After all! We have long been asked to thoroughly review an OLED display to see how it compares to the latest LCD gaming monitors. And at some point we did, just not like this one. I get a lot of questions about OLEDs almost every week. Hopefully this test and the data we have collected will answer your burning questions and show how this technology performs in our current monitor test suite.

For today's review, we bought the LG C1 OLED, which is considered by many to be the best OLED screen for gaming and the most suitable candidate for use as a PC monitor. This is LG's latest range of OLED TVs, designed primarily for content consumption and brilliant HDR, but in the smallest 48-inch option – which we bought for testing today – it can also be used as a monitor , we have to think about that.

The LG C1 is one of the best OLED displays for gaming as it combines the technology with a resolution of 3840 x 2160 and a usable refresh rate of 120 Hz. The vast majority of OLED monitors are designed for professionals, so they are limited to 60 Hz and often cost thousands and thousands of dollars.

That's not the case here: Not only does the C1 support a 120Hz update, but it also has G-Sync and AMD FreeSync support and brings the variable refresh rate technology we see on virtually every gaming display these days.

It's also not outrageously expensive for a high-end display, at $ 1500 and often sold below that.

While there are serious gaming specs here, and LG has done a great job of supporting the gaming market with its OLED line, the C1 is still primarily designed for use as a television.

It has “Smart TV” functionality so you can run apps right on the TV itself, a built-in tuner, and lots of picture adjustment features like AI processing and all that. It also lacks some of the handy features we enjoy on most monitors such as DisplayPort connectivity.

In any case, we are not evaluating this as a TV, we are evaluating this as if it were a monitor that you would use with a PC and other input devices.

If you are interested in how this TV compares to other TVs, we recommend checking out a website like Rtings that will thoroughly evaluate this for you.

design

Since this is a television, the design language is different from most of the monitors we look at. The stand, for example, is basically a strip of metal that runs along the bottom edge of the display and is connected very deeply to the display itself.

There is no adjustability, you can't even tilt the display to the desired position, so forget about height adjustment or something similar. LG expects you to either use this as it is or mount it on the wall and frankly, using the included stand isn't that bad given its size, I don't really miss the height or tilt adjustability.

Aside from the lack of ergonomics, this is a beautifully designed product that highlights the large display in all its glory with slim bezels and an even shallower depth for the top.

While this area is ridiculously thin, there's still a chunkier section at the base that houses all of the electronics and connectors that uses a utility-oriented design rather than something sleek. The exterior materials are also of high quality, with a mixture of metal, glass and high-quality plastic.

One of the big differences between the C1 and most monitors is the finish of the display.

The C1 is a glossy glass display that tends to highlight colors and add clarity and sharpness to the image. In contrast, most monitors use a matte anti-glare surface that diffuses light to some extent to reduce reflections in bright environments, with modern anti-glare coatings still providing excellent clarity.

In practical use cases, this means that the LG C1 offers more clarity and “wow” factor in darker surroundings, but tends to reflect much more strongly than a monitor with an anti-glare coating.

Among the televisions, the C1 is one of the better displays at reducing direct reflections by treating the glossy surface, but ultimately you'll see much clearer and more defined reflections in a well-lit room than you would with a regular monitor, most of which only reflect general light and undefined mirror-like reflections. How annoying this is going to be depends on your setup and tolerance for reflection, personally I found it a bit irritating in my office but not a deal breaker and often it's not that noticeable when focused on the content being displayed.

On your desk

The other important consideration when buying the LG C1 48-inch is the size.

48 inches is a lot bigger than most monitors, and you need to take that into account. First you need a large desk, the total device is 107 cm wide and the stand is 84 cm wide so you need to make sure that it fits. But on top of that, the actual screen itself is about 105 cm wide and 60 cm high, which is enormous for desk use.

In comparison, a standard 32-inch display is only 70 cm wide and a 34-inch ultrawide display is only 80 cm wide, so this 48-inch television is 25 cm wider than an ultrawide television and is also significantly higher .

