Mikes Rant – Why a 1080p Display IS Good Enough!



/ 3 weeks ago

mikes rant 2

Mikes Rant 23

Anyone who pays attention to a lot of gaming, TV and hardware news will often see the term 4K bandied about a lot. You see it so much in fact that I often wonder whether people feel a sense of inadequacy about their own systems. Surely if all the buzz is about 4K, that’s what you should be aiming towards… Right?

Well, no. In a nutshell, you shouldn’t!

Quite the bold statement, but rest assured I’m ready to back it up! I’m here to make the case why HD gaming and even TV (also known as 1080p) is entirely suitable. Nay acceptable and good for modern gamers or tech lovers in general.

What Is 4K And Why Is It Important?

The chances are that some people may not know what 4K is or they kind of do, but not really the technical aspects. I’ll, therefore, look to give you a brief breakdown of it. Forgive me if I oversimplify at points, but I don’t want to blind (or bore) you with the science.

In basic terms, 4K refers to the resolution in which the screen displays an image. This is represented by the number of vertical and horizontal lines required to display an image on a screen. The more lines there are, the better the picture. The less, the worse. With me so far?…

This gets a little more complicated when you put computer monitors and TVs into the same category. Particularly when you get into the older designs of both. I will, however, look to break it down for you.

Put very basically, there are 4 general modern standards of screen resolution. These are;

  • 480 – This varies in resolution depending on your country. Consider this ‘broadcast’ TV standard.
  • 720 – Standard HD – 1280 x 720 lines (quality usually found in DVDs).
  • 1080 Full HD – 1920 x 1080 lines.
  • 1440 Also known (incorrectly) as 2K – 2560 x 1440 lines.
  • 2160 Known as 4K – 3840 x 2160 lines.

There is also 4320 which is known as 8K. I will not, however, go into that as there isn’t much content, particularly in terms of TV, that supports such a high resolution. There is also the matter of the initial numbers having a p or i following them. We again, won’t get into that but it’s basically how the image is placed on the screen.

So, now you know which is which (following my very slapdash explanation), I’m going to attempt to explain why 1080 (or full HD) is perfectly good!

Standard Doesn’t Mean Bad!

You may have noticed if you were recently shopping for a new TV or PC monitor that 1080p (full HD) seems to be fairly standard. In terms of TV, your only options beyond that go into the 4K and 8K brackets. These almost always a significantly higher price tag. In terms of monitors, you do have the 1440p resolution which offers a nice middle ground, but we’ll get onto that later.

Just because full-HD has become standard though, it doesn’t mean it’s bad. In truth, very little in terms of standard gaming or broadcast TV is capable (under the present technology) of displaying any higher.

The reasons why anything above and beyond full-HD gets difficult varies depending on what we’re talking about. As such, I’ll break it down into two categories. This will hopefully help keep things as simple as possible.

The Practicality of Owning A 4K TV

When you’re in the shop, it’s hard not to get blown away by the difference in quality seen in a 4K TV. The images are sharper, clearer and (usually) the colours are far more vivid. When you buy it, take it home, and plug it in though, suddenly the fact dawns on you that you have very little 4K content you can actually play on it.

While YouTube is a decent source, you didn’t buy a 4K TV to do a glorified YouTube search. There are other others. For example, you can subscribe and pay for access to a 4K TV service (such as that offered by Netflix or Sky). These subscriptions usually come at a notably higher cost than standard packages and having a decent internet connection (24mbp minimum) is nearly always required. At such, 4K access may not be as simple as you think!

I shouldn’t skim over the fact that 4K (UHD) discs exist, then again though, you need a special player to run them. Even a standard blu-ray player will not run UHD (Ultra high definition) discs.

So on the whole, it’s tricky getting the most out of your 4K TV. There are, however, some bonus’ to standard content on a 4K TV. For example, depending on the model, your TV might attempt to ‘simulate/upscale’ 4K from lower resolution video. This is, however, very hit and miss with the quality/success and is almost entirely determined by the source material and the manufacturer of the TV.

In brief, you can buy and own a 4K TV, but the chances are that 90% of what you watch will be based upon much lower resolutions. As such, is spending the extra to have the 4K really necessary? No, it isn’t! It’s good, but there isn’t much to watch without spending more!

What About Gaming?

It’s hard to argue that 4K gaming looks fantastic. Often, once you’ve tried it, it can be hard to go back. There is, however, generally one major problem with 4K gaming. You (not always, but often) need an exceptionally strong system to run it well. When you compare it to standard full-HD, you are essentially asking your PC to work 4 times as hard as it would to produce a single line of graphics in 4K. That’s quite a lot when you think about it.

Most people who play games in 4K nearly always have to compromise in some areas to get a solid framerate. This may be dumping the graphical/shadow quality down until it runs well or simply locking the framerate to around 30fps. Put simply, while 4K 60FPS gaming is certainly a popular ‘buzz term’, it’s reality is very far removed for the vast majority of PC owners.

On a fairly decent mid-level PC though, you can generally run the vast majority of AAA-games at 1080p resolution in at least very-high or ultra graphical settings. The resolution may be lower, but the overall quality of how the game presents itself is much, much higher. In basic terms, it just runs better!

