Samsung QN90C Review

Samsung’s Neo QLED televisions are probably the closest thing you can get to an OLED before you jump to that technology, and they bring better brightness to the equation, meaning they can thrive in bright rooms with lots of glare. That doesn’t change with the QN90C – in fact, very little if anything about this experience feels different at all from the QN90B from last year.

The experiences are basically mirrored. While the panel produces excellent brightness and great color that is uniform across the panel, the television’s processor and algorithm are middling to poor at managing dimming zone transitions and the operating system remains one of the least customizable on the market – and is paired with Samsung’s Tizen, which can be frustrating to use.


Samsung QN90C – Photos

I’m especially disappointed that Samsung hasn’t addressed the local dimming issue as it is particularly noticeable in gaming. Entering and exiting menus or transitioning from dark to bright areas is very slow, which can result in noticeable flashes as the panel tries to figure out how much brightness to deliver. It’s a jarring, unsettling visual that is especially noticeable in HDR content. As a result, the television is great for watching movies and TV but that doesn’t necessarily carry over to gaming, which is strange given the built-in support that Samsung has provided for it.

Samsung QN90C – Design and Build

Samsung’s televisions rarely disappoint when it comes to their looks, and the QN90C continues that tradition: this is an attractive television. The bezels are thin, the television itself is also thin, and the result is a display that easily blends into its environment. It is almost a perfectly thin rectangle, but if you look closely you’ll see that the back of the display is just ever so slightly rounded to accommodate the internals.

Compared to last year’s QN90B, Samsung changed the stand a bit so that the section that is attached to the television is slimmer and the whole stand unit is simpler to install. It’s minor, but worth mentioning. If you’re not a fan of using a stand, the QN90C uses the VESA wall mount standard.

While the television is nice to look at from the front and sides, Samsung didn’t change how the TV assists with cable management: it’s still not great. The company still wants you to carefully thread cables through thin grates along the back of the television and down behind the stand, which can work with the power cable but never works with any of my HDMI cables, especially the thicker HDMI 2.1 which is required to get the most out of my PlayStation 5. I wouldn’t be surprised if anyone who bought this TV just gave up on this weak cable management and let them dangle unattractively behind the display – that’s what I had to do.

Just as before, the power input is located on the left side of the TV (when looking at the display) and the other ports are on the right. I wish they were all either on the left or on the right because it makes managing cables a bit easier, but this is a minor complaint.

The QN90C has four HDMI ports (one eARC) and all of them are rated as HDMI 2.1, which theoretically means that it doesn’t matter which one of these you use for your console and provides enough connectivity for multiple high bandwidth connections. There is no 3.5mm headphone port, so audio will have to be managed via the eARC HDMI port, via Bluetooth, or through an optical connection. The QN90C also has two USB ports, of course, supports WiFi, and has an Ethernet port as well.

If you like using a smart assistant on your TV, the QN90C works with Google Assistant and Amazon Alexa.

Samsung QN90C – The Remote

Samsung probably has my favorite remote control design out of any manufacturer. Not only is the remote solar powered so that you never have to worry about batteries, it’s also very small and uses just the bare minimum number of buttons. I appreciate that other companies have finally started to slim down their remotes and get rid of the extraneous options, but Samsung has been doing it for years and it’s always a pleasure to see.

The version of the remote I received to review had four shortcut buttons: Netflix, Disney+, Prime Video, and Samsung TV Plus. The rest of the remote only has the essentials: power, settings, microphone, volume, channel rockers, and main D-pad along with pause/play, home, and back buttons.

The only downside of a remote this simple is that many buttons have to do double duty. The Settings button is also the custom shortcut button and it takes two actions to actually get to the settings. Likewise, in order to access Samsung’s excellent gaming control bar, you have to hold down the pause/play button while a console or computer is actively being displayed.

Basically, there is a bit of a learning curve with this simple remote, but the Samsung interface does a good job of reminding you how to access certain things with on-screen tooltips, so I’ve never stayed lost for long. This wasn’t always the case, as I mentioned in the QN90B review last year, but this year that tooltip came up more frequently, which was great to see.

Samsung QN90C – Software and UI

If you’ve read any of my previous Samsung TV reviews, you’ll know I’m not a fan of the company’s Tizen smart TV operating system.

