This Quantum Mini LED screen proves you don’t need to buy an OLED to get impressive black levels. Crisp images and a host of gaming features make this a formidable Neo QLED flatscreen that isn’t as eye-wateringly expensive as you might expect.
With a formidable roster of features and an upgraded Mini LED backlight, this entry-level Neo QLED model for 2023 is a tempting smart TV for box set bingers and gamers alike. It offers an OLED-like black level performance, potent HDR and deep, vibrant colour.
The set also comes has a 2.2.2 Dolby Atmos sound system, plus a quartet of 4K 120Hz capable HDMI inputs.
Smart functionality is provided by Tizen, Samsung’s increasingly adept connected platform. That’s a lot of boxes ticked.
Design & Features
Slim bezel, central pedestal
Tizen OS with Game Hub
Two remote controls
Despite the demands of its Mini LED backlight, the QN85C’s Neo Slim design still looks premium, at just 28mm deep. A central pedestal ensures the TV works with most AV furniture options.
To the rear are four HDMIs, all of which are 4K 120Hz capable. HDMI 3 is eARC ready, so there will be no problem accommodating both an Xbox and PlayStation 5, as well as a Blu-ray player or set-top box. This is as future-proof as TVs get right now.
Other connections include an optical digital output, Ethernet, two USB ports and a CI card slot, while Bluetooth and Wi-Fi provide wireless coverage. There’s a choice of terrestrial or dual satellite tuner feeds.
Steve May / Foundry
The QN85C ships with two remote controls, a slim lifestyle model and a standard zapper. Both sport dedicated buttons for Netflix, Prime Video, Samsung TV Plus and Disney+.
When it comes to audio, the QN85C features a six channel iteration of Samsung’s OTS (Object Tracking Sound) audio system. Cleverly, it manages to hide all these drivers from view.
Overall usability is fine. While Samsung continues to snub Freeview Play, all the main UK TV catch-up players are available via the Tizen smart platform. There’s also no shortage of streaming TV services as well as Samsung TV Plus, the brand’s own FAST (Free Ad-Supported TV) channel offerings.
A single rail supports these various apps, so scrolling along to find your service of choice is a doddle; below this are bars from On Now and Recently Viewed content.
Steve May / Foundry
Menus sit to the left. It’s from here you can activate Ambient, Game and Media playback modes, or dive even deeper into the Settings menu.
Perhaps the most interesting addition to the Tizen smorgasbord is a dedicated Game Hub. This is home to cloud gaming services, like Xbox, Utomik and Twitch, and any connected consoles.
There’s also a Gaming overlay which groups all relevant console settings, such as input lag, VRR and HDR info. The TV is AMD Freesync Premium Pro and Nvidia G-Sync compatible. More on gaming performance later.
Punchy HDR performance
Excellent colour vibrancy
Powerful image interpolation
If you like your telly pictures bright and colour rich, you’ve come to the right place. The QN85C boasts a high average picture level, impactful peak HDR brightness and extended colour depth.
If you thought only OLED could deliver unbroken solid black, then think again. In a fully dark room, the letterbox bars of TV and widescreen movies on this Neo QLED are inky black. There’s none of that insipid greyness that can afflict LED backlighting technologies.
I measured peak HDR brightness at just over 1000 nits with a 10% measurement window. More than good enough to deliver bright specular highlights, such as lamps, street lights, reflections and the like, and bold enough to perhaps forgive the set’s lack of Dolby Vision support.
I did note some cloudiness when it comes to low luminance shadow detail, but then that’s perhaps to be expected with a limited number of backlight clusters.
The set is compatible with HDR10+, the active metadata system favoured by Amazon Prime Video.
The panel is partnered with an AI-enhanced processor, Samsung’s Neural Quantum Processor 4K, which leverages the power of 20 neural networks to optimise images on a scene-by-scene basis. The fruits of this silicon labour can be found in the Intelligent Mode.
Select this option and the TV takes care of brightness, contrast and fine detail, making judgements based on content. If you want to get more hands on, there’s a selection of image presets: Standard, Eco, Movie, Filmmaker mode, and Dynamic.
I found Standard the easiest to live with, as it makes good use of available screen brightness reserve and colour fidelity, without resorting to oversaturation.
Motion handling is generally good, courtesy of Motion Xcelerator Turbo+. It’s tempting to leave the Picture Clarity setting Off for movies, although I found judder does become intrusive. It’s better to stick with Auto, or experiment with Custom to find the best compromise.
The screen is an impressive gaming display. 4K 120Hz games play particularly smoothly, although it didn’t improve my Overwatch skills. Be aware that there are two Game options: Game Motion Plus retains some processing for extra image nuance, but the basic Game mode is the most responsive.
I measured input lag at an excellent 9.4ms (1080p/60fps), in that mode, while with Game Motion Plus engaged, which reinstates some image enhancement, this falls to 25ms.
You can’t tell from the set’s svelte chassis, but this set has a rather sophisticated OTS (Object Tracking Sound) sound system built-in, complete with a pair of height drivers top left and right.
The soundstage is wide and high, with a surprisingly potent mid-range, courtesy of dual woofers. Movies sound involving, no soundbar required. There’s no shortage of volume, thanks to 60W of amplification on board.
I’m really not sold on the QN85C’s AI audio mode though. It’s very speech focussed, and the Amplify mode is quite harsh. I came to the conclusion that AI isn’t audio’s friend just yet.
Price & Availability
The Samsung QN85C comes in four screen sizes, all available now. Choose from 55-, 65-, 75- and 85in models (QE55QN85C, QE65QN85C, QE75QN85C and QE85QN85C).
These sets sell for £1,899, £2,599, £3,599, and £4,699 respectively and you can buy them from Samsung as well as retailers such as Amazon, Currys and Hughes.
The same models are available in the US, priced $1,499, $1,999, $2,699, and $3,799 – available from Samsung US, Amazon US and BestBuy.
On my test bench is the 65in version and you can check out plenty of great alternatives in our best TV chart.
The QN85C is a high-performance 4K smart TV, with an enviable feature specification.
The set’s Neural Quantum Processor 4K is multi-talented and does a fine job with images. Black level performance is particularly impressive, ensuring images have real depth.
Peak HDR brightness is also impressive, although the lack of Dolby Vision remains a disappointment for film fans.
The set excels when it comes to gaming. The provision of four 4K 120Hz inputs is good news for serious gamers, low latency is impressive while the provision of a Game Hub adds extra polish.
This 4K Mini LED model for 2023 is a great all-rounder.