For 4K gaming, in addition to needing a good system, you also need a monitor capable of producing a 4K resolution. For one with a decent Hz rate (which by proxy can display faster frame rates), you’re looking upwards of £500 and more! Before you think about simply hooking your PC up to a TV, note that most 4K TV’s are relatively low hz rates and also operate at a much lower ‘input’ level than PC monitors meaning you might experience delays.

What about consoles such as a the PS4 Pro or Xbox One X? Well, most of those cheat to achieve a solid 4K by locking the display output to 30fps.

In a nutshell, while 4K gaming is possible. Unless your system is remarkably good, the chances are that the experience will be very underwhelming unless you have the system to back it up. A system that’ll probably cost you a minimum of £1,200!

My Case For Full HD

I’m not going to try and tell you that higher resolutions are not more preferable. As I write this I have a 1440p resolution monitor and a 4K TV in the same room as me. They’re nice! Very nice in fact! Ultimately, however, despite owning this, I know full well that there is nothing wrong with full-hd/1080p screen resolutions.

In terms of accessibility for PC, 4K gaming is nearly always based on having a good system (and, as above, an actual 4K capable monitor). Most don’t and as such aiming for that 4K promised land is often a disappointing experience. For TV, it’s simply the fact that most 4K content is behind a pay-wall of some description.

You may note at this point that I hadn’t once mentioned the size of the screen. Well, a bigger screen is always nice and will always add to the price. In terms of pricing though, a 4K display that costs the same as a 32″ full-HD display will nearly always be at least 5″ smaller. The price of the 4K resolution massively outweighs the price of the screen size!

In conclusion, just because ‘full-HD’ may have become the standard. It doesn’t make it bad! More so, you shouldn’t feel embarrassed by using it or harbour the uncontrollable need to improve upon it! For PC owners, if you simply have to make that upgrade, consider 1440p as an excellent middle ground.  Its none-to-taxing on the system and large 1440p monitors can be surprisingly good value.

Just because everything says 4K at the moment, don’t feel as if you’re missing out on anything too amazing. As things stand, 4K is a massively overstated position. One that generally promises a lot more than it delivers!

Disclaimer

Mike is currently having to babysit on his own while his wife is off. As such, he’s likely a bit angrier than he usually might be. Either way though, ‘Mikes Rant’ is an opinion piece. As such, his (often misguided) opinions may not reflect those of eTeknix. So please don’t shout at us!

Did you enjoy Mikes Rant? If so, please check out his previous ones which include:

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Comments

3 Responses to “Mikes Rant – Why a 1080p Display IS Good Enough!”
  1. ET3D says:

    This isn’t any different than advocating buying the entry level of anything. For a lot of people, that’s enough. Do you really need more than a $200 (or even $100) phone? Do you really need more than a Core i3? Do you really need more than a $50 headset? Most people don’t.

    However, if you’re at all interested in a technology, you’re typically aware of advantages of buying something more expensive, and you’re often actively interested in these features. If you have the money for a GeForce 2080 Ti and a 4K monitor, and playing at that resolution makes a real difference to you, then that’s certainly not a waste of money. If 4K movies look better in your opinion, and watching that gives you pleasure, then paying a few more dollars a month to Netflix or having to buy 4K movies isn’t what will matter to you.

    If you’re buying a TV, would looking hard for a Full HD one to save $50 really makes sense? How often do you buy a TV? Isn’t paying $50 or $100 for a little forward compatibility worth it for a device that you might keep for 7 years?

    In short, what you say is true: 1080p is “good enough”, like playing games on a console or a low end PC is good enough. But if you can get something that’s technically much better for not a lot more money, and you can see the difference easily enough, buying more than “good enough” certainly has merit.

    • Mike Sanders says:

      While I totally understand and agree with your position, it’s more a case of that people shouldn’t aspire beyond their means when they don’t have to.

      Anyone can, theoretically, buy a 4K monitor as a means of ‘future’ proofing. By the time they get the technology capable of really running 4k though, does the extra money really represent good value?

      If you’re not planning a new system for at least 4-5 years, why buy a 4K monitor now? The chances are the technology will have gotten better and the prices/accessibility will be much greater.

      • ET3D says:

        It depends on the price. For TVs, at least, finding a 1080p one in this day and age is rather hard, especially at large sizes, and it doesn’t save much. For monitors, 1080p is still the standard, so people should make the normal considerations they make when buying anything: price difference, other specs, and how much value 4K adds for their use cases.

        The point was, this rant could be made about a myriad of other things and it would be just as true and just as false. You could rant that a $1000 used car can get you anywhere, that a $100 phone is enough to talk, browse the web, and even for some snapshots, that sleeping on a mattress on the floor is perfectly fine. You’d be just as right, and it would be just as pointless.

        Personally, I’m perfectly fine with SD for video. I still occasionally buy DVDs. But I still acknowledge that HD is better than SD and that 4K is better than HD. I can see the pixels on my monitor in 1080P. I can work with it just fine, and I feel that the extra cost for 4K isn’t worth it, for a monitor. But 4K *is* better than 1080p, and my TV is 4K.

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