Samsung AU8000 Review (UN65AU8000FXZA)

8.1 Total Score

The Samsung AU8000 does its job well and is especially an appealing option for those after an affordable 4K TV. It boasts excellent black levels, is reasonably priced, and runs a reliable Smart TV platform, but it’s not bright enough for HDR content.

  • Fantastic black levels
  • Reasonably priced
  • Slim, attractive design
  • Reliable Tizen smart TV platform
  • No local dimming
  • Not bright enough for HDR

Since last year, Samsung has been pushing its pricey Neo QLED and microLED TVs earnestly, and it’s no wonder the unassuming Samsung AU8000 may have passed right in front of our eyes unnoticed. The AU8000 is one of the cheapest 4K TVs in Samsung’s 2021 range but packs a solid set of specs and an attractive, slimline design.

With the 43-inch model costing well under $500, the Samsung AU800 will appeal to folks looking for UHD small-screen thrills at rock-bottom prices. But affordability alone doesn’t mean sales will be impressive, so what does the Samsung UN65AU8000FXZA do to stand out from equally well-priced competitors? Let’s find out.

About the Samsung AU8000

The Samsung AU8000 arrives in six sizes ranging from 43 inches and spans up to 85 inches. Our review unit is the 65-inch model (UN65AU8000FXZA) which we feel is a good size for most living rooms.

Here’s how the series shapes up:

From experience, different sizes belonging to the same series tend to deliver similar performance, and we haven’t pinpointed any significant hardware differences between different sizes in the Samsung AU8000 series that would impact performance significantly. Perhaps the only difference would be screen uniformity issues noted on the 65-inch model, which may get as bad or worse on the 75- and 85-inch models.

Samsung AU8000 Review display

That said, here are the key specs shares across all models in this series:

  • Resolution: 4K (3,840 x 2,160)
  • Display Type: Edge-lit LED
  • HDR support: HDR10, HDR10+, HLG
  • Dolby Atmos: Yes (via eARC, no onboard decoding)
  • eARC support: Yes (HDMI 2)
  • Native refresh rate: 60Hz
  • Smart platform: Tizen Smart TV
  • Color: DCI-P3 color space/10-bit chroma resolution
  • Variable Refresh Rate (VRR): No
  • Auto Low Latency Mode (ALLM): Yes
  • Other features: Google Assistant, Amazon Alexa, Bixby, Samsung Health

The Samsung AU8000 supports Auto Low Latency Mode (ALLM) which is great for modern gaming, but it doesn’t support Variable Refresh Rate. Both of these features work together to boast the look and feel of games by preventing screen tearing.

If you consider yourself a pro gamer, that means you own or plan on owning an Xbox Series X or PlayStation 5 – we’d recommend investing in a TV like the LG C2 OLED TV or the Samsung Q70A that offers both functionalities. Should you decide to pursue both ALLM and VRR, all likelihood is you’ll spend a little more to have both features.

Samsung AU8000 Review back

Samsung AU8000 Review: Connectivity

The Samsung UN65AU8000FXZA is a mid-range set so it gets a very mid-range selection of ports. It has all the ports a casual viewer would ever need, but power users will be disappointed by the lack of HDMI 2.1 – and maybe the lack of a fourth HDMI port altogether.

Here are all the ports you’ll find in a cutout on the back of the panel:

  • 3x HDMI 2.0 (1x eARC)
  • 2x USB 2.0
  • RF connection (cable/antenna)
  • Ethernet (LAN) Input
  • Digital audio output (optical)

What we like

Samsung AU8000 Review design

Fantastic black levels

As mentioned above, the AU8000 has some contrast issues that we’ll explain down further in the review, but it’s worth giving the TV credit where it matters. The AU8000’s black levels average 0.05 to 0.08 range, with the upper scope of the range happening when the TV was at its brightest in HDR.

While it doesn’t get as dark as top-tier LED TVs with a VA-style panel – and can’t come within striking distance of the perfect black levels of an OLED TV – but it does perform better than most TVs in this price range. To be specific, you’d be hard-pressed to see a mid-range 4K TV hit 0.05 black levels a few years ago.

With deep blacks, darker scenes are enhanced especially in dimly lit environments. The Samsung AU8000 may not be the best we’ve experienced, but the TV’s consistently dark shadow tone goes a long way in delivering an overall good-looking picture across SDR and HDR content.

An eye-catching design

Samsung offers some nice-looking top-tier flagship TVs, and the AU8000 isn’t one of them. However, it looks the part and may easily pass as a high-end model, thanks to its sleek design. At only ‎11.1 x 57.1 x 34.4 inches, the Samsung UN65AU8000FXZA is quite thin and that makes it a perfect candidate for wall mounting.

Should you opt to have it on a tabletop, the AU8000 will blend right into most living rooms, as its design is both modern and minimalist. The screen is supported by a pair of narrow, rod-shaped feet that sit flat on a surface, which is an innovative move from the ubiquitous boomerang-shaped feet we often see in most TVs. The feet click into a slot at the back of the panel effortlessly.

