Samsung QLED Q9F 4K UHD HDR TV Review: Stunning But With Surprises (QN65Q9F, QN75Q9F)
- Excellent overall performance
- Very high picture brightness
- Excellent Motion handling
- Local diming support
- Fantastic, brilliant color delivery
- Wonderful TV for console and HDR gaming
- Excellent for HDR movies
- Contrast Surprisingly low (but still very good)
- Not exceptionally good for PC monitor use
- Terrible built-in audio system
- Not as bright as Samsung claimed for QLED
The Bottom Line
Samsung’s Q9F may not be quite the “stunning new QLED Flagship” (to summarize the Samsung hype a bit) that Samsung told us to expect but it’s still one amazingly good, powerful and highly advanced ultra-premium 4K HDR TV that gives some very stiff competition to any rival LCD model we’ve seen for 2017 from other important brands. We do however think that certain rival flagship TVs have done a bit better in comparison for 2017, at least in some key specs and definitely on price.
Samsung’s QLED Q9F flagship 4K HDR TV is a fantastic premium choice for a new high dynamic range ultra HD TV. It not only offers some of the best color performance we’ve ever seen from any 4K TV of any kind to-date, it’s also probably the company’s brightest 4K TV to-date, with the notable quality of being able to manage both extremely high color volume while simultaneously delivering extremely high levels of peak brightness. This was something that last year’s flagship 4K TVs couldn’t quite match as well. In other words, it’s a superb HDR TV and one that also offers the benefits of excellent gaming performance, a great, revamped Tizen smart TV platform and some very robust motion handling for nearly any kind of movie, TV or streaming content, including games.
That said, Samsung was definitely wrong on claiming that this model really beats OLED 4K HDR in any comprehensive way and Sony’s 2017 lineup of ultra-premium LCD 4K HDR TVs is actually slightly, generally superior to the Samsung QLEDs if the Q9F is the best that Samsung will be releasing for 2017. The Q9F is excellent, but we’d say that Sony’s X940E beats it by a slight margin, and the flagship Sony Z9D does so as well among LCD 4K TVs. This wasn’t quite the case last year, in which the 2016 SUHD TVs were notably better and brighter overall performers than their Sony rivals, and the 2016 flagship KS9800 was a considerably better 4K HDR TV than its 2016 Sony counterpart the X940D.
There is a tremendous amount of good stuff to be found in the performance, specs, metrics and features of the Q9F HDR TV. So many in fact that it’s hard to decide where to start explaining them. Despite some highly relative (relative to other ultra-premium 4K TVs) weaknesses, this 4K TV model still completely outperforms the vast majority of LCD 4K televisions sold today and it vastly outperforms any HDTV or older 4K TV you’re likely to have seen. With that said, let’s get down to a sectioned breakdown of the Q9F’s strongest features. The Q9F shares many of the following good points with other Samsung models we’ve reviewed for this year but it takes them to whole new levels.
Color performance is in fact the single strongest and best aspect of the Q9F’s specs. Quite simply, by this particular measurement, the Q9F outdoes any other 4K HDR TV we’ve yet reviewed for 2017. We’re talking here mainly about how well this model delivers HDR wide color gamut and 10-bit color. Both look absolutely stunning when activated for any kind of HDR content and in combination with the Q9F’s excellent black levels and contrast ratios, colors really shine vibrantly in a way that most users will probably find unbelievable. For normal non-HDR video sources, the Q9F also produces color with excellent accuracy and superb vibrancy but it’s the HDR color parameters of the Q9 which truly leave a stunning impression. Most impressively of all, the Q9F does a remarkably good job of faithfully reproducing vibrant, strong colors even when it’s performing at its absolute peak brightness levels. This is something that none of the 2016 SUHD TVs from Samsung can match quite as well and even many competitor’s 2017 HDR premium models can quite pull it off to the same degree as the Q9F.
HDR Brightness & Black Levels
Going hand in hand with the Q9F’s superb color performance, we have this television models excellent peak brightness specs and its contrasting black levels. Both are downright excellent by any measure. Reading further down you’ll note that we mention these same metrics again under the section about things we don’t quite like in the Q9F and this is specifically because this TV doesn’t quite beat its 2016 counterparts on these specs. However, to be clear, the specs as they stand in the Q9 are still absolutely excellent by any normal current measure of 4K TV performance. Thus, while we’ll get to our slightly negative issues with this television’s brightness and black level shortly, we’re definitely happy with how well Samsung delivered them in the Q9F.
