Resolution 101: How to Know Which PC Monitor to Purchase
Whether you have all the budget in the world to buy the latest and most expensive PC monitor, or you’re on a hunt for an affordable option, one thing is guaranteed: you’ll need to consider the monitor’s resolution before buying.
This guide talks about the resolution of a monitor and why you need to pick one for your PC requirements.
What is a monitor resolution?
Monitor resolution describes the visual dimensions of a display. It is expressed in width and height, so the industry-standard HD with a resolution of 1920 x 1080 pixels means the monitor has a width of 1,920 pixels and a height of 1,080 pixels for a total of 2,073,600 pixels on-screen.
What does this mean? Well, the higher a monitor’s resolution is, the more detailed an image can be since it will have more pixels than a monitor with a lower resolution.
NOTE that the pixels you see on your monitor would also depend on the resolution of the content (such as movies and videos) that you’re viewing. So if you’re watching an HD movie on a 4k monitor, then technically the pixels you’ll see will only be HD levels.
Common Monitor Resolutions to Consider
You have several monitor resolutions to choose from.
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Note that I started with full HD below, but you can still find resolutions in HD (1280 x 720) and lower, which offers double the pixels of an analog monitor, but isn’t reliable to do most jobs today. Instead, here are viable choices:
- 1080p (also referred to as 1920 x 1080, Full HD, Full High Definition): If the image quality is important to you, but you have a limited budget or require prioritizing other features, the PC-standard 1080p resolution should be enough for day-to-day use and watching videos. Most work computers, used for word processing, online search, social media, video conference, and other similar “light” tasks, come with HD resolution as default.
- 1440p (also known as QHD, Wide Quad HD or WQHD): In the scheme of resolutions, users often skip 1440p and go straight to 4k, especially if they need advanced displays. But if you’re upgrading from a 1080p monitor, the 1440p wide quad monitors still provide noticeably improved visuals and four times as many pixels as the 720p HD, but without the cost of the more expensive 4k.
- 4k (3,840 x 2,160 pixels, known as Ultra HD or UHD): For people who have to use demanding applications like CAD, Adobe Photoshop for graphic design, and photo and video editing tools, 4k delivers extraordinary image clarity. You can rely on a 4k monitor to produce highly accurate colors. Monitors with 4k resolutions used to be exorbitantly priced, but their price tags have come down substantially in recent years. Note that you’d need an advanced graphics card if you’re planning to use a 4k monitor for gaming.
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Future-Proofing Your Monitor: 5k, 8k and Beyond
If you’re buying a monitor so you’ll use the most up-to-date display in the market, you’ll be quickly frustrated at how quickly technology advances. Brands like Apple, Dell, LG, Panasonic, and other top monitor brands launch new models every 6 months or so.
Is a 5k or 8k required if you’re focused on future-proofing your choice of monitor?
- 5k (5120 x 2160): 5k monitors have pixels 7 times the amount of Full HD monitors. Like Apple’s iMac, these 5k monitors provide ultra-high resolution needed in creative professionals and pro gamers who require every bit of detail possible.
- 8k (UHD 8k or 7680 × 4320): These are still rare, but 8k monitors exist. They feature 7,680 horizontal and 4,320 vertical pixels for a total of 33 million pixels.
The problem with 5k, 8k and future advancements in monitor resolutions is that content cannot keep up. This means even if you’re using a 4k, 5k, or even 8k monitor, as long as the video, movie or other kinds of content is still Full HD, your monitor will still show it as Full HD.
Our advice is to stick with a branded 4k monitor, which still has a couple of more years before it becomes the standard resolution. While they’re a bit expensive now, you’ll be sure that your investment pays off. Choosing a monitor based on price alone can be tricky since future-proofing would not be guaranteed.
Of course, there are still other factors you’d have to consider when buying a PC monitor, especially if your daily computer tasks demand the best image quality. The resolution shouldn’t be your top priority when it comes to a monitor’s features. In fact, you might even be happier with ultrawide monitors that offer a unique aspect ratio with a wide horizontal pixel count (instead of the traditionally vertical dimension of standard monitors).
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