Samsung NU8000 2018 4K HDR LCD TV Review (UN49NU8000, UN55NU8000, UN65NU8000, UN75NU8000, UN82NU8000)
Stephan Jukic – November 16, 2018
Samsung’s NU80000 is the “premium” model among the company’s mid-range NU-Series 4K UHD HDR TVs. In other words, it doesn’t come with the same ultra-premium technology as the brand’s QLED flagship line of 4K UHD TVs but does feature the best Samsung features of 2018 among the second-tier models, or at least supposedly. Just how well it performs is what this review breaks down piece by piece.
For starters, what we can say about the NU80000 is that it is one very good mid-range 4K TV, and by the standards of older pre 2017 4K HDR TV models from Samsung, it easily surpasses all performance metrics that you’d find in any of them. This television offers several robust features for excellent picture quality and while it lacks some of the more refined qualities found in the 2017 and 2018 QLED TVs, it’s a solid performer and a great looking television by any measure.
• Sturdy design
• Great color rendering for normal and HDR content
• Particularly good motion handling, especially for gaming
• Very good contrast ratios and black levels
• Voice control features and good smart TV functionality
• Not nearly as bright as the 2018 QLED TVs
• Local dimming is at least present but yes, it’s really crappy
• VA display technology creates poor display quality at sharp angles
• No Dolby Vision HDR
The NU80000 is a good 4K HDR TV with a well-rounded set of features and high performance specs. We recommend it in terms of quality and we also think it’s one of the best 4K TVs available among the 2018 models at this price point. This is because it slightly or decently outperforms all similarly priced 2018 TVs from Sony, LG, Samsung and even Vizio in most major specs. Even its lack of local dimming quality (which we’ll cover further below in detail) is more than compensated for by this TV’s high quality contrast ratios and black levels. The NU80000 offers good value per dollar spent.
What We Liked
There is plenty to like about the NU80000. Most importantly of all, its overall display performance is excellent and while this model doesn’t get quite as brilliant as many 2018 HDR televisions we’ve seen, it still delivers plenty of display luminosity while also rendering fantastic HDR color vibrancy. The NU80000’s chops for display and upscaling of ordinary non-4 K content are also downright superb most of the time. Gamers will also find plenty to love about the NU80000 since, like nearly all the Samsung 4K TVs we’ve been reviewing for years, this model is an excellent handler of console and PC connectivity for the best and newest in 4 K or HDR gameplay.
Now, let’s get down to the details of what we most like about it and why.
The NU80000 has a great design. It’s not only a great looking TV, it’s also a well-built model. Most importantly, its support base is fairly sturdy, much more so than was the case with last year’s MU8000 model, which could be more than a bit wobbly. Almost as importantly, the NU80000 is simply a great looking 4K TV. It’s elegant, fairly thin and would fit nicely into any living room or den. The bezeling along the screen edge is just thin enough to give a “broad” feel for content on the screen and because of these thin bezels, the screen seems to float by itself in a darkened room. The overall finish of the NU80000 is silvery metallic, except for the back of the TV which consists of a lined matte black cover that also looks elegant.
Furthermore, for the sake of more flexible cable management, the NU80000 comes with both a full set of connectivity ports on the TV itself and an external mini OneConnect box, which lets you connect devices and cables either directly to the TV or to the box depending on how you place your NU80000.
Moving onto the NU80000’S display qualities, which are the core of this model’s performance, we can start with the thing we absolutely liked the most, the brightness of the screen. The NU80000 may be a mid-range Samsung 4K HDR TV model among the 2018 televisions but it gets spectacularly bright by conventional budget TV standards. The MU-Series and KU-Series TVs of 2016 and 2017 didn’t even come close to how luminous this TV can make its display and if anything the NU80000 is comparable to the ultra-premium 4K TVs of previous years in terms of peak brightness. This quality of the NU’s screen applies particularly to the display of HDR content, but also works well for normal SDR video sources.
