Samsung Q7FN / Q7F / Q7 4K HDR LCD TV Review (QN55Q7FN QN65Q7FN, QN75Q7FN)
Stephan Jukic – Sept 12, 2018
Samsung’s Q7FN is a very good 4K HDR TV that offers all-around solid performance and a host of premium color rendering, display capabilities and other features. It’s also one of Samsung’s high-end QLED 4K HDR TVs but with a somewhat lower price range than the more powerful ultra-premium Q9FN and Q8FN models. This TV is in certain ways nowhere near as strong at generating some key visuals as the flagship Samsung Q9F 2018 TV but it does deliver performance roughly similar to that of the Q8FN, particularly in terms of how well (or poorly) it delivers local dimming and how much display brightness it can generate. In other words, it’s easily among the best 4K HDR TVs on this year’s market while not being exorbitantly expensive.
• Excellent peak and sustained display brightness
• Great color rendering in HDR and for normal content
• Fantastic motion handling, especially for gaming
• Does come with some local dimming
• Very good contrast ratios and black levels
• Not nearly as bright as Q9FN
• Local dimming is poor
• Typical narrow viewing angles due to VA display technology
• No Dolby Vision HDR
There’s very little to dislike about the Q7FN 2018 edition. Unless you want the absolute best in display quality, this particular TV comes very close to offering an ultra-premium experience at a more reasonable price. In practical terms it’s mostly differentiated from the top-shelf Q9FN and Q8FN models by a lower (but still very high) display brightness and a weaker level of local dimming. We recommend it.
What We Liked
There’s plenty to like about the Q7FN 4K HDR TV. Its overall display performance is downright marvelous in most respects and its other key specs for things like gaming, movie watching and regular TV viewing all offer a level of quality that mostly ranges from good to outright excellent. Most importantly of all though, this whole bouquet of specs is available in a TV package that isn’t quite as insanely expensive as that flagship Q9FN or even as somewhat steeply priced as the Q8FN. With that said, let’s get down to some details.
Excellent Color Performance
Now here’s the weirdest thing about the Samsung Q7FN: Despite being the third-tier model among Samsung’s 2018 QLED TVs, this particular television generates the absolute best overall wide color gamut coverage among the bunch. That’s right, when it comes to the rendering of the wide color gamut necessary for truly stunning high dynamic range video and general content viewing, the Q7FN is the best performer we’ve reviewed so far among Samsung’s TVs. Even the Q9FN only manages a bit less than 98% DCI-P3 color space coverage while the Q8FN delivers roughly 97% as well. The Q7FN on the other hand nails right under 100%. These particular variations are so small that they barely make a visual difference and some specific units might get different measurements from others. However, this curious detail is worth mentioning. Most importantly, what it means in practical terms is that the Q7FN is an absolutely fantastic color performer by any standard and it will deliver as well as even the best 4K TVs on today’s market despite its lower price.
The Q7FN’s color volume delivery under very bright and very dim display conditions is also extremely good and quite possibly a bit better than that of its pricier cousins. In this regard, what you’ll see is more noticeable and manifests itself in continued color vibrancy even when content on the screen gets very bright or very shadowy.
As we said above, the Q7FN is distinguished from the Q9FN and the Q8FN in that this model doesn’t deliver quite as much overall brightness as its two cousins. Well, yes, this is true but the Q7FN does do one odd thing. It’s absolute peak brightness for a 10% portion of the display is the highest we’ve ever seen in any 4K HDR TV of any kind, and this by itself is impressive. That aside, in terms of overall general and sustained brightness, this TV still gets insanely bright by the standards of the absolute majority of 4K HDR TVs on the market today. Its smaller and larger measurements of peak brightness and overall levels of sustained brightness are all also exceptionally high, just not quite as generally high as those of the Q8FN or the Q9FN –which is today’s absolute brightest TV in terms of average sustained and peak display luminosity measurements.
