What Is The Best Resolution For Gaming? (1080p vs. 1440p vs. 4K)

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Best Resolution For Gaming IconWhen it comes to gaming, visuals aren’t everything, but they’re certainly a crucial part of the experience. If you’re serious about a gaming setup, you probably care about your screen’s resolution.

In this article, we’re talking about the best resolutions for gaming. We’ll help you understand this concept, and let you know whether higher resolutions are actually worth it.

Understanding The Best Resolution For Gaming

Whenever you start researching the latest on visuals and monitor/screen resolution, you get a lot of numbers thrown at you at once. Pixels, aspect ratio, 1080p, 1080i, 4K, the list goes on and on. It’s understandably (and often deliberately) confusing. As a consumer, understanding these differences is your first step in deciding which resolution is best for gaming.

The game resolution, in simplest terms, is the number of pixels on the screen at a given time. It is given in terms of horizontal x vertical pixels on the screen. This allows you to multiply each number together to get the total number of pixels on display. For example, for a 1920 x 1080 display resolution, there are 1920 pixels running vertically across the screen, and 1080 running horizontally. In total, this means 2,073,600 pixels are on your screen at once!

This being said, the understanding resolution doesn’t necessarily make your decision any easier. You’re presented with many different resolutions when purchasing a gaming monitor, and it can be difficult to choose which is best for you. We’ll cover this in the next section.

Best Resolution For Gaming Guide

Choosing a Resolution

If you’re in the market for a new gaming monitor, you’ll notice resolution as one of the primary selling points on each monitor. It can become quite overwhelming, as the temptation is there to go for the newest and best gaming monitor (even at that crazy price tag!). Realistically, it’s about finding a balance between price and performance.

Here are the most popular resolutions for gaming, and an explanation of what they offer:

Full HD 1080p Resolution – 1920 x 1080

Full HD is probably the most popular resolution in use today – for gaming at least. It’s an impressive resolution and displays crisp, high-quality images across your games. Pretty much any modern game will be designed to display Full HD resolution.

In many instances, 1080p resolution is preferred over higher resolutions for gaming. This is because high resolutions put quite the strain on your monitor, and can impact other specifications which are crucial to the gaming experience – such as refresh rate, frame rate, and response time. Basically, the higher the resolution, the more difficult it will be for your monitor to keep up. So while 1080p may not offer the same level of detail on each screen, screens will appear faster and more fluid, and gameplay will be more responsive (everything else being equal).

Many ESports gamers choose Full HD resolution for this reason.

What’s more, is that almost every monitor on the market can support Full HD at this point, and it’s not hard to find a very affordable 1080p gaming monitors which support this display resolution. For all these reasons, don’t count out Full HD just because of its lower resolution!

Our Favorite 1080p Gaming Monitor

2K Resolution (Quad HD) – 2560 x 1440

You may have heard the terms Full HD and 4K very often, but there’s a middle ground that doesn’t always get as much love – Quad HD. It’s a noticeable step-up in resolution, packing over 2.5 million pixels onto the screen. As noted above, you can expect performance (frame rate, response time) to dip as resolution goes up with most gaming monitors. But since this isn’t as much an upgrade as 4K, it’s a good middle-ground upgrade for great resolution without sacrificing too much in other areas of performance.

2K resolution is a great gaming resolution, providing your 1440p gaming monitor can handle it seamlessly. The difference over Full HD is noticeable and will appeal to those who want a super crisp image.

Our Favorite 2560 x 1440 Gaming Monitor

4K Resolution (Ultra HD or UHD) – 3840 x 2160

4K, or Ultra HD, has exploded in popularity in recent years, and upon viewing its ultra-crisp, ultra-detailed resolution it’s easy to see why. 4K monitors offer extremely crisp definition, and gaming details and textures pop off the screen. If you’re playing the newest game, with the most advanced graphics, then a 4K monitor might be what you’re after.

Of course, a definition of this crisp can be very taxing on other aspects of a display. Typically, 4K resolution will cause a serious downgrade in terms of frame rate, and the movements won’t be near as fluid or crisp. Depending on the game, a bump up to 4K can be the difference between 30 and 60 FPS, which can make a real gameplay difference. It’s up to you whether this tradeoff is worth it and whether you prefer ultra-high-res details or fluid movements.

Our Favorite 4K Gaming Monitor

8K (Full UHD) – 7680 x 4320

8K is an emerging resolution that is just about as high-res as is currently available. This also means that it is currently extremely expensive, whether you are buying an 8K TV or an 8K monitor. Additionally, most games have not yet been optimized for 8K. This, combined with the frame rate dips and weakened response rate, mean that it’s not the best time to start gaming in 8K. This being said, the industry moves fast, and 8K monitors will only become less expensive over time.

Our Favorite 8K Gaming Monitor

Choosing a Resolution

As you can see, you’re blessed with a lot of choices when it comes to choosing a resolution for gaming. Unfortunately, more choices can also become somewhat overwhelming.

Choosing a gaming monitor (or TV) resolution is an understandably difficult choice. Gaming monitors get more expensive the higher the resolution, which might make your choice a bit easier. You also need to consider that higher resolutions need to sacrifice in other areas of performance, primarily in frame rate and response rate. A game won’t run as smoothly at a high resolution as a low resolution.

For all these reasons, we still choose Full HD as the best gaming resolution. The details are crisp and beautiful, and it offers a noticeable bump to fluidity, which is especially important in video games, as you want to see every detail of the game’s movements. Not to mention that Full HD screens are much more affordable. Of course, this is just our opinion, and many don’t mind sacrificing a bit of performance for higher resolutions.

