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LG CX vs LG C1: Which OLED TV should you buy?

Two of the best TVs we've ever tested square off.

The LG C1 OLED displaying 4K/HDR content in a living room setting Credit: Reviewed / Jackson Ruckar

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In recent years, OLED TVs belonging to LG's "C" line have claimed the top spot in our ranking of the best TVs money can buy. The 2020 LG CX and the 2021 LG C1 are less kitted out than LG's luxury G1 OLED, but their near-perfect performance, cutting edge features, and friendlier price tag make them a better buy for most folks.

Right now, the LG C1 is still sharing retail shelf space with the LG CX. Since the all-new LG C2 is now available, many folks are wondering if they'd be better off saving money on an older LG OLED. Before you commit to either TV, let's take a closer look at both and determine which should be the centerpiece in your home theater.

Buy the LG C1 at Amazon

Buy the LG CX at Amazon

Price

The LG C1 OLED in the background with someone holding its Magic Remote in the foreground
Credit: Reviewed / Jackson Ruckar

The LG C1 (seen here) features the newest version of LG's Magic Remote and two additional screen sizes: 48 inches and 83 inches.

Both the LG CX and LG C1 were released alongside LG’s slightly fancier “Gallery” OLED TVs, making them the second priciest LG OLED TVs of their respective years. For the sake of clarity, we’ll look at both the MSRP of each series lineup as well as their current sale price. Although there’s no guarantee that the sale prices will still be the same by the time you read this, the price of these TVs will probably be closer to their current sale price than their original MSRPs until they're gone.

Here’s how both of the series shake out:

LG CX:

LG C1:

When it comes to screen size options, the newer of the two TVs has a slight edge, offering an 83-inch model, which is great for shoppers who are looking to splash out on a gargantuan screen. Due to the imminent release of the LG C2, sale prices for both of these TVs vary from day to day. Surprisingly, despite the fact that the C1 is a newer TV, its current prices are either lower than the CX or roughly the same (except for the 77-inch model).

Our pick: Draw

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Design

The LG CX displaying 4K/HDR content in a living room setting
Credit: Reviewed / Jackson Ruckar

The LG C1 features a near-identical design to the LG CX (seen here).

Save for a couple of minor differences, the LG CX and the LG C1 are nearly indistinguishable from one another. Fortunately, the design elements are fantastic, so you’re getting a terrific-looking TV no matter what.

Both TVs feature the razor-thin panels that OLEDs are famous for, with a thicker chassis that houses the TV’s internals extending downward from the panel’s midsection. The back of both TVs features two tones of gray: the back of the actual display consists of a smooth metal while the back of the chassis is wrapped in a thick plastic that’s been textured to resemble brushed metal.

When we reviewed the C1, the out-of-market unit we received on loan featured a white panel and chassis rather than the standard two-tone gray design that you’re likely to find in the U.S. If you live in North America, you’ll probably be getting a black-and-gray TV, regardless of whether you opt for the CX or the C1.

A close-up of the LG C1's trapezoidal stand, as seen from the side
Credit: Reviewed / Jackson Ruckar

The LG C1 (seen here) and the LG CX both feature a trapezoidal stand that extends out in front of the TV at a downward angle.

Both TVs feature the same stand: a downward-angled, trapezoidal slab whose counterweight is hidden behind the panel. The sloped angle of the stand is designed to reflect audio toward the audience, but it’s not the most accommodating design for soundbar owners, who will need to position their device in front of their OLED’s protruding stand.

Lastly, both the CX and C1 come with slightly different variants of LG’s Magic Remote (named after its motion-operated, point-and-click functionality). The CX version is closer to a football shape, so it’s more likely to wobble on a surface, but other than that, these clickers are almost identical.

All told, there are no major differences between the designs of the CX and the C1. Both of these TVs are posh, astonishingly thin at their narrowest points, and strike a sleek pose.

Our pick: Draw

Features and smart platform

The LG C1 OLED TV displaying the webOS home screen in a living room setting

In addition to the newest version of webOS, the LG C1 (seen here) also features a gaming-related settings menu called Game Optimizer.

When it comes to extra features and software, there are two key differences between the CX and the C1 that you ought to consider. The first has to do with LG’s smart platform, webOS. Being a newer TV, the C1 comes with the latest iteration of webOS, which takes on a slightly different form than its predecessors.

