Why you can trust ZDNET
:ZDNET independently tests and researches products to bring you our best recommendations and advice. When you buy through our links, we may earn a commission.Our process
'ZDNET Recommends': What exactly does it mean?
ZDNET's recommendations are based on many hours of testing, research, and comparison shopping. We gather data from the best available sources, including vendor and retailer listings as well as other relevant and independent reviews sites. And we pore over customer reviews to find out what matters to real people who already own and use the products and services we’re assessing.
When you click through from our site to a retailer and buy a product or service, we may earn affiliate commissions. This helps support our work, but does not affect what we cover or how, and it does not affect the price you pay. Neither ZDNET nor the author are compensated for these independent reviews. Indeed, we follow strict guidelines that ensure our editorial content is never influenced by advertisers.
ZDNET's editorial team writes on behalf of you, our reader. Our goal is to deliver the most accurate information and the most knowledgeable advice possible in order to help you make smarter buying decisions on tech gear and a wide array of products and services. Our editors thoroughly review and fact-check every article to ensure that our content meets the highest standards. If we have made an error or published misleading information, we will correct or clarify the article. If you see inaccuracies in our content, please report the mistake via this form.
Samsung is currently discounting up to $2,000 off the QN90C Neo QLED model. The 55-inch model I tested can be had for just $1,399 ($600 off).
Why this deal is ZDNET-recommended
Since being introduced in 2021, Samsung's Neo QLED series of televisions has ranked high in its class, setting the benchmark for display quality and features. And with this year's offering, the QN90C, it may just be at the top.
Right out of the box, this is just a good-looking TV. It has a very slim design and a super-thin bezel that truly makes the picture stand out. As I was unboxing it, the stand also caught my eye. Instead of two legs like almost all other TVs, the QN90C is supported by a single leg in the middle, similar to a computer monitor.
Though I have to admit, setting up that stand was a little cumbersome, so much so that after I read the manual and started putting it together, I had to refer back to the instructions because I couldn't figure it out. I'd consider that a small inconvenience, though as it's a "one and done" type of thing, I feel like the sleek, premium look was eventually worth it. The stand did have a slight wobble, especially when my kids ran through the living room, but I was never worried about the set toppling over.
If inputs are a concern, the QN90C carries four HDMI ports (one eARC), all of them supporting HDMI 2.1.
For an operating system, the set uses Samsung's own Tizen software. This was my first experience with Tizen, and while it wasn't as user-friendly as Roku or Google TV, I was able to navigate where I wanted to go without much trouble.
On the display side, this is a Quantum Mini-LED, which Samsung first introduced in 2021. As the name implies, the LEDs are much smaller here than usual, leading to better backlight control. Samsung claims to take that a step further though, with microlayers inside the LEDs, eliminating noise.
There's support for HDR10 and HDR10+, and online reports put the brightness at nearly 2,000 nits -- meaning it's bright enough for most home and office environments.
My living room has a fair amount of natural light shining where my TV sits, and I'll definitely say this set's display thrives in that environment -- largely due to its anti-reflection film. There are times with my everyday television that I have to close my blinds because of glare, but the QN90C was bright enough which made that unnecessary. I fired up a personal favorite, Netflix's Stranger Things, to test the display, and it was honestly the most I've enjoyed that show visually.
The QN90C also utilizes local dimming control, which takes unused electrical power from dark areas of the screen and diverts it to brighter areas. I was impressed with how that worked here, as dark scenes were dark as intended, but black levels still had a contrast where things were clearly visible. Bright colors popped beautifully, and scenes with fast action showed no signs of blur.
As far as upscaling content Samsung has its Neural Quantum Processor on board, which uses AI to add depth and sharpness to content regardless of the original resolution -- essentially making everything 4K. I tested this out with Ferris Bueller's Day Off and absolutely loved how things looked. I've had televisions where the upscaling produced results far too unnatural looking, but the QN90C does this very well.
When it comes to sound, this set is plenty sufficient as-is. It does support Dolby Atmos, but even without a sound bar, I could clearly hear dialogue over the bustle of my two kids and dog. I keep closed captions on my everyday TV for this very reason, even when using a sound bar, and it was nice to be able to turn that off for a while.
Like other Samsung televisions, it supports what they call object tracking, which sends sounds to the relevant part of the screen. For example, if you're watching a movie with a racing scene, you'll audibly notice the engine sound roar left to right along with the car.
When I started digging into the gaming features though, I found where this television really shined. It has a very low input lag (under 10ms), a 120Hz display, support for variable refresh rate, and Samsung's above-average Game Bar feature.
Holding the pause/play button while a video game console is on brings up the menu overlay, and from there you can dig into the settings like Game Picture Mode (there are six to choose from, plus two custom options), Game Motion Plus (which reduces motion blur and improves picture quality), and an on-screen crosshair (with three color options).
From that bar, there's a deeper game mode settings option, which lets you tune the black equalizer, choose "basic" or "advanced" for HDR, and even choose the level of judder reduction and blur reduction.
Most casual gamers wouldn't dive this deep into these settings, but for serious gamers, this is a fantastic thing to have. It's the deepest level of customization I've seen from a gaming menu. In fact, I'd call this easily one of the best gaming TVs I've come across.
ZDNET's buying advice
The Samsung QN90C TV has a few minor annoyances -- I'm hesitant to call the wobbliness and installation process shortcomings -- but its picture quality in every instance and gaming features more than made up for those. If you're looking for a premium-level TV that does well in any environment with any kind of content, keep this one high on your list.