When looking for a screen, we need to keep in mind what its purpose is. The television industry is much simpler with mainstream televisions being fairly standard and all of them evolving at the same time. However, computer monitors have evolved a lot faster, with the need for higher resolutions for something other than just movies or other visual media. Considering what we use monitors for, like gaming, video and photo editing or production, office work and many other uses, we need to factor in many additional scenarios when picking a monitor. In our opinion, the resolution plays one of the biggest deciding factors in this. But why?
Well, considering the many different resolutions you can choose from, starting at 720p and ending at a 5K monitor, you need to pick the right tool for the job you intend it to do. Let’s look at the two main resolutions for middle to upper class monitors, which would be (W)QHD and 4K monitors.
If you are pondering why the W is in brackets, this simply stands for “Wide” and the rest stands for Quad High Definition. Although unlikely, you can have a Quad High Definition monitor that is not a Wide screen, thus the W is placed in brackets, but the vertical pixel count remains the same. It simply changes the aspect ratio from 16:9 to 4:3.
The term Quad High Definition doesn’t mean that it is four times the resolution of a HD monitor. It is in fact only twice the native resolution of a 720p monitor. The ‘Quad’ references a 720p resolution, so it means that it is twice the vertical pixel count. Simply put, if you multiply the vertical pixel count of 720p you get 1440p and the same for the horizontal pixel count of 1280, which brings you to a native resolution of 1440×2560.
This means that you can essentially fit double the amount of viewing information on a screen if you move from a 720p monitor to a WQHD monitor. However, it doesn’t mean that everything is improved. Higher resolution means that your PC has to work harder to process the millions of pixels on the screen.
On the plus side, with the higher pixel count, they are more compact on a similar size screen, so the pixel gap is less, which means less strain on your eyes and a smoother picture. This is suitable for most office users and can save on an expensive dual-monitor setup. It is also great for gamers, as it provides a smooth image with great detail.
The next step up from WQHD is a 4K or UHD (Ultra High Definition) resolution. 4K might define the category better, as this resolution has four times as many pixels as a FHD resolution. The vertical pixel rate is doubled, as with the WQHD resolution. FHD resolution of 1080p is scaled up to 2160 and the horizontal pixel count is also doubled, so you end up with a native resolution of 2160×3840.
So now you are able to view double the amount of information displayed on your screen without having to resize any windows. If you maximize an application like Microsoft Word, for instance, on a FHD screen, you would be able to have two of those windows open at once on a 4k monitor without having to resize them and still be able to see as much content as if you were just viewing one page on the 1080p display. Again we also see a massive amount of CPU/GPU power needed in order to run applications at these high resolutions.
If you are a graphic designer or in any design field, these would suit you perfectly, as the screens allow for high level magnification without blurring. They also have extremely smooth images so you won’t damage your eyes after staring at the monitor for hours on end.
If you are a gamer or video editor you will have an issue with the refresh rate on these higher resolution monitors. They don’t go higher than 60Hz at the moment and average 30Hz to accommodate for the close to 8 million pixels it needs to refresh every second.
Which is better?
Well, the monitor needs to fit you and your pocket. 4K monitors are still rather expensive, but offer great PPI (Pixel Per Inch). However, they have slower refresh rates. If you are a graphic designer or media maniac, then the 4K monitors are definitely for you.
The WQHD monitors are more geared towards high-end offices and gamers. Being more affordable that the 4K monitors is a plus and they still offer great resolutions.