Gigabyte Aorus FO48U 48″ 4K OLED Evaluate

Today we're looking at the Aorus FO48U, the latest OLED monitor from Gigabyte … or should we say TV?

It is 48 inches tall, which hardly counts as a normal monitor, but is also a bit small for a modern television. In other words, it's just a big gaming display with 4K resolution, 120 Hz refresh rate, and OLED technology for that sweet, sweet HDR goodness.

The Aorus FO48U is a particularly interesting display as it uses the same panel as the highly regarded LG C1 OLED that we tested a few months ago. We looked at how the LG C1 works as a computer monitor, and while this isn't the ideal use case, it's a very impressive display for content consumption that is great for gaming. The FO48U offers an alternative to the LG model with some additional PC-specific functions.

The big one is the addition of DisplayPort, which makes it compatible with today's graphics cards. The LG C1 requires HDMI 2.1 for 120 Hz operation, so it is limited to GPUs of the RTX 3000 and RX 6000 series and consoles of the current generation.

The Aorus FO48U, which supports DisplayPort 1.4 with DSC, makes it easier to use with previous generation GPUs that support this technology, but didn't get HDMI 2.1 like Nvidia's RTX 20 series.

Gigabyte also offers KVM switch functionality that allows you to use a single keyboard and mouse with multiple input devices, a nice addition that is becoming standard across the company's lineup. The OSD is actually very similar to other Gigabyte monitors, so other features such as the dashboard and the cheat crosshair are also present.

Since Gigabyte puts a greater focus on monitor functionality with its 48-inch OLED, this means that there are no TV functions at all. The LG C1 comes with a complete set of smart TV options and app support, interesting image processing functions such as AI upscaling and noise reduction, and a TV tuner. The FO48U doesn't have any of this – some may prefer not to have internet-connected features on their TV and just want it to be a dumb display, but there's no doubt the feature list suffers.

The FO48U also takes a step backwards with the HDMI inputs. Yes, we get DisplayPort, but there are only two HDMI 2.1 ports instead of four on the LG C1 and the HDMI 2.1 ports are limited to just 24 Gbps. This means that in order to achieve 120 Hz at 4K, you need DSC over HDMI, which sets limits for some devices such as the PlayStation 5. That is a small mistake, unfortunately not to offer the full 48 Gbit / s.

Design and functions

In terms of appearance, this is a television that cannot be ergonomically adjusted as the display is held in place by two short, fixed leg stands. The build quality is good overall, with a large panel of glass on the front, metal legs, and a reasonable use of plastic and metal on the back.

As with the LG, the top section of the display is very thin to highlight the thinness of OLED, although this puffs up in the center and bottom to fit inside the components. The inputs are all on the left side of the display.

Running down the bottom is a speaker array that looks great and is the basic type of TV speaker you would normally expect (and should probably just be a backup audio source). There's a directional switch at the bottom to control the OSD, and Gigabyte also includes a simple IR remote (which looks a lot like a Fire TV remote) if you're using the FO48U more like a TV.

Before jumping into the performance section of the test, it's important to address some of the things we talked about in our LG C1 review, what it's like to use a 48-inch OLED as a monitor. This is a huge monitor and requires a large desk. The FO48U is 25 cm wider than a 34-inch ultrawide, 107 cm wide and 68 cm high, making it appear massive on the desk at normal viewing distances and possibly larger than your field of view. You want to sit back further than normal to use it. I would recommend a viewing distance of at least 1 meter, while 60 to 70 cm is more appropriate for other monitors.

The pixel density is the same as a 32-inch 1440p monitor, which is fine and gives you plenty of screen space. However, the RGBW pixel layout affects text clarity for desktop use. At 100% resolution scaling, it won't be as sharp as a standard RGB panel (like a normal IPS monitor) even after going through Windows' ClearType utility. This display is not designed for rendering fine text in desktop applications, but rather a monitor for content consumption.

The panel uses a glossy surface with an anti-reflective coating that adds clarity and a "wow" factor that you only get with glossy surfaces. I think this generally looks fine in darker environments, but in rooms with a lot of backlighting, the coating is less effective than the matte anti-glare coating you get on other monitors.

The Aorus FO48U reproduces clear, defined, mirror-like reflections rather than the less obvious diffuse reflections from anti-glare monitors. LG's anti-reflective coating used on their OLED panels is one of the best when it comes to reducing possible reflections from a shiny surface, but it was still not enough to completely cover the problem in my brightly-lit office fix, especially with the lower brightness of an OLED display.