In other words, the Q7FN is a stellar performer at delivering some very strong, realistic levels of luminance for brightly lit objects in onscreen content, and as we mentioned above in what we said about its color performance, this television does this while delivering excellent color integrity at the same time.
Black Levels and Contrast
The contrast ratio and overall black levels of the Q7FN are not quite as fantastic as those of the Q8FN and the Q9FN. This is the area of display performance in which this television most underperforms its cousins. However, both of these other models have some of the best contrast levels and black depth of any LCD TVs on sale right now, so comparing them with the Q7FN isn’t exactly fair. If on the other hand you rate the Q7FN with the majority of 4K HDR TVs of a similar price to it, what you get is some truly excellent performance. Sony’s X900F delivers better local dimming and better black uniformity but the Q7FN does both well and delivers a generally superb contrast ratio in the bargain.
Motion handling and Gaming Excellence
The motion handling quality of the Q7FN for sports content, movies and pretty much any sort of fast-paced onscreen content is downright fantastic. Samsung is known for being exceptionally good at delivering these things in all of its premium LCD 4K TVs but the 2018 QLED lineup that includes the Q7FN goes above and beyond the usual even by premium 4K LCD TV standards. These TVs come close than any LCD TV models we’ve ever seen to matching what an OLED TV can do for how well they deal with motion blur and pixel responsiveness to moving content on the screen.
As far as gaming inputs are concerned, the Q7FN is also a stunningly good performer, with consistently low input lag for console gaming content of all kinds regardless of resolution or color settings.
On a final note, we love the elegant design of the Q7FN. It follows the build of the 2017 QLED TVs such as the Q9F fro0m last year and as far as we’re concerned, this is a better looking build than what Samsung gave the 2018 Q9FN. Thus, aesthetically, the Q7FN is a better looking 4K HDR TV than the Q9FN despite its being a cheaper model. Its body is sturdy, with a silvery finish along the edges and even its backside is rather stylish looking with a black grooved, matte plastic finish. The TV’s cable management system is very good, with a single main all-purpose cable going into an included external One Connect box for easy hookup of external devices to this TV’s numerous HDMI, USB and other connectivity ports. The Q7FN has a center stand that consists of a single leg. This means that it can feel a little bit wobbly if pushed slightly but it also allows for easier placement on smaller surfaces. The edges of the screen come with very light bezels, meaning that the display feels expansive and looks particularly great in a fully dark room.
What We Didn’t Like
The Q7FN is without a doubt one fine TV and performs remarkably well compared to any similarly priced competitor on the market. It even manages to give its own pricier QLED cousins from Samsung a run for their money on some very specific specs. However, there are at least a few noteworthy flaws to this model. The following are almost all fairly minor things and we consider none of them to be deal breakers.
Still No Dolby Vision
First and foremost, we think it’s really annoying that Samsung refuses to integrate Dolby Vision HDR support in any of its 4K TVs. Yes, we know that there isn’t much Dolby Vision content out there on the market anyhow but it would be nice to have this exceptional high dynamic range content available for the movies and TV shows that do support it. Instead, Samsung is determined to push its own HDR10+ HDR format as a substitute. The Q7FN does support HDR10 (which is what all current HDR content supports by default) but we’d like to see the particularly refined picture processing that Dolby Vision creates reproduced on this exceptionally capable 4K TV’s screen.
Weak Local Dimming
For years Samsung built all of its TVs with edge-lit LED backlighting. This included even its priciest flagship models. Granted, the TVs still delivered some of the best display brightness on the market because the LEDs inside them are so good but edge-lit TVs don’t do so well at delivering high quality local dimming, which was a weakness in even the best that Samsung had to offer in 2017, 2016 and 2015. For the 2018 QLED TVs, this wasn’t the case to some extent. Both the Q8FN and the Q9FN come with full-array LED backlighting in which LEDs cover the entire surface behind these TVs’ displays. As a result, both of these models offer excellent or at least very good local dimming for deeper black levels in shadowy scenes. Unfortunately, the Q7FN doesn’t share this particular spec. It’s an edge-lit 4K TV and thus despite its excellent display brightness and great black levels, the TV’s local dimming technology is really poor, with only limited precision and noticeable bleed-through and halo effects during sequences in which brightly lit content is contrasting with dark backgrounds. Most viewers won’t be bothered by this if they’ve never before seen just how good full-array local dimming can be but the effect is definitely visible.
