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Do you really need a 4K monitor?



It seems like everyone is talking about 4K monitors these days, and for good reason. We’re starting to see more content available in 4K, with hundreds (if not thousands) of YouTube videos, not to mention all the streaming services that support resolution.

But for a screen that is either used for working or playing the best PC games, getting a 4K monitor might not be worth it. Gamers will likely want a faster refresh rate, and games like Cyberpunk 2077 are notoriously difficult to run at high resolution.

And, while most of what you’re doing is reading spreadsheets or writing emails, there’s not much to be gained from using such a high resolution. So, with the advent of extremely powerful hardware like the RTX 3080 that promises to deliver a flawless 4K experience no matter what you use your PC for, it’s worth considering whether you should go for it. for a premium 4K monitor, or save the money and get a 1440p or 1080p display instead.

Nvidia RTX 3070, RTX 3080 and RTX 3090 line up in promotional image from Nvidia

(Image credit: Nvidia)

Let’s talk about 4K gaming

If you pay attention to games, you probably know that the PS5 and Xbox Series X are all 4K games, although those consoles are mostly lacking when it comes to the game. real render resolution – they mainly use methods to improve games from a lower resolution.

However, in September 2020, when Nvidia announced the GeForce RTX 3090, the company announced that the graphics card was capable of handling games not only in 4K, but in 8K. Now in our review it didn’t quite hit that mark, but it kind of gave the impression that 4K was already over and we were already ready to move up to 8K, but we didn’t. are certainly not there yet.

While there are certainly graphics cards that can handle 4K gaming with ease, like the RTX 3080 and Radeon RX 6800 XT, most graphics cards on the market just can’t. The GTX 1060 is still the most popular graphics card at the moment according to the latest Steam Hardware Survey. This card is really only for 1080p gamers, and it’s even starting to struggle, especially in more graphically demanding games.

So it’s no wonder that, according to that same hardware survey, only 2.14% of Steam users use a 4K monitor, with 68% still using 1080p displays and 8.24% using 1440p.

And this last resolution is the most interesting, especially when considering monitors with a high refresh rate. While the Nvidia GeForce RTX 3080 can absolutely play most games in 4K at around 60fps, you might get an even smoother experience at 1440p.

For example, in our review of Nvidia’s flagship card, we found that the RTX 3080 can get 70 fps in Horizon Zero Dawn at 4K, which is perfect. But at 1440p it was able to reach 116 fps, which is so close to that sweet spot of 120 Hz. Especially in online games like World of Warcraft and Overwatch where the speed of your reactions is paramount, a 1440p monitor will likely have much more sense.

Adobe Premiere Pro user interface redesign

(Image credit: Adobe)

Creation of #content

So while a 4K monitor doesn’t really make sense for gaming, that doesn’t mean they’re totally worthless. As we mentioned before, there is a ton of content available in 4K. And while we’ll always love to watch 4K movies in our living room on a TV, creating that content is a whole different story.

If you are editing a video in 4K, being able to see what you are working on in real time helps tremendously when trying to spot small details. In fact, for video editors who regularly work with 4K content, the best 4K monitors might not even be enough. With a 5K or even 8K monitor, you will be able to see every detail of your project while having tools visible in Premiere, Vegas, or whatever program you use to work with the video.

But it’s not just video. We do a lot of photo editing for our reviews, and we love having a luxury 4K display, because it helps us see exactly what the changes we make look like, especially when editing photos from our SLR. digital resolution greater than 4K.

Woman working on Windows 10 laptop while her cat looks at her disapprovingly.  His phone is also on the table.

(Image credit: Shutterstock / Olesya Kuznetsova)

4K monitor for emails?

One of the nicest things about using a 4K display is how clean and crisp everything is, especially the text. And, if you’re working on a lot of different things, you can easily split up your display and still have everything perfectly readable. We know there are several occasions when we’ll split our monitor into quarters, with a few web browser windows and Slack, especially when a lot is going on at once.

Especially if you only have room for one monitor, it makes sense to have a screen that will allow you to multitask. Getting hold of one of the best Ultrawide monitors is even better for this and can save your life if you have little desk space.

Likewise, though, if you don’t have to constantly do ten different things at the same time, there’s no point in grabbing a 4K display for your PC if you’re just going to be doing computer work every day. .

For most people who are going to primarily use their computers for everyday web browsing, checking email, and watching some YouTube, a 1080p monitor is always more than enough. Of course, things won’t be that crisp, but if you get a 24- or 27-inch monitor you probably won’t notice the difference unless you’re looking at the two monitors side by side. side.

Money on a laptop

(Image credit: Pixabay)

All about value

The best 4K monitors are getting cheaper every day. It’s pretty easy to find a 4K gaming monitor around $ 249, like this Asus VP28UQG on Amazon. However, you still get what you pay for with something like this. Although it’s a 4K display, it doesn’t use a very good panel. It’s a TN panel that only has 300 nits of brightness and reaches 94% of the sRGB spectrum.

For the same money you can get a much nicer 1080p or 1440p display, a display that won’t cut out all the colors in your photos and has better viewing angles, so you don’t have to squint at your screen as you’re slightly to the side.

And, those high refresh rates you’ll find in low-res displays aren’t just for gamers. Everything you do on your PC is powered by hundreds of small animations, from moving a window on the desktop to just hovering your mouse cursor. On a high refresh screen, everything has a smoothness that is hard to describe until you experience it for yourself.



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