Samsung Q8FN / Q8F 2018 4K HDR LCD TV Review (QN65Q8FN, QN75Q8FN)
Stephan Jukic – July 26, 2018
Samsung has clearly put itself on a major roll with its 2018 lineup of premium 4K HDR QLED TVs. The 2017 models were great in many ways but these new 2018 editions beat them conclusively on some very crucial performance specs. This is definitely what we’re noticing as we review more of the new Samsung QLED lineup and the Q8FN is where we started to notice it. This 4K HDR television model doesn’t quite perform as spectacularly well as its even pricier Q9FN cousin on a couple key display performance metrics but it does deliver some absolutely excellent peak brightness, superb color management and remarkably decent contrast and black level specs nonetheless.
Furthermore, unlike Samsung’s entire lineup of 2017 and 2016 4K TVs, this model along with other 2018 TVs come with full-array LED backlighting. Samsung finally got the ball rolling on including that in more of its television models (none of last year’s TVs from the brand had it despite their high prices and the fact that many cheaper competitor TVs did come with full-array LED panels behind their screens). In basic terms, the Q8FN is a great 4K HDR TV overall and offers a much better priced alternative to Samsung’s flagship model the Q9FN while conserving many the same premium features.
- Excellent display brightness
- Full-array LED backlighting with local dimming
- High performance on contrast and black level
- Incredibly good color performance
- Great motion handling
- Beautiful design
- Decent price
- Not nearly as high contrast as Q9FN
- Poor native audio power
- Weak on viewing angles
- Local dimming could be better
- Samsung won’t add Dolby Vision support
We really like the Samsung Q8FN and consider it to be a slightly better overall value than the Q9FN because it comes so close on important performance metrics while costing a fair bit less. We highly recommend this model to anyone who wants top-shelf HDR TV display from a brand new 2018 model, so long as they don’t mind the absence of wider HDR support for other formats.
What We Liked
There is a lot to really like about the Q8FN and particularly if you take its more reasonable price into consideration. This TV has lots of premium characteristics and for the most part delivers them very well or even exceptionally while also delivering higher value per dollar spent than its cousin the Q9FN.
This TV comes with a utilitarian, minimalist build that actually works perfectly for making the television fit aesthetically into pretty much any space. The entire body is slightly on the thicker side due to the bulkier space necessary for full-array LED backlighting but it can still be easily mounted to a wall if necessary. On the other hand, the Q8FN doesn’t come with the simplified cable management system of the Q9FN, which consists of a single cable running from the TV itself down to an external and placement-flexible One Connect box. Instead, the main connectivity ports are built right into the side of this television. They are however easy to access even if the Q8FN is mounted instead of free-standing.
The body of the Q8FN is sturdy and build of strong black plastic with a metallic finish along the edges and on the stand legs. The bezels along the edge of the screen are also very thin, creating a great impression or roomy display space. One thing we don’t much like about the Q8FN’s build is the wide placement of the two stand legs. Yes they’re sturdy for keeping the TV up but their spacing means that this model can only be placed on top of an equally wide surface.
Fantastic QLED-augmented Color performance
The color performance of the Q8FN is surprising in that it’s just as good as what we saw in the pricier Q9FN. They’re both QLED 4K HDR TVs of course so obviously the Q8FN should perform well but we didn’t expect it to be exactly as good as the Q9FN on this spec. All colors look rich and vibrant in this model and with a bit of color calibration in the TV’s picture settings, color accuracy along with the quality of shadows, greys and brightly lit content can be made to look amazingly good. The Q8FN supports full HDR color display capability and it does so remarkably well.
The QLED part of its name refers to the quantum dot LED filter technology installed in all of the 2017 and 2018 Samsung QLED TV models. This is a mechanism for color improvement that Samsung is still refining further into something that will one day become far more advanced, but for now, what we do notice is that it seems to work amazingly well at maintaining great color volume even in extremely bright onscreen content. Given how bright the Q8FN can make its display, then QLED technology is an excellent feature and not just some gimmick.
Local Dimming and Full-array LED backlighting brightness
These are a few things that we consider to be some of the absolute biggest improvements that the Q8FN improves on its counterpart from 2017. Specifically, unlike any of the 2017 TVs (even the most expensive) this model delivers full-array LED backlight technology. Samsung has finally started installing this into its premium TV models for the 2018 lineup and given how bright Samsung’s LED technology has always been, the result in terms of peak brightness is stunning. The pricier Q9FN delivers excellent, previously unseen levels of peak display luminance but even the Q8FN is definitely no slouch. In fact, so far it’s the second brightest 4K TV we’ve reviewed in both 2017 and 2018, trailing behind only the Q9FN flagship model.
