When considering a brand new display, it typically comes down to a 4K gaming monitor vs a 1080p monitor. Nowadays, the best computer monitors arrive in both resolutions. So which to choose? Here are some things to think about.

KEY TAKEAWAYS:

  • 4K gaming monitors offer an increased pixel count over 1080p displays, resulting in gorgeous and sharp visuals.
  • 1080p monitors, however, are better for competitive gaming sessions, thanks to higher refresh rates and faster response times.
  • 4K monitors will be much more expensive, as you have to consider not just the display itself, but the specs needed to play games in 4K.

Differences Between 4K Gaming Monitors and 1080p Displays

The obvious difference here is resolution, as 4K monitors offer a higher pixel count than what is found with 1080p screens. But what does this mean for gaming? Here is that information, as well as some other key differences between the two display types.

Insider Tip

No matter which type of monitor you choose, make sure the settings are correct so you are making the most of your resolution.

Screen Resolutions

If you want to be captivated by intense colors, a high pixel count, and a gorgeous resolution, then 4K resolution monitors are the way to go. The difference in native resolution between a 4K display and a 1080p monitor cannot be overstated, as it is much starker than when you compare a 4K computer monitor vs a 2K monitor. Not only do 4K monitors offer four times the pixel count of HD displays, including horizontal pixels, but you’ll also experience an increased screen size for icons, text, and more.

Refresh Rate and Response Time

Of course, there is a reason why 1080p displays have continued to be the standard for competitive gaming. Pro gamers prioritize speed and response time over graphics and 1080p monitors contain both in spades. They are willing to sacrifice crisp visuals for that sweet spot of response time and a higher refresh rate. 4K monitors struggle a bit when it comes to speed, especially with graphically intensive games running at their highest settings. Some gamers prefer to use a multi-monitor 1080p setup instead of going the 4K route, though they often face the question of two monitors vs three.

Cost

There is no way around this one. If you are gaming on a budget, choose a 1080p monitor. Not only are the displays themselves cheaper, but they can integrate with cheaper graphics cards. 4K displays demand a new and likely expensive graphics card, after all. You’ll also need a powerful CPU and plenty of RAM to adequately run a 4K monitor, and all of these specs take a toll on your bank account, despite the improved viewing experience.

Warning

Not all games can support 4K displays.

F.A.Q.

Which is the best screen resolution for gamers?

When it comes to resolution displays and the overall gaming experience, it depends on personal preference. 4K monitors have many individual pixels and a sharper image but demand powerful graphics cards.


DisplayPort vs. HDMI: Which is better for gaming?

This will depend on what ports are required by your computer, your monitor, and your graphics card, not to mention your preferred video games.


Do 1080p games look worse on 4K?

The games may look blurrier if you are using a 4K monitor but playing at a lower resolution. Adjust accordingly.



STAT: For 2015, revenue from 4K displays worldwide is forecast to reach 18 billion U.S. dollars. (source)

Lawrence Bonk

Lawrence Bonk is a copywriter with a decade of experience in the tech space, with columns appearing in Engadget, Huffington Post and CBS, among others. He has a cat named Cinnamon.

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