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OLED TVs and monitors are all the rage these days and, frankly, there’s a very good reason why that’s the case — they offer an unparalleled viewing experience and are the de facto best possible option when it comes to both gaming and content consumption.
They’re not without fault, though. The first issue and, well, the most obvious one is the price. OLED gaming monitors are still somewhat of a novelty and, as such, rarely go for less than a thousand dollars/euros. OLED TVs are often a bit more expensive, but they at least tend to go on sale every so often.
In other words: this kind of technology is not for the faint of budget.
There are other issues as well, and we’ve made sure to cover them in great detail down below. Still, before we delve any deeper into the nitty-gritty, we first ought to explain what is it exactly that makes OLED panels so darn alluring and, as of late, popular?
OLED TV or Monitor — Biggest Benefits
OLED displays come with plentiful benefits, most of which simply cannot be matched by other types of panels. Monitors/TVs with full-array local dimming (or FALD, for short) are incredibly competitive, but they’re still not as good or as impressive as the best OLED displays on the market.
So what is it exactly that makes OLED displays so darn alluring and, for the most part, worth the price of admission?
- High HDR brightness — If you’re after a spectacular HDR experience, look no further than OLED. These panels are not exactly the brightest on the market, but because of their ability to locally dim each individual pixel, their HDR performance can only be described as incredibly impressive.
- Jaw-dropping contrast ratio — OLED displays are most known for having per-pixel local dimming. There’s no one backlight or, say, a series of (either large or small) local dimming zones. Instead, each individual pixel lights itself up. This results in the absolute best and highest contrast ratio out of all available panel technologies.
- Blazing fast response times — OLED displays offer the best possible response times on the market and, frankly, it’s not even close. We’re talking less than 0.35ms in most cases and, in some, even less than that.
The best IPS and VA panels on the market typically have between 2 and 5+ millisecond response times which, while certainly stellar and worth your hard earned money, are nowhere near as fast as what OLED panels bring to the table. When you pair such blazing response times with 120/175/240Hz refresh rates, you get a level of responsiveness (and a lack of ghosting) that no other panel technology can match.For singleplayer titles like, say, God of War or Hogwarts Legacy, you won’t notice that big of a difference. In fast-paced multiplayer ones, however, these things add up and can, by all means, be the difference between victory and defeat.
- Color accuracy — Most OLED displays cover between 70 and 80% of the Rec. 2020 color space. That, in and of itself, is astounding. This results in a kind of HDR performance — one defined by its vividness, saturation, contrast, and so on and so forth — that is basically unmatched.
They’re not always the most color accurate out-of-the-box, but they do have dedicated sRGB modes which always have a Delta E average of less than 1.5 (with ±1 being the most common result). In other words: OLED panels can adapt to your needs and workflows which makes them an absolutely stellar option for both content consumption and content creation.
OLED TV or Monitor for Gaming? — Is It Worth It?
If you have the right kind of budget and want the absolute best possible gaming experience, going with an OLED display not only makes sense but is perhaps even recommended. There’s nothing quite like it and, while they are mighty expensive, they truly are worth the price of admission — regardless if you’re into narrative-driven, single-player titles or fast-paced multiplayer ones like, say, Call of Duty or Apex Legends or whatever else.
They do, however, come with their own unique list of (potential) problems and hindrances, some of which may well be deal-breaking depending on your use-case. No other type of panel comes with so many asterisks, so you kind of have to take the good with the bad and, well, read the fine print and educate yourself so as to prevent these things from happening.
If you’re interested in gaming on an OLED display, you absolutely need to be aware of the following:
Permanent Burn-in — It Happens
If you happen to display static (i.e. non-moving) images or graphics for longer periods of time, you are likely to encounter what is called “burn-in” at some point. You can think of burn-in as a form of image retention, albeit one that doesn’t go away.
OLED subpixels require a fair bit more voltage in order to emit light when compared to other panel technologies, hence the risk of burn-in. OLED displays do come with certain built-in safety features like pixel shifting and whatnot, but these things are only fully effective when they’re paired with appropriate use.
Image retention can happen on other types of panels as well, but it’s so rare that it’s not even worth mentioning. And, well, that’s why screensavers were invented in the first place. With OLEDs, however, it’s a very real issue and is definitely something you need to keep in mind before making any kind of purchasing decision.
There are never any guarantees. Some people have used their OLED TVs for years and haven’t experienced any burn in whatsoever. Others had encountered this issue just six-to-twelve months after buying their TVs.
It all depends on a myriad of different factors, but the main takeaway is that, if you use your TV in a regular manner — i.e. watch different kinds of content, don’t crank up the brightness too much, and allow the TV/monitor to employ its (anti-burn-in) safety features and screensavers — you’re not really at risk of experiencing burn-in be it in the short- or long-term.
