If you’re in the market for a new computer monitor, you might be wondering whether to go for 4K or 1440p. There’s pros and cons to each screen, so in this article, we explore the key differences so that you can make the right decision.
4K screens have a default resolution of 3840 (width) by 2160 (height), with a total of 4,000 pixels. This large number of pixels produces a gorgeous resolution with an ultra-crisp image that bursts with colour. These types of screens are called Ultra HD (or UHD).
The resolution for 1440p screens is 2560 (width) by 1440 (height), which makes up around 2,000 pixels—half of 4K screens, but about four times more pixels than standard HD. 1440p resolution is also known as Quad HD (or QHD).
4K screens win this battle. With more pixels on the screen, the image is sharper and more crisp.
2. Frame rate
Frame rate is where it gets a bit more complicated. The ideal frame rate for a 4K monitor is 60 frames per second (which is a refresh rate of 60Hz), but to achieve this, you’ll need an extremely powerful CPU and graphics card, especially if you’re using it for gaming. Otherwise you can expect measly frame rates of 20 or 30FPS, which really worsens the experience. With this kind of frame rate, the game show doesn’t look smooth at all. This is best illustrated in the video below.
The beauty of a 1440p screen is that it doesn’t require anywhere near as much processing power, so you can achieve rates of 60 frames per second or higher without having to buy an expensive setup. Sure, the resolution won’t be quite as crisp, but if you’re buying the screen for the purpose of gaming, the frame rate makes the biggest difference to your experience.
If you’re buying the screen for movies and TV shows, most of these are filmed at 24 frames per second, so a 4K screen is probably your best bet.
As mentioned above, the hardware that you need for your monitor will depend on what you’re using it for. If you’re a gamer on a budget, you’ll definitely want to opt for a 1440p screen as this will give you more bang for your buck. For example, you could achieve good performance with a Ryzen 3600 and RX5600 XT combo, which will set you back about $1,500.
If you’re using the monitor for movies and TV shows, you should be able to achieve a good quality with an inexpensive setup. Same if you’re using the monitor for work.
The monitor you choose will depend largely on what you want it for. If you’re planning on using it for work, with common uses like checking your email and using websites and non-design software, you might want to opt for the 1440p screen, as this will be more than capable of getting the job done. You may find that you’re more productive with extra screen space though, which gives you more space for each window, in which case a 4K screen will probably be best, as these are usually bigger in size. If you’re a graphic designer who uses the Adobe Suite, a 4K screen is definitely the better option, as the higher resolution will allow you to edit more precisely. The same goes for video editing, but this suffers from the same issue as gaming—you’ll need a very powerful setup for it to work smoothly.
It’s also worth mentioning that older apps may look terrible on 4K monitors because they’ve been designed for older and much lower resolution screens. You might find yourself having to zoom in to get any work done.
As touched on above, 4K is also the better option for movies and TV shows, which should look great and run well on an average setup. Always opt for the higher resolution when it comes to cinema!
4K monitors tend to be about a third more expensive than 1440p monitors, so not much difference between them. But again, if you’re buying the screen for gaming, and want to achieve that all-important high refresh rate, you’ll probably need to shell out thousands of dollars for a high-quality rig. Otherwise, your monitor will be about as smooth as sandpaper.