The Q9F and all of Samsung’s QLED 4K HDR TVs handle motion fantastically well. Their native 120Hz display panels deliver incredibly good motion blur handing by LCD TV standards and they also handle motion interpolation of non-120Hz content (virtually all TV, movie and streaming content in existence today) with superb sharpness and smoothness. Furthermore, the Q9F delivers some of the best motion handling for console and PC games that you’ll find on the market. This last characteristic is a general trend with Samsung’s 4K TVs at all prices but it’s exceptionally well represented in ultra-premium editions like the QLED TVs and the flagship QLED Q9F in particular. If you’re a fan of fast-paced sport casts, action movies from any major source or if you love fast-action 1080p to 2160p console gaming on the roomy comfort of a large TV screen, the Q9F will not at all disappoint on any of these things.
4.7 – 4 Reviews
All of its top-tier specs and features considered, the best Samsung 4K HDR TV of 2017 still has its odd list of weaknesses, defects and issues we weren’t too thrilled with. None of these are anywhere near being deal-breakers by any normal performance standard and the Q9F lacks any real serious defects. However, when you take its status, Samsung’s hype around this TV and, most particularly, its price into consideration, the Q9F definitely could have done better on some of the following.
Brightness Issues and Contrast Ratio
We mentioned above that we love the levels of peak brightness that the Q9F can attain and just how rich and deep its black levels are. However, we also alluded to our issues with how these specs stand in this television. Well, our main little peeve is simply this: The Q9F doesn’t perform as well at delivering high contrast and maximal peak brightness as its 2016 SUHD counterparts such as the KS9000 did. In terms of average brightness for both SDR and HDR content, the Q9F does about as well as any of the 2016 SUHD TVs or any of its competitors’ 4K HDR flagship TV models but if we’re measuring strictly by its maximum brightness output and deepest possible contrast ratio, we expected a little better than what we got in 2016. Most viewers however won’t notice any major difference or weakness at all in these specific specs, so they’re hardly a major complaint against the Q9F. In basic terms, by normal measures of performance, this model handles brightness and contrast fantastically well, it just doesn’t quite improve them as well as Samsung claimed it would over its 2016 cousins and that deserves to be mentioned.
Local Dimming & Backlighting
Here we get down to the single biggest and most damning weakness we found in the Samsung Q9F. Quite simply, this television doesn’t deliver nearly the level of local dimming performance we’d expect for the flagship, priciest TV of Samsung’s most premium line of 2017 television models. This is mainly due to the simple fact that the Q9F lacks full-array LED backlighting and why such an expensive 4K TV would lack this fundamental premium technology is a bit of a mystery to us.
The Q9 performs about as well as Samsung’s 2016 KS9000 or even KS8000 SUHD TVs did and that’s not a major compliment at all in this context. Remember, we’re talking here about the single most expensive and “best made” of Samsung’s 2017 4K HDR TVs here so we’d expect a little bit better. Furthermore, if we compare local dimming performance in this model to that of equivalent flagship TVs from Sony or even “budget TV brand” flagship TVs like Vizio’s P-Series and TCL’s P-Series models, the Q9F looks even worse. All of these rivals’ best LCD 4K TVs deliver far superior local dimming for a much more precise localized contrast experience in onscreen content and the reason they do this better than the Q9F is because all of these rival models (some of them much cheaper than the Q9F by the way) come with full-array LED backlighting.
Native Audio Quality
We briefly need to mention that the native sound quality that the Q9F delivers is particularly bad. We rarely expect the native speakers of any 4K ultra HD TV we review to be particularly exceptional but the Q9F kicks the bucket on this particular feature with below-average quality and even a fairly cheap external sound bar would tremendously improve your audio experience with the Q9F’s sound output. Thus, it’s a bit disappointing but not a major issue either. If you’re going to spend several thousand dollars on a new 4K HDR TV, getting a $200 sound bar as an accessory would be a good idea.
Viewing Angles and Other Little Details
Finally, a couple of other little details about the Q9F are worth mentioning. Samsung has made claims that its 2017 LQED TVs would have better viewing angles than ever but as far as we can tell, this isn’t the case. The Q9F has about the same range of picture deterioration at the same angles as its 2016 SUHD predecessors. On the other hand, this is a minor price to pay for the stunningly good black levels that Vertical Alignment (VA) panel display technology in this and other Samsung TVs produces. We prefer it to IPS despite the much broader viewing angles afforded by the latter screen technology.
