LG OLED 48 CX Gaming TV Review — Simply the best

The LG OLED 48 CX is the best damn 4K gaming monitor you can get for your PC right now. There, I said it. Don’t believe me? Alright, then tell me — how many monitors are 4K, OLED with Dolby Vision, Dolby Atmos, have AMD FreeSync and Nvidia G-Sync compatibility plus 4 HDMI 2.1 ports capable of 4K120 gaming? Oh and also lets you watch the latest episode of Neighbours on Channel 10? Go on, I’ll wait.  

Now, in the spirit of fairness, the 48 CX does cost a whopping $2,799 or one of your kidneys. And before you roast me, I know there are even more expensive PC monitors out there but none of them are as complete as the CX. The sheer versatility and capability of the CX means you can shift from working on massive Excel spreadsheets in the day to watching the Mandalorian in glorious Dolby Vision and then on to slaying demons in Doom Eternal in gorgeous 4K HDR at 120fps with G-Sync.  Phew!  

LG 48 CX OLED Review   

The OLED 48 CX as its name implies is a 48-inch OLED TV. I expected it to be much smaller than my old 55-inch Samsung TV but it really isn’t. It measures a meter wide and 0.65m tall with the stand attached which altogether weighs about 20Kilos. The OLED panel itself is impossibly thin and only the speaker and connections box at the base give the TV some junk in the trunk. 

Assembling the stand was easy as thanks to clear instructions and it took me just a few minutes before I had the TV sitting on my Ikea desk where it promptly swallowed up 80% of the width. For those of you who want to wall mount this screen for the ultimate floating setup, it’s VESA mountable as well. 

The back of the CX has a bounty of connection ports giving you a variety of input options. There are four HDMI 2.1 ports which are the key to 4K 120Hz gaming which gives the CX a huge advantage over the competition that may have one such port at best. You also get two USB 2.0 ports, an Ethernet port, Composite input(who even uses this anymore), RF Antenna and Optical Audio out. 

It’s a little overwhelming how big the 48 CX when sat on a computer desk; it dwarfs even the biggest monitors I’ve ever used. The first day or so took a bit of acclimatizing but I not only got used to the size but grew to love it. The initial setup was also pretty easy to get my WiFi and streaming services like Netflix, YouTube and Disney+ up and running. 

AI all the things 

LG ThinQ AI is a smart hub for all your IoT devices

The CX interface feels really fluid and responsive and that’s all thanks to the Alpha 9 Gen3 AI processor at its heart. It’s primarily responsible for optimizing the picture and sound that the CX produces but it also powers LG’s ThinQ AI. ThinQ AI is a hub for your smart home devices as well as IoT services such as Alexa and Google Assistant. The TV presents you with a simple but effective dashboard where you can manage all your connected devices like lights, air conditioning or consoles. 

Speaking of the CX picture, it’s hard to express how phenomenal almost any content looks like on this panel. Sure, the self lit pixels of the OLED panel are primarily to thank but the Alpha 9 processor does some impressive gymnastics behind the scene to ensure you get the most out of your scenes. LG’s algorithms work out the best brightness, color, saturation and even sound for whatever is on screen.  

The AI Sound is particularly impressive. After using the AI wizard to calibrate your room acoustics, the CX adjusts its speaker output to match. But even without the fancy AI, the 48 CX outputs much louder and fuller sound than my five year old Samsung. So much so that my kids called it out to me when I let them watch Soul of Disney+. It’s been years since I bothered using my TV’s speakers for gaming but the CX makes it a very viable option. 

The Magic Remote is comfortable and intuitive but God it’s ugly

I’d seen the WebOS interface in videos and was pleased to use the actual thing for myself. The ribbon based interface flows out from the bottom right of the screen and is easy to understand and navigate. All your main or recently used apps such as Netflix, Disney+ and Apple TV appear at the bottom ribbon and then featured programming or ads appear on the one above. 

To navigate this interface, LG crafted the Magic Remote — a chunky plastic remote that controls a visible cursor on screen like a computer mouse. It’s great for moving around the screen and selecting apps. It’s prone to disappearing though and you need to give the remote a wiggle to bring back the cursor. 