Samsung loves to autoplay its Samsung TV Plus channel. If you aren’t currently watching something or you turn a connected device off, Tizen will try and put something – anything – on the TV and that usually means Samsung TV Plus. This service is packed with decades-old sitcoms, unpopular movies, and ancient reality television and it’s never anything worth watching. You can actually remove or disable this channel, gratefully, so I highly recommend you do that as soon as possible so the TV won’t be able to bombard you with content you have no desire to see.

The user interface for making picture adjustments is also a weak point of Tizen. If you delete Samsung TV Plus, you can’t actually make any display changes from the home screen – Samsung requires something to be playing from somewhere in order to make adjustments. I can kind of see where the company is coming from on this since most people will want to see what their changes are doing before they make a selection, but to disable adjustment completely feels super strange to me.

Luckily, you can fire up YouTube or any other streaming service and start fiddling with the picture settings from there. Unluckily, Samsung has one of the most – if not the most – simplified and therefore weaker set of adjustments you will find on a modern television. Aside from only offering five main picture settings (Dynamic, Standard, Eco, Movie, and Filmmaker Mode), fine-tuning adjustments beyond that are restricted to basic settings like contrast and brightness. The television doesn’t seem to separate brightness from luminance, for example, so I never know if I’m actually adjusting the panel’s output or adjusting how much white is prioritized in a picture. In short, the number of customization options is quite poor.

Basically, once I switch to Filmmaker Mode, I kind of just have to trust Samsung that the picture is as good as it can be since the company doesn’t give me much else to work with. Luckily, that is the case.

Samsung QN90C – Picture Quality

From a color perspective when watching movies and television, Samsung has been absolutely killing it with its Neo QLED options and the QN90C is once again excellent. These televisions are capable of some extreme contrast, and while you won’t get true blacks as you would with its QD OLED or an OLED from another manufacturer, you get pretty close.

Part of why this panel looks so good is because it can get very bright, meaning HDR content in particular looks stunning. I didn’t notice any judder at all on anything I displayed, and aside from some light stuttering on some slow-moving content, on-screen visuals were silky smooth.

While the QN90C does a fairly good job with boosting resolution for the 4K panel, low bitrate content blocking is still visible.

In my panel test, I found that the QN90C was able to cover 98% of sRGB, 79.1% of Adobe RGB, and 93.1% of DCI-P3 with an average Delta E of just over 2.5. For a television, those are some excellent numbers. Even better, that performance is consistent from edge to edge, as in my typical nine-by-five uniformity test found great performance across the entire screen.

The weak color gamut coverage in DCI-P3 and Adobe RGB means it probably won’t be the best computer display, especially for those who work on anything color critical. That’s pretty expected, however, and placing the QN90C in its anticipated home in the center of your living room will result in outstanding performance from a color and accuracy perspective.

I mentioned earlier that I use the Filmmaker Mode picture setting and that is what I recommend for those who pick up the QN90C. There is another mode that only shows up when a console is detected or when using the built-in cloud gaming called Game Mode, but I highly recommend when possible to stay away from the Dynamic and Standard profiles, which will push colors beyond where they should be with far too much saturation. The picture might look brighter, but you’re paying for that in accuracy.

Where the panel struggles in the computation of local dimming. Just as was the case in the QN90B, the QN90C has a lot of trouble managing big changes in brightness, both when the entire screen changes and when there are two wide contrasting areas in the same field of view. This is mainly an issue in gaming, and I’ll cover this issue in more detail in that section, but it is certainly worth pointing out here as well.

It is also worth noting that the QN90C doesn’t support Dolby Vision and is limited to HDR 10+ and Hybrid Log-Gamma.

Samsung did improve how the panel shows wider angles without needing additional filters, which removes the rainbow effect that would sometimes appear especially with overhead lighting. I found the viewing angles on this television to be perfectly acceptable, although not quite as good as some other TVs in its price range.

Samsung QN90C – Gaming Performance

The QN90C exhibits extremely low input lag, great response time, and has support for variable refresh rate, which altogether makes for an outstanding gaming television on paper. For the most part, I think gamers who spend their time with single-player action or adventure games will be totally pleased with what this television can offer.