Black Levels and Contrast
Samsung gave the NU80000 local dimming technology but due to this model’s edge-lit LED backlights, the local dimming doesn’t work exceptionally well (in fact it’s fairly crappy). However, because the TV does a generally great job of rendering deep, rich black levels due to its pixel design, the low quality of the local dimming isn’t nearly as noticeable as it could be. As a result, high contrast content and HDR video scenes look pretty damn good on the screen. The deep black levels of the 8000-Series also help make colors shine more vibrantly, again, especially with HDR video sources and with HDR color/contrast enabled.
Motion handling and Gaming Excellence
All of Samsung’s 2018 4K HDR TVs deliver some very good motion handling but the NU80000 manages to take it to an exceptional level compared with the rest of the brand’s 2018 mid-range, non-QLED models. Motion blur control and motion interpolation on this TV’s native 120Hz screen are both expertly calibrated for high performance. In other words, be it ordinary TV content, movies, streaming video (from Netflix or Amazon etc), fast-paced sportscasts or video games from consoles that you want to play on the NU80000, they will all flow really well pretty much across the board.
Additionally, also like the rest of Samsung’s 2018 4K TVs, the NU80000 offers superb console gaming connectivity in terms of low input lag and strong support for different resolution, HDR, color management and refresh calibrations. In other words, it’s an absolutely superb 4K TV for binging on your favorite Xbox or PS4 games. It’s especially great if you have some HDR or 4K-capable games for either console sitting around and waiting to be played at nearly their best.
What We Didn’t Like
While the NU80000 4K HDR TV models are damn near the best mid-range 4K HDR TVs we’ve reviewed in 2018 in their overall performance, they are of course definitely not free of flaws. We don’t consider any of the following to be deal-breakers for this model but they’re at least worth mentioning.
Still No Dolby Vision
Samsung has a notable aversion to Dolby Vision HDR implementation. This particular high dynamic range support technology isn’t be important for the vast majority of today’s streaming or disc media content since HDR movies are still in the minority and even fewer of them come with Dolby Vision HDR embedded into them. Furthermore, almost all HDR movies or shows come with HDR10 by default, and the NU80000 does support this latter standard. That said, if you do happen to love the more subtle qualities of Dolby Vision HDR movies or shows and want an HDR TV that can render them, neither the NU80000 or any other Samsung 4K TV are going to work for this.
Weak Local Dimming
As we mentioned above, the NU80000 is an edge-lit 4K TV. This means that instead of having LEDs all across the back of its LCD display, it only offers them along the edges (the bottom edge of the TV to be exact). As a result, while this model can still get remarkably bright, its capacity for shutting off some LEDs in strategic areas of the screen for better contrast during content playback is weak. This technology, called local dimming, works much better in 4K TVs with full-array LED backlighting, where pixels can be deactivated behind much more precisely defined zones of the screen.
Viewing angle problems
All of Samsung’s 4K HDR TVs have what is called Vertical Alignment technology in the design of their screen pixels. This basically means that the 8.29 million tiny rectangular 4K pixels in the screen all align vertically instead of horizontally. On the one hand, this design produces high quality light bleed control (from the LED backlights), resulting in the deep strong black and contrast levels we already mentioned, but on the other hand, it also results in poor viewing angles. Thus, if the NU80000 is viewed from too far off from dead center, color, contrast and brightness all quickly weaken at these angles, of more than 20 degrees to either side.
Weak native audio
The native audio handling of the NU80000 is modestly good at best. For ordinary TV viewing it will work just fine and the volume can be taken fairly high without audio distortion but if you really want some kickass sound power for your favorite content or music, you’ll definitely need to hook this television up to an external sound system or sound bar. The NU80000 lacks any kind of serious bass power and its bass response is clumsy at best. Furthermore, there’s no self calibration worth describing. However, like we said, this TV can get decently loud and if you’re happy with normal living room audio performance for music or movies, the native speakers of the TV are reasonably good.
Value for Price & Bottom Line
Despite some minor to moderate flaws, we definitely recommend the NU80000, it’s simply too good of a 4K HDR TV for the price it sells at to be ignored. We consider it to be one of Samsung’s best offerings in terms of value per dollar spent and it competes very effectively against similarly priced 4K HDR TVs from brands like Sony, LG or Vizio. TCL’s 2018 6-Series 4K HDR TVs offer even better value but the overall quality of the NU80000 is better, in terms of its build and core display performance specs.