The pixel density is not a problem – 48 inches 4K is the same density as 32 inches 1440p – so the C1 can be used with 100% scaling. It's just so wide that at standard desk viewing distances, the entire screen may not fit in your field of view. I usually sit about two to four feet from my 34-inch ultrawide (about an arm's length) when I play games, but found that distance uncomfortably tight on the C1. I had to be more than 1 meter or more away.

This presents some problems for desktop use as you need a deep desk or work out something custom in order to have the C1 and your keyboard / mouse on the same surface. I think this is one of the rare occasions when the C1 should be bent for shorter viewing distances, much like most gaming ultrawides, just so the edges are better and clearer in your field of view. Obviously, this wouldn't work well for a TV that most people watch from a reasonable distance, which is why LG kept it flat.

So we have already found some challenges when using the C1 as a monitor: the glossy surface and its size. But there is another important factor and that is text clarity. The C1 uses LG's WRGB sub-pixel layout, which means that in addition to the normal red, green, and blue sub-pixels, LG also includes a white sub-pixel for each pixel to improve brightness and other aspects of display quality. In the modern world of sub-pixel text rendering, however, whenever the pixel structure differs from RGB, text clarity suffers to some extent.

I still found the C1 to produce great text in general, but it was inferior to the IPS displays I use on a daily basis. The Windows ClearType utility can fix this problem to some extent. WRGB is nowhere near as bad as BGR for the sake of clarity, but there is still something to consider.

In terms of connections, the C1 offers, in addition to several other connections, four HDMI 2.1 connections, including three USB, both analog and optical audio outputs, Ethernet and an antenna input for the tuner. The most important thing here is HDMI 2.1, as this enables resolutions of up to 10 bits 3840 x 2160 at 120 Hz. However, it's also the only way to access this refresh rate, which means you'll need a modern graphics card (either from Nvidia's RTX 30 series or AMD's RX 6000 series or later) to get the most out of the C1 to get out.

Older GPUs with only HDMI 2.0 support are limited to 60Hz when using full RGB, so it would have been nice for monitor usage to see DisplayPort with DSC, but this would never happen with a TV-focused product.

Despite being an HDMI-only display, impressively, I didn't have any issues with variable frame rate support on AMD or Nvidia GPUs as both technologies are supported. With HDMI 2.1 included here, there are also no problems using this display with the latest game consoles without restrictions.

If you look at the OSD, it's a TV, so there is a complex selection of menus, including Smart TV features and a wealth of settings. However, I'm going to ignore the vast majority of the smart features (which may or may not be useful to you) as we are primarily interested in how the C1 works when plugged in as a monitor. You don't even have to connect it to the internet if you don't want to, although I would recommend you do so so you can get firmware updates.

The OSD is controlled via the remote control which uses a combination of buttons and a stick-like pointer control. The menu is easy to navigate but of course has a lot of things to customize, and there is a setup process that walks you through many of them.

That being said, I would recommend making sure that HDMI Deep Color is set to 4K in the HDMI settings and that Game Optimizer mode is used to enable variable frame rates, 120Hz accessible, and reduce input delay. You won't find things like cheat crosshairs in this TV, but you can still find blue light filters and we'll talk more about tweaked settings later.

Display performance

So far we have already looked at some of the challenges of using the LG C1 as a monitor, but make no mistake, when we talk about the image quality, you will quickly see why people want to use this display as a monitor. And we start here with the response times and notice that the C1 has no overdrive controls.

Since it is a self-luminous OLED panel, the response times at 120 Hz are incredible. This is what I would describe as a true 1ms display, it's not a situation where LG advertises 1ms and then somehow cheats to get that number with ridiculous overdrive settings that seriously degrade the picture quality. No, this is what a real 1ms display looks like. On average, right out of the box, the C1 can achieve an average response time of 1.3ms with no overshoot, even with our rigorous and updated Response Time Test Method for 2021.