There is also a serious risk of permanent burn-in with an OLED panel, especially if you plan to use that display as a desktop monitor that has a lot of static content on it. Linus recently made a video explaining his experience of using an OLED as a desktop productivity monitor which it burns in pretty quickly, so I would be cautious about using the FO48U this way. Linus presented a worst case scenario for OLEDs in my opinion, and their specific use case was at high risk of being burned in – more than typical use – but there is no doubt that OLEDs are at risk while LCD monitors are are not endangered.

The Aorus FO48U doesn't have quite as many burn-in protection functions as the LG C1. The C1 has automatic logo dimming and pixel shifting functions. Pixel shifting isn't good for desktop use, but the Gigabyte model doesn't include it at all.

Gigabyte implements automatic dimming after periods of inactivity, which finally culminates in an integrated screen saver after 15 minutes, although this only applies if the content on the screen does not change at all. This is useful when you're away from your PC, but it doesn't necessarily save it for actual use with static desktop apps. On the positive side, Gigabyte includes automatic pixel updates like the LG does.

While this may all sound a bit scary, my personal experience with OLEDs over the past few years – my main TV is an LG OLED – suggests that burn-in is unlikely if you are using the display for content and gaming consumption. even after several years. My TV doesn't have burn-in, although I watch a lot of sports with static logos on it. As a rule, others have also experienced this with the latest panels. However, I would advise against buying the FO48U for intensive desktop productivity use. A bit of desktop use combined with gaming and video playback won't be a big problem, but a lot of static content is a problem and something to be done is mindful.

Display performance

In terms of response time, the FO48U is an OLED panel, it's extremely fast and doesn't require any overdrive settings. The automatic brightness limitation made it a little more difficult than usual to collect these numbers, but we found a suitable workaround that is very precise, namely to make the test window small.

Therefore, at 120 Hz, you will see results here that are very similar to those of the LG C1 OLED, as the average response time with our rigorous test method is around 1.5 ms, with no significant overshoot and a ridiculously good cumulative deviation of under 100 indicates an almost immediate reaction behavior.

This behavior is maintained at lower refresh rates. Regardless of whether you are running the display at fixed 120 Hz, fixed 60 Hz, or with adaptive sync variable refresh rates, the performance is always excellent and the monitor has a single overdrive mode. Well … it would have one anyway as there are no overdrive modes, but you know what I mean, the performance is great across the upgrade range and fantastic for PC gaming.

Compared to other monitors, the FO48U destroys LCD panels under the best conditions. The performance is very similar to that of the LG C1, so you won't miss a thing, while the overall response times are many times better than those of the best LCD monitors. The clarity of movement that this provides is unparalleled and this is one of the main reasons to use an OLED instead of an LCD.

It gets better when looking at average performance over the entire update range, where the FO48U is even further ahead of the LCD pack. Not only is the overshoot totally negligible on average, but the response times are great too, so you can be sure that the motion performance is as good as possible at any refresh rate.

But it's not just about response times, the cumulative deviation is also important to get an idea of ​​how fast the FO48U and OLED panels are. Not only are these displays fast, but they are fast with very little lag on either end for most of the transition. This results in an exceptionally good cumulative deviation because the transition behavior comes very close to the ideal instant square edge response. LCD panels are ridiculous in comparison, as evidenced by the huge delta between them and the table top OLEDs.

The 120 Hz performance is excellent for both PC gaming and use with current generation consoles. No other display that I have tested comes close to the motion performance offered here at the same refresh rate. It's similar at 60 Hz, although responsiveness is limited by the refresh rate itself, which inherently leads to motion blur in a sample-and-hold display. However, this is clearly as good as what is achieved by modern displays at 60 Hz.

Input lag is not an issue with the FO48U, with a processing delay of less than 1 ms and an overall delay in the chain equivalent to 240 Hz monitors due to its extremely fast transition times. That means that while the FO48U doesn't feel as smooth as a 240Hz monitor since you only see half of the updates, the actual delay to get the image in your eyeballs is just as quick. However, the FO48U has no inherent delay advantage over the LG C1, which also has a very low input lag in its PC configuration, so removing all of these TV functions did not give Gigabyte a head start.

The power consumption is very high, usually twice that of an LCD due to its size. And that too at a lower brightness level, since the FO48U cannot really achieve 200 nits for a white full-screen window with which we test the power consumption. It's actually darker than the LG C1, as we'll show later in this review, which is what causes the discrepancy between the Gigabyte and LG models. But basically, OLED is not as efficient a technology as LCD for displaying bright images, so power consumption is high.

The FO48U supports backlight strobing or, in this case, the insertion of a black frame, since the OLED panel technically has no background lighting. Unfortunately, it doesn't work at the same time as adaptive sync; The aim stabilization feature is only available at fixed refresh rates, although both 120 Hz and 60 Hz operations are supported.