Back once again is Samsung’s excellent Game Bar, which can be brought up by holding down the pause/play button while you have a connected gaming device active. From here, you can see all of the television’s current settings, including framerate and resolution, and also manage how the television interacts with whatever system you have attached. This is probably tied with LG for the best implementation of a gaming menu interface.

HDR games look very good, if not a bit too bright in some cases. Some of the highlights on metal pieces in games actually made me squint, which I suppose is a testament to the panel.

Unfortunately, I didn’t love this television for competitive gaming because of the local dimming issue I mentioned in the Picture Quality section. Whatever processor or algorithm that Samsung is using to manage the local dimming zones is not very competent at quickly switching between brights and darks.

Even opening a menu in a game can cause the entire panel to almost flicker as it swaps between a bright background and what is usually a darker menu interface. Seeing that flicker is really distracting, and it’s worse in competitive shooters where the sky is going to be a lot brighter than indoor spaces or the shadows cast by boxes or crates.

Take, for example, Apex Legends. Very frequently you are looking near the ground for loot, aiming at enemies slightly above that, and then needing to adjust to another set of enemies that has the high ground on you. The transition from the shadowed ground to a backlit set of enemies on a building takes the panel a few precious milliseconds to properly adjust. In games like Destiny 2 where the time-to-kill is very short, that is the difference between winning a fight and losing one.

Losing a fight because a television can’t adapt as fast as the flow of a game is extremely frustrating.

I’m very disappointed to see that Samsung hasn’t addressed this issue yet, since it was a problem in the QN90B and even the QN90A before that. This is not a new problem, and while similar issues are apparent in the competition, Samsung is among the worst and it really brings down what is otherwise a great display.

Samsung QN90C – Cloud Gaming

Just as you could with last year’s QN90B, the QN90C has built-in cloud gaming support which allows you to play video games with supported services without needing a console or computer. You are given the choice among a few streaming options like Xbox Game Pass (via the beta of Cloud Gaming) and Nvidia GeForce Now.



Since you’re streaming video games from the cloud, you are of course going to run into some resolution compromises – Xbox Cloud gaming streams at 1080p, for example. Last year that was capped at 720p, but the recent resolution bump now means that the blockiness that QN90C isn’t great at dealing with in low bitrate content doesn’t come up as much of an issue anymore.

If the goal is to play games or give kids a way to do so without needing to buy a console, then the Samsung QN90C absolutely is a win here. I really like that cloud gaming is supported directly in the TV and the fact you can play Halo 4 or Minecraft straight from the couch with only an Xbox controller is really neat. I don’t think I can overstate how much of a value-add this is.

Samsung QN90C – Audio Quality

Samsung has done a really good job at making the most out of the space in this television’s extremely thin chassis. While lows are still not quite where I would like them to be, which affects movies where rumble and bass are very important, it’s totally acceptable for most casual viewing.

Sports and standard television honestly sound pretty good and the average consumer will likely be quite happy with what the QN90C can do. I personally still recommend at least a soundbar to better separate music and vocals, since those can often get lost and it remains one of the biggest complaints from those who don’t have a separate audio solution, but Samsung’s Amplify sound mode really does make a positive difference.

Samsung QN90C – The Competition

Even though it has excellent color and brightness, Samsung is still asking quite a lot for the QN90C, which puts it in a difficult position when it comes to the competition. The 65-inch can usually be found for around $2,400 and the 55-inch can be found for $1,700 – that is a huge investment and encroaching on OLED territory even if this is using a Mini LED system. You can buy a 65-inch LG C3 for the same price Samsung wants for the 65-inch QN90C, and there are not many situations where I would recommend Samsung over LG.

OLED does not get as bright, and that might be where the QN90C might look more attractive if it weren’t for much more affordable options with similar performance. I think the Hisense U8H is a better choice if brightness is of primary concern, especially considering the 65-inch version is regularly available for under $1,000. Is the quality of the color as good? No, Samsung has it beat, but is it twice as good to match the price difference? Also no.

Just like last year with the QN90B, I find the QN90C sitting in a very odd place with its mix of performance and price. There are better-performing television at the same price and others that match or come close for considerably less.


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About the Author: John Ravenporton

John Ravenporton is a writer for many popular online publications. John is now our chief editor at DailyTechFeed. John specializes in Crypto, Software, Computer and Tech related articles.