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Samsung TU8000: BEST Gaming TV/Monitor? Review

Samsung TU8000: BEST Gaming TV/Monitor? Review

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You just got your beautiful new 4K monitor, welcome to the best resolution gaming, movie and creative productivity my friend, but if you want to take that experience and stretch it bigger, this Samsung TU8000 55″ 4K smart TV is just a bit up in price over the 43″ model, itself a bump up over a 32″ 4K.  So is this thing an actual good option, or completely overkill?  And we’re gonna compare it against the Samsung 32″ 4K monitor we covered recently. Will this be worth it?  I’ll tell you what is worth it, our sponsor, you.  

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Quick Summary: Samsung TU8000

The Samsung TU8000 55 inch smart TV has a huge VA type panel, 49 inches wide by 31 high and weighs 31 pounds, and yet it still manages to appear light and futuristic. Sporting ultra thin 3 mil bezels with pixel-to-air of 9 millimeters, and 4 onyx black finished feet for the stand that looks better than other plain chromed stands, and this prices around the 500 to 600 dollar mark, with network and WiFi 2.4 and 5 gigahertz connectivity; and HDR10, 10 plus, and HLG support, which is a broadcast HDR format.

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What this panel’s got going for it is, it’s a cheap sharp, detailed 4K thin bezel display with outstanding 6400:1 contrast and black uniformity, best in class response and input lag, great upscaling and motion handling, and smart TV functionality.  Auto Low Latency Mode detects game systems like PS4 and your PC and turns on automatically, and works with PS5 and XBox Series X at 4k 60 hertz with HDR, and it sounds good too, and overall… we really like this TV.

However you’ll fight at first to get good brightness, which averages 250 nits and maxes at 300; it doesn’t have local dimming, no 120 hertz, no variable refresh or Freesync, hates DTS audio, and has poor viewing angles typical for VA panels… it’s actually better purposed as a gaming display than a TV.  We saw the 43 inch Samsung TU8000 -may- have a brightness glitch when Game Mode is auto enabled, disabling and re-enabling Game Mode apparently fixes this.

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Samsung TU8000’s Color, Fast Response/Input Lag

With a kinda retro opening animation, we were… not unimpressed with the out-of-box experience as the default settings have fairly low brightness. Considering what we saw in Costco versus what we got, we initially thought there was a problem, but fixed it by setting the brightness slider to max, Gamma selection to 2.2, and Picture Mode Vivid, in our territory called Dynamic.  The key though, hard to find under settings/general/eco solution, was turning off ambient light detection.  With the enabled the Samsung TU8000 slowly but a bit aggressively lowers brightness.

Look Samsung, it’s fine to make a TV with just okay brightness, but don’t give your customer a poor first experience. Don’t bump down the brightness slider, don’t choose a Picture Mode that further reduces this, and it would be better to teach the user how the ambient light setting works during setup. Most consumers won’t know to look for this, as it’s not in Picture settings, and end up being unhappy with a dim TV or just returning it, which will reflect on their experience with Samsung products.

On color, this panel lacks a wider color gamut, and it struggles with truly bright colors in SDR.  The Samsung TU8000 accepts HDR, but true HDR needs full array local dimming, which this doesn’t have, and a peak of 1000 nits, even 600 or 700 will give you a much better HDR experience.  Compared to SDR, the full screen is slightly dimmer in HDR, with the brightest parts hitting just 310 nits, so just consider this “supported”.  HDR works in Netflix, YouTube and from USB, which plays back most video and audio formats except DTS audio.

The upside is this Samsung TU8000 has super low response time and input lag, turning on Game Mode in settings, general, external device manager, cuts input lag from 83 down to 20 milliseconds, which makes it one of the fastest TVs for gaming. And you can still get faster- in game motion plus settings, disable clear motion or just disable motion plus entirely.  PCMag reports this brings it down to 3.2 milliseconds, able to compete with gaming monitors.  But if you need a faster 120Hz refresh rate and VRR support, there’s the more expensive Samsung RU9000.

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Samsung TU8000’s Inputs, Speakers, Build

Flipping to the back we find clips on the feet for cable management, a mini right-angle power plug which is standard sized, and a VESA 200 by 200 mount, bolts are M8 25 millimeters, the guide suggests 20 to 22 but with a bracket it’s too short to thread in.  There’s a single control button, at the back right of the center Samsung bump, controlling power, volume, channel and source.  

Connections are two USB ports, top one marked for hard drives, two HDMI 2.0 ports with the top HDMI2 handling eARC, antenna, and beside that one more HDMI 2.0, legacy composite which is great for an old game system, optical out and network port.  You’ll lose that last HDMI if you wall mount it, though.

Sound is from 20 watt speakers, good overall but with Adaptive gives a bit more to the low end without disrupting the mid-range, and it’s pretty decent output from the Samsung TU8000 speakers.  Support for Dolby 5.1 and Atmos via TrueHD is here, but DTS:X, HD-MA and even basic DTS are all unsupported.

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Although all plastic, it’s well built and sturdy with little wobble, the picture is what’s important, and it’s really good, though gradients show banding in all colors, more noticeable in dark shades. In 2021, HDMI sources display full screen, so all source pixels match all TV pixels, 1 to 1. 

Any overscan stretches the image actually reducing resolution, so we expect zero overscan on all new displays.  But yeah, like some other Samsung TV’s, overscan is on by default on the TU8000.  Fix it by going into the aspect ratio menu and change from 16:9 to Fit to screen.  C’mon Samsung, let’s get with this decade.