To make the best choice for you, you need to decide where your priorities are, and choose a monitor that best matches these priorities. Below, we’ll dive into some other factors which are important to consider in a gaming monitor.

It’s Not Only About Resolution – Other Factors to Consider

Resolution is often touted as the major technical specification important in gaming monitors. While it is true that resolution is important, it’s far from the only factor you should care about. In this section, we’ll examine a few other factors you should look for in comparing gaming monitors.

Size of Screen

The size of your screen is an obvious consideration in selecting a gaming monitor. Depending on how you’re gaming, this may make a big difference. It’s all about how close you sit to your screen. If you are at a desk, in a typical PC gaming set-up, then you may struggle to focus on any screen above 32-inches, as your viewing distance will be too close to the television. If you’re watching TV, this is less important, as it’s easier to adjust your viewing distance.

As an example, a 50-inch screen has a recommended 6-foot viewing distance.

Additionally, the size of the screen will affect its “pixel density”, which represents the pixels per square inch of your screen. At the same resolution, a smaller screen will have a higher pixel density, which will make the image appear clearer.

Refresh Rate

Refresh rate is a tech spec that is far too often overlooked when shopping for TVs and monitors – especially for gaming. It’s a feature that makes a big difference in performance than resolution.

Refresh rate is a measure of how many times per second a screen can “refresh” itself, or output an entirely new image. The more times a screen can refresh, the more fluid the motion on the screen will be because more images are displayed. This metric is measured in Hertz (Hz). A good refresh rate for gaming is 120Hz (although many gamers go as low as 75Hz), but high-end gaming monitors go up to 144 or 240Hz.

Of course, as with any specification involved with gaming, it’s about more than just the monitor. Your gaming systems, and the game itself, need to be optimized to support a higher refresh rate. If the game (or your console/PC) isn’t able to output this high refresh rate, then you won’t see the difference on your screen.

Response Time

Response time is a similar metric to refresh rate, but it makes a tangible difference to the display. Response time is a measure of how quickly a monitor can change a pixel from black to white. If a monitor can more quickly adjust the colors, then you’ll see crisper images – especially when scenes are changing very fast (such as in fast-paced games). Higher response time means less “blurring” of images, which can result in motion blur for certain games.

Response time is measured in milliseconds (ms). An elite monitor might have a 0.5ms response time, but any monitor below 3ms is considered good for gaming. Once again, you also need to be sure that your PC or console can output games at this speed, or it won’t make a difference to your monitor.

Curved Monitors?

The shape of your monitor’s screen can make a difference as well. A hot trend in monitors and TVs is curved screens. Curved screens increase the field of view, and make it easier for your eyes to jump from one spot on the screen to another, reducing eye strain overall. Most curved screens feature an “ultrawide” display.

It’s also worth noting that not every game is optimized for an ultrawide display, so your experience will depend on the game you’re playing.

Best Resolution For Gaming FAQ:Best Resolution For Gaming FAQ

Is 1920x1080 Resolution Good For Gaming?

1920x1080 resolution is considered “Full HD” by the Video Electronics Standards Association or VESA, an industry standard for digital displays.

Between 1080p and 1440p, 1600p are the most demanded resolutions yet to exist. The majority of people don’t have a need for anything greater than 1080p because it’s currently viewed as being able to adequately render all forms of graphical experiences that are desired by consumers.

1080p vs 1440p For Gaming?

What you need to ask yourself is “What am I looking for in terms of quality?”. For example, what do I care more about? Resolution or frame rate? How much graphical detail will matter to me as opposed to really high-quality textures and character models?

In short, it boils down largely to user preference. There are those who swear by 1080p/120FPS over 1440p/ 95 FPS, and there are those who say it’s foolish not to invest a little more money if they’re going for something that sets the standard. Essentially, which would you prefer? A clear picture with fewer frames or a smoother picture that has more details injected into it.

Is 2560x1440 Resolution Good For Gaming?

Yes. 2560x1440 resolution is still a great resolution for gaming. As they say, the more pixels the merrier!

It’s always better to have more space on your screen for readability and visibility. But make sure your PC running this kind of setup can handle all those pixels before you commit to it. You should also make sure that other PC components are up-to-date, too, or else you might experience frustrating times when playing games with lots of eye candy enabled.

So how do you gauge whether your set-up can handle 2560x1440 gaming? There are benchmark tools out there that will tell you pretty quickly if it’s possible or not.

Final Thoughts On The Best Resolution For Gaming

Thanks for reading our guide to picking the best resolution for gaming. As you can see, there’s a lot to choose from, and it largely comes down to personal preference (and how much you’re willing to spend). We’ve given you all the factors needed to select the ultimate gaming monitor or TV for your home setup!

Luke Kline

Luke Kline

Hi, I'm Luke Kline and I've been a gamer my whole life. When I was 13 years old, I built my first gaming PC from scratch to compete with the kids on the block. Since then, I have built dozens of other gaming PCs for various friends and family members and found a love for many PC games too. Most notably, League of Legends where I have worked to become a platinum player for many seasons. That led me to earn my bachelor's degree in cyber security and technology, which eventually culminated into what you see today: a gaming expert who has hands-on experience with hundreds of gaming and tech products. I have been writing reviews, how-to articles, streaming gameplay, creating YouTube videos, and have extensive knowledge about everything gaming!