LG OLED48C3 Review: 4K 120Hz OLED TV

The LG OLED48C3 is an exceptional TV for everyday use as well as for PC and console gaming due to its amazing image quality and performance.

Bottom Line

The LG OLED48C3 is a 48″ OLED TV that’s also a popular choice for PC and console gaming thanks to its excellent image quality, performance, feature set and value for money.

Design:
(5.0)
Display:
(4.7)
Performance:
(4.9)
Price/Value:
(4.0)
4.7

If you want to get the best image quality and the smoothest performance possible at the moment, you’ll need an OLED display.

In this review, we’ll mostly focus on how the TV performs when used as a PC monitor, but we’ll briefly cover its important TV features as well.

Image Quality

Even though 48″ is still too big for most users when it comes to regular desktop use, it’s much more viable than the 55″ variant, which was the smallest available OLED TV not that long ago.

On the 47.6″ viewable screen of the LG OLED48C3 TV, 4K resolution results in a pixel density of 92.56 PPI (pixels per inch). That’s the same pixel density as that of a Full HD 24″ monitor.

So, you get a decent amount of screen real estate as well as fairly sharp and crisp details. However, since the TV is a lot bigger, you’ll have to sit a bit further from the screen.

At 37 inches (94cm) away from the screen, your eyes won’t be able to distinguish individual pixels on the screen, but in order to view such a big display comfortably, you’ll need to sit a bit further away. Ideally, you’ll need a rather deep desk or to wall-mount the TV.

Moving on, the main asset of the OLED technology is the infinite contrast ratio as each pixel is self-emissive allowing for deep and inky blacks.

ips screen burn in

Additionally, there’s no annoying backlight bleeding or IPS/VA glow associated with LED-backlit panels. So, black is truly black.

The LG C3 supports a wide color gamut, covering ~97% of the DCI-P3 color space (equivalent to ~130% sRGB) and it has a true 10-bit panel with 12-bit color processing.

As a result, you get vibrant and vivid colors that will remain perfect regardless of the angle you’re looking at the screen thanks to the wide 178° viewing angles of the OLED technology.

You will also find an sRGB emulation mode in TV settings, which provides a more accurate ~100% sRGB color output for sRGB-native content.

Now, there’s a built-in feature called Automatic Brightness Limiter (ABL) that preserves the lifespan of the TV by lowering the brightness when there are a lot of bright elements on the screen (for instance, pure white background of a browser, scenes with a lot of snow, etc.).

ABL cuts the brightness to ~200-nits for a 100% white window and ~400-nits for <50% bright windows when such content is detected, and this jump in brightness can be noticeable and somewhat annoying, but it increases the longevity of the display.

Once you set Peak Brightness to Off in the OSD menu, ABL will be disabled and you’ll get a constant brightness of 200-nits regardless of the size of on-screen bright elements which is sufficiently bright under normal lighting conditions.

However, if your room has particularly bright ambient lighting or the screen faces a large window without curtains/blinds, you’ll need a brighter (therefore LED-backlit) display instead.

With HDR content, the brightness can reach up to ~800-nits for ≤10% white windows (for instance, highlights with explosions, fireworks, etc.) and around 150-nits for a 100% white window, which makes for an overall immersive HDR viewing experience.

Performance

freesync and gsync

The input lag of the LG OLED48C3 TV amounts to ~6ms at 120Hz.

The delay isn’t noticeable, that is, unless you’re used to 240Hz or 360Hz gaming monitors with sub-3ms input lag, in which case the TV will feel a bit slower.

Another big advantage of OLED displays is the instantaneous pixel response time speed. Basically, pixels can instantly change colors which results in no noticeable trailing behind fast-moving objects.

You can also use a variable refresh rate (VRR) which makes the TV change its refresh rate according to GPU’s frame rate, thus eliminating screen tearing and stuttering.

Related:What Is FreeSync And What Does It Do?

You will need a compatible graphics card with HDMI 2.1 by NVIDIA (G-SYNC Compatible), AMD (FreeSync Premium Pro), or a compatible console.

Note that there are some gamma shifts when VRR is enabled. Basically, near-black shades get a bit brightened up in some scenes. This is the case with most high refresh rate OLED gaming displays.

There’s a slider setting in the OSD menu of the TV that helps alleviate the near-black gamma shifts called ‘Fine Tune Dark Areas’ under ‘Additional Picture Settings.’

You can adjust it from -30 to 30 in increments of 1; the lower you go, the darker the blacks become at the cost of shadow detail clarity, while too high setting makes for too elevated blacks. The best results will vary depending on the game, and while the issue is not completely fixed, you can greatly reduce its intensity.

Overall, thanks to the TV’s low input lag, fast response time VRR support, the gaming performance is top-notch as long as you have a powerful enough GPU.

Competitive gamers might prefer lower input lag, but they’ll need a smaller screen anyway as 48″ sized screens require you to move your head/eyes too much.

OLED Issues

The main concern most people have with OLEDs is the risk of permanent image burn-in and temporary image retention.

However, as long as you’re careful, burn-in shouldn’t be an issue for a long time. There are many built-in features to prevent it.

This means that you won’t be able to use the TV the same way you’d use a regular LED monitor.

In Windows, for example, you should hide your taskbar, avoid placing icons on the desktop, and set your wallpaper to automatically change. A screensaver is also a must.

You won’t be able to use the TV as a photo-editing monitor for extended periods of time due to all the static elements in editing software.

Related:The Best Monitors For Photo And Video Editing (2023 Reviews)

Further, the LG OLED48C3 display uses a WRGB sub-pixel layout. For regular PC use, this results in somewhat blurry text unless you use scaling.