While the 120Hz mode is very similar to the LG C1's OLED Motion Pro feature in that it delivers the perfect strobe with an extremely clear image, there is an issue with the 60Hz implementation. At 60 Hz it looks like the FO48U is flashing twice, causing two images to appear on the screen at the same time. That's ugly and bad-looking, so the LG variant has the superior strobing implementation of the backlight as it can actually be used at 60Hz.

Color performance

Color space: Gigabyte Aorus FO48U – D65-P3

The color performance of the FO48U and other OLEDs based on LG panels is generally very good. The display has a wide color space and is optimized for P3, with a very high coverage of this color space of 97% in our tests. However, it's not as wide as today's best LCD panels, which also offer full Adobe RGB coverage. The FO48U covers less than 90% of Adobe RGB, resulting in a total record of Rec. 2020 coverage of 70% – that's a good result, but not the best I've seen, but still enough for the HDR -Mission.

Standard color performance

One of the main problems with the LG C1 was a terrible standard calibration, especially for grayscale. This is less of a problem with the Gigabyte model. The standard mode isn't perfect and both the gamma and color temperature graphs are a bit shaky for sRGB usage, which only results in medium DeltaEs – but that's miles better than the C1's configuration.

While the C1 uses an sRGB color space by default for SDR use, this is unfortunately not the case with the FO48U, so that the colors are oversaturated by default, even if the color space mode is set to "Auto". This is more in line with typical monitor performance but is not accurate and the way the LG OLED handles things is better. This isn't the end of the world, but if you compare the performance to other displays, the FO48U only ranks midfield in our two tests, in fact the grayscale performance could probably be more tweaked.

However, the FO48U has an sRGB mode that significantly improves performance. Grayscale performance matches the sRGB gamma curve more closely, although it has negatively adjusted the color temperature and this cannot be changed. Once again, it's stupid that some displays don't allow white point adjustment in their sRGB mode. However, it effectively limits the color space so overall deltaE performance is pretty good and this mode is generally very suitable for normal SDR content.

Calibrated color performance

When it comes to calibrating the FO48U, this display acts mostly like a monitor, so it really lacks the advanced calibration features of the LG C1. The C1 gives you much more control over white point and grayscale adjustments, and you can tweak all sorts of values ​​right in the hardware, so you don't have to rely on ICC profiles. In fact, you can even use dedicated paid software like Calman for LG to further improve calibration. None of this is available on the FO48U, so its calibration capabilities are much weaker.

You can get great results with a calibration run in Portrait Display's Calman software, but we're talking about a software-only solution based on ICC profiles and app compatibility. So while the results are decent, the FO48U suffers from less robust hardware calibration support.

The peak brightness from a completely white window is terrible and remains the main problem with OLED technology and why I wouldn't recommend using this display for desktop use. Not only is the FO48U a dimmer than the C1 for full white images – as far as desktop apps are concerned – it also has a more aggressive automatic brightness limiter. The ABL function means that the FO48U will increase the display brightness when the content on the screen has a lower average image level, in other words when there are more black or dark areas on the screen the lighter white areas will be. This is most noticeable when resizing app windows on the desktop. When you enlarge a bright browser window, the brightness decreases and vice versa.

There doesn't seem to be any way around this either. With the LG C1, you could either make the display even darker, which meant that the ABL was no longer activated, or you could use the service menu to deactivate the function in some firmware versions. The ABL of the FO48U is always active and more noticeable when used. I don't think this is a big deal for content consumption as it won't be that visible in videos or games, but when this display is used as a desktop monitor it's annoying.

The minimum brightness is amazing however, that's no joke, when the brightness is set to 0 the display is full at 1 nit. I'm not sure how useful this is in practice, but it's very weak.

The contrast is infinite with the FO48U, as the OLED panel is self-luminous, so that every single pixel has the option to switch itself off completely to display black. This is far superior to any LCD monitor I've tested, and the black levels are even darker than those of the best VA LCD panels. The glossy panel helps to emphasize this in most viewing environments, resulting in spectacular images. This is also a reason why OLEDs can get away with a lower peak brightness when consuming content, as the deep blacks still create a high-contrast experience that your eye can adapt well to.

The viewing angles are excellent and I find the FO48U and other OLEDs to be clearly visible even at crazy angles. The uniformity was also very solid with my unit. Sometimes OLEDs can be a little questionable with the uniformity, but my FO48U was actually better than my C1 in this regard, which produced strong results.

One of the big selling points when buying an OLED like this is the HDR experience. The FO48U offers a true HDR presentation that meets all the important criteria, including the big one in contrast. As I mentioned earlier, self-lit panels are capable of incredible contrast ratios, which is the entire benefit of HDR and why OLED is particularly well suited for HDR – at least unlike most LCD monitors today.