This is the direct result of Samsung’s incredibly powerful LED technology now being spread behind the entire screen. A secondary aspect of this full-array backlighting is a much higher quality of local dimming, which the Q8FN also offers. Samsung’s 2017 QLED TVs also offered this but local dimming in an edge-lit 4K TV isn’t the same as local dimming in a full-array LED 4K TV and the difference is very large. The Q8FN thus offers local dimming of a much better caliber and this makes a difference when it comes to creating superior levels of black depth and contrast for onscreen content.
Excellent motion handling and input lag
The Q8FN offers up some truly excellent motion handling pretty much across the board. For one thing, it has a very good response time on its pixels for some truly great motion blur control. This alone means that the Q8FN offers very smooth sharp handling of fast movement on the screen. Beyond this, the Q8FN’s native 120Hz display panel interpolates all sorts of lower frame rate content for very smooth handling on the screen. The inclusion of Black Frame Insertion technology spreads this feature to games played on the TV as well for a more fluid gameplay experience. What we also love about the Q8FN is that it’s largely flicker free due to the improved quality of Samsung’s LED backlight technology for their 2018 4K HDR TV models.
As far as using the Q8FN for gaming goes, this TV performs in typically excellent Samsung fashion based on how we’ve seen input lag perform in nearly every Samsung TV we’ve reviewed for at least three years running. In other words, the input lag times of this TV for console games at all sorts of different resolution, color, refresh rate and HDR settings are superb. The Q8FN is basically one fantastic gamer’s TV if you happen to own an Xbox console or a PS4 device. It’s an even better TV if you want to do 4K HDR gaming with an Xbox One X or a PS4 Pro console.
Smart TV and controls
On a final note, we like Samsung’s smart TV platform quite a bit. WebOS 3.5 from LG is more intuitive and faster, and Sony’s Android TV comes with Google Play Store, meaning access to a huge selection of apps but the Samsung Tizen OS is no piece of crap either. It’s easy to use, covers all the essential content options for streaming media apps and lets you rent or buy content directly from Samsung as well. Certain apps are also available only with Samsung’s 4K UHD TVs, which is cool too. The remote is also decent, with basic voice search functionality and the ability to open apps, ask questions about weather and so forth as needed via voice commands. On the other hand, unlike LG’s remote, the Samsung edition doesn’t let you search within apps for content, which is a bummer.
What We Didn’t Like
The Q8FN is one excellent 4K HDR TV by any measure of the technology but it isn’t without its small share of flaws, despite its premium specs. This model obviously won’t perform as well as Samsung’s even better Q9FN flagship 4K HDR LCD TV model but there are a couple of things it could have had improved in its build.
Still No Dolby Vision
How badly we wish Samsung would just get over its obsession with sticking to HDR10 (which they helped develop) to the exclusion of serious alternatives. Every other major TV brand has included Dolby Vision HDR support AND HDR10 in all of their premium 4K TVs at least but Samsung simply won’t go there. This is a shame because the Q8FN would be absolutely awesome at delivering Dolby Vision HDR if Samsung wasn’t so fixed on hating it. Yes, there’s only a small amount of Dolby Vision HDR content out there but damn would it be nice if this TV would let you see it as it’s formatted. This is a shame. HDR10 is great for HDR mastering of content and HDR10+ is promising to be even better but the Dolby Vision format beats both on quality and this TV is very much built to deliver it exceptionally well.
Our entire section above waxes on about how great the display performance of the Samsung Q8FN is and we mean every word we said but there are a couple of details that are worth criticizing in this television. Let’s start with its local dimming and contrast ratio. Both of these are good in the 2018 Q8F and we certainly don’t expect this TV to deliver them as well as the Q9FN flagship TV does but Samsung could have still improved both metrics a bit further. The Q8FN is exceptionally bright and with the presence of full-array LED backlighting, it could have done an even better job at creating high contrast and making its local dimming work truly well. It doesn’t however and this leads us to believe that the number of dimming zones is fairly limited, much lower at least than the number of them found in the Q9FN or Sony’s X900F, which is similarly priced.