Key Samsung NU80000 Specs
• Screen sizes: 49 inch UN49NU80000, 55 inch UN55NU80000, 65 inch UN65NU80000, 75 inch UN75NU80000, 82 inch UN49NU80000 (TV being reviewed is 55 inches)
• Smart TV: Tizen smart platform 2018
• HEVC (H.265) Included: Yes
• VP9 Included. Yes
• HD to UHD upscaling: Yes
• HDCP 2.2 Compliance: Yes
• HDR Support: Yes, HDR10, Hybrid Log Gamma
• Refresh Rate: 120Hz native refresh rate
• Screen Lighting: LCD Display with full-array backlighting & local dimming
• Resolution: 3,840 x 2,160 pixels UHD
• Wireless Connectivity: Yes, includes both built-in WiFi and Ethernet port
• Remotes: Samsung smart remote, voice control, remote app for iOS and Android
• Connectivity: 4 HDMI (all of them 2.0a and HDCP 2.2) ports, 3 USB ports, 1 Ethernet port, 1 Digital Audio Out, all also located in external OneConnect Mini box
• Contrast Ratio: 6205+:1 (native, real contrast), 5784+:1 (with local dimming)
• Maximum Peak Brightness: 986 nits (cd/m2)
• 3D Technology: N/A
• Processor: Q Engine
Display Performance Metrics
This is where we cover the meaty, specific details of the key TV performance specs of the Samsung NU80000 4K HDR LCD TV. They all revolve around color reproduction, brightness, black levels, contrast, local dimming and motion handling because these are the things that really dictate how well a TV displays the content you want to watch on it to the best of its ability. These specs may vary slightly from unit to unit so they should not be taken as absolutes. However, they should maintain a generally high level of similarity in all TV models of all sizes, making them good enough to be highly reliable indicators of quality.
We should however also note that different TV display sizes in a single model (like the NU80000 in this case) can change some of these metrics slightly (for example, larger edge-lit LCD 4K TVs tend to have weaker local dimming and peak brightness). As an edge-lit LCD TV, the NU80000 can have some slight variations to how its backlight affects local dimming, contrast and black uniformity depending on the size of screen being considered.
The following specs are basically what really decides if a 4K TV is worth buying or not. They’re its most important indicators of real performance and they disregard all the marketing and labeling fluff that manufacturers like to pile up around their 4K TVs for the sake of making them seem more exceptional than they really might be. Here we ignore publicity catchphrases, fake color brilliance labels and disingenuous terminology of the kind that you’ll find on the manufacturers promotional materials. In other words, we measure what the NU80000 can actually deliver and explain how it affects real performance.
Black Level, Local Dimming and Contrast:
Black Level, Local Dimming and Contrast are all crucial display specs for any television (and especially for any HDR 4K TV. Furthermore, because they also interplay with each other as far as display performance goes, they need to be covered together.
As far as these particular specs in the NU80000 are concerned, what you get is some very good performance on black level and contrast combined with weak performance on local dimming. However, because black levels and contrast are very good, the local dimming problem is diminished. The NU80000 offers a general black level that is excellent and sits well within HDR10 standards at less than 0.019 nits, and the TVs overall black uniformity is remarkably good for that of an edge-lit LCD TV with weak local dimming. There is however some clouding near the middle of the screen and this becomes even more visible if the NU80000 is being used to display a large block of dark content in a room with no lights on.
Samsung has a tendency towards delivering these specs to a high degree of quality even in its lower-rung 4K TVs, so it’s no surprise that they’re good in a semi-premium model like the NU80000. Specifically, where the NU80000 also performs particularly well is on its maximum contrast ratio. Oddly, it actually manages to take it higher than the pricier QLED Q7FN. While the Q7FN only goes up to a maximum with local dimming activated of 5706:1, the NU80000 measured a contrast ratio of over 5800:1 with local dimming activation. This is a small difference that casual viewing with the naked eye isn’t likely to distinguish too easily but the bottom line here is that these are pretty good performance specs.
