Product: LG C1 48-inch 4K Smart Self-Lit OLED TV w/ AI ThinQ
Type: 4K OLED TV
Price: $2999 AUD
Availability: Out Now
With the arrival of the next-generation of home console hardware from Sony and Microsoft, and PC graphics from NVIDIA and AMD, we’ve also seen the arrival of HDMI 2.1. Where the unassuming .1 in this new input standard bridged the gap between the high refresh-rate realm of PC displays and that of the traditional HDMI-based 4K TVs used for Netflix, Stan, Amazon Prime, and so forth.
HDMI 2.1 allows for 4K 120 Hz with HDR enabled, using the full wide-colour spectrum. For those looking for a new gaming TV in 2021 it’s basically a must - and the more ports that are 2.1 the better. This also means that home consoles are now well and truly in the place PC gaming has been for a few years now. Performance on par with improved fidelity and picture quality.
Translation, the gaming experience has become as smooth as it is jaw-dropping to look at no matter whether you’re on a couch or at a desk.
High refresh-rates, VRR, a focus on colour and image quality, these are all considerations found on the journey towards picking the right display for console and PC gaming.
HDMI 2.1 allows for 4K 120 Hz with HDR enabled, using the full wide-colour spectrum. For those looking for a new gaming TV in 2021 it’s basically a must - and the more ports that are 2.1 the better.
Which brings us to LG’s new C1 OLED range, which attempts to answer the question of whether or not a single display can do it all with a resounding ‘Yes!’. Which was something we found out when we reviewed LG’s previous model, the LG CX 48-inch OLED. If you’re wondering where the latest C1 OLED range from LG has the edge over previous models, well, the answer to that lies in the gaming department. And the new Game Optimiser mode.
More than a simple calibration tool used to boost image sharpness or brightness when gaming, LG’s new Game Optimiser sees the arrival of a true GTG 1ms response time. And input latency that puts performance on par or higher than some of the best IPS panels on the market. LG has stepped up its game, literally, with Game Optimiser. A suite of features that match the LG OLED range’s peerless image quality.
Design and Features
Although this review is focused mainly on the game performance of the LG C1 OLED it’s worth reiterating that we’re still talking about LG’s OLED TV range. Available in multiple sizes, starting with the LG C1 48-inch going all the way up to a whopping 83-inches. No matter the size you get a sleek glass panel so thin that setting up an LG OLED has become something of a test of mettle -- TVs and displays aren’t supposed to be this thin.
If you’re wondering where the latest C1 OLED range from LG has the edge over previous models, well, the answer to that lies in the gaming department. And the new Game Optimiser mode.
With the LG C1 OLED range you get the best image processors in the biz thanks to LG’s Alpha 9 Gen4 AI Processor and one of the most versatile UI’s thanks to ThinQ AI and the silky smooth operating system. From streaming app support and performance right through to Dolby Vision IQ and FILMMAKER MODE for watching 4K movie and TV content. You can also plug in an external drive and watch H265 encoded HDR content seamlessly and instantly.
Screen Type: OLED
Screen Size: 48"
Resolution: 3840x2160 (4K@120fps)
Processor: α9 Gen 4 AI Processor 4K
HDR Format: Dolby Vision, HDR10, HLG
Features: Dolby Vision IQ, HDR10 Pro
Game Features: Variable Refresh Rate (VRR), Nvidia G-Sync Compatible, AMD FreeSync Premium, HGiG Mode, Auto Low Latency Mode (ALLM), Game Optimiser
SDR Picture Modes: 10 (Vivid, Standard, FILMMAKER MODE, APS, Cinema, Cricket, Game Optimiser, ISF Bright Room, ISF Dark Room)
Back to gaming. With last year’s CX model we saw the arrival of HDMI 2.1 and LG’s support of VRR technology, covering both AMD FreeSync and NVIDIA G-Sync. Which right off the bat put the LG OLED range in a class all its own. These two features signified that LG was serious about gaming for PC and next-gen consoles. Not that it wasn’t before, LG’s UltraGear range of PC displays have grown from strength to strength and LG was one of the first TV manufacturers to introduce G-Sync compatibility into its TV line-up.
But, with the CX range we saw LG’s commitment to game-performance -- specifically in the OLED range -- brought to the fore. And truth be told, it’s been perfected here. No matter the refresh-rate the LG CX 48-inch 4K OLED TV features a 1ms GTG response time -- a crisp image without artifacting or ghosting. Whether that’s running in 4K at 120Hz or 4K 60 Hz. And when coupled with the Game Optimiser mode, you also get negligible input latency. That is the lag between pressing a button on, say, the PS5’s DuelSense controller and then watching the corresponding action play out on screen.
Wind the clock back a few years, or a few OLED generations, and both input latency and response times weren’t quite on par with what you’d want for high-end modern competitive gaming. Or even when compared to average non-OLED displays. That story has changed, to the point where you’d be hard pressed to find a more versatile and impressive display for pure gaming.
Ever since home consoles went 4K back in 2017 (with the arrival of the Xbox One X and the PlayStation 4 Pro), the LG OLED range quickly became one of the most desired and talked about bits of gaming display hardware that you could buy. Even when it had the aforementioned input latency shortcoming, or fell short in overall peak-HDR brightness when stacked up against the non-OLED competition. It all came down to the difference that OLED brought to the table, image quality that sets it apart. Which still sets it apart.