Viewing angle problems
This is a minor detail but it should be mentioned as well because some buyers might hate it if they have a particularly widely spaced living room/entertainment room. All of Samsung’s 4K TVs come 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, so the Q8FN isn’t special in this regard but if you’ve got a big family that likes to crown into couches well off from the front of your TV for a late night movie, you might want to skip a VA panel 4K TV like the Q8FN 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 native audio of the Q8FN’s speakers is only decent. If you’re used to powerful surround-sound speaker systems, it won’t impress you at all and while you usually can’t expect much from the tiny and highly centered speakers of any stand-alone 4K TV, this model probably could have done a bit better on this metric. Either way, the problem is easily fixed with the addition of an external home theater sound system or a sound bar, and for things like casual TV news watching the speakers of the Q8FN itself function just fine.
Value vs. Price & Bottom Line
The bottom line for the Q8FN is that it’s a fantastic 4K HDR LCD TV at a very decent price. We think it actually offers even more value per dollar spent than the flagship Q9FN even if the latter model definitely outperforms it on key specs. Get this TV if you want a truly premium home theater experience with some wicked display brightness and color performance at a price that doesn’t completely shatter your budget.
Key Samsung Q8FN 4K HDR TV Specs
- Screen sizes: 55 inch QN55Q8FN, 65 inch QN65Q8FN, 75 inch QN75Q8FN (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: 5556+:1 (native, real contrast), 7960+:1 (with local dimming)
- Maximum Peak Brightness: 1435 nits (cd/m2)
- 3D Technology: N/A
- Processor: Q Engine
Display Performance Metrics
Here we cover the several most crucial performance metrics that decide user experience quality in the Samsung Q8FN 4K HDR LCD TV they all revolve around display output across several specs and motion handling as well. 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 a Full-array LCD TV, the Q8FN maintains the same basic display metrics in all three of its models, the 55 inch, 65 inch and the 75 inch editions.
The following metrics of display performance for contrast, black level, color performance, brightness and motion handling (all of which are the most important aspects of display performance) clearly showcase the details behind what we said above, that the new 2018 Samsung Q8 is a very powerful 4K HDR TV with some fantastic specs that in some cases 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 being covered together. In the Q8FN, black level, local dimming and contrast all perform very well. Most importantly, Samsung has finally gone back to installing full-array LED backlighting technology in its super-premium 4K TVs and the result has seriously improved overall contrast, black level and general display performance. Firstly, in the Q8FN, this means the inclusion of a much better quality of local dimming capacity than the kind we saw in the 2017 Q8 QLED TV by Samsung. This in turn means the reproduction of high quality and deep black levels. As a result of this, contrast ratios in this television are also excellent and consequently the level of picture quality in the Q8FN QLED TV is one in which bright highlights and colors stand out beautifully.
The Q8FN can deliver high-normal contrast ratios of about 5556:1 when local dimming is deactivated. This ratio by itself is excellent, but if the local dimming is turned on, the contrast ratio jumps up to a much more impressive and very respectable level of 7,996:1. This comes nowhere near the blockbuster 19,000+:1 contrast ratio that the Q9FN flagship TV is capable of but it’s still excellent by the standards of most current 4K HDR LCD TVs, even if we compare the Q8FN to the majority of all other premium 4K TVs by all brands. The much lower contrast ratio of the Q8FN relative to the Q9FN is one of the two main differences between these two TVs, so if you don’t mind a still very good contrast of nearly 8,000:1, then the Q8FN is a great deal.
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 peak brightness of the Q8FN in particular is perhaps the second highest we’ve ever seen out of all the 4K TVs we’ve reviewed between 2017 and 2018. This is the second major spec in which the Q8FN’s pricier Q9FN cousin massively outperforms this model but like we said, the Q8FN still takes second place among ALL 4K TVs we’ve seen in the last couple years. At its very absolute maximum, this model can reach a peak brightness of up to over 1430 nits for HDR content (which requires higher TV display brightness settings) in smaller areas of the screen and even for wider areas of illuminated display space, the Q8FN delivers very, very high luminosity almost across the board; the same goes for sustained brightness in both SDR and HDR modes.
What impresses us in particular however is that, even when used for viewing ordinary non-HDR video content, the 2018 Q8 still renders extremely, exceptionally high levels of sustained and peak brightness very consistently. This will be something that almost any viewer will notice when comparing this model to any rival 4K TV and it’s a feature of the Q8FN that strongly improves just how high overall picture quality is. Even more so, the Q8FN manages to conserve very high color saturation regardless of how bright its screen gets and this is something that previous Samsung QLED TVs couldn’t pull off nearly as well. Samsung’s latest version of QLED quantum dot filter technology seems to have fixed this issue.