Most importantly, they’re crucial for high quality picture performance during playback of high contrast scenes in movies and shows. On the other hand, the NU80000 doesn’t hold a candle to the flagship QLED, the Q9FN. The latter model’s far superior full-array LED backlight allows for much more precise local dimming that can create contrast ratios of nearly 19,000:1, some of the highest we’ve ever seen in any LCD 4K TV. The second-tier QLED, the Q8FN on the other hand can reach levels of just over 7,000:1 which is only moderately better than what the much cheaper NU80000 delivers. These QLED 4K TV models however do deliver far better local dimming precision, so there is a tradeoff on quality here.
Where the NU80000 really fails most of all is in how well it handles its local dimming technology. As we said above, the TV performs well in how nicely it delivers contrast performance for content and how well it maintains deep black levels where needed even in mostly bright content. However, it’s local dimming does almost nothing to improve these metrics even further. The dimming zones are few and very imprecise since this is an edge-lit model. That said, most viewers probably won’t be too bothered by this absence unless they’re already used to really high-performance full-array backlit 4K TVs like the Q9FN. The NU80000 delivers its contrast just well enough to keep its low-end local dimming feature from being a serious problem.
Peak brightness is the maximum possible spot HDR or SDR luminosity of a complete 4K TV display or differently sized sections of its screen as measured in units of brightness called nits (or cd/m2, which is the same thing). Sustained brightness is the highest possible sustained HDR or SDR brightness that the TV screen can manage across its entire screen or parts of it for a prolonged period of time (a few minutes or more). In other words, Peak brightness consists of how luminous sudden bright spots can become and sustained brightness measures prolonged luminosity in content on the display.
.The NU80000 is one very bright 4K HDR LCD TV by the standards of almost any mid-range competitor among the 2018 4K HDR TV models, and if you compare it to 2017 and 2016 4K TVs in the same class (such as Samsung’s own 2017 MU8000 and KU-Series TVs from 2016), this TV is exceptionally capable of high display brightness. This applies to both its peak brightness and its overall sustained brightness under a number of conditions. It only looks weak when compared to its QLED cousins in the 2018 series from Samsung or when it’s compared to Sony’s absolute best 4K LCD TVs for this year. The NU80000’S absolute peak luminance reaches up to over 984 nits, and oddly, this is when the television is set for SDR display instead of HDR levels of luminance. This is the opposite of what we’d expect but it was something we also noticed and mentioned in our review of Samsung’s Q6FN QLED model. In basic terms, this means that the NU80000 displays movie content of all types wonderfully, with excellent brightness and vibrancy and is thus a great TV for viewing even in brightly lit rooms without worrying about weak visibility of what’s on the screen.
The display brightness numbers below as measured in nits for different areas of display space, under both HDR and SDR settings and under both peak and sustained conditions demonstrate the NU80000’s overall capacity for screen luminosity:
Samsung NU80000 SDR Brightness
- Overall SDR peak brightness for normal content: 585 nits
- Peak 2% display area display SDR brightness: 868 nits
- Peak 10% display area SDR brightness: 985 nits
- Peak 100% display area SDR brightness: 665 nits
- Sustained 10% SDR brightness: 641 nits
- Sustained 100% SDR brightness: 663 nits
Samsung NU80000 HDR Brightness
- Overall HDR peak brightness for normal content: 720 nits
- Peak 2% display area display HDR brightness: 720 nits
- Peak 10% display area HDR brightness: 871 nits
- Peak 100% display area HDR brightness: 569 nits
- Sustained 10% HDR brightness: 569 nits
- Sustained 100% HDR brightness: 543 nits
Samsung’s NU80000 doesn’t include quantum dot QLED technology in its screen and thus it obviously doesn’t quite manage the color vibrancy that Samsung’s QLED TVs can pull off but it comes surprisingly close. The difference in display performance between this TV and Samsung’s cheapest QLED, the Q6FN is small enough that it probably won’t even really be noticeable unless you were to compare this model with something like the flagship Q9FN or the Q8FN side-by-side. However, it is worth noting.