Explaining the OLED difference is fairly easy, it all boils down to LG’s own ‘Self-Lit Pixel’ terminology being true. And remarkably, not some marketing buzzword created to support some sort of processing features you’re probably going to turn off. When it comes to OLED any dark scenes or transitions (or sections of an image that are supposed to be black) will be black.
And the result at its most prominent, a complete fade-to-black scene transition, looks as if the TV is turned off. Each pixel on an LG OLED display is lit based on the signal it receives, and if that signal is black it stays black. No colour or light bleeding, just crispness that once seen is hard to look elsewhere. Compared to traditional LCD panels across VA, IPS, and other backlight methods, the difference is night-and-day.
Each pixel on an LG OLED display is lit based on the signal it receives, and if that signal is black it stays black. No colour or light bleeding, just crispness that once seen is hard to look elsewhere.
A 4K image features over 8-million pixels, and in the case of the LG OLED that’s effectively 8-million lighting zones. The immediate benefit is infinite contrast, with colours that stand out and every scene featuring uniform depth and clarity.
LG was the first company to bring OLED TVs and panels to the market in a big way, and the C1 is a testament to both the incremental and substantial improvements we’ve seen. From a HDR perspective this is the brightest model to date, with the C1 range delivering great HDR performance across games like DOOM Eternal and Call of Duty Black Ops Cold War. It might not be on par with the brightest LCD display (in that technologies like QLED have gotten brighter over time too), but when coupled with the infinite contrast of the LG OLED’s self-lit pixels the trade-off is more than worth it.
Standard LCD tech found in 4K TVs more often than not fall short compared to the sorts of IPS and even VA panels you find in modern PC gaming displays. All of the stuff implemented to make 4K movie and TV content look good has to be turned off in order to keep the input latency down. With OLED this isn’t the case based on the nature of the technology. An OLED TV doesn’t require contrast or black level processing to present something that looks as good as it performs.
So then, why aren’t most TVs aimed at gamers OLED? Well, that comes down to production costs and some of the drawbacks with the technology. Namely the potential for burn-in, that is image retention that can happen over time and stay there. Like, say, a channel logo or a health bar. Testing for burn-in is something that requires time, lots of it. But with LG’s pixel-shift and auto-dimming features, it’s something that’s at least baked into the design here -- which is good. As is the out-of-the-box warranty.
Going back to HDMI 2.1 and the Game Optimiser mode, this is where the LG C1 48-inch 4K Smart Self-Lit OLED TV becomes one of the most versatile displays you can get for gaming. Even without the ability to tilt or move the display when in use -- it’s still a TV after all. In testing for this review we paired the display with a PC featuring an NVIDIA GeForce RTX 3090 and GeForce RTX 3080 Ti, in addition to hooking up both a PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X. With four HDMI 2.1 inputs in the C1 range that also means all four could be set up in one go.
No matter the refresh-rate the LG CX 48-inch 4K OLED TV features a 1ms GTG response time -- a crisp image without artifacting or ghosting. Whether that’s running in 4K at 120Hz or 4K 60 Hz.
For PC, having both NVIDIA G-Sync compatibility and 120 Hz with the impressive low response time is incredible to witness in motion. Taking the recent ray-tracing RTX On patch for DOOM Eternal for a spin, which also features DLSS, getting to witness the fast and crisp movement of that game, on a display this size, is nothing but ‘wow’. And that’s with the 48-inch model too, the smallest in the LG C1 OLED range.
Switching over to great looking PC titles like Horizon Zero Dawn and even the recent indie gem Chernobylite, we were able to create a custom 3840x1600 UltraWide aspect ratio and maintain 10-bit colour, G-Sync, and all of the Game Optimiser goodness. The UltraWide aspect ratio is something you only see in the PC space, offering widescreen cinematic immersion. And thanks to the OLED’s Self-Lit pixels the effect is a true UltraWide experience that you can switch back and forth to at will.
On the console front the story remains equally impressive, from playing Gears 5 on Xbox Series X to Ratchet & Clank on PS5 - the infinite contrast, crisp colours, and bright HDR creates a stunning image. Again, bolstered by Game Optimiser. Which is also versatile, giving you a real-time look at things like FPS, VRR, and Low Latency and the ability to adjust image brightness and shadow detail in a subtle Gamma-like way.
In the end it’s Game Optimiser and the incremental improvements made to an already formidable display that make the LG C1 OLED range one of the best TVs and displays for gaming. With a true 1ms response time and low-latency input LG has set the bar so high that it’s hard to see where it can go from here.
What we liked
OLED black levels, colours and picture quality still feels next level
Game Optimiser Mode is a game changer
1ms response time at 4K 120 Hz
Low latency for precise input
G-Sync and FreeSync support
Takes full advantage of PS5 and Xbox Series X features
HDMI 2.1 make it a beast for modern NVIDIA and AMD graphics cards
Supports custom UltraWide aspect ratios on PC
Excellent Dolby Vision and HDR performance
Filmmaker Mode offer industry standard calibration for watching movies