Viewing angle problems
All of Samsung’s 4K TVs are built with VA display panel technology (VA standing for vertical alignment, or pixels that are vertically longer on the screen). While on the one hand this guarantees generally better black levels and contrast ratio in a TV screen, it also means that color, contrast and brightness fade rapidly when the TV screen is viewed at angles too far off from dead center. This is a flaw found in all of Samsung’s 4K TVs to-date, and the Q7FN isn’t an exception in this regard. Thus, if you’ve got a big family that likes to scatter around the living room into couches well off from the front of your TV for a late night movie, you might want to skip a VA panel 4K display like the Q7FN and go for either an OLED TV or an LCD TV model with IPS display (all of LG’s LCD 4K TVs and some of Sony’s LCD TV models offer IPS display technology instead of VA panels).
Weak native audio
The Q7FN doesn’t deliver low quality native audio through its speakers, but they’re nothing to impress with either. If you’re used to powerful surround-sound speaker systems, they’ll be particularly unimpressive and while you usually can’t expect much from the small and highly centered speakers of any stand-alone 4K TV, this model probably could maybe have done a bit better on this metric. In any case, the problem is easily fixed with the addition of an external home theater sound system or a sound bar. On the other hand, for things like casual TV watching and listening to music at modest volumes, the speakers of the Q7FN itself function just fine.
value for Price & Bottom Line
The Q7FN offers very good quality for its price and we’d go so far as to recommend it slightly more than its own cousin the Q8FN. The two TVs are so close on performance metrics that the Q7FN’s price offers better overall value. The Q9FN is the better option for overall quality but it will definitely cost you a bit more, though we think its worth the extra dollars. Compared to rival 4K TVs such as the Sony X900F, Sony’s X850F and rival LCD TV models from LG or TCL, the Q7FN is definitely a competitive choice if you want exceptional display brightness and as long as you don’t mind the lack of Dolby Vision support. Cheaper rival 4K HDR TVs from TCL, and especially the new S-Series, are particularly excellent alternatives to the Q7FN and come priced much more cheaply, but their screens get nowhere near as bright and their color performance is not quite as good.
Key Samsung Q7FN Specs
• Screen sizes: 55 inch QN55Q7FN, 65 inch QN65Q7FN, 75 inch QN75Q7FN (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 located in eternal One Connect box
• Contrast Ratio: 5608+:1 (native, real contrast), 5706+:1 (with local dimming)
• Maximum Peak Brightness: 2268 nits (cd/m2)
• 3D Technology: N/A
• Processor: Q Engine
Display Performance Metrics
In the following sections we’re going to go over the detailed measurements of the several most crucial performance specs that decide visual experience quality in the Samsung Q7FN 4K HDR LCD TV. They all revolve around color reproduction, brightness, black levels, contrast, local dimming and motion handling. 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 units, making them good enough to be reliable indicators of quality. Different sizes of TV display 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 Q7FN can have some slight variations to how its backlight affects local dimming, contrast and black uniformity depending on the size of screen being considered.
All of the following display and TV performance specs are some of the most important aspects of display performance in any television and in the case of the Q7FN, what their summary shows is that, as we said above, that the new 2018 Samsung Q7F is a very powerful 4K HDR TV with some fantastic qualities that in some specific ways even outshine the majority of what we’ve seen in LCD TV technology for 4K HDR TVs.
Black Level, Local Dimming and Contrast:
These crucial display specs in any 4K TV all interplay with each other as far as display performance goes. Thus they deserve to be covered together.
