The 4K vs. 1080p debate has been a heated one for the past few years. Whenever you want to buy a laptop/ desktop/ TV, the first thing you’re told is the screen resolution. Thus, one becomes more conscious about whether stepping up their game to 4K is worth it or not?
In all honesty, there may be no direct answer— the perfect screen resolution for you depends on the intention behind buying the laptop/ desktop/ TV. While a UHD resolution screen is a must for content creators, video editors, etc., some can skip the process of selling their kidneys and go for a more affordable 1080p display!
So before tempting yourself by checking out the best 4K laptops in the market, let’s shed some light upon what these confusing jargon mean and list down the pros and cons of each.
What 2k vs 1080p vs 4K mean?
For beginners, confusing numbers can get overwhelming but fret not. We are going to keep it short and simple for you.
Resolution, simply put, is the number of pixels an image is made of. It is resolution that defines the depth and realisticness of an image, video or any object your screen shows. So, all these big terms, 2k, 4k or even 8k is just the fancy word representing the amount of pixels the monitor consists.
720p or HD (High Definition):
High Definition video quality is what we 90’s kid grew up watching on our TVs and monitors. Covering 1,280 x 720 pixels, back in the day this was the ultimate boss. But in 2020, 720p resolution with 16/9 aspect ratio, is just a baby. Even our smartphones shows a substantial amount of pixelation with these resolution.
1080p or Full HD (FHD) And/Or 2K :
FHD or what we call 1080p resolutions is the most common display nowadays. FHD displays offers a resolution of 1920 x 1080 pixels with 16/9 aspect ratio. Most of the videos youtube shows is FHD. Even cinema world calls Full HD, the standard resolution. With little to no pixelation, it’s a sweet spot to the eye.
2k on the other hand is 2560 X 1080 pixels and is a slight upgrade to FHD. Even if the name suggests 2 Kilodots (2048 vertical pixels), informally many refer it as 1080p.
4K or Ultra HD (UHD):
4K is a practical example of, “Sometimes, bigger is better.” Even though the 2k viewers have no complain on the picture quality and viewing experience. With 3,840 x 2,160 pixels, UHD shows us a better possibility and a whole new world.
Which One Is Better 4k or 1080p?
There is no one answer for this. If you watch movies or videos occasionally then, a slightly less pixel might not bum your experience. But if you are a serious gamer or a professional video editor, display might play a vital role. In this case, upping your budget for a 4k is recommended.
Now that we’ve dealt with the jargon let’s weigh out their pros and cons to put your money in the right place.
Pros of FHD / 1080p / 2k
Less Power Consumption, Better Battery Life
An FHD display does not require a mighty CPU and an equally hefty GPU when compared to a 4K display. Thus, an FHD screen ensures less power consumption and longer battery life.
Less Storage Requirement
Naturally, videos rendered in 1080p will take less space than 4K videos, leaving you with the liberty to choose devices with lower storage and save some bucks.
Best of Both Worlds
With excellent overall picture quality and a high refresh rate, an FHD laptop/ desktop can be a much better option over its 4K rival. Since a 4K screen needs to push more pixels, 4K gaming needs a way higher refresh rate, which requires an expensive graphics card (on top of the already costly 4K device).
Easy on the Pocket
Laptops, desktops, and TV sets are inexpensive as compared to their 4K counterparts. Since the lower number of pixels does not necessarily require top-notch processors, GPU, etc., the price is affordable for a majority.
Variety is the Spice of Life
Since FHD displays are more commonly known and produced, one has a vast range of laptops/ desktops/ TVs to choose from. Even when it comes to software, many of them support 1080p content.
Some 1080p devices can run 4K content
Depending on the HDMI and other specs, some FHD laptops/ monitors can output 4K content with ease. No wonder watching 4K videos on a FHD screen is better than watching 1080p videos on the same. However, 4K gaming on an FHD display can kill the frame rate.
Cons of FHD / 1080p / 2k
Lower Resolution Sacrifices on Color Accuracy
Lesser number of pixels may not mean a bad overall picture quality. But in technical terms, it does lack the color accuracy and vibrancy of a UHD screen.
Not the best for Content Creators
Professional content creators, gamers, etc. may not be satisfied with the lower saturation, contrast, and overall color gamut of an FHD screen. Especially, for UHD video/ photo editing, a 1080p laptop/ desktop is a big no-no. For casual gamers, 4K gaming is hands down the winner.
Cropping/ Stabilizing Decreases Sharpness
Cropping or stabilizing an FHD footage can result in a scaled-down image quality, which affects the sharpness. On the other hand, a scaled-down 4K footage can be rendered into a sharp 1080p picture/ video.
Pros of UHD/ 4K
Dazzling Image Quality
Accurate color gamut, blinding brightness, and crystal clear sharpness contribute to an immersive viewing experience. Be it movies, gaming, editing— everything’s better in 4K!
Perfect for Editing and Gaming
Adding on to the previous point, video editors and graphic designers are going to love working on Adobe Photoshop and Adobe Premiere if it is on a UHD screen. Moreover, 4K gaming is every gamer’s dream come true. This is one of the main points why UHD is better than 2k for most professionals.
Cons of UHD/ 4K
More Pixels = