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One of the most important things to consider when looking for the best TV is image quality. But many spec sheet terms are downright unhelpful and confusing. That’s why we’re here to explain and compare the differences between a 4K TV with 8 bit vs 10 bit. And for those further interested in 4K tech, you can learn more by reading our article comparing 4k ultra HDTV vs 1080p.
To understand why the differences between 8bit and 10-bit content matter, you have to be familiar with what’s known as bit depth. Simply put, bit depth is the total range of colors and variety of shades a display can display and create. For additional material covering TV displays, you can check out our article that covers 3D TVs vs non-3D TVs.
Although bit depth and color gamut are often interchangeable terms, they are distinct specs.
So, what’s the difference between an 8-bit and 10-bit display?
An 8-bit display image offers 256 shades of each primary color. This means that you get 16.7 million colors. A 10-bit color depth offers 1024 shades of each color, providing 1.07 billion colors.
Based on numbers alone, you might assume that the 10-bit color range will be of superior quality to the 8-bit. But does it matter to the human eye, and is a 10-bit signal necessary for a truly dynamic range of color?
The most significant benefit of a 10-bit color format is that it eliminates what’s known as “banding,” which is an inaccurate representation of the color, resulting in a grainy output. 10-bit TV has a smooth gradient and offers higher quality scenery shots, such as sunsets.
8-bit depth tries to combat this with what’s known as dithering or adding randomized visual noise to an image to get smoother shades. Dithering aids the overall 8-bit image and problem of banding, but 10-bit is still of a higher quality.
Additionally, you should remember that your image quality is also affected by your TV’s resolution. If you don’t know the differences in resolutions, we have great articles explaining them. You can read about what UHD TV is if you are wanting a large screen TV. Also, while not expressly related to image quality, if you are needing a way to display information or presentations for your business, you can read about our comparison of conference room TV vs projector.
As it would happen, an extra cost comes with the availability of 10-bit images. Most low-end TVs will be 8-bit, so if you’re on a tight budget, you’ll probably have to sacrifice the extra color gradients.
A 10-bit signal is only relevant when watching content labeled as HDR.
Are HDR and 4k the same thing?
4k is a spec that measures the number of pixels that fit onto a television display. HDR means a TV has an elevated contrast ratio. However, it’s common for a TV to be both 4k and HDR.
What’s better for gaming, 8-bit or 10-bit?
10-bit displays are simply better overall. So if the price isn’t an issue, 10-bit will provide a better visual gaming experience.
How can you check if your TV is 8-bit or 10-bit?
First, check the owner’s manual or look up the spec sheet of your TV online. Also, Netflix offers a test that you can use to determine if your TV supports 10-bit. You can find it by searching for “Test Patterns” on the streaming platform.
STAT: 8-bit TVs can display 16.7 million different colors, while 10-bit TVs can display 1.07 billion. (source)