, for instance, takes more clicks than it ought it to.

And while the Sony X95K supports Dolby Vision (a popular, proprietary version of HDR whose compatible titles can be found on Blu-ray and streaming platforms like Netflix), the Samsung QN90B includes HDR10+ instead. There are plenty of HDR10+ titles out there (Amazon Prime Video offers a host of HDR10+ titles, for instance), but it’s still outpaced by Dolby Vision which is the more popular format.

The home screen of the Samsung QN90B on display.
Credit: Reviewed / Betsey Goldwasser

The Samsung QN90B (seen here) is among the best gaming TVs you can buy, thanks to its array of HDMI 2.1 ports and the inclusion of Samsung’s Gaming Hub.

Before we go handing this category over to the X95K, there’s one area where the QN90B laps its competitor: gaming. From top to bottom, the QN90B is a gamer’s dream. All four of its HDMI 2.1 ports are capable of 4K at 120Hz. The X95K, on the other hand, only has two such ports, and one of them also functions as the TV’s dedicated eARC port. This means that if you own (or plan on owning) an Xbox Series X, a PlayStation 5 and an eARC-enabled soundbar or home theater receiver, one of your next-gen consoles will have to occupy one of the X95K’s performance-limiting HDMI ports, or everything needs to route through the soundbar or AVR.

The QN90B also offers Samsung Game Bar, a dedicated gaming settings menu that relays frame rate information, offers genre-specific picture adjustments, and gives folks easy access to each TV’s VRR settings. If that wasn’t enough to satisfy your inner kid, the QN90B also arrives with Samsung Gaming Hub, a software suite featuring several cloud gaming services, including Nvidia GeForce Now, Google Stadia, and Xbox Cloud Gaming. Gaming Hub lets you stream video games right to your TV—no console required.

In one corner, you’ve got the X95K with its superior smart platform and its Dolby Vision support. In the other corner, you’ve got the QN90B with some of the strongest gaming features on the market today.

If you’re a casual gamer at best, you might get more out of the Sony X95K’s software, which is fast, friendly, and packed with enough versatility to operate as your primary streaming hub. If you’re a dedicated gamer, the QN90B is the better pick.

Our pick: Draw

Performance

The QN90B displaying butterflies on the screen.
Credit: Reviewed / Betsey Goldwasser

As far as mini-LED TVs go, the QN90B (seen here) is among the best. Its local dimming function does a great job of limiting light bloom.

Mini-LED TVs are considered some of the best in their class due to the nature of their tiny backlights. A higher number of smaller-sized LEDs generally does a better job than standard LED TVs at keeping dark areas of the picture dark—even in the company of bright picture elements.

The Samsung QN90B achieves just that; when a brightly lit spacecraft travels across a pitch-black void, there’s very little light bloom to speak of, especially if you’re watching from a direct, head-on position.

The Sony X95K, however, can’t quite keep up. Whenever a brighter picture element clashes with a dark background, a cloud of bluish light often obscures the surrounding region. It doesn’t have to be a spacecraft in a science fiction movie, either—subtitles, logos, and the TV’s menus generate light bloom, too. The QN90B isn’t entirely free of this problem, but in a side-by-side comparison it’s clear that the QN90B’s local dimming algorithm is better at handling these situations.

The X95K with a fish on display.
Credit: Reviewed / Betsey Goldwasser

Despite its excellent color and overall brightness, the X95K (seen here) can’t deliver the sort of contrast you’ll see on the QN90B.

Both of these TVs are bright enough for daytime viewing in a sun-filled room, even if all you’re doing is watching basic cable in Standard Dynamic Range (SDR). In addition, they’re each equipped with their respective brand’s take on quantum-dot color, so their colors are also impressively voluminous (about 91% of the DCI-P3 color gamut).

The QN90B, however, is capable of getting nearly twice as bright as the X95K. In HDR, we measured specular highlights (small, short-lived flashes of brightness) that eclipsed 2,400 nits on the QN90B. Comparatively, these highlights topped out at just over 1,000 nits on Sony’s X95K.

Highlights on the QN90B—be them sparks, intense reflections of sunlight, or the glint of a sword—practically leap off of the screen. These images are still quite impressive on the X95K, but they’re not quite as crackling. When you combine this with Samsung’s superior local dimming, it’s clear that the QN90B has the edge over the X95K.

Sony’s top-notch image processing does a decent job at presenting a deep, cinematic-looking picture in spite of its lifted black levels and its penchant for light bloom, but I much prefer the look of the QN90B.

Our pick: Samsung QN90B

And the winner is…

Between its friendlier price, its impressive array of gaming features, and its superior picture quality, the Samsung QN90B is the better pick for most people. If a mini-LED TV is what you’re after, the QN90B is among the best you’ll find this year.

Of course, you might decide that the X95K’s class-leading design and its all-around better smart platform are more suited to your needs. While I do find the QN90B to be the better-performing TV, the X95K is nothing to scoff at. You’re still getting a fantastic TV whose picture won’t wilt in a sunny room. Plus, the X95K’s Dolby Vision support is a great feature to have if you’re watching more movies at home these days.

For my money, though, I’m going with the QN90B every day of the week. It’s among the brightest TVs I’ve ever seen, and its gaming features will keep it on the cutting edge for years to come.

Buy the Samsung QN90B at Amazon

Buy the Sony X95K at Amazon


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Prices were accurate at the time this article was published but may change over time.