Generally, if you plan on using this TV for office-related work, it’s probably not for you. You could use the TV in a dual-display setup with another LED monitor; have your taskbar and icons on the LED monitor, and just use the TV for games and movies/videos.

In games, the static elements won’t be an issue. You can game for hours without worrying, and just play some different content when you’re done with the game so that the pixels can ‘refresh.’

Many games also have the option to hide static elements or the HUD.

Lastly, note that the LG OLED48C3 is flicker-free in the sense that it doesn’t use PWM (Pulse-Width Modulation) to regulate brightness, but there are some slight fluctuations in brightness every ~8ms.

In real use, it’s not noticeable and shouldn’t bother those sensitive to flickering.

Features

LG C3 Remote Controller

Another interesting thing you can do is create a custom 3840×1620 21:9 screen resolution in your GPU drivers. This will give you a true ultrawide viewing experience with a wider field of view in compatible games, just with black bars at the top and bottom of the screen.

However, since black is truly black and there’s no backlight bleeding, it won’t be that distracting. This basically turns the TV into a 45″ 3840×1620 ultrawide display with 120Hz, G-SYNC and HDR!

Unlike LG’s gaming monitors, the TVs don’t have gaming features such as customizable crosshairs, FPS/RTS pre-calibrated picture modes, and Black Stabilization. You also won’t find Picture in Picture or Picture by Picture.

You will find various picture modes and there are plenty of image adjustment tools available as well including contrast, brightness, sharpness, color, color temperature, color gamut, gamma, and more.

The TV is based on WebOS 23, features the Alpha 9 Gen 6 processor, and comes with the LG Magic Remote.

Design & Connectivity

The design of the TV features metal and high-quality plastics, it’s extremely thin, and VESA mount compatible via the 300x200mm pattern, but the stand is not adjustable.

The screen has a glossy surface with an anti-reflective coating, so the image quality is more vivid, but you have to mind the lighting in your room.

Connectivity options include four HDMI 2.1 ports, Ethernet, tuner, digital optical audio jack, and three USB 2.0 ports. Naturally, WiFi and Bluetooth are supported as well.

LG OLED48C3 Ports

HDMI 2.1 allows for native 4K 120Hz support, as well as e/ARC (Dolby Atmos/Digital/Digital Plus/TrueHD 7.1, DTS 5.1/X/HD Master Audio) and ALLM (Auto Low Latency Mode).

Price & Similar Displays

The LG OLED48C3 goes for ~$1200, which is good value for money. The previous-year model, the OLED48C2 can be found for ~$150 less. It has a slightly different design and no DTS audio format support.

LG also offers a 42″ sized C2 and C3 OLED TVs.

 100% White Window Max Brightness (SDR)100% White Window Max Brightness (HDR)10% White Window Max Brightness (HDR)1 - 3% White Window Max Brightness (HDR)
AW3423DW,
AW3423DWF,
Samsung G8,
MSI 342C
250-nits250-nits450 ~ 550-nits1000-nits
Samsung OLED G9
250-nits250-nits500-nits1000-nits
ASUS PG27AQDM250-nits**160-nits850-nits900-nits
LG 27GR95QE200-nits130-nits650-nits650-nits
LG 45GR95QE160-nits160-nits650-nits800-nits
Corsair Xeneon Flex190-nits160-nits650-nits800-nits
LG OLED42C2180-nits*120-nits700-nits700-nits
ASUS PG42UQ200-nits**120-nits800-nits800-nits
LG OLED48C3200-nits150-nits800-nits800-nits
Gigabyte FO48U110-nits110-nits500-nits600-nits
LG 48GQ900130-nits130-nits600-nits600-nits

*PC Mode, Game Optimizer enabled
**Uniform Brightness enabled

For more mini LED and OLED gaming displays, check out our best HDR monitors buyer’s guide.

Conclusion

All in all, if you want immersive HDR image quality and incredibly smooth performance on a larger format display, the LG OLED48C3 is one of the best options available.

However, you should also keep an eye out for a good sale on last year’s model to get a bit better value for your money – unless you need DTS audio format support.

Specifications

Screen Size47.6-inch
Resolution3840×2160 (Ultra HD)
Panel TypeOLED
Aspect Ratio16:9 (Widescreen)
Refresh Rate120Hz
Response Time (GtG)<1ms (GtG)
Adaptive-SyncFreeSync Premium Pro (40-120Hz)
G-SYNC Compatible
HDMI 2.1 VRR
Speakers2x10W + 20W Subwoofer
Ports4x HDMI 2.1
Other PortsEthernet, Tuner, Digital audio-out, 3x USB 2.0
Brightness (5% White Window)800 cd/m²
Brightness (10% White Window)800 cd/m²
Brightness (100% White Window)150 cd/m² (HDR)
200 cd/m² (SDR)
Contrast RatioInfinite:1
Colors1.07 billion (true 10-bit)
98% DCI-P3
HDRHDR10, HLG, Dolby Vision
VESAYes (300x200mm)

The Pros:

  • Infinite contrast ratio for true blacks
  • Wide color gamut
  • Low input lag, instant response time
  • HDMI 2.1
  • VRR up to 120Hz
  • Plenty of additional features

The Cons:

  • Stand not adjustable
  • Risk of permanent burn-in and temporary image retention
  • Too big for regular desktop use for most users
  • VRR near-black gamma shifts

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Rob Shafer

Rob is a software engineer with a Bachelor’s degree from the University of Denver. He now works full-time managing DisplayNinja while coding his own projects on the side.