Use an OLED-screen as PC monitor: Tips to prevent burn-in

Using an OLED display as PC monitor is truly amazing and I can only recommend it. But for most people, burn-in is a concern. Perhaps an irrational concern for modern OLED TV’s, but hey, better safe than sorry…

I’ve been using a 55″ LG OLED55C9PLA for almost 3 years now and can say I have zero deterioration. It serves as our living-room TV, my PC monitor and gaming screen. Even though LG has built in a few systems to prevent burn-in, there are some things you try to maintain perfect image quality over the years:

  • Dim the screen. Not only is this better for your eyes, but OLED are organic LED’s. This means they will deteriorate over time based on their usage. So if you use less brightness, the lifespan of said pixels will extend drastically:
    • Set the TV to ‘energy saving’ mode whenever you can.
    • Optionally use this free and simple piece of software called ‘Dimmer which can dim the screen even more if necessary. It’s awesome for using the screen in the evening.
  • Activate dark mode in Windows, apps, websites… whenever possible. Dark pixels always use less energy and this will extend the lifespan.
  • Auto-hide the taskbar. This is by far the most static element on your screen. It’s a simple but very effective measure.
  • Set the taskbar and windows basic colors to dark grey.
  • Use a full black wallpaper or -if you really want a wallpaper- make it a slideshow of many images (circulating every few minutes), or try using one with dim/darker colors.
  • Make sure you can start all applications from your start-menu or taskbar (or dock) and just hide your desktop icons.
    How? Just right-click your desktop, select ‘view’ and uncheck “show desktop icons”.
  • Set a minimalistic dark/black screensaver like ‘Blank’ or ‘Mystify’ after a few minutes. This also prevents your music to stop playing when it turns off the screen (and disables the HDMI signal)
  • On longer sessions, occasionally physically move your windows & avoid maximizing windows. Most TV’s are quite big anyway so just scale windows as big as you need them and move them a few pixels after an hour or so.
  • Make a habit to minimize inactive/unused windows in the background
  • In games, always check if there’s an option to make in-game-HUD (Heads-up-display) elements transparent.
  • Play (browser) videos in full-screen or in a “Picture-in-picture pop-up” with this browser extension for Chrome/Edge. No static elements will be visible anymore and you can place it anywhere on your screen while you’re doing something else.
  • Also in the browser, if you use the favorites-bar, you can easily hide/show them with ctrl-shift-B. Try to hide it whenever you don’t need them for a long time.
  • Avoid using bright REDs for longer times. Red is the color that has the least amount of lifespan on OLED screens.
  • Reduce brightness a bit, and reduce Peak-Brightness levels in HDR mode.

Considering the LG built-in systems:

  • I’m not a fan of Pixel shift, as it makes the native 4K resolution a bit more blurry/less perfect so I chose not to use this.
  • I do use the ‘logo luminescence dimming’ feature at its maximum. I don’t mind static elements getting less bright after a while if it saves my pixels.
  • Always leave the TV plugged-in! This is very important as this TV will automatically run some calculations and ‘pixel refresh’ tools to optimize your screen.

So… Is it safe to use an OLED screen as a computer monitor?

Again, after about 3 years of (very intense) usage, I see absolutely NO signs of burn-in whatsoever. So I’m going to say YES, but just keep some of the above tips in mind as a precaution. Buying this OLED TV and using it as a computer screen has brought me nothing but joy!

Heck, even if i should get some very slight signs of actual burn-in over the years, the pure blacks and 100% lack of backlight-bleeding from day one will always make up for that. Also the technology and quality of OLED panels has improved greatly in recent years, so I’m confident Burn-in (or should I say burn-out) should become a thing of the paast.

When you should NOT use an OLED screen as a computer monitor?

  • If you will often/always use it in a very bright environment (OLED is often less bright and the lifespan decreases when used at maximum brightness)
  • If you are only going to use it for word/excel/PowerPoint/outlook… basic office tasks with long/continuous static content. Just go for a cheaper LCD with no risk of burn-in.
  • When you don’t care about perfect blacks
  • If the screen will be used for long uninterrupted presentations of static/repetitive content at maximum brightness. (Like digital signage TV’s in take-away restaurants)
  • If you plan to play the exact same game over and over with a very prominent HUD.
  • When you use the exact same software for 8 hours per day for over 90% of the time.

FAQ: Does an OLED Screen use less energy when it’s black compared to when it’s dark-grey?

It’s a question I often hear and the answer is obviously Yes, because the pixel turns off at black. But the difference to e.g. dark grey is very, very minimal.
In terms of OLED, you have to consider the luminescence of a ‘full white’ pixel (or #FFFFFF) as ‘using maximum energy’. So a black pixel uses 0% of said energy. But a ‘Dark Gray’ pixel (#121212) has only 0.3% of the white pixel’s luminescence. Therefore it only uses 3/1.000th of the energy a full white pixel would use. (source). So next to black, just using dark colors will save your TV or smartphone a lot of energy and therefore will also extend the pixels’ lifetimes.

As much as I’m a fan of OLED blacks and activate ‘dark mode’ on most apps, in some cases it’s better that they use very dark gray backgrounds in stead of full black. Why? Because on some cheaper or older OLED-displays, you’ll notice some smearing/smudging when the pixels have to go from full black to active and vice-versa, I remember this being quite noticeable on my old Samsung Galaxy S4.

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