When you combine the response time and overshoot results, it's no surprise that the C1 comes very close to instant response times, as illustrated by a two-digit cumulative deviation mean (typically in the mid three-digit range for LCD-based monitors).

Well, I wouldn't necessarily refer to the panel as "instant" transitions as the response has a slight curve, but it's as fast as we can get with modern display technologies. LG doesn't even twist the truth when it says that the C1 has a response time of "1 ms", on average it is absolutely 100%, even after gamma correction and when measuring 97% of the response curve.

This contributes to great clarity of movement, with the only blurring you will see when moving is due to the modest refresh rate of 120Hz. On a sample and hold display like this one, 120 Hz isn't fast enough to give a perfectly clear picture in motion, as you'll see in this UFO review – a 240 Hz display with worse response times generally has better overall sharpness than the image updated twice as often. But this is the best 120Hz experience we've had, and of course 240Hz is not achievable on any current 4K display, so the C1 offers top-notch motion clarity among today's 4K displays.

In addition to the incredible response times at 120Hz, the C1 does an excellent job of maintaining that performance over the entire update range. I also tested at 100Hz, 85Hz, and 60Hz and didn't see any significant change in performance at these refresh rates. There is a very small drop in performance with minor updates, but it is hardly of any consequence. This means a perfect experience when playing with a variable refresh rate.

The LG C1 humiliates LCD-based monitors in terms of the response times it can generate. Even the fastest monitors I've tested, like the Samsung Odyssey G7 and the HP Omen X 27, don't come close to what the C1 can do.

When looking at the average performance over the entire update range, the C1 is compared to the next best product compared to the next best product, with a smaller overshoot on top of that. This is an incredible result that puts LCD panels to shame.

The most striking graphic that illustrates the benefits of an OLED panel's motion clarity is the cumulative variance table. LCDs just don't come close to OLEDs when it comes to reproducing the ideal instant response. The C1 OLED comes pretty close to an instant response, while none of the LCDs do. We see results in the range of 7 to 10 times better than a modern high-performance IPS display and more than five times better than the fastest VA and TN panels we've tested. Unbelievable.

In the apple-to-apple comparison at 120 Hz, the LG C1 wipes out the competition. Nothing else comes close. And it erases everything harder at 60 Hz; While most monitors slow down at this lower refresh rate, the C1 flashes through virtually unchanged with no increase in overshoot.

The good news is that input lag is very low when the display is in game optimization mode. I recorded less than 1ms of processing delay, although I should note that you must be in this mode to get such a result.

Using other modes increases the input delay significantly with processing of more than 20 ms. But in the input lag optimized mode, this OLED competes with the best LCDs in terms of total input lag because the transition times are lightning fast.

On the other hand, the power consumption is very high. Not a good comparison as most of the monitors are much smaller here, but compared to a 32-inch panel, this 48-inch OLED usually consumes 2-3 times the power with bright desktop use.

The C1 has a strobe mode for the backlight, which in this situation should be called Black Frame Insertion as the OLED panel has no backlight. Anyway, you know what I mean, it can stroboscopic the image to improve the sharpness of movement. This feature is called "OLED Motion Pro" and has a variety of settings, but only works with fixed frame rates, including 120 Hz and 60 Hz.

The good news is that this mode is essentially perfect when running at 120Hz and using the "High" setting. The picture is absolutely clear and free of strobe crosstalk, double images or overshoots. And the clarity is great whether we are looking at the top, middle, or bottom of the screen as the response times of the OLED panel are so fast that strobe timing is easier. Brightness is affected to some extent, but the clarity of movement shown here surpasses the best of LCD monitors. The only way to improve this feature would be if it works in conjunction with variable refresh rates.

Color performance

Color space: LG C1 48 "OLED – D65-P3

Moving on to color quality, the C1 OLED is a wide color gamut display, but not the widest we've seen. The focus here is clearly on DCI-P3, which supports 96% of this color gamut in our tests. But the color space doesn't go beyond DCI-P3 to support Adobe RGB or any other color space, of course P3 makes the most sense for a TV that is focused on movie and television, but it doesn't make it as versatile as the best LCD monitors from today, they have 80% recommendation 2020 coverage. The LG C1 only has 70% coverage.