The remote control is a slim wand with nice clicky buttons. It has a microphone built in for select voice control functionality, and we suspect it will be easy to use and familiarize with.

Samsung’s Tizen Smart Platform is simply awesome

Like all other Samsung TVs released recently, the UN65AU8000FXZA is powered by Tizen smart platform. This should be familiar to anyone who’s owned a Samsung TV in the last few years, and if you’re just upgrading to a smart TV for the first time, the software is a great way to experience the wide world of TV streaming and entertainment.

We’ve tested the Samsung Tizen smart platform on other models before, and we can gladly report it works seamlessly and is one of the best Smart TV platforms out there. Most of the streaming apps you’d expect to find – Netflix, Hulu, YouTube, and Disney+, for example – are either pre-loaded out of the box or can be added via an app store. There are also a handful of other extras to make the experience much more enjoyable, like a web browser and support for the Samsung Health software suite.

Navigation is quite straightforward, though you might experience some occasional sluggishness when jumping from one submenu to the next. Generally, we suspect that most folks shopping in this price range will end up using Samsung’s Tizen-based platform as their main source of streaming content. If you need a faster and more flexible set of options, you can always pair the Samsung AU8000 with a dedicated streaming device.

What we don’t like

Samsung AU8000 Review

Not bright or colorful enough for HDR content

With the AU8000, Samsung is offering an affordable entry into 4K, but that does come with a few tradeoffs. In that regard, High Dynamic Range takes a hit as the AU8000 isn’t quite built for the format. Also, its panel just doesn’t get bright enough. With a maximum 300 nits brightness, the AU8000 is fine for most viewing experiences, but when it comes to HDR – a format designed to hardness and optimize higher brightness levels – the Samsung AU8000 can’t simply deliver.

That said, optimized brightness isn’t the only factor in HDR’s success, the format also uses increased brightness to further saturate a TV’s color. Practically, an HDR TV would cover between 95% and 100% of an extra-wide HDR color gamut (DCI-P3), but the AU8000 only covers around 84% of this expanded gamut.

If you’re looking for a relatively affordable TV with the hardware to truly showcase HDR, consider something like the TCL 5-Series. Its display is powered by quantum dots which give it the boost of brightness it needs for brighter highlights and richer color. Well, it costs a little bit more than the Samsung AU8000, but it promises a better picture and even better HDR performance. It’s worth the modest investment if HDR is important to you.

Lack of local dimming can create problems

The Samsung UN65AU8000FXZA is an edge-lit TV without local dimming software. What this means is that, unlike most LED TVs on the market today, the AU8000 doesn’t have “zones” of LED backlights that brighten and dim in concert. Without these clusters of LEDs working in tandem, the Samsung AU8000 struggles to distribute its light uniformly across the panel.

The result is a picture that’s unusually cloudy with blue0tinted light bleed collecting at times on the corners of the panel. That effect is much worse when viewed at off-angles. Usually, VA-style panels struggle with off-angle viewing, and when you add this type of panel lighting to the mix, the struggle gets more real. Generally, improved backlighting hardware would go a long way in smoothing out some of the Samsung UN65AU8000FXZA’s uniformity issues.

Samsung AU8000 Review screen

Should you buy the Samsung AU8000?

With the AU8000, Samsung gets most things right at a decent price. The design is fantastic, its black levels are impressive and most newcomers to the smart TV lifestyle will love the TV’s built-in Tizen-based smart platform.

That said, if you decide to move up to the next highest price bracket, a whole world of OLEDs and midrange flagships opens up, and if you’re not on a tight budget, they are worthwhile investments.

Look at the newest TCL 5-Series, for instance. For a little more money than the AU8000, its’ built-in Google TV software is better than Tizen and is very easy to use. Also remember, we said the AU8000 isn’t a good match for folks who want to leverage HDR content, but the TCL 5-Series aces that niche, and is equipped to deliver an HDR experience hassle-free, thanks to a panel that gets much brighter and more colorful. Depending on which size, the TCL 65S546 is just a few dollars more than the 65-inch Samsung AU8000.

Overall, the Samsung AU8000 does its job well; it’s a TV with a few limitations, but those limitations are justified given the much you’re paying for this TV. If you value HDR, however, you might have to look elsewhere and spend a little more for a panel that can showcase the format better.

Otherwise, if you simply want a great 4K TV, the Samsung AU8000 is a step or two above baseline options. The 65-inch Samsung UN65AU8000FXZA with Tizen Smart platform is an excellent size and sports a more stylish design than most competitors – especially in a marketplace where TVs like this are hard to come by.

Samsung AU8000 Review (UN65AU8000FXZA)
Samsung AU8000 Review (UN65AU8000FXZA)
Digital Weekly