In the middle the remote is what happens when a mouse scrollwheel and a controller D-pad. It allows for scrolling, clicking and directional navigation and it’s quite cool. But if you aren’t into all that button mashing, you can use the voice commands thanks to ThinQ AI. Just get Alexa or Google Assistant to do all the leg work though depending on your accent, it might be more frustrating. When I asked it to switch inputs to ‘HDMI 1’, the TV tried to search for ‘My dia ma‘, so yeah.

PC Monitor experience

The 48 CX is fantastic as a monitor but the glossy panel is really reflective.

I had little doubt about the LG OLED 48 CX’s potential as a gaming and entertainment screen but I was cautiously optimistic about using it as a PC monitor for regular things like, you know, work. After a month daily driving the CX as my only monitor, my doubts went straight past the recycle bin into the great trash heap of needless worries. 

As a 4K panel, the pixel density on the CX is great for all those common work tasks that have a ton of small text such as web browsing, Office docs and email. The color accuracy is good enough for the kinda work I do on a regular basis but you can check out the gurus at Rtings.com for a more in-depth analysis. 

Big caveat though; It wasn’t exactly plug and play to get it working right. I had to do a bit of fiddling around to get to that sweet 4K 120Hz nirvana. First, I had to get the right HDMI 2.1 cable as regular HDMI cables can’t support the bandwidth necessary for this resolution. Second, you need to set the TV to Instant Game Response which is what LG calls it’s Low latency mode. 

Next, I had to go into my Nvidia Control Panel(not Windows Display Settings) to get my graphics card to output at 4K 120Hz otherwise it stopped at 60Hz. I also had to enable G-Sync and adjust the color outputs otherwise I was getting some annoying flickering and even complete blackouts. 

Finally, I made sure Windows resolution scaling was at 100% which is best for such a large screen. Smaller 4K screens usually need 200% or more otherwise text and icons are unusably tiny. With all that done, the CX was ready for work and play and man is it an unreal experience. 48-inches at 4K makes for a ridiculous amount of desktop space to work with – just check out this screenshot below.

4K resolution on 48-inches of screen works great for a ridiculous amount of space for multitasking

One great benefit of the huge size is the amount of vertical space at your disposal. Even the best super ultrawides only offer horizontal real estate and in order to have more, they have to get wider. No such problem here. The CX offers almost the same real estate as three 27-inch ultrawide monitors in portrait mode stacked side by side. 

But it’s not all bliss. It is a bit of a problem to see all four corners of the display when you are sitting so close to the display. My desk allows me almost a meter of distance from the CX. I physically had to turn my head to see stuff  like notifications or even just the clock in the corners. There are some options liking shrinking the viewport so it sits in the middle of the screen but seriously — go big or go home. 

The other challenge I found is that the glossy panel on the CX is extremely reflective which is a huge annoyance especially during the day when there’s a lot of light coming in from windows. It often forced me to move my main app window to the middle bottom where my body was blocking any bright lights. Other than that, the CX is just a joy to use for all sorts of computing work and media consumption. 

4K gaming at 120Hz is game changing

Oh yeah, Gears 5 in 4K Ultra setting 120 fps in glorious HDR is something i’ll never forget.

Ok, enough work talk; let’s play some games. The LG OLED 48 CX has everything you need for lag free, buttery smooth gameplay. It supports Variable Refresh Rate or VRR as well as Nvidia G-Sync and AMD FreeSync so no matter your GPU choice, you’re covered. 

Most importantly, the CX has an Auto low latency mode which LG calls Instant Game Response. This special mode does away with any extraneous picture processing in order to lower input latency and improve response time and it’s what makes this TV so capable. It reduces the input lag to less than 10ms from the standard 90ms and it’s definitely noticeable. The best thing is that it automatically activates once the TV detects a gaming device like a PC or console. 

