A year ago I purchased an LG C2 42” OLED display and began using it with my main gaming system. Now, a little over a year later of full-time gaming usage, I wanted to talk about my experiences, conclusions, and what happened when I went back to a VA panel for 4 days.
June 30th of 2022 is the day I brought home my OLED display. Like a kid in a candy store, I was a tremor with anticipation as I set up the display on my main gaming rig. This display is massive, much larger than the 32” display it was replacing, but for this short article, I will not delve too much into the size difference.
A few months after I got this display I posted an article here, OLED, is the Future Now? describing my experiences with this display and my thoughts. Now over a year after getting it and 5516 hours on time (according to the TV) here is what I think now.
I have used this monitor for Gaming, browsing, media consumption, and some desktop work, such as writing Word documents, like this article. This has been my main usage PC for that entire time, so this experience will reflect I hope, what the average consumer will see from using an OLED as their primary daily display.
I took many of the suggested precautions when working with an OLED display. I do not have wallpaper on my screen, for example, just a black color background with no icons. I have the toolbar set to autohide and I turn off the display at night when I go to bed. When I step away from the PC I make an effort to move the mouse pointer off the screen. (That might seem like a lot of effort to protect a screen but after only a few days this became the normal way I function and I now find I enjoy the minimalistic look and feel of my system.
As for actual display settings, I run with a Warm 40 for the color, and Brightness is set down to 55 for HDR display. At first, I ran HDR on a per-use basis but over the last 8 months or so I have gone HDR full-time. I did do one thing that has some controversy, I turned off the auto-dimming function of the display. After just a few months that feature began to annoy me as I saw it happen in some games and I just turned it off, deciding to roll the dice and see what happened.
As for the way I used this display. For apps, and basic web browsing I used a window in the middle of the screen. When I would watch media, I would typically have full screen, and the same for gaming. Over the last year, I have played a LOT of EVE Online, and as anyone that plays it knows there are a lot of static elements on the screen. I have a screenshot below of my typical screen layout. (Greyed out names and locations 😊) I post this to give you an idea of the usage I have put the display through.
After all this daily usage, there is one big question that I’m sure is on everyone’s mind; do I see signs of burn-in on my display? After all, this is the one major drawback to OLED; the potential for image retention that can mar the amazing viewing experience. So, after all this usage, I can report ZERO signs of burn-in as I am writing this article. In fact, I just stopped and tested it again. The screen colors are smooth and uniform with no retention shadows showing anywhere on the screen.
I have to admit I was surprised. I have heard horror stories, seen the videos posted by some of the pundits about their own burn-in experiences, and was concern that it would happen to me. That early concern meant I was a lot more careful at first with my usage, but that extra care grew into habit quickly and became second nature. Now I no longer even think about it, I just do it. I also have not worried about the screen for many months now.
The image quality of the screen has not changed, the blacks are deep, and the colors almost pop off the screen. The whites, in my darker office area, are almost eye-searing even with the brightness turned down. HDR in games, when implemented well, looks amazing and auto HDR for many games elevates the image quality, the games just feel more vibrant.
Until the other weekend, I had been gaming exclusively on my OLED display. However, as I traveled to the LANWAR event, I was going to have to switch back down to a VA panel. For the event I was using the same computer, just hooked to a different display. In this case a 32” 1440P 144hz VA panel with HDR400.
Once I got the system set up at the event, I noticed the lowering of the color “pop” factor right away. It was not as drastic as I expected because the room was well-lit, the event had not officially started so the lights were on to help with setup. As the lights went down a couple of hours later the black levels of the VA panel became more “grey” than I’m used to. The VA was just not holding up well against the OLED.
HOWEVER, after a couple of hours of gaming, I no longer noticed the differences, nor cared. This is a solid VA display (provided by AOC) and provides a great gaming experience. Compared to a TN or IPS display the blacks on this VA are rich and the color pop amazing. As I walked around the event I realized my display was well above the norm for image quality. There were also some IPS displays at the event, specifically the Alienware 32” QOLED, and seeing them it was OBVIOUS they were OLED as the color and image quality were a step above everything else.
After the event, I got back on my OLED and realized a difference I had never noticed before. The deep blacks of an OLED have another benefit that I had taken for granted, they provide a huge range of dark colors. I noticed this because of my Windows taskbar. In Windows, I have the taskbar color set to the darkest color I can. On my VA panel, it does not quite look black, but it is close. On the OLED it is obvious it is just a dark grey and not black. In fact, looking at the Windows settings for colors, I found it would not allow me to use Black, actually saying the color was not supported. It seems that I’ m still discovering the depth of visuals the OLED can achieve.
So, a year later, what do I think? Well, my conclusions from the article linked earlier have not changed. An OLED display gives INCREDIBLE color quality. There is just no comparison as VA and IPS displays are not in the same league. For gaming the amazing contrast is, pardon the pun, a “game changer”.
While this might sound like I’m saying every gamer should run out and buy an OLED, I’m not going to be saying that. The price for an OLED display is still prohibitive to most gamers. The current “best-value” option, the C2 42” is still around $900, and add to this that the majority of OLED options are 4K right now. There are 1440P options, but they cost MORE than many 4K options.
Then there is still the question of longevity. I am looking at this OLED after one year of use. The typical display for a PC can last between 5 and 7 years. The burn in question Is still in play, can this display make it to the 5-year mark, a minimum I would like to see for the cost of the display.
I will be posting again when I see image issues or we hit the 2-year mark, whichever comes first. In that time frame, we might see the cost of OLED come down and that would change my conclusions for sure. Right now, however, I have to say that for many gamers, OLED is still not the best value. I suggest to all my friends, looking for a gaming display, to look at a good VA panel. The contrast and color pop, in my opinion, make it a better choice than an IPS. If you need professional-level color reproduction the IPS is still king but for a gamer that wants to watch some media as well, the VA to me is just a better experience. As for buying an OLED, if you have the money and want to make the leap I will not discourage you, the experience is amazing for sure. But until we see how this works after two, three, or even more years of real use, the cost in my opinion is just too high.
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