The factory calibration is awful, and by that I mean the C1 looks bad if you take it out of the box and don't change a single setting. The standard mode is clearly not about accuracy, with a strong blue cast, wrong gamma and high DeltaEs.

It clamps the color space on sRGB / Rec. 709 in SDR mode by default as it should be, but the white point is nowhere near accurate which gives poor results on most of these tests.

Compared to other gaming monitors, the C1 is the worst of this group in terms of factory grayscale calibration, although the accuracy of the ColorChecker is rather in the middle range. However, that doesn't mean the LG C1 is an inaccurate display overall, because by fiddling with its numerous settings, you can actually improve its performance significantly. Rather than going through each setting one by one, here are the settings I went for.

OSD optimized performance

With these settings I was able to massively improve the deltaE performance across the board, with a better white balance and better overall grayscale results. Gamma performance still wasn't great, but in general you should be able to get a much more accurate picture by playing around with the modes. While the settings I used were still focused on the Game Optimization mode to keep input latency down, the Expert modes are the most accurate without requiring as much adjustment.

Calibrated color performance

In addition, I was able to further calibrate the display using DisplayCAL, which led to better results. This is one of several ways to calibrate the LG C1 and is the standard method we use to calibrate monitors for testing purposes. For best results, however, I would recommend using CALMAN's built-in LG TV workflows, which hardware calibrate the display, a much more robust system that works with many different inputs, although it does require paid software.

The weakest aspect of image quality is brightness. When displaying a full white picture, the LG C1 OLED is a weak display thanks to its automatic brightness limiter or ABL. A result of less than 200 cd / m² is not enough in many brighter surroundings, and in combination with a glossy panel this is not a good result for reflections. You can achieve slightly higher results when switching out of Game Optimizer mode, but at best I couldn't push the LG C1 over 200 nits full white.

In addition to the low full screen brightness, the ABL is quite annoying for desktop use, as moving and resizing windows noticeably adjusts the brightness of these windows. Therefore, depending on the average image level (or APL) of the display, the brightness can vary up to 250 nits or so, and it will always fluctuate between around 170 and 250 nits. This is the unfortunate reality of using an OLED, and it was distracting when the display was used for desktop apps, which are uniform and often quite bright. The ABL is well optimized for games and video, however, so you probably won't notice the changes in brightness when using the C1 to consume content.

A minimum brightness is good if you want to use the C1 in a dark room without burning your eyes, not that an OLED would really be able to do so. And of course, it would be a bit pointless to show a contrast graph as the OLED screen has an effective infinite contrast ratio, which wipes out LCD panels as an OLED can produce far richer, more inky blacks.

What I'll show instead, however, is a black level graph that illustrates how the OLED screen compares to various LCD technologies when the display is calibrated to 200 nits. Nothing else comes close to the black values ​​of the OLED.

Uniformity and viewing angles were great on my LG C1 OLED device. Depending on the area of ​​the tested panel, there were some slight color differences that can be expected for an OLED. Uniformity also depends on how close you sit to the monitor, because the closer you are, the more you will see the effects of viewing angle differences and less the uniformity of the display itself. If you sit back, you will find that the television is is pretty uniform.

A word for branding

Before we talk about the HDR experience, it's worth discussing the permanent burn-in risk of OLED displays. This is one of the main drawbacks that prevents the LG C1 from being well suited for desktop use along with the brightness and ABL issues. Desktop usage often involves displaying static images, be it the system tray or just general application windows like the navigation bar in Google Chrome. All of this carries the risk of burn-in, as static content is bad for an OLED.

How long it takes to burn in the display when used as a desktop monitor, I can't answer, as it will take years to figure this out even with 24/7 use. But I would expect the C1 to burn in faster with normal PC desktop use than with mixed content and general content consumption like movies or games. I would look at Rtings burn-in tests to get a better idea of ​​how long this could take.