In real HDR content, whether it's games or videos, the FO48U has no blooming like you would see on an LCD with local full array dimming. Light and dark areas can coexist peacefully on the screen at the same time without overlapping, resulting in absolutely stunning HDR images. Combined with deep blacks and lots of depth to shadow detail, I find the FO48U looks great in most HDR content.

But the only area this display suffers is, once again, brightness. OLEDs compensate for this to some extent with their zero black levels, but a full-screen white image at 123 nits can only get you that far. This pales in comparison to today's best LCD monitors. Also, there really isn't any capacity for this display to produce a bright full screen flash for something like an explosion, which is disappointing.

The main problem with the FO48U's HDR performance is low window brightness. The LG C1 does pretty well here, hitting 775 nits, which means that bright highlights on the screen are really quite bright. The FO48U doesn't do nearly as well in standard HDR mode and only achieves 555 nits. Yes, that's better than the SDR performance, but it's barely impressive and far behind the C1, which uses the same panel.

The FO48U has an "HDR Vivid" mode, which increases the brightness in the same test and comes closer to what the C1 can do, but it completely destroys the accuracy. Darker tones are too bright in this mode and the white point is heavily tinted blue, so it seems that this mode is trying to cheat a high brightness for testing purposes. Because of this, we didn't use this mode in our charts as it doesn't look good in practice. In real use, the FO48U is darker than the LG C1 and that's just reality.

The brightness compared to the window size is slightly better with the FO48U, which performs similarly to the C1 up to a window size of 25% and finally closes the gap with smaller window sizes such as 2%. Basically, however, the HDR brightness is on the weaker end of the scale and while I still think it looks good for HDR in general, it's not as good as the LG C1.

The main advantage here is of course the contrast ratio. While LCDs are around 12000: 1 in our worst-case single-frame contrast tests, OLEDs are still capable of infinite contrast so they look much better and don't suffer from blooming issues.

The HDR accuracy is acceptable, the FO48U is a bit bright when rendering darker tones, and the aggressive roll-off can affect the level of detail in bright scenes as the roll-off point is fairly early on the EOTF curve. But overall it's not that bad. The results are okay for color tracking, this display does not unnecessarily oversaturate the colors in HDR mode, which is good for the visual representation.

Hot or not?

Overall, the Gigabyte Aorus FO48U is one of those displays that, if it had been isolated and not compared to many other products, you would be very happy with it. There's no doubt that it looks great to display content, whether it's movies or games in HDR or SDR mode, and that's because of the use of OLED.

The blacks are deep, the contrast is infinite, and the response times are lightning fast, to the point where LCD panels are embarrassed for clarity of movement.

Unfortunately for Gigabyte, the Aorus FO48U is not as good as the previously tested LG C1 OLED. Although they both use essentially the same LG OLED panel or a close variation on it, the C1 has more features with better performance in a few key areas. Gigabyte, on the other hand, doesn't have many unique features worth worrying about.

While the FO48U is essentially identical to the C1 in areas such as response times, contrast and color space, the C1 is noticeably brighter for HDR content, 100-200 nits brighter. That's a big deal with an OLED panel where the brightness is less than amazing. And sure, both panels have poor full-screen white brightness that makes desktop use less than excellent, but the C1 looks better in HDR mode.

The LG C1 also has a less aggressive automatic brightness limiter, although both panels are still annoying with how the brightness changes depending on the content.

The LG C1 is a much more feature-rich display. It has four full-bandwidth HDMI 2.1 ports (versus two 24 Gbit / s ports on the Gigabyte), it has a full range of TV functions, including smart TV apps, a TV tuner, AI Upscaling, noise reduction and more. It supports Dolby Vision, with the FO48U only supporting HDR10 and HLG. It has a much better range of hardware calibration functions. It has better insert mode for black pictures. Additionally, it has a decent set of features that make it compatible with PCs and gaming setups, including a low latency mode that allows it to be paired with other gaming monitors.

The Aorus FO48U counteracts this with a DisplayPort connection, a KVM switch and some game-specific OSD features. That is nowhere near enough to make up for the long list of failures. For example, we would rate Dolby Vision support as far more important than DisplayPort. The reality for Gigabyte is that they are up against a TV giant that has refined its offering for gamers over several iterations. Therefore, the introduction of a first-generation OLED offering that omits important functions will not be enough.

This can of course be salvaged with a competitive price: the Aorus FO48U has to be several hundred dollars cheaper than the LG C1 to make sense. But that's not the case and the actual delta may vary by region. In the US, the MSRP of both products is the same, and the LG C1 is often cheaper due to discounts and promotional prices. In Australia, the retail price is lower than the LG model, but the C1 often receives discounts to fill this gap. This makes the Gigabyte model difficult to recommend, although it is far from being a poor performance.

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