Still, this risk never fully goes away, and that’s definitely something worth keeping in mind. These things are pricey. And, well, they’re miles better than the OLED TVs and panels of yore, but burn-in was never fully dealt with as it is a risk inherent to the panel technology itself.
That’s why OLED TVs and monitors aren’t really recommended for regular, day-to-day tasks one would do on a PC like browsing the web, typing out emails, and so on and so forth. That kind of workflow involves a metric ton of static content (user interface elements, status bars, menus, icons, etc.) which, in turn, increases the risk of burn-in considerably.
To learn more about this issue, make sure to watch the following video:
All OLED panels these days still come with non-RGB subpixel arrays. Why is this an issue? Well, it’s rather simple: it leads to poor text clarity throughout Windows (or any other operating system, for that matter). It is most evident through the red and green fringing on the top and bottom of any text you might be looking at whilst browsing the web, typing out a document, or whatever else.
Source: Monitors Unboxed
Some people don’t really notice this all that much whereas others can’t stand the sight of it. To each their own, but it is a problem, and it’s not going to get solved any time soon. One possible solution would require OLED panels to be much more pixel dense (250-300 PPI) at which point this fringing wouldn’t be as visible.
You can also employ certain third-party applications to alleviate this issue to a certain degree, but it’s not as comprehensive a fix as one would hope. Still, it’s something worth exploring. You can watch the following video for more information:
This really isn’t an issue when it comes to gaming and content consumption, but if you plan on doing any kind of productivity work or, say, browsing the web for prolonged periods of time, it might start to irk you (an understatement).
Low SDR Brightness
OLED monitors can get incredibly bright when it comes to viewing HDR content (upwards of 900 nits), but their SDR “performance” leaves a bit to be desired. The best OLED gaming monitors on the market can only reach about 250 nits which, while definitely sufficient in certain environments, is by no means impressive. If you have a lot of natural light in your room (or light in general), 250 nits might not be enough.
This, of course, is highly subjective. Some folks rarely have the need to increase their brightness over 200 nits, whereas others prefer to run their monitors at 300 or 400 for the most optimal viewing experience. The only problem, however, is that this issue of sorts — or limitation, rather — cannot be circumvented.
Source: Monitors Unboxed
Some manufacturers cover burn-in with their warranties. Others, however, play the “vague game.” Burn-in is a very real issue, although the likelihood of it occurring heavily depends on how one uses one’s display — for which purposes, for how long, at what brightness level, and so on and so forth.
With that in mind, one would expect manufacturers to offer at least some kind of protection so that, if burn-in does ends up occuring, you’d feel taken care of. That, unfortunately, isn’t the case, so before making any kind of purchasing decision, make sure to read the fine print; in other words: study the warranty your monitor/TV of interest comes with and whether it includes any burn-in coverage.
These TVs/monitors are incredibly expensive, so it’s best to arm yourself with as much peace of mind as possible.
Alienware monitors (which are manufactured by DELL) often come with three-year warranties which cover burn-in, whereas Samsung ones vary depending on your region and rarely (if ever) have burn-in coverage. Less than ideal, all things considered.
Potential Fan Noise
Most OLED displays are actively cooled. That isn’t necessarily an issue or something to be wary about, but it can, in some instances — and with some models — result in a fair bit of unwanted noise. Sometimes these issues are fixed through firmware updates. Other times they are not. It’s really hit or miss.
The real issue arises when the fan starts spinning at the most random of moments — sometimes even when the monitor is in a sleep state. This doesn’t affect the vast majority of models out there, but it’s definitely something you need to keep in mind. The Alienware AW3423DW, in particular, is known to have this issue, so avoid it at all costs.
Having a fan inside the monitor is a nice addition as it essentially lowers the risk of burn-in, but if it’s not tuned appropriately, it can end up hindering the overall user experience.
OLED displays — be they regular, large-size TVs or gaming-oriented monitors — are absolutely incredible. There’s no doubt about it. Their contrast ratios and HDR performance are jaw-dropping and, needless to say, they are worth the (admittedly quite high) asking price.
Still, they come with numerous different limitations and peculiarities, some of which are potentially quite worrisome and, depending on the use case, problematic. The technology itself isn’t perfect, but it’s still exceptional; OLEDs are essentially a quantum leap when it comes to gaming performance and general content consumption which makes them the “end game” for anyone looking to acquire the absolute best viewing experience money can buy (until MiniLED becomes a bit more ubiquitous and affordable).
And so, to answer the opening question: are OLED TVs/monitors worth it? Without a shadow of a doubt.