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

Having an OLED display for your PC is truly amazing and I can only recommend it. But for most people, burn-in is a concern.

I’ve been using the 55″ LG OLED55C9PLA for almost a year now. It serves as our living-room TV and most of the time as my PC monitor. Even though LG has built in a few precautions to prevent burn-in, there are still precautions you can take yourself 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), preferably dark ones
  • Make sure you can start all applications from your taskbar and then hide your desktop icons. (right-click your desktop, select ‘view’ and uncheck “show desktop icons”)
  • Set a minimalistic dark/black screensaver like ‘Mystify’ after about 7 minutes. Not only does this prevent your music to stop playing when it turns off the screen (and disables the HDMI signal), it also looks absolutely amazing!
    However: do not use colorful aquariums or other screensavers where parts of the image still remain bright and/or static. (You could use aquariums if the fish just float in a black abyss, without backgrounds. Again this effect can be very cool!)
  • Occasionally physically move your windows and avoid maximizing windows. Just use them as big as you need them
  • 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 (Head-up-display) elements transparent or hide them alltogether.
  • 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?

After about a year of (very intense) usage, I see absolutely NO signs of burn-in whatsoever. So I’m going to say YES, but only if you are willing to consider the above measurements. 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 the passed few years, so I’m confident to keep it to an absolute minimum.

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 TV’s in airports)
  • If you plan to play the same games 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.

Bonus question: 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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