First of all, the NU80000 offers the obvious essentials of premium HDR color delivery: full support for 10-bit color with very little banding of colors during reproduction of content with 10-bit (1.07 billion colors) color support also included for wide color gamut spectrum coverage. The WCG coverage of this TV is good, with 92.69% of the DCI-P3 spectrum covered. This is robust but not exceptional by the standards of premium HDR ultra HD televisions. The bottom line is that in terms of color vibrancy and realism for both HDR and SDR content, the NU80000 does a very good job even if it isn’t “perfect”.
Color volume maintenance is also reasonably good in this TV model and it’s definitely superior to what we saw in any of the 2017 QLED TVs. In extremely bright content sequences in particular, very decent color volume is maintained across the entire color gamut and that’s very impressive considering just how tricky it used to be for a TV display to pull this off in older 4K HDR TVs. On the other hand, the NU80000 has trouble delivering strong color performance during dimmer scenes in movies, games or whatever is on the screen. This however isn’t a huge weakness and the deficiency is minor enough not to be blatantly visible.
White balance delta E, color delta E and Gamma in the NU80000 sit at very good levels of 0.19, 2.2 and 2.18 respectively after some moderate picture settings calibration. On the other hand, right out of the box and before any calibration, these same levels are only decent, sitting at 3.4, 2.5 and 2.41 respectively for the model we reviewed. These inaccuracies can however be improved away quite quickly after quick calibration for the much better settings we described first.
Motion Handling & Upscaling:
The NU80000 delivers really damn good motion handling performance across the board. In essence, this means that the TV is highly capable of rendering motion in content effectively and with minimal blur, flicker or distortion even if the content is being played back at frame rates that are lower than the native refresh rate of 120Hz that this TV’s screen is set to. Specifically, its motion blur control is exceptionally good at 5.2 milliseconds of pixel shift delay and this spec means that fast movement blurs minimally during playback, making the TV good for things like sportscasts or action movies and games. The NU80000 also has some very good motion interpolation capacity in its screen for adding frames during slower content to further diminish blur, but this can produce a slight soap opera effect when used for movies that play at different frame rates. It’s usually better to turn it down a few notches by setting ‘Auto Motion Plus’ to ‘Custom’ in the TV’s picture controls and making that custom value no higher than mid-range. The NU80000 also comes with an interesting new motion interpolation feature for game mode (for console or PC gameplay) called ‘Game Motion Plus’. This feature reduces input lag considerably though it also produces its own unusual soap opera effect.
As for the NU80000’s upscaling of video sources with native resolutions below 4K ultra HD at 3840 x 2160 pixels, it works well at sharpening almost any reasonably well formatted source of content but is particularly good at improving the visual quality of 1080p HD video and 720p programming of any kind. 480p SD content will get more variable results but if a particular SD video sources such as a high quality DVD movie release is played back, it will still look great on the screen of the NU80000.
The Samsung NU80000 also handles motion interpolation of content at all major typical frame rates (24p movies, 30fps TV content, high frame rate streamed video and games) very well on its native 120Hz display panel. 24p Blu-ray discs, DVDs, cable TV and broadcast TV sources as well as streaming media from both native apps and apps inside external streaming media devices can all be played judder-free as well and with minimal to no judder.
Input Performance for Gaming and PC:
Like so many of Samsung’s 4K TVs and pretty much every model we’ve reviewed between 2016 and 2018, the NU80000 is excellent at handling gaming connectivity at all sorts of different resolution, frame rate and color/HDR settings. In fact, since Samsung’s TVs have traditionally been some of the best performing 4K sets for gaming that we’ve reviewed in terms of low input lag for consoles and wide support for resolution and color formats, this model lives up to that reputation. In the case of the NU80000 we also see a feature that was previously lacking in older Samsung 4K TV models. This is the model’s capacity for offering low input lag even when motion interpolation is activated for smoother movement (we mentioned this above under motion settings).
What the above means is that the NU80000 2018 television delivers some really outstanding game handling performance across the board when used with popular game consoles. This television is easily among the best premium models we’ve seen this year as far as gaming connectivity for smooth gaming is concerned. In fact, in terms of overall input lag performance for gaming in different resolutions, HDR settings and color formatting, the NU80000 is at least as good as or even in some ways slightly better at its job than its more expensive and prestigious Q7, Q8 and Q9FN QLED cousins, which is interesting considering the TV’s price.
