LG CX vs LG C1: Which OLED TV should you buy?
Two of the best TVs we've ever tested square off.
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In recent years, OLED TVs belonging to LG's "C" line have claimed our #1 spot in our ranking of the best TVs money can buy. LG's C Series TVs—the LG C9, the LG CX, and this year's LG C1—are less kitted out than LG's luxury Gallery OLED line, but their near-perfect performance, cutting edge features, and friendlier price tag make them a better buy for most folks.
This year, the LG C1 is sharing retail shelf space with last year's LG CX, and their similar spec sheets are making some folks wonder if they'd be better off saving money on the year-old CX. Before you commit to either, let's take a closer look at both TVs and determine which should be the centerpiece in your home theater.
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. Here’s how both of the series shake out in terms of their sizes and original prices:
- 48-inch (LG OLED48CXPUB), MSRP $1,499
- 55-inch (LG OLED55CXPUA), MSRP $1,799
- 65-inch (LG OLED65CXPUA), MSRP $2,799
- 77-inch (LG OLED77CXPUA), MSRP $4,999
- 48-inch (LG OLED48C1PUB), MSRP $1,499.99
- 55-inch (LG OLED55C1PUB), MSRP $1,799.99
- 65-inch (LG OLED65C1PUB), MSRP $2,499.99
- 77-inch (LG OLED77C1PUB), MSRP $3,799.99
- 83-inch (LG OLED83C1PUA), MSRP $5,999.99
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.
At the time of their respective releases, the 65- and 77-inch variants of the CX were priced higher than the 65- and 75-inch variants of the C1. That said, the LG CX has the benefit of being a year old, so these days, you’re more likely to find it on sale. For that reason, the CX beats the C1 in this all-important category.
Our pick: CX
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.
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
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, we find the newest version of the smart platform to be superior.
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
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.
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, but for most folks, its improvements aren’t substantial enough to notice.
Our pick: LG C1
And the winner is…
If you really get down to it, 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.
That said, this year is probably the best time to buy an LG CX, as the release of the C1 is lowering its sale price and it hasn’t yet been pushed out of stock at most retailers. The CX is only a slightly less impressive TV than the C1, but you can potentially get it for a substantially lower price. If you decide to go that route, we recommend that you act fast, as stock appears to be selling quickly.
You’d be lucky to own either of these incredible OLED TVs. Whether the newer C1 is worth the likely increase in cost is entirely up to you.
Prices were accurate at the time this article was published but may change over time.