Samsung Gaming Hub Review: Almost an Xbox

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The Samsung Gaming Hub, part of the company’s 2022 and 2023 smart TVs (Gaming apps can also be found on 2020 and 2021 TVs but not the full Gaming Hub experience), gives you access to cloud-gaming services such as Nvidia GeForce Now and Xbox Game Pass, no console necessary. But sometimes connected features like this fall short of their promises, so I wanted to find out whether the experience, on Samsung’s Neo QLED QN90C, is good enough to replace an Xbox. 


Watch this: Can the Samsung Gaming Hub Replace An Xbox?

The Gaming Hub is only for cloud-gaming services, so you aren’t downloading games onto the TV to play locally; the TV must be connected to the internet at all times. Samsung recommends a 5GHz Wi-Fi connection of 20 megabits per second or higher, or a wired Ethernet connection. (My tests used a Wi-Fi connection with around 300Mbps down and 210Mbps up.) Streaming games means you can jump right into playing them without waiting for lengthy installs or running out of storage space. With games getting larger all the time, downloading a game can take a while, even with a fast, steady connection. 

Xbox Game Pass has a large selection of games, new and old, that are ready to stream — a perfect fit for the Gaming Hub. However, in order to access the Xbox Game Pass game library, whether through an Xbox or a Samsung TV, you’ll need to subscribe. Specifically, you’ll need the $17 monthly Ultimate subscription to access the cloud section of games. 

Setting up Gaming Hub

In the Gaming Hub, you’ll find a list of available cloud-gaming services in addition to Xbox Game Pass, such as GeForce Now and Amazon Luna. If you have an Xbox controller with Bluetooth, you can connect it directly to the TV. If you aren’t sure which controllers will work, go to for a list. Surprisingly, you can even use a PlayStation 5 controller.


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At any time, you can hold down the Play/Pause button on the TV remote to open a side menu that gives you access to popular games as well as Spotify (if you’d like to listen to music or a podcast while gaming). It also features gaming videos from YouTube and a settings menu. You can search for games, access controller and sound options, and adjust visual and game performance.


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Game performance

Streamed games don’t look anywhere near as nice as they would if you were playing locally. If you’ve ever used Netflix or Hulu, you’re familiar with visual artifacts and the buffering that occurs when internet strength dips, and it’s no different with cloud gaming. It’s especially noticeable whenever you’re looking at text. 

For example, with the racing game Dirt 5, there are artifacts and noise constantly throughout the race, and details in the mud are blurry. You’re going to notice this dip in visual quality the most in games with lots of fast movement. Games with a lot of static images, like a visual novel or an old-school Japanese-style RPG, will fare much better.


Dirt 5 doesn’t look nearly as smooth on Gaming Hub as it does playing off a console.

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Loading times are pretty similar to what you’d find playing directly on an Xbox Series X. That’s because the network you’re playing over is connecting to Series X hardware on the other side. You’re basically remotely controlling an Xbox Series X in a Microsoft warehouse or basement somewhere. 


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The audio and response time is very good. I experienced no issues with clipping or dropped sound. Even though the visual quality would rise and fall, it wasn’t joined by fluctuating input lag, and that’s important. The characters still moved smoothly, and controlling a racing vehicle wasn’t an issue. I was even able to play Lies of P, a game that relies heavily on precise button inputs for combat.


Sean Booker/CNET

The Xbox ecosystem supports cloud saves, letting you start a Game Pass game on an Xbox and pick up from where you left off on another platform like a PC, phone or a Samsung smart TV. This means you’ll never have to worry about restarting a game or only playing specific titles in specific places. You can also connect a headset for chatting with your friends, and you have access to multiplayer (a feature that your Game Pass subscription includes) and every other social feature you’d expect on an Xbox console.


Sean Booker/CNET

Xbox Game Pass and Samsung’s Gaming Hub aren’t the best way to play your games, but that’s not the point. Anyone buying one of these Samsung TVs can instead get a cheaper model and have an extra $250 to buy themselves an Xbox Series S. 

What the Gaming Hub is perfect for is secondary TVs, like in a bedroom. It’s great for people who already have an Xbox for their main display but still want to game without moving the console into another room. With the minor lag and cloud syncing for saved games, playing on the Gaming Hub is definitely serviceable.

It’s also an excellent feature for those without an Xbox who still want to tap the incredible value of Xbox Game Pass. Similarly, PlayStation fans with a Gaming Hub-supported Samsung TV now have access to an entirely different library of games, and they can play them with the PS5 controller. The Gaming Hub won’t replace a console, but it’s a nice extra to extend your gaming experience.