LG C3 vs CX OLED TV: Which Should You Buy in 2023?

As an experienced tech specialist here at History Computer, I get a lot of questions from friends about which TV they should purchase. And the LG CX and new LG C3 OLED models always come up in the conversation.

I totally get the dilemma. The CX first launched back in 2020 but remains widely available at very tempting price points. Yet the C3 launched just last year with a bunch of next-gen enhancements. So is it worth paying extra for the latest and greatest? Or can you save money and still get nearly top-notch performance from the CX?

That‘s exactly what we‘ll unpack today in this epic guide!

We‘ll dive deep on questions like:

  • How does OLED technology work and what sets it apart in the first place?
  • Where are the key differences between the two models when looking at picture quality, smart features, gaming performance and more?
  • What kinds of improvements can we expect for both models moving forward?

And ultimately:

  • Which model is the right choice for your needs in 2023?

Let‘s get started!

What Makes OLED TVs So Special?

The single decision that has the biggest impact on your TV enjoyment over time is the fundamental display technology inside.

And when it comes to creating stunning, cinematic images with perfect contrast and vibrant color, OLED reigns supreme over traditional LED/LCD televisions.

But what exactly sets this increasingly popular display technology apart? Let‘s break it down.

How OLED Works

OLED stands for "organic light emitting diode." Rather than requiring a backlight like LED/LCD screens, OLED panels emit their own light individually at the pixel level.

This is achieved using electroluminescent layers of organic compound films that light up when electricity passes through them. Millions of these tiny OLEDs clustered together is what creates the vibrant 4K images you see.

Perfect Black Levels

One of the immediate advantages of OLED panels lighting up independently is the ability to turn pixels completely off to generate true, inky black shades at a moment‘s notice. This creates virtually infinite contrast ratios.

LCD screens look grey by comparison because the ever-present backlight bleeds through even when color filters are fully dimmed.

Here is a side-by-side example of how much more cinematic depth you achieve in dark scenes thanks to OLED:

(Image Credit: rtings.com)

As you can see, the details preserved in shadows with OLED tech is dramatically better.

Faster Response Times

Along with perfect black levels, OLED panels are ultra responsive to electrical signals thanks to their diode-based pixels lighting up directly. They can turn off and on faster than the liquid crystals used in LED/LCD displays.

As an example, OLED response times can reach as low as 0.1 ms (1/1000th of a blink of an eye) whereas many LCD screens still linger at 50 – 80 ms. This faster performance essentially eliminates motion blur in action scenes.

Overall if you want the pinnacle TV display technology that offers superior contrast, color depth, sharpness and responsiveness compared to LED/LCD televisions, OLED is an investment well worth making.

And that brings us to LG who is pushing OLED technology further than anyone else currently with their CX and new C3 model OLED TVs. Let‘s see how they stack up!

LG CX vs LG C3 Feature Comparison

LG has been on the leading edge of OLED innovation for years. But they still manage to take things to the next level with their recent LG C3 release that builds on their older but beloved CX models.

Let‘s breakdown how the two stack up and see where the differences lie when analyzing them side-by-side:

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Key Specs LG C3 LG CX
Release Year★ 20232020
Processor★ Alpha 9 Gen 6Alpha 9 Gen 3
Gaming Features★ Game Optimizer + Quick Media Switching❌ None
Available Sizes★ 42" – 83"48" – 77"
HDMI Ports 4 4

★ = Better feature
❌ = Missing feature

Why Processing Power Matters

As you can see above, there are definitely some meaningful differences that on paper make the C3 a compelling step forward.

Arguably first and foremost is the upgraded Generation 6 Alpha 9 intelligent processor used in the C3. The processing chip is the brains of any smart TV. It handles critical functions like:

  • Upscaling lower resolution content to pristine 4K
  • Applying video enhancements like motion smoothing
  • Powering AI sound for virtual surround effects
  • Enabling gaming features and more

With each generation upgrade, LG gives the chip more speed, intelligence and multimedia capabilities.

The Alpha 9 Gen 3 CPU used in the CX model from 2020 was no slouch for its time. But across the board, expert reviewers have noted clear improvements in areas like upscaling and loading speeds from the even more powerful Gen 6 chip now used in the C3 model.

Future-proofing with the latest silicon ensures your investment stays at the cutting edge for many years and TV OS updates to come.

Big Win for Gamers

Gamers in particular are poised to experience a real advantage stepping up to the new C3, thanks to two killer gaming-centric features included:

Game Optimizer

This dedicated gaming menu collected under the Game Optimizer umbrella optimizes key settings for the best graphics, performance and sound whether you are playing solo adventures, sprawling RPGs, competitive online multiplayer and everything in between.

Having settings tailored to different gaming use cases makes it much easier to achieve low input lag and smooth visuals during intense gaming sessions – without having to fiddle with dozens of advanced picture and audio tweaks on your own across various inputs.

Quick Media Switching

The other handy gaming enhancement comes with Quick Media Switching. As you bounce between a game console and streaming box and other HDMI gadgets, the C3 employs a smooth transition between inputs to prevent unwanted video and audio cutoff that can disrupt your experience.