Additionally, black uniformity in the Q9F could be a bit better. It’s very good but we saw better performance in the 2016 flagship TVs and in this year’s premium Sony LCD HDR TVs.
Finally, Samsung’s 4K TVs of all types, the Q9F included, lack support for Dolby Vision HDR standards. Samsung has vaguely indicated that it doesn’t intent to include Dolby Vision support at any point in the near future and this is a shame, because most other brands now do and even Sony’s best TVs support the definitely superior HDR format.
The Samsung Q9F 4K HDR LCD TV is without a doubt the best of Samsung’s 2017 4K TVs and in certain significant ways, we consider it to be better than any of the company’s 2016 premium televisions as well. In fact, by general performance standards, it’s a downright excellent piece of 4K HDR TV technology whose performance almost any user would be very impressed with. However, it mostly doesn’t quite match the best that Sony or LG have to offer with their 2017 HDR LCD and OLED TVs (In LG’s case specifically) and the Q9F is quite expensive to boot, so while we recommend it for its technology and performance, we don’t quite like it as much due to its price.
Key TV Specs
- Screen sizes: 55 inch QN65Q9F, 75 inch QN75Q9F
- Smart TV: Tizen Smart TV platform with
- 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: edge-lit LED backlighting (top and bottom) with local dimming
- Resolution: 3,840 x 2,160 pixels UHD
- Wireless Connectivity: Yes, includes both built-in WiFi and Ethernet port in external One Connect box
- Remotes: Samsung Smart Remote
- 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
- Sound: 20W (10W x 2) with Dolby™ Digital Plus, DTS Premium Sound 5.1
- Contrast Ratio: 5,102 : 1 (native, real contrast)
- Black Level maximum: 0.019 cd/m2
- 3D Technology: N/A
- TV dimensions (65 inch model): 57.1 x 32.6 x 1.0 inches w/o stand, 57.1 x 34 x 12.1 w stand
- TV weight (65 inch model): 64.2 lbs w/ Stand, 66.1 lbs without stand
- Processor: Quad-Core Q Engine Processor
4.7 – 4 Reviews
The Q9F QLED TV delivers an overall display performance that is among the best in the entire range of 4K TVs we’ve seen released from 2016 and 2017. While this TV doesn’t quite do as well in general terms as some of its 2017 Sony rivals or LG’s OLED TVs for this year (or last year for that matter) it is the best color performer we’ve seen among all 4K TVs we’ve reviewed so far and in terms of its other major display specs like black level, brightness, contrast and motion handling, the Q9F is rivalled only by Sony’s top 4 HDR LCD TVs in most respects. In terms of brightness, this model is probably one of the best performers on the market right now, with only the 2016 SUHD TVs from this same brand and maybe Sony’s Z9D and X940E flagship television models rivalling it in this regard. Let’s get down to details by performance category.
Black Level, Local Dimming and Contrast:
The black level and contrast dynamic range achieved by the Q9F is very good by HDR TV and excellent by SDR 4K TV standards. However, we’ve definitely seen better in some of Samsung’s own 4K TVs from this year and last year in particular. Sony’s best 2017 televisions also outdo this model in this spec. That said, the Q9F does still deliver deep, rich black levels and a relatively high contrast ratio of 5,102:1 or so (it can vary slightly from one unit to the next). This is good by 4K HDR TV standards but the Q9F completely loses out when compared to the spectacular 11,000:1 contrast ratio achieved by Sony’s almost exactly comparable X940E 4K TV model when the Sony 4K HDR TV has local dimming activated. Bear in mind that the Q9F is the more expensive of the two. Black uniformity in the Q9F is also less than perfect. It’s good but it was even more even in the 2016 SUHD TVs like the KS8000 which we reviewed.
The local dimming in the edge-lit Q9F is only mediocre. It’s local dimming zones are iprecise and weak and this TV does not at all avoid a slight halo effect around bright objects in the midst of dark scenery. What saves the Q9F in this regard is the excellent capacity of Samsung’s VA panel pixels in blocking backlight but if you place the Q9F next to a considerably cheaper rival TV such as Sony’s remarkably good X930E and X900E LCD HDR models, both of these rivals deliver superior local dimming performance. Vizio’s much cheaper 2017 P-Series full-array backlit 4K HDR TVs also perform far better in this spec and are generally worth more for their price even if they don’t deliver quite the same levels of peak brightness and color delivery as the Q9F.
The Q9F is one exceptionally bright 4K HDR LCD TV and on this spec it pretty much beats all of its rivals except maybe some of its own 2016 SUHD predecessors and Sony’s brightest 4K TVs, the X940E and Z9D models. However, compared to any Vizio 4K TV, LG TV, Sony mid-range 4K TV and any of Samsung’s own mid-range TVs from this year or last year, the Q9F literally outshines them all. Below are its specific performance readings across several of different brightness specs.
Also, to clarify, peak brightness is the maximum possible spot HDR or SDR luminosity of the display or a section of it measured in nits (or cd/m2, which is the same thing) under different conditions. Sustained brightness is the highest possible sustained HDR or SDR brightness that the TV screen can manage over different conditions or areas of illuminated display.
- Overall SDR peak brightness for normal content: 369 nits
- Peak 2% display area display SDR brightness: 559 nits
- Peak 10% display area SDR brightness: 1648 nits
- Peak 100% display area SDR brightness: 221 nits
- Sustained 10% SDR Brightness: 1112 nits
- Sustained 100% SDR brightness: 209 nits
- Overall HDR peak brightness for normal content: 710 nits
- Peak 2% display area display HDR brightness: 915 nits
- Peak 10% display area HDR brightness: 1442 nits
- Peak 100% display area HDR brightness: 745 nits
- Sustained 10% HDR Brightness: 1370 nits
- Sustained 100% HDR brightness: 612 nits
The color deliver of the Samsung Q9F is essentially unbeatable as far as any other 4K TV we’ve reviewed so far is concerned. Here Samsung absolutely delivers the goods on its promises and this model manages a solid 99.6% DCI-P3 Wide color gamut coverage level. Furthermore, even at maximally high levels of peak brightness, the Q9F conserves its color vibrancy remarkably well. 10-bit color gradient smoothness in the Q9F is also superb, with essentially no visible color banding that we could detect in any RGB tone or in black and white tones. Finally, the Q9F delivers extraordinarily good color delta E and Gamma. Its post-calibration gamma sits at 1.9, which is very good and color delta E is at an excellent 1.29.
Motion Handling & Upscaling:
Motion handling performance in the Samsung Q9F is nothing short of excellent pretty much across the board under all important metrics in this area. The Q9F delivers extremely fast response times to all types of fast paced content from virtually any source and consequently, the trail of blur behind fast moving objects in any fast-paced movie, sportscast or other type of high resolution programing is very low even if motion interpolation technology is kept turned off in this TV. Furthermore, the Q9F natively interpolates lower frame-rate content sources wonderfully despite its native 120Hz display panel. We’d also like to note that this model offers full support for judder-free viewing of all types of 24p content from any source.
The following are the connectivity options of all models of the Samsung Q9F. All major advanced content connectivity specs are included and this TV is fully capable of console gaming and PC monitor use in all major resolution formats, frame rates and color subsampling modes. Average input lag for 4K content and 4K HDR content in Game Mode sits at between 19 and 21 ms, with support for 4:4:4 subsampling and 60Hz at the same input lag. 4K at 60Hz with 4:4:4 color sampling and 8-bit HDR is also supported at 21.5ms. 1080p game content from consoles also comes with an excellent input lag of 20.4ms. The Q9F, unlike its mid-range MU-Series Samsung cousins, comes with an external One Connect box in which all of its connectivity porta are located. On the TV itself, the only input you’ll note is the extremely thin cable which connects this model to its One Connect box.
- HDMI : 4 (All come with HDCP 2.2 and full HDMI 2.0a capacity)
- USB : 3 (USB 3.0)
- Digital Optical Audio Out : 1
- Analog Audio Out RCA : 1
- Tuner (Cable/Ant) : 1
- Ethernet : 1
The Q9F QLED TV models also offer audio connectivity in the following types
- 5.1 Passthrough ARC Dolby Digital
- 5.1 Passthrough ARC DTS
- 5.1 Passthrough Optical Dolby Digital
- 5.1 Passthrough Optical DTS
Samsung is selling the Q9F QLED 4K HDR TV for the following prices 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 link(s) for real-time pricing and all available discounts on this excellent 4K HDR television model.
4.7 – 4 Reviews