LG OLED48CX Review: 4K 120Hz OLED TV

Bottom Line

The LG OLED48CX is a 48″ OLED TV that’s also a popular choice for use as a desktop PC display since it offers better image quality and performance than any LED-backlit monitor. However, it has its downsides – mainly the risk of image burn-in/retention and its gigantic 48″ sized screen.

Design:
(5.0)
Display:
(4.9)
Performance:
(4.9)
Price/Value:
(4.5)
4.8

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

As there aren’t any viable OLED monitors available, you’ll have to settle for a TV, such as the LG OLED48CX.

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

LG’s CX series of OLED TVs is the first series to include a 48″ sized model. Previously, the smallest model available was 55″.

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.

On the 47.6″ viewable screen of the LG OLED48CX 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.

Next, the LG CX 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.

The peak brightness of the TV amounts to ~260-nits, which is sufficient under normal lighting conditions.

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

ABL cuts the brightness to ~160-nits when such content is detected, and this jump in brightness is rather noticeable and can be somewhat annoying, but it increases the longevity of the display.

To get around this, you can reduce the brightness to ‘~35/100′ so that the brightness jumps are less noticeable. If the screen is too dim for you at this setting, you can reduce the contrast to ’80/100’ instead.

With HDR content, the brightness can reach up to ~800-nits for short periods of time (for instance, scenes with explosions), which makes for an immersive and dynamic HDR viewing experience.

Performance

freesync and gsync

The input lag of the LG OLED48CX TV amounts to ~11ms at 4K and ~7ms at 1440p and 1080p in the Game mode.

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.

There’s also a BFI (Black Frame Insertion) feature called OLED Motion Pro, which can further remove motion blur by inserting black frames between the regular ones.

There are four Motion Pro options: Off, Low, Medium, and High – and it can be enabled at either 60Hz or 120Hz.

The higher the setting, the smoother the motion will be, but at a higher cost of picture brightness. At 60Hz, only the ‘High’ option is viable as there’s strobe crosstalk (double-image effect) at Low and Medium settings.

Alternatively, you can 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. The Instant Game Response Time setting needs to be enabled as well.

You can’t use VRR and OLED Motion Pro at the same time.

So, in fast-paced games, OLED Motion Pro will provide you with smoother motion clarity, and if you find screen tearing too bothersome, you can use VRR instead.

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 all HDMI 2.1 VRR TVs, and it’s unlikely that it will be fixed via a firmware update.

Overall, thanks to the TV’s low input lag, fast response time, and both VRR and MBR (Motion Blur Reduction) availability, 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. however, 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. Screensaver is also a must.

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

Related:The Best Monitors For Photo And Video Editing (2020 Reviews)

Further, the LG OLED48CX displays use a WBGR 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 OLED48CX 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

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: Game, Cinema, Filmmaker Mode – for proper frame rate playback of movies, Expert (Bright Room), Expert (Dark Room), etc.

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 5.0, features the Alpha 9 Gen 3 processor, and it comes with the LG Magic Remote.

Design & Connectivity

LG OLED48CX Design

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 with HDCP 2.2 support, Ethernet, tuner, composite-in, both analog and digital audio jacks, and three USB 2.0 ports. Naturally, WiFi and Bluetooth are supported as well.

HDMI 2.1 allows for native 4K 120Hz support, as well as eARC (TrueHD, Dolby Atmos) and ALLM (Auto Low Latency Mode).

Price & Similar Displays

The LG OLED48CX goes for $1,500, whereas the 55″ model can be found for $1,400 as the 48″ variant is more sought-after by PC gamers.

At this price range, popular gaming monitors include the Samsung Odyssey G9 and the LG 38GN950. While they do offer an immersive and responsive gaming experience, their image quality and performance is no match for the LG CX. However, if you want one display for both entertainment and work, they may suit you better.

Other gaming monitors worth considering include the Acer Predator X35 and the ASUS PG35VQ with 512-zone full-array local dimming solutions. However, they’re more expensive (~$2,000) yet offer inferior image quality and performance.

As for the upcoming displays, keep an eye on the ASUS PG32UQX and the Acer X32 32″ 4K 144Hz displays with 1152-zone Mini-LED FALD backlights. These will be even more expensive (~$3,600) and still won’t offer as good image quality and performance as OLEDs.

Visit our always up-to-date best gaming monitor buyer’s guide for more information and the best deals available.

Conclusion

All in all, if you want the best image quality and incredibly smooth performance, the LG OLED48CX is the perfect display for you as long as you don’t mind its big size and the risk of image burn-in.

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 (40-120Hz)
HDMI 2.1 VRR (40-120Hz)
Speakers2x10W + 20W Subwoofer
Ports4x HDMI 2.1
Other PortsEthernet, Tuner, Composite-in, Analog audio-out, Digital audio-out, 3x USB 2.0
Brightness260 cd/m²
Brightness (HDR)800 cd/m²
Contrast RatioInfinite:1
Colors1.07 billion (true 10-bit)
97% DCI-P3 (~130% sRGB)
HDRHDR10, HLG, Dolby Vision
VESAYes (300x200mm)

The Pros:

  • Infinite contrast ratio for true blacks
  • Wide color gamut
  • Low input lag and rapid response time
  • HDMI 2.1
  • VRR up to 120Hz at 4K
  • Plenty of additional features including excellent BFI implementation

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 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.