Overall, the Samsung Q7FN offers what we would call generally excellent black level performance. Its black uniformity isn’t perfect but it’s very good and dark areas on the screen inside content look deep and rich. As a consequence of this, the TV’s contrast ratio is also very good. The Q7FN doesn’t come close to matching the insanely high contrast ratio of the Q9FN when local dimming is activated and it doesn’t even match the Q8FN or one of Sony’s best 2018 TVs like the X900F when their local dimming capacity is turned on but it holds its own just fine at native contrast, offering a comparable contrast ratio of 5608:1 without its own local dimming activated.
One of the main reasons it falls behind these other TVs despite having more or less the same native contrast ratio and a capacity to get much, much brighter than them under certain conditions is that the Q7FN’s local dimming is very poor. Unlike the Q9 and Q8 models, the Q7FN only offers edge-lit LED backlights, and while those backlight LEDs can get incredibly bright, the fact that they’re only found along the edges of the TV display behind the LCD screen means that local dimming and its ability to shut down LEDs strategically for deeper black levels can only work very imprecisely. This weakness to this TV’s local dimming is revealed by its contrast ratio with the setting activated. It only improves marginally by going to 5706:1. Compare this to the Q9FN, whose 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 Q8FN on the other hand can reach levels of just over 7,000:1.
Once again though, Samsung made the Q7FN model deliver a lot despite this local dimming flaw and most users won’t have any problems with virtually any part of the Q7FN’s black level performance under most viewing conditions.
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 Q7FN is a very unusual 4K HDR TV when it comes to its display brightness. In general terms, it’s exceptionally bright by the standards of most 4K TVs and its capacity for sustained brightness during playback of both ordinary content and high dynamic range video is well above average. However, compared to its own cousins the Q9FN and Q8FN, it delivers generally dimmer (but, again, still very bright) results. However –and this is where the Q7FN gets funny– when it comes to absolute peak brightness over just 10% of its screen (a key measure of luminosity for highlights such as sunrises, sunsets and shining lights in content), the Q7FN can hit a luminosity higher than that of any 4K HDR TV we’ve ever seen, peaking out at over 2250 nits! Not even Sony’s Z9D or Samsung’s Q9F can match this.
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 Q7FN’s overall capacity for screen luminosity:
Samsung Q7FN SDR Brightness
- Overall SDR peak brightness for normal content: 699 nits
- Peak 2% display area display SDR brightness: 1162 nits
- Peak 10% display area SDR brightness: 2290 nits
- Peak 100% display area SDR brightness: 804 nits
- Sustained 10% SDR brightness: 760 nits
- Sustained 100% SDR brightness: 800 nits
Samsung Q7FN HDR Brightness
- Overall HDR peak brightness for normal content: 720 nits
- Peak 2% display area display HDR brightness: 950 nits
- Peak 10% display area HDR brightness: 2268 nits
- Peak 100% display area HDR brightness: 781 nits
- Sustained 10% HDR brightness: 752 nits
- Sustained 100% HDR brightness: 771 nits
The Samsung QLED Q7FN delivers some truly incredible color vibrancy, realism and saturation that are some of the best we’ve measured in the 4K TVs of this year or last year. More impressively still, it actually outperforms the considerably more expensive Q9FN flagship QLED TV by Samsung on these specs, or any Sony LCD and LG OLED rival we’ve reviewed to-date, which is sort of strange.
First of all, the TV offers the obvious essentials of premium HDR color delivery: full support for 10-bit color with virtually no 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 excellent, with 99.69% of the DCI-P3 spectrum covered. This is actually better than what the Q9FN can do though the difference is small enough that most viewers probably won’t notice it.
Color volume maintenance is excellent in this TV model and possibly some of the best we’ve ever seen. In both shadowy scenes and extremely bright content sequences, very high color volume is maintained across the entire color gamut and that’s very impressive considering just how bright the Q7FN can get. On this front, the Q7FN visibly outperforms all of its major 2018 4K TV rivals and even delivers slightly better results than the Q9FN or its closer cousin the Q8FN.