There are some mitigation strategies, some the TV uses by itself and some you can do yourself.

For example, the LG C1 implements pixel shifting and logo dimming to extend the life of the TV and dims the entire panel when long periods of static content are detected. However, I found the Pixel Shift feature annoying as it can sometimes cut off important information from the desktop depending on where the image is being shifted, so it may need to be disabled for desktop use, further affecting burn-in.

I would also recommend making some changes to Windows usage habits, such as: For example, use dark mode, activate the screen saver, and set the taskbar to hide automatically.

HDR test HD

The LG C1 is a fantastic HDR display. Since it is an OLED, every single pixel is illuminated itself and offers the best possible contrast ratio of modern display technology. Not only does the C1 meet our HDR checklist, but with its effective zone count of over 8.2 million dwarfs, it is the best locally dimmed full array LCD monitors that outperform the mediocre 1152 zones.

In practice, this does not lead to blooming or haloing when viewing HDR content that has both light and dark areas on the screen at the same time. Every pixel that needs to be black is completely turned off, making even the toughest HDR scenes like starry night or little lights on a dark street look perfect and amazing.

The best HDR monitors for games like the PG32UQX with its mini LED backlight have a tough time and have visible blooming in areas where the LG C1 OLED looks flawless, there is a real difference between day and night that results in excellent image quality with HDR content.

Similar to the discussion about contrast, it doesn't make much sense to show HDR contrast graphs as this OLED can achieve infinite contrast, even in checkerboard tests where the PG32UQX hits a contrast ratio of 4000: 1.

This LCD screen is good, but honestly it doesn't come close to the C1's ability to display black and dark shadow detail. If you care at all about black levels and the ideal contrast result “single frame”, you have to rely on OLED.

The disadvantage is the same as with the SDR section: brightness. The sustained brightness in full screen mode is poor and, in our tests, at only 140 cd / m², even worse than in SDR mode. LCD panels suppress this OLED in its ability to show a very bright image that takes up the entire screen.

However, the LG C1 is competitive when it comes to bright highlights. When we measured a 10% white window, our C1 device achieved a brightness of 775 nits, which is bright enough to show dazzling highlights with a lot of HDR content, but not as good as the best LCD panels.

Due to their deeper black levels than LCDs and their extremely high contrast ratio, OLEDs can appear brighter to your eye than these numbers suggest. In my experience, an OLED can get by with lower brightness than an LCD, but it's still an area that OLED technology needs to be improved upon.

This is how the C1 OLED handles the brightness across different window sizes. All scenes with a high APL will be relatively dark, but as we discussed, the C1 is capable of decent brightness in smaller areas. The average image level of many film contents tends to be below 25%, whereby the C1 can reach almost 400 cd / m². Ultimately, I think this is a good level of brightness for HDR, but not the best, although I still feel that the overall HDR experience is superb when combined with the contrast ratio and dimming ability.

What we learned

So there you have it, our test of the LG C1 OLED as a monitor and how it compares to other popular gaming displays in our test suite. It was certainly interesting to test something outside of the usual range of LCD panels that we see in monitors.

In general, when I buy something like the C1 as a monitor, I think people fall into one of two categories, and my recommendations for each category are quite different, so let's break it down …

If you only use your gaming monitor to consume content – i.e. play games, watch films or YouTube videos – then I think the C1 OLED is worth considering and offers buyers a lot.

The combination of image quality, HDR experience and movement clarity is simply unmatched by today's LCD panels. Nothing that is based on LCD technology can even come close to this OLED in terms of response times. The C1 offers almost instant transitions without overshoot, enabling perfect strobing in the backlight. As a result, the C1 destroys its competition on the move and offers the best experience I've ever seen at 120Hz or below.

