I’ve been testing the LG B3 for our upcoming review and have been surprised by its performance. Based on my testing, I think it’s the dark horse of the OLED TV market in 2023, because it demonstrates not only excellent picture quality, but also seamless gaming performance. It really is a TV worth looking at.
When you think of LG OLEDs, the first thing that springs to mind are usually the C series and G series TVs. Both are indeed fantastic: this years’ LG C3 is an impressive TV, building on what made last year’s LG C2 sit atop our list of the best TVs for a long time, and the LG G3 OLED is set to be another stunning addition to LGs’ stacked OLED lineup (our review is imminent). But, with the news that there will be no LG A3 coming to the US or UK, the average price of LG’s OLEDs is significantly higher than it was in 2022. This is where the B3 comes in.
Admittedly, at launch, the B3 wasn’t the greatest value set in the world. At that time, the LG C3 retailed for roughly $1,899 / £2,099 for the 55-inch version. Meanwhile, the B3 is the ‘entry-level’ TV in the range and sold for roughly just $100 less than the C3. For this extra $100, you were getting more gaming connectivity, higher brightness thanks to the C3's Evo panel, and better picture processing.
So, why do I think the B3 is such a dark horse? Well, thankfully now some time has passed, the LG B3 has dropped in price so there is just a $200-300 difference between the two. With so many people trying to save money wherever they can nowadays, that difference makes the B3 an excellent TV for the money, saving you enough to buy one of the best soundbars to add onto it. But it’s not just value, the LG B3 surprised me during my tests in several ways.
Great gaming for less
The main thing I found surprising with the LG B3 is just how good it looked when I tested it for gaming. Playing Battlefield V on Xbox Series X, the B3 handled motion incredibly well, with quick switching between targets and panning shots across landscapes at high speed feeling effortless. The B3 comes equipped with the Game Optimizer picture mode, which really got the best out of the Xbox Series X.
But it wasn’t just the motion rate that shined during gameplay but also the graphics. I was testing the LG G3 alongside the B3 and, yes, the G3 looked better with a more natural picture, but the B3 gave it a run for its money – that money at the time of writing being a roughly $700-800 difference! The finer details in Battlefield V, including the rocks in mountainous terrain or dense trees in forests, looked sensational, with sharp details around the rocks and luscious greens of the foliage popping out of the screen. It wasn’t just the surroundings either, with smaller details on weapons looking crisp and intricate.
The B3 is also equipped with much sought-after gaming features such as 4K 120Hz Dolby Vision gaming, VRR and ALLM and FreeSync capabilities. Although the B3 only hs 2.1 HDMI on two of its four ports (unlike the C3 and G3), this is not uncommon with mid-tier OLEDs, such as the Sony A80L, which also only has two HDMI 2.1 ports. Once again, the LG B3 is more budget friendly. Despite not having as versatile connection options as its more expensive siblings, the B3 will find itself among the best gaming TVs.
A picture you can admire
The B3 has some serious competition in terms of picture quality. With LG introducing Micro Lens Array (MLA) technology to the G3 to increase brightness in the picture, that TV has added even greater contrast to an already impressive Evo panel. In addition, the new king of OLED tech, QD-OLED, is found in TVs like the Sony A95L and Samsung S90C. With all this, the W-OLED panel of the B3 is starting to seem left behind. But there’s still a great disparity in price between many other models, so it still serves a place in the TV market.
During my testing, I tried all sorts of moves and shows, including Star Wars Ahsoka, John Wick, Top Gun: Maverick and Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 just to name a few. This was to look at black levels, color, HDR including Dolby Vision, contrast and motion, amongst other criteria. The B3 handled these tests exceedingly well.
During John Wick, a nightclub scene showcased not only the deep black levels attainable on the LG B3 (in Filmmaker mode) but also how it can handle pulsing colors. As green, red and blue colors flashed across John Wick’s face as he strolled through the club, it showed no signs of blowing out or being too garish. In the opening car chase of John Wick 2, the B3 handled the motion of the car and motorbike seamlessly and the action still felt as heart-stopping as I hoped.
As a massive Star Wars fan – I’m currently enjoying Star Wars Ahsoka – I had to see what lightsabers looked like on the B3 and I wasn’t disappointed. During a nighttime duel, the lightsabers lit up the screen with a vivid and dynamic punch that was thrilling to watch. Whether it was red, green or Ahsoka’s iconic white lightsabers, the B3 showcased these sabers in all their glory.
The picture really was a pleasant surprise on the B3 and although it wasn’t as good as the LG G3 I had it sat next to, you can't really blame it for that – it certainly gave the fantastic quality picture I’d hoped for from an OLED TV. So, if you’re watching content from either the best streaming services or the best 4K blu-ray players, the B3 won’t disappoint.
Bet on budget
I realize I keep saying it, but the LG B3 really is a surprising TV. Watching some of my favorite stuff on it brought it to life in a way I didn’t expect. Okay, it isn’t going to top the list of best OLED TVs with its lack of brightness and less impressive processing compared to other TVs, but when you pair performance with price, the B3 really does make itself noticed in the crowd.
If you’re a gamer or movie enthusiast, you should definitely check the LG B3 out. Admittedly, you need to make sure you have the right environment as unsurprisingly, the B3 with no Evo panel does struggle with screen glare to an extent. But even with bright overhead lights in the testing room I had myself locked away in at the time, it still did a decent job when brighter images were on screen. Frankly, I can forgive the reflections as well. If I wanted absolutely no visible reflections, I’d look into a mini-LED. Some blinds or dimmers will easily fix the B3's glare issue.
But, the most important thing here is budget vs performance. The B3 has the performance part nailed. As I write this, its price sits at roughly $1,299 / £1,299 / around AU$2,500 but with Black Friday deals arriving soon, the LG B3 is sure to be one of this year’s best Black Friday TV deals. Be sure to keep your eyes peeled if you want to grab the dark horse of the OLED world in 2023.
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James is the TV Hardware Staff Writer at TechRadar. Before joining the team, he worked at a major UK based AV retailer selling TV and audio equipment, where he was either telling customers the difference between OLED and QLED or being wowed by watching a PS5 run on the LG 65G2. When not writing about the latest TV tech, James can be found gaming, reading, watching rugby or coming up with another idea for a novel.