The display brightness measurement numbers below as measured in nits demonstrate what we’re talking about:
Samsung Q8FN SDR Brightness
- Overall SDR peak brightness for normal content: 531 nits
- Peak 2% display area display SDR brightness: 779 nits
- Peak 10% display area SDR brightness: 1425 nits
- Peak 100% display area SDR brightness: 560 nits
- Sustained 10% SDR brightness: 1384 nits
- Sustained 100% SDR brightness: 561 nits
Samsung Q8FN HDR Brightness
- Overall HDR peak brightness for normal content: 630 nits
- Peak 2% display area display HDR brightness: 970 nits
- Peak 10% display area HDR brightness: 1435 nits
- Peak 100% display area HDR brightness: 499 nits
- Sustained 10% HDR brightness: 1201 nits
- Sustained 100% HDR brightness: 496 nits
The Samsung QLED Q8FN delivers nearly perfect color vibrancy, realism and saturation. More impressively still, it actually outperforms the considerably more expensive Q9FN flagship QLED TV by Samsung on these specs, 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 98.69% 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 even among the best we’ve ever seen. In both shadowy scenes and extremely bright content sequences, full color volume is maintained across the entire color gamut and that’s very impressive considering just how bright the Q8FN can get. On this front, the Q8FN visibly outperforms all of its major 2018 4K TV rivals and even delivers slightly better results than the Q9FN.
White balance delta E, color delta E and Gamma in the Q8FN sit at very good levels of 0.14, 1.79 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 mediocre, sitting at 3.9, 4.8 and 2.36 respectively. These details can however be calibrated away quite quickly for the much better settings we described for post-calibration.
Motion Handling & Upscaling:
The Q8FN delivers a very high level of motion handling performance and upscales virtually all well-formatted no 4K UHD content with high precision. With response times in onscreen pixels (the speed at which pixels shift colors to adjust for moving objects in content) being the lowest we’ve ever seen in an LCD TV at 3.5 milliseconds. The Q8FN 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 Q8FN 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 Q8FN QLED also suffers from virtually no backlight flicker due to some major improvements in how well Samsung manages its LED array design in the 2018 lineup of premium QLED TVs.
Input Performance for Gaming and PC:
Samsung’s 2018 4K HDR TVs, like the 2016 and the 2016 models before them all offer excellent input lag performance for console gaming and PC use at different resolution, color and HDR settings as well as at different refresh rates. In fact they have traditionally been some of the best performing 4K TVs we’ve reviewed in terms of low input lag for console games and wide support for resolution and color formats.
The Q8F 2018 model is no exception to the above and delivers some truly great game handling performance across the board when used with popular game consoles. Oddly, it very very slightly outperforms the Q9FN QLED on these metrics for console gaming.
This model (like the Q9FN) 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, until we reviewed this model and its cousin the Q9FN that is. The above combined with its HDR support specs makes this particular Samsung 4K HDR television into one fantastic console gaming TV 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: 20 ms
- 1080p @ 60Hz: 19.2 ms
- 1080p @ 120Hz: 10 ms
- 4k @ 60Hz + HDR: 19 ms
- 1080p @ 60Hz + HDR: 19.8 ms
- 4k @ 60Hz Outside Game Mode : 56 ms
- 4k @ 60Hz @ 4:4:4: 16.3 ms
- 4K @ 60Hz @ 4:4:4 + 8 bit HDR: 17 ms
- 4K with interpolation activated: 25.3 ms
Samsung has also given the 2018 Q8 some really broad compatibility with PC hardware for use as a huge PC monitor. This TV offers up full 4:4:4 chroma subsampling support and 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.
Unlike The flagship Q9FN, the Q8FN comes with all of its connectivity ports built right into the TV itself instead of having a single cable going down to a One Connect box with external ports. Whether this is good or bad, what we do know is that, like virtually all newer 4K HDR TVs, the Samsung Q8FN comes with today’s now standard and essential advanced connectivity specs. No user should have connectivity problems with this model for connecting it to pretty much any external media device or hard drive as long as all hardware is in working order. In other words, the Q8 2018 edition comes equipped with multiple HDMI, USB ports and other crucial connectivity slots. Samsung gave the Q8FN full HDMI 2.0 HDR supported bandwidth in all four HDMI ports.
The following are its 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: Yes
The Samsung Q8FN 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 Q8F in three different sizes, 55 inches, 65 inches and 75 inches. These three Q8FN 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.