Again, the NU80000 also comes with the added bonus of offering very low input lag with motion interpolation activated. This is something that was previously not common in 4K HDR TVs, with almost all older models from before 2018 doing little better than 80 – 100+ milliseconds if motion interpolation is turned on. This combined with the NU80000’s HDR support specs makes this particular Samsung ultra HD television into one really excellent choice for 4K, HDR and 1080p Xbox or PS4 Pro gamers.
Here are some of the key specific specs for its gaming performance in different console setups:
- 4k @ 60Hz: 17.4 ms
- 1080p @ 60Hz: 17.9 ms
- 1080p @ 120Hz: 10.3 ms
- 4k @ 60Hz + HDR: 18 ms
- 1080p @ 60Hz + HDR: 18.1 ms
- 4k @ 60Hz Outside Game Mode : 72 ms
- 4k @ 60Hz @ 4:4:4: 15.9 ms
- 4K @ 60Hz @ 4:4:4 + 8 bit HDR: 17.4 ms
- 4K with interpolation activated: 23.4 ms
The NU80000 is also very solid in terms of performance if you want to use it as a giant PC monitor for computer gaming. It’s compatible with multiple resolution and color formats and offers smooth frame rate handling between PC GPUs and what the screen natively delivers. This TV offers up full 4:4:4 chroma subsampling support as long as you activate HDMI UHD Color from the External Device Manager and enable the input HDMI port for PC use. The TV also offers AMD FreeSync-powered variable refresh rate and supports 1080p @ 120 Hz support when coupled with PC rigs. Other fully supported resolutions and color settings for PC connectivity include [email protected], [email protected], 4K @ 60Hz @ 4:4:4.
On the other hand, the NU80000 doesn’t handle 1440p gaming at 60Hz and it lacks support for gaming in native 4K resolution at 120Hz even though it supports this for playback of streaming/TV/media player movie content at this rate in 4K.
The NU80000 includes all of its connectivity ports baked right into the TV body inside a recessed panel on the back right side. Unlike some of the QLED TVs, it doesn’t come with a full-sized One Connect Box, but the NU80000 DOES include a One Connect mini box, which is nearly as good. This allows for some very flexible connectivity management and cable placement.
As far as its specific connectivity ports are concerned, like virtually all newer 4K HDR TVs, the Samsung NU80000 comes with today’s now standard and essential advanced connectivity specs. No user should have connectivity problems with this model for hooking it up to pretty much any external media device or hard drive as long as all hardware is in working order. In other words, the NU80000 2018 model comes equipped with multiple HDMI, USB ports and other crucial connectivity slots. Samsung also gave the NU80000 full HDMI 2.0 HDR supported bandwidth in all four HDMI ports. This is a nice touch considering that similarly priced rival TVs from Sony only offer this through two of their HDMI ports. One thing we do note about this model is that it comes with only two USB ports and neither of them is a USB 3.0 version, which is a bit of a letdown since most other TVs we’ve reviewed offer 3 ports and even USB 3.0 in most cases.
The following are the NU80000’s ports and their specifications:
- HDMI : 4 (all with HDCP 2.2 and full HDMI 2.0a capacity)
- USB : 2 (USB 2.0)
- Digital Optical Audio Out : 1
- Analog Audio Out 3.5 mm : 0
- Tuner (Cable/Ant) : 1
- Ethernet : 1
- HDR10 support: Yes
- Hybrid Log Gamma HDR support: Yes
- Dolby Vision HDR: No
The Samsung NU80000 TV models also offer audio connectivity in the following types.
- 1 Passthrough ARC Dolby Digital
- 1 Passthrough ARC DTS
- 1 Passthrough Optical Dolby Digital
- 1 Passthrough Optical DTS
Samsung has released the NU80000 in several different sizes, for all sorts of budgets. Thus, a 49 inch budget model is being sold as well as editions in 55 inches, 65 inches, 75 inches and a gigantic 82 inch model. These several NU80000 television editions sell for the following prices, found in the links below at the time of this writing. Bear in mind that these are subject to sometimes frequent downward change and it’s a good idea to click the following Amazon links for real-time pricing and all available discounts on this model.