Ten-month burn-in testing reveals all OLED monitors and TVs suffer some amount of burn-in, but LCD monitors also have uniformity issues

A still from RTINGS' video on the 10 month result of its ongoing OLED display testing (technically these monitors are in month 6, while the TVs are in month 10).
A still from RTINGS' video on the 10 month result of its ongoing OLED display testing (technically these monitors are in month 6, while the TVs are in month 10). (Image credit: RTINGS.com)

Screen burn-in and uniformity issues are a long-documented downside of OLED displays, but manufacturers have made strides in recent years (primarily in software) to combat this issue more meaningfully. The folks over at RTINGS.com, known for their high-quality display benchmarking and reviews, have decided to put manufacturer claims to the test and put over 100 TVs (alongside a few monitors) into the ultimate torture test.

The torture test involves running a 24/7 CNN news feed on each display at maximum peak brightness. Static elements (like TV channel logos, PC taskbars, static game HUDs, etc) are known to "burn" into panels, especially OLEDs, in these circumstances. This can either be temporary image retention or permanent burn-in. The two are easy to mix up, even by an expert's eye, but regular old image retention will go away after a "refresh cycle" or a move to sufficiently different content.

Besides the panels' longevity, the manufacturers' countermeasures, called "compensation cycles," were also tested. Short or long compensation cycles are processes that attempt to reset the color uniformity of the screen after a certain amount of time has passed. Depending on the length of these compensation cycles (short or long), the TV tries to fight off either temporary image retention or mitigate the impact of permanent burn-in.

A sample capture of RTINGS.com's Burn-In and Screen Retention OLED TV testing.

A sample capture of RTINGS.com's Burn-In and Screen Retention OLED TV testing. Note that the monitors tested would be at the 6-month mark. (Image credit: RTINGS.com)

This torture test has recently reached the tenth month of its ongoing cycles for OLED TVs and LCD TVs. The same testing is also being done with three OLED Ultrawide PC monitors, though this testing is only at six months. We've also covered a prior hitch in the OLED TV testing due to inconsistent compensation cycle software handling, though this seems to have been fixed in the time since.

If you want the full picture of RTINGS' testing, we've included a link to their text write-up and the corresponding video (embedded below). But here's the most important need-to-know information from their testing.

Here are the core findings found by RTINGS' 10-month OLED and LCD TV testing, as well as their OLED monitor testing:

  • After ten months of torture testing (equivalent to roughly four years and two months of real-world use), every OLED TV has started to develop some form of permanent burn-in. It's worse on some than others, though.
  • While OLEDs are the primary focus of most people's burn-in concerns, testing with LCD TVs has also uncovered some serious issues with LCD longevity as well. Distracting zebra stripe-esque degradation to uniformity has developed on every LCD TV, with far more severity than what's happening with OLED TVs in the same testing.
  • Five TVs and one monitor died entirely throughout the course of testing. 
  • The OLED monitors show very little signs of image retention, even at month 6 (simulated 2.5 years) of torture testing. This is promising but also arguably necessary, considering the nature of PC work and gaming having many static elements.

For more detailed information on the findings and per-panel results, visit RTINGS' material. 

  • valthuer
    I use a Panasonic 4Κ OLED TV 42'' TX-42LZ800 as my display and it’s visually stunning.

    As for burn in…, although it definitely is a thing, the risk is grossly overblown. Unless you 're playing a game that has a fixed HUD that doesn't move for 1000's of hour's day in day out, I think you'll be fine.

    Don’t buy into the paranoia.

    Under normal usage, your chances of burn in are virtually nil. Those reviewers parking a CNN ticker on the display for hundreds of hours and calling it a test aren't indicative of normal use.

    P.S.

    If you watch CNN 18 hours a day, buy a $250 LCD.
    Reply
  • digitalgriffin
    LCDs should not have retention issues unless they are using organic compounds. This was a problem for Epson till they used inorganic substrates for the LCD panel. Pixels can get a little "stuck" it's due to how the crystals settle in the matrix. But cycling programs can correct this.

    Or am I missing something? Did ratings run the cycling program and still have issues?
    Reply
  • Order 66
    With Rtings burn in test, they leave the devices on a static image for 18 hours a day, which is not a realistic use case. Under normal usage, these OLEDs should last for years.
    Reply
  • vanadiel007
    I recently exchanged my Alienware DWF OLED monitor due to permanent burn-in from desktop icons. It was a year old, normal use. Clearly visible as black square boxes, short or long pixel refresh had no effect to them.

    Since it uses a Samsung panel, I am thinking Samsung OLED's will have similar issues.

    While the technology is great, it is an issue under normal use and I am now using a desktop with a black background and no desktop icons, which is a bit annoying.
    Reply
  • The Historical Fidelity
    vanadiel007 said:
    I recently exchanged my Alienware DWF OLED monitor due to permanent burn-in from desktop icons. It was a year old, normal use. Clearly visible as black square boxes, short or long pixel refresh had no effect to them.

    Since it uses a Samsung panel, I am thinking Samsung OLED's will have similar issues.

    While the technology is great, it is an issue under normal use and I am now using a desktop with a black background and no desktop icons, which is a bit annoying.
    I have the same oled panel in my Samsung G8 OLED and it’s still perfect almost a year in. But I put the brightness to 0 when doing office work, which is more than bright enough for excel and word yet reduces the chance of temperature induced oled pixel wear, and bring it up to max brightness when playing games or movies. I also use an auto hide program so the toolbar and desktop icons disappear when not being interacted with. And finally I just have a black desktop background.
    $1500 is a lot for a monitor and I have no plans on replacing for at least 5 years. I’m probably being overly cautious but OLED is such a better tech for image quality so I happily deal with my monitors work settings.
    Reply
  • TJ Hooker
    An important note is that the only significant burn in they've seen in their OLED monitors is from running them with a 16:9 image (they're 21:9 monitors). I.e. running a bright image in the middle with black bars on the sides, pretty much non-stop. It seems unlikely anyone would use their monitor like this (and they've updated their methodology such that 16:9 TV content is now displayed as stretched full screen), but something to be aware of.
    Reply
  • jp7189
    My last few mobile phones have been oled, and in each case have had the Waze interface permanently burned in after about a year. I 'only' spend a couple hours a day, 2-3 days a week with Waze running.
    Reply
  • thestryker
    The test they're running seems to be going over some folks heads here. They're attempting to simulate long term usage in a compressed period of time.

    Image retention with desktop use of OLED is a very real problem. It is possible to adjust usage to minimize the chances of these things happening. If you're predominantly using it as a media/gaming display then the risks are quite a bit lower so long as it's not left on static/light display when not in use.
    Reply
  • rusti4
    My Odyssey was replaced for screen burn after only 4-5 months
    Reply
  • The Historical Fidelity
    rusti4 said:
    My Odyssey was replaced for screen burn after only 4-5 months
    I’m guessing you live in Europe or Asia? Because unfortunately for me, the Odyssey G8’s US warranty does not cover burn-in…
    Reply