Can you game on a tremendously large living room TV? Absolutely. And there are even some handy alternatives to the usual grandiose TVs that can genuinely turn your living room into a capable gaming theatre – such as today’s Samsung Q85R. This flexible and dynamic panel offers a heady dose of gaming credentials at home cinema scale.
As perhaps a more sensible buy in comparison to Samsung’s Q950R 8K QLED, the 4K Q85R is just a little shy of the £1,400 mark. With a sizeable panel that’s far less imposing than the 55-inch label might imply, and equipped with most of the best features introduced with Samsung’s QLED 2019 lineup, it also makes for a fine compromise to the pricier Q90R with much the same bells and whistles.
At 55-inches the Samsung Q85R is far too large for any desk. Just like those Nvidia BFGDs we were promised oh so many moons ago, this colossal panel requires a good distance between you and it in order to play comfortably and avoid blatant pixel density shortcomings. Even without the peak brightness and 480-strong myriad of local dimming zones afforded to the Q90R, this model’s larger and brighter sibling, it boasts a healthy 100 able to deliver depth and sear your retinas all at once.
But we’re not just looking at this TV for its cinema-like HDR 1500 chops. It’s the panel’s low input lag mode, Variable Refresh Rate, and high refresh rate that likens it to the gaming monitors we’re in close contact with on a daily basis.
|Refresh rate||Up to 120Hz (2560 x 1080 and below)|
|Ports||HDMI 2.0a x4, USB 2.0 x3|
All 2019 QLED TVs can operate at 120Hz, far more amicable to a decent gaming experience than your usual TV set fare. The Q95R manages up to 120Hz across both 1920 x 1080 and 2560 x 1080 resolutions, with the screen’s native 4K resolution limited at 60Hz. FreeSync support will also ensure that’s a smooth experience across both Nvidia and AMD graphics cards.
The full 4K120 experience is reserved for the Q90 and Q900 series panels – and will set you back a sizeable chunk of change.
Admittedly, that’s a little shy of what the best gaming monitors nowadays can deliver. But we’re not comparing the Q85R like-for-like with the best gaming monitors, and it’s certainly an improvement over most TV gaming experiences. Instead, it’s the flexibility of this panel to meet both the needs of an all-purpose living room set and a side of gaming that we’re swayed by.
Latency is the name of the game for gaming panels, and the Q85R manages to minimise this otherwise troublesome TV spec thanks to its native game mode. This is automatically enabled when a console connection is detected, but you’ll need to enable it for a connected PC. It’s evidently still shy of most gaming panels in terms of raw speed, but it’s enough to minimise that walking through leftover Weetabix feeling often associated with gaming on a TV panel.
The HDR implementation is stunning
As for picture quality, Samsung is the don. The Q85R consistently delivers black levels and white saturation, while also maintaining stunning colour and tone on par with the best around. HDR content, a bugbear of PC gaming today, is similarly well-managed on the Q85R thanks to its generous 1500 nits peak brightness – even if quite a bit shy of the Q90R’s 2000 nits. Even across the notorious Windows desktop, the Q85R’s HDR avoided crushing blacks into the abyss and even with the bright lights of the PCGN office glaring down, there was plenty of picture clarity across even the dim corridors of Resident Evil 7.
Overall, the HDR implementation is stunning – offering simultaneously deep black levels alongside vibrant highlights.
Looking beyond the panel, the One Connect breakout box hidden away out of sight simplifies the entire setup process and keeps the rear of the screen well cable-managed. All of the screen’s connections (4x HDMI, 3x USB, Optical, ethernet, and, god forbid, aerial) run into the One Connect unit, which compresses all that data into a single thin and flexible cable that runs right the way up the back of the screen.
The Q85R’s audio quality is also decent, if a little weak in the low frequencies. We’d certainly recommend a separate audio system for immersive gaming audio – but there’s more than enough oomph here to make do in the meantime.
If you’re considering a significant TV upgrade, or you fancy some big screen gaming, the Samsung Q85R offers a single solution to fit your needs. With the flexibility to switch between home cinema-grade visual fidelity and rapid 120fps gaming chops, this 55-inch colossus fits snugly between worlds. And if you opt for either of the larger 65/75-inch versions, very snugly indeed.
The Samsung Q85R does, however, come at the price equivalent of today’s top PC gaming panels. And while it represents an exceptional cinematic gaming experience, it remains an unnecessary expenditure for all but streaming, the Nvidia Shield, or those lucky of us to plonk a second high-powered PC in the living room.