Earlier versions of webOS—including the version found on the CX—feature a user interface that primarily lives in the bottom third of the screen. This allows you to jump from app to app without losing sight of the content. The C1’s newer version of webOS uses a home screen as its main jumping-off point, which means that most app management happens with the software’s user interface taking up 100% of the screen. LG has said that it wanted to put streaming content front and center, hence the webOS redesign.

All told, the newest version of webOS is zippy, easy to navigate, and its app selection offers plenty of flexibility. Unless you’re familiar with—and passionate about—the original webOS experience, you'll likely find the newest version of the smart platform to be superior.

Only the C1 offers LG’s Game Optimizer for easy-access gaming enhancements.

The second biggest difference in the features department has to do with gaming. Both OLEDs are equipped with FreeSync, G-Sync, Auto Low Latency Mode, and four HDMI 2.1 ports capable of 4K gaming at 120fps, but only the C1 offers LG’s Game Optimizer, a software suite that puts gaming-related settings in a single, easy-to-access drawer. The Game Optimizer menu features several genre-specific picture presets, black and white stabilizers, as well as options to improve motion and input lag.

Both the CX and the C1 are among the best TVs you can buy for gaming on the Xbox Series X and PlayStation 5, and both feature terrific smart platforms, but the C1 has the slight edge in this category.

Our pick: C1

Performance

The LG C1 OLED TV displaying 4K/HDR content in a living room setting
Credit: Reviewed / Jackson Ruckar

The LG C1 (seen here) features a slightly brighter picture than the CX, but in most cases, it's not noticeable—both TVs offer some of the best picture quality we've ever seen.

Shortly after we published our LG C1 review, we updated our ranking for the best TVs you can buy, placing the C1 in the #1 spot—where the CX used to rank. But does the LG C1 really perform better than the CX?

In short, the answer is yes, but not by much. If you were to put the two side by side, you might notice some differences. The C1 is marginally brighter than the CX, but it’s really only noticeable during HDR content. Specular highlights (like the light reflecting off a car or flying sparks) tend to look brighter on the C1, too. In addition, the C1 does a slightly better job depicting the subtle gradation of shadow tones, though you'll need quite a keen eye to pick up on the difference there.

The C1 is marginally brighter than the CX.

Unsurprisingly, both OLEDs produce rich, accurate colors regardless of content; they each saturate 100% of the SDR color gamut (Rec.709) and approximately 97% of the HDR color gamut (DCI-P3). When it comes to motion handling, the TVs are neck and neck, too, with native 120Hz refresh rates and motion enhancement sliders that, when used with restraint, help to smooth out motion with minimal artifacts.

In a handful of ways, the LG C1 is the better-performing TV of the two. For most folks, its improvements aren’t substantial enough to notice, but an edge is an edge, especially with pricing so similar, and the C1 certainly has an edge in the performance department.

Our pick: LG C1

And the winner is…

The LG C1 OLED TV displaying 4K/HDR content in a living room setting
Credit: Reviewed / Jackson Ruckar

The LG C1 (seen here) is only marginally better than last year's CX. If you can find the CX for a substantially lower sale price, it might be worth choosing over the C1.

The LG C1 is—technically speaking—a better TV than the LG CX. It focuses more on gaming than its predecessor, as its Game Optimizer puts a bigger spotlight on the TV’s various hardware and software enhancements. The C1 also gets slightly brighter than the CX—a welcome improvement, despite its relatively small impact on the viewing experience.

At one point in time, the CX was substantially lower in price than the C1 on account of it being a year older. With the release of the LG C2, the C1's price has tumbled all the way down to the CX's level. With both TVs occupying the same price bracket, there's even more of a reason to invest in the C1 over the CX. If you really want the latest and greatest, you can always just move up to the C2, though you'll definitely pay up for what we expect to be a brighter screen carrying some other enhancements.

If you manage to spot the CX on sale for a significantly lower price than what we've reported here, it would be an absolute steal; despite being released a couple of years ago, the CX is still an incredible TV that will look fantastic for years to come. Otherwise, the C1 has the edge and it's a great buy when priced well below the latest in the series, so if you're looking to get a killer deal, the time is right.

Buy the LG C1 at Amazon

Buy the LG CX at Amazon


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Prices were accurate at the time this article was published but may change over time.