This is great for gaming, and when you combine it with LG's variable refresh rate support and low input lag mode, gamers won't be missing much. It may not be as smooth as a 240Hz monitor at a lower resolution, but at 4K there is nothing that matches what this display can do.

Add in the great HDR functionality which is great for both gaming and watching HDR videos. Effectively zero black levels, infinite contrast, self-luminous pixels … it doesn't get any better for HDR in terms of contrast and dimming, and there are practically no HDR scenes that look bad on an OLED.

The only weakness here is the brightness – it doesn't get as bright as the best LCD monitors in HDR scenes – but I still find the overall brightness enough for stunning HDR.

Again, nothing comes close to the combination of HDR and gaming capabilities, which is why I can recommend it as a PC display for consuming content.

Wenn Sie Ihren Monitor jedoch für Dinge außerhalb des Inhaltskonsums verwenden – denken Sie an das Surfen im Internet, Produktivitätsarbeit oder wirklich alles, was Desktop-Anwendungen betrifft – dann ist der LG C1 meiner Meinung nach eine schlechte Wahl. Dieses Display bietet keine Vielseitigkeit, es ist im Grunde genommen für die Anzeige von Inhalten ausgelegt und das ist es, was fair genug ist, da es als Fernseher und nicht als Monitor konzipiert ist.

Bei meinen Tests fand ich die automatische Helligkeitsbegrenzung bei der Verwendung von Desktop-Apps nervig, und die allgemein niedrige Helligkeit reicht für hellere Umgebungen nicht aus, insbesondere in Kombination mit der glänzenden Oberfläche, die Ihre Umgebung widerspiegelt.

Es ist auch massiv und erfordert einen größeren Betrachtungsabstand als normal, der bei vielen Desktop-Setups möglicherweise nicht funktioniert. Ich glaube nicht, dass dies beim Konsumieren von Inhalten eine so große Sache ist, wenn Sie sich auf die Mitte des Bildschirms konzentrieren, aber die schiere Größe kann dazu führen, dass Inhalte an den äußersten Rändern bei geringerer Betrachtungsentfernung schwer zu erkennen sind, wie zum Beispiel wenn Sie eine Desktop-App in eine der Ecken eingerastet hätten.

Es ist auch nicht ganz so klar wie die besten 4K-IPS-Panels von heute aufgrund seines WRGB-Subpixel-Layouts, sein Farbraum ist nicht so groß wie bei den besten LCDs, es hat eine schlechte Standardkalibrierung, die viel OSD-Optimierung erfordert, und das Fehlen von DisplayPort beschränkt das volle 4K 120Hz-Erlebnis auf die neuesten Grafikkarten. Durch den festen Standfuß gibt es keine ergonomische Anpassung. Und vielleicht am besorgniserregendsten ist, dass die Verwendung mit einer Desktop-Umgebung zu vielen statischen Inhalten auf dem Bildschirm führt, was das Risiko eines Einbrennens im Vergleich zu einer dynamischeren Verwendung erhöht.

Als jemand, der einen Gaming-Monitor sowohl für die Arbeit als auch für den Inhalt verwendet, ist das LG C1 OLED persönlich keine gute Option. Es gibt einfach zu viele Nachteile, wenn ich es als meinen täglichen Fahrer verwenden wollte. Wenn der C1 etwas kleiner wäre – ich denke 42 Zoll oder weniger wären viel besser – und ohne den nervigen Limiter heller wäre, dann würde ich ihn viel stärker in Betracht ziehen. Aber insgesamt scheint es, dass die OLED-Technologie zumindest in dieser Art von Produkt noch nicht ganz reif für den Einsatz als echter Desktop-Monitor ist.

Aber auch hier, wenn Sie einen großartigen Content-Consumer-Monitor wollen und auch Spiele darauf spielen, dann ist das LG C1 ziemlich großartig. Mit dem aktuellen schrecklichen Zustand von HDR in Monitoren werden Sie auch nicht annähernd das finden, was das LG C1 zu seinem Preis von 1500 US-Dollar leisten kann.

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