Obviously, to really test the gaming chops of the CX, I needed a beastly 4K capable machine. Thanks to scalpers everywhere, I wasn’t able to get either the Xbox Series X or PlayStation 5. However, our friends at Aftershock PC were kind enough to loan us a Hypergate Mini — their compact gaming rig that’s perfect for living room setups. I’m talking AMD Ryzen 5600X, Nvidia GeForce RTX 3070, 16GB of RAM and of course, a fast SSD drive. 

First up, Doom Eternal. At 4K Ultra Nightmare settings with HDR active, the game runs perfectly at the native synced 120fps while looking hella good. Even with V-sync off, the CX did a phenomenal job rendering frames smoothly with no tearing. I got similar results in Apex Legends, and Fortnite which looks insanely good on an OLED screen. The Witcher 3 was almost laughable running well over 150fps in 4K Ultra and the sunsets in the White Orchard region were truly breathtaking. I’ll say it again, there really isn’t anything quite like proper HDR gaming on an OLED at 4K 120fps. 

Even 1440p 120Hz gaming looks great on such a massive screen

And then the sound, sheesh. The 48 CX’s beefy speakers output clear and punchy game sound with explosions thumping and gunfire is sharp and visceral. The AI Sound engine does an excellent job of translating Game signals for a rich and enjoyable sound. It’s great for non-competitive shooters which require a level of pinpoint accuracy these speakers can’t achieve.   

Make no mistake, as glorious as it is gaming on this big, beautiful panel, the size does make it a bit more fatiguing for your eyes that travel so much to see HUD elements. If you love playing competitive shooters like CoD: Warzone, it’s exhausting keeping an eye on the mini-map to track enemy locations not to mention your HUD. There’s good reason why eSport pros use smaller 27-inch flat panels. 

However, if you love single player adventure or RPG games like I do, the CX is an absolute delight thanks to the greater immersion it offers. You can take your time to truly admire the glorious visuals. I’ve been playing Marvel’s Spider-man and the Last of Us Remastered on the Playstation 4 Pro and boy is it the way to play. It’s a damn shame I didn’t get a copy of CyberPunk 2077(or is it?) while i had this TV.

And this is what makes the CX a perfect desktop media hub for PC gamers who also have the next gen consoles. The wealth of ports meant I could have both my Xbox One X and PlayStation 4 Pro also connected to the CX for high resolution gaming. I love having a single work and gaming space and I can see many streamers enjoying such a setup.

Verdict

Clutter aside, the CX makes it easy to create the ultimate work, gaming and entertainment setup

So there you have it. I can say plenty more about the LG OLED 48 CX but that would be a five thousand word review. I’m hoping I’ve touched on all the key notes to show you that this is the best damn TV/ Gaming monitor money can buy. I can’t think of any other monitor or TV that comes close. While I initially thought that it’s too big for most work desk setups, I now can’t live with smaller, less punchy monitors. I’m even more aware as I type this review on an excellent but comparably tiny 27-inch monitor. 

What I love the most about the 48 CX is its breadth of capability and how versatile it is. The last month has seen me turn my work desk into a mini mancave where all my consoles live, next to my desktop PC. I was a self contained working, gaming, Netflixing machine and that dear friends, is worth the hefty $2,800 price of admission. If you’ve invested in the next gen consoles, it’d be dumb to not also get a capable TV like this if you can afford it.

You most certainly won’t regret it.


LG Australia kindly loaned PowerUp! the OLED 48 CX for the purpose of this review.

LG OLED 48 CX Gaming TV Review
LIKES
Incredible picture quality in all scenarios
4K 120Hz gaming
AI Sound
Impressive versatility for work, game & entertainment
Ton of connectivity
WebOS is fluid & intiutive
DISLIKES
Very expensive
Tad big for most work desks
Magic remote isn't sexy as the TV
10
Simply the best 4K gaming TV

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Kizito Katawongahttp://www.medium.com/@katawonga
Kizzy is our Tech Editor. He's a total nerd with design sensibilities who's always on the hunt for the latest, greatest and sexiest tech that enhances our work and play. When he's not testing the latest gadgets or trying to listen to his three whirlwind daughters, Kizzy likes to sink deep into a good story-driven single player game.

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