And while the TU8000 can auto detect which source is active, detect your game system, and set it to Game mode quickly. The Tizen OS menu is easy to use, and setting up a Samsung account and registering took about 10 minutes, once done you can visit the app store.  The Tizen menu does have ads which you can’t opt-out, with suggested content you also can’t opt-out, disappointing on both counts.

Accessing settings is five left presses which is a bit annoying when setting up, and if you hit menu it stays up for 60 seconds, and there’s no way to adjust this time.

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Samsung TU8000’s Remote, HDR, Power Consumption

Depending on region you may get two remotes, but we just got the slim version, a 12 button plus D-pad remote. It’s compact and minimalist, with buttons for Netflix, Amazon Prime and internet, number input, voice command, Ambient mode, and home, back and play.  And since the volume and channel rockers have a down press, mute on volume and nothing on channel, this seems like a missed opportunity for a Source button.

You can choose voice command between Amazon Alexa and Samsung’s Bixby, which has specific TV controls like changing source but doesn’t work in apps like Netflix.  We hear there’s support for Google Assistant now also.  Wireless worked well, with fast setup, and allows mirroring your PC or mobile screen.  You get remote access to PCs, Samsung DeX docking, and a web browser.  The Samsung TU8000 appears in the SmartThings app, and you can also control it with your phone.

Speaking of PC, it does chroma 4:4:4 at 1080p and 4K, helpful for reading text, just set the input icon to PC for that HDMI and enable Input Signal Plus in settings. We usually recommend all picture processing off for the purest picture, but the Samsung TU8000’s Contrast Enhancer works well on low in SDR, and HDR benefits from a high settings, any changes you make in HDR will remain for HDR only.  And HDR is subtle but still beautiful here, we can say some rich colors, just not the best we’ve seen.

Finally, power consumption averaged 95 watts during use, Ambient mode’s low brightness shows art and pictures like a photo frame at 24 watts, and Standby is just under a watt on standby, though it takes a minute to get there.  

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Samsung TU8000 vs U32J590

Now to be clear, this is a pretty solid TV, and the Samsung TU8000 will be a great gaming monitor with decent out-of-box color accuracy which is excellent after calibration, and does skin tones very well.  After fiddling with settings, brightness is good and the thin bezel minimalist look works.  In bright rooms it doesn’t do so well, the gamma curve rendering everything a bit darker than it should, and it has those VA panel viewing angles, not bad but not great compared to IPS and especially QLED.  But whether for PS4 or 5, XBox Series X or PC, it delivers a really snappy gaming experience.  

Now we reviewed the 32″ Samsung U32J590 recently, link up here, and that monitor has a great looking panel.  Over the Samsung TU8000, it’s got Freesync, a bit better color coverage, PIP and PBP, a 5-way joystick for control, and we complained about the lack of a DisplayPort cable, but hey, at least there was an HDMI cable in the box!  It’s also 200 bucks or so cheaper. These 4K 60 hertz screens are tied for ultra fast response times and low input lag with the same brightness, and annoying startup menus.  

In the Samsung TU8000’s favor, it has 3 HDMI capable of 4K 60 hertz, the 32” has 1 DisplayPort and HDMI capable of that, but HDMI 1 is version 1.4, and that can only do 30 hertz, and why this is unmarked is beyond me, causing complaints when consumers can’t get their 60 fps working. The 32” has a poor menu, and there’s no speakers at all.  The thicker bezel gives a pixel to air a half centimeter wider than this 55”, and the monitor wobble… yeah. 

There’s also a problematic non-standard AC adapter. The Samsung TU8000 has a remote and great menu, you’d think that the two Samsung divisions could share designs so we didn’t have this ugly menu.  And this has Smart TV functionality with internet and Netflix and media playback.

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Choosing one comes down to three factors.  First is your available space and if it will work for your setup.  Two, how many HDMI 4K 60 hertz inputs you need.  Three, color grading, the U32J590 is better here.  However, the lack of speakers means if you want a gaming experience out of the box, the Samsung TU8000 is your best bet.

For Improvement, Up next…?

After pointing out all the areas for improvement, they’re still both being used and appreciated here in the studio, though if you’re looking for Option C, there’s the 32″ 4K Acer ET322QK review we did and that monitor solves most of the issues with this 32”.  If you pick up a Samsung TU8000 or the U32J590, using our affiliate links below will help us here with no extra cost to you.  

So Samsung, here’s how you can improve your next year’s offering. Fix that initial brightness out of the box so the buyer doesn’t have to work to get what they paid for, or better, use a brighter panel. Overscan is a relic of CRT TV days, it should NOT be on by default for HDMI. Like, ever. That last HDMI will get blocked when wall mounted, so let’s see four or five side plug HDMI ports.

Use a clean startup, or give options to disable startup menus and shorten display times. Not having DTS support sucks, as half of our media is in DTS or DTS HD-MA. Finally, throw a bone to your monitor division so they can improve their menu. And bezel. And stand.

All things considered, Samsung’s delivered a pretty amazing cheap 4K gaming panel for the masses with the TU8000, and we look forward to their next model which hopefully addresses these points, as we want to see them hit a home-run. Any further updates to the review we’ll add to the companion post up at techspinreview.com, and we’re on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook if you want to see when we drop new videos.

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