White balance delta E, color delta E and Gamma in the Q7FN sit at very good levels of 0.16, 1.62 and 2.2 respectively after some moderate picture settings calibration. On the other hand, right out of the box and before any calibration, these same levels are not very good, sitting at 4.3, 2.25 and 2.7 respectively for the model we reviewed. These details can however be improved away quite quickly for the much better settings we described for post-calibration.
Motion Handling & Upscaling:
The Q7FN offers excellent motion handling performance across the board and its motion blur control is exceptionally good at 4.5 milliseconds. The Q7FN also has some very good motion interpolation capacity in its screen but this can produce a slight soap opera effect when sued 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.
As for this model’s upscaling, 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.
The Q7FN delivers motion interpolation of content at all major typical frame rates (24p movies, 30fps TV content, high frame rate streamed video and games) exceptionally 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. The Q7FN QLED does suffer from some 240Hz backlight flicker during content playback, but this is definitely better than what we’ve seen in older Samsung 4K HDR TVs such as the 2017 QLED models. On the other hand, both the Q9FN and the Q8FN are much better at flicker-free display performance for people who are sensitive to something like this when watching TV..
Input Performance for Gaming and PC:
Samsung’s entire 2018 4K HDR TV lineup, from cheapest to priciest models, like the 2016 and the 2016 models before it, pretty much offers excellent performance for console gaming and PC use at different resolution, color and HDR settings as well as at different refresh rates. This is the case across the board for all models we’ve examined so far. In fact, 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.
The Q7FN 2018 television is another fine example of the above in action and delivers some truly great 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.
The Q7FN (like the Q9FN and the Q8FN) even offers very low input lag with motion interpolation activated. This is something we’ve never before seen a 4K TV pull off to a level of less than 80 milliseconds or so before we reviewed the 2018 Samsung TV releases. The above combined with its HDR support specs makes this particular Samsung ultra HD television into one really excellent choice for 4K, HDR and normal 1080p Xbox or PS4 Pro gamers.
The following are the specific specs for its gaming performance in different console setups:
- 4k @ 60Hz: 19.4 ms
- 1080p @ 60Hz: 19.9 ms
- 1080p @ 120Hz: 10.3 ms
- 4k @ 60Hz + HDR: 17 ms
- 1080p @ 60Hz + HDR: 20 ms
- 4k @ 60Hz Outside Game Mode : 56 ms
- 4k @ 60Hz @ 4:4:4: 16.2 ms
- 4K @ 60Hz @ 4:4:4 + 8 bit HDR: 15.4 ms
- 4K with interpolation activated: 22 ms
The Q7F is also a very good 4K TV for use as a PC monitor. It’s compatible with multiple resolution and color formats and offers smooth frame rate handling between PC GPUs and what the screen 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 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.
Strangely, unlike the more expensive Q8FN, the Q7FN comes with all of its connectivity ports external to the TV and inside an included One Connect box that links to the television itself through a single thick cable that goes into the back of the Q7. This makes for much simpler and neater cable management in our view but it’s odd that Samsung skipped the feature for the Q8FN while giving it to the Q7FN. Whether you prefer this setup or direct connectivity to the TV itself, like virtually all newer 4K HDR TVs, the Samsung Q7FN 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 Q7 2018 edition comes equipped with multiple HDMI, USB ports and other crucial connectivity slots. Samsung also gave the Q7FN 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.
The following are the Q7FN’s ports and their specifications:
- HDMI : 4 (all with HDCP 2.2 and full HDMI 2.0a capacity)
- USB : 3 (USB 3.0)
- Digital Optical Audio Out : 1
- Analog Audio Out 3.5 mm : 1
- Tuner (Cable/Ant) : 1
- Ethernet : 1
- HDR10 support: Yes
- Hybrid Log Gamma HDR support: Yes
- Dolby Vision HDR: No
The Samsung Q7FN 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 only released the Q7F in three different sizes, 55 inches, 65 inches and 75 inches. These three Q7FN 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.