Combined with the Game Optimizer advantage, the C3 establishes itself as a formidable big screen gaming display complete with the stunning OLED contrast to create truly immersive worlds.

More Display Options

Beyond advancements on the interior specs, LG also chose to expand the available display size options with the release of the C3 series. You now get 6 total choices spanning 42 inches all the way up to a cinema-like 83 inch behemoth.

Having sizes extending down to 42 inches makes an OLED TV more realistic as a high-end gaming monitor replacement for desktop setups. While offering 83 inches opens up home theater options for more dedicated media rooms.

No matter your room size or seating parameters, there is likely a C3 model that can deliver the awe-inspiring OLED viewing experience right to your space.

So What Does The LG CX Still Deliver?

As a 2020-released model, the LG CX may not have all the bells and whistles of the C3 but it still remains a viable OLED TV option given recent price drops. Key traits buyers continue to praise include:

⛩️ Stunning OLED Image Quality

Even without the latest processor or certain gaming features, the foundation of organic diode pixels lighting up individually still delivers exceptional contrast and clarity. You get perfect blacks and wide color from an LG CX easily rivaling many new releases.

⛩️ Dolby Vision & Dolby Atmos

Support for advanced Dolby formats allows the CX to render HDR content masterfully. Dolby Atmos audio processing also creates more lifelike, spatial surround sound movement.

⛩️ Low Input Lag

With HDMI inputs optimized for gaming combined with rapid OLED pixel response, the CX is still a totally solid big screen gaming choice even for Xbox Series X / PS5 up to 120fps.

As long as streaming and smart TV capabilities satisfy your needs (no issues there), the LG CX remains perfectly capable of providing cinematic images and gaming thrills for years of enjoyment. Finding one at a steep discount these days makes it even more compelling for shoppers weighing value.

But there‘s no question the LG C3 builds on that experience in meaningful ways. Let‘s look next at some key OLED TV trends that give clues into the future for both models.

OLED TV Evolution – What Does The Future Hold for CX and C3 Models?

The great news for both LG CX and C3 owners is these OLED TV releases will continue seeing improvements over the next few years through firmware updates as well as greater content support. Here are some examples of enhancements expected:

❇️ Refined Processors

The brainier LG‘s Alpha processing chips become over time, the more optimized video and audio algorithms they can employ to improve clarity, depth and detail. Both CPU models powering the CX and C3 will receive updates. But processors are rarely upgradable so advantages will remain bigger on the newer C3.

❇️ Brighter OLED Panels

As manufacturing techniques and materials science continues improving, OLED TVs are getting brighter to better showcase HDR content. Where early OLED struggled highlighting specular highlights, new panels in the C3 are rated over 20% brighter while still achieving perfect blacks thanks to pixel-level lighting control. This gap may continue widening compared to the CX.

❇️ Next-Gen Gaming Features

HDMI 2.1 revolutionized gaming monitors and TVs over the past two years. Key innovations like 4K/120Hz support, AMD Freesync Premium and Nvidia G-Sync compatibility erase screen tearing and deliver buttery smoothness. LG is committed to adding these features to 2023 models like the C3, leaving older CX owners behind without HDMI 2.1 ports.

❇️ Smart Home & Voice Assistant Integrations

With every update, webOS brings tighter home device and digital assistant capabilities like Amazon Alexa or Google Assistant. This allows easier smart home control and hands-free navigation. Both CX and C3 owners benefit but the C3‘s webOS 6.0 will enjoy greater smart linkage going forward.

While it‘s impossible to predict every new enhancement years down the road, the C3 will likely continue outpacing the CX with premium processor power and connectivity at the helm of new feature integration.

But again, the core OLED performance even three years from now should keep that CX delivering stunning imagery for your favorite movies and shows no matter what streaming services throw its way.

The Verdict? LG C3 Is The Best Choice Currently

When friends come to me asking if they should save money and still get near top-tier quality with the discounted LG CX, I have a hard time not recommending it. Even into its third year since launch, reviewers agree it remains an exceptional OLED TV choice thanks to perfect blacks and vibrant colorful images the display technology is so renowned for.

Gamers in particular may fully satisfy their big screen gaming ambitions with the LG CX alone.

However for buyers willing to invest a few hundred dollars more into a TV purchase intended to last 5+ years, I strongly advise going with the future-proofed LG C3 model.

The Alpha 9 Gen 6 processor provides more overhead for years of streaming services and apps to come. Exciting gaming features cater to next-gen consoles. And six total screen sizes with enhanced brightness give you flexibility fitting incredible OLED performance into your space.

Given how rapidly display technology moves, buying upper mid-range can save money upfront but leave you itching for upgrades well before our recommended 5-7 year TV turnover cycle. The LG C3 promises to delay that need longer thanks to loading you up with all the latest innovations defining the best of OLED currently.

Whichever route you choose, both LG OLED models deliver stunning images guaranteed to make movies and games come alive. But I hope breaking down those key differences today helps make your buying decision that much easier. Let me know if you have any other questions!

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