LG’s new $1 billion investment should help make OLED monitors cheaper

Rejoice all ye flat panel aficionados, for LG is burying an extra billion bucks into OLED panel production facilities. The idea, reportedly, is to increase the production of all types of OLED displays, from phone sized panels up to TVs.

Slap bang in the middle of that range are, of course, PC monitors. According to an LG rep speaking to the Korean Times (via What HiFi), the immediate impact is that LG will produce around 20% more panels this year than in 2023.

We suspect most of the benefit will be felt further down the line as there will inevitably be a time lag between injecting an investment and reaping the benefits in terms of increased production capacity or lower prices.

It’s also unclear exactly what the money is being spent on. Reports of the full cost of a modern so-called “Gen 8.6” OLED fab or production facility vary, but it’s always huge money. Samsung recently announced it was spending $3.1 billion to convert an LCD panel factory to OLED production. Meanwhile, late last year BOE announced an $8.8 billion investment in its own OLED factory, which is expected to come online in the next two to three years.

In other words, while $1 billion is obviously a lot of money, it doesn’t really even touch the sides when it comes to breaking ground on a whole new OLED fab. However, it does add to the overall narrative, which is all the major players in OLED tech increasing investment and in turn production capacity.

We’re confident, therefore, that pricing for OLED panels will come down in the next few years. What impact that will have on PC gaming monitor prices is a slightly separate question.

Screen queens

(Image credit: Future)

Best gaming monitor: Pixel-perfect panels for your PC.
Best high refresh rate monitor: Screaming quick.
Best 4K monitor for gaming: When only high-res will do.
Best 4K TV for gaming: Big-screen 4K gaming.

Currently, with the possible exception of Samsung’s new inkjet printed 4K 32-inch QD-panel, PC monitor OLED panels come off the same production lines as TV OLED panels. And yet you can buy a 4K 42-inch OLED TV for about the same price as a 27-inch 1440p OLED monitor.

Exactly why OLED monitors are so expensive compared to their TV cousins isn’t clear. Economies of scale are no doubt a factor. But that doesn’t apply to the panels themselves, which share the same economies of scale, but so do the rest of the display—the electronics, the chassis etc.

Anyway, while we’re big fans of many aspects of OLED gaming monitors, including the excellent new Asus ROG Swift OLED PG34WCDM, one thing we definitely don’t like is their pricing. At two to three times the cost of an equivalent LCD monitor, the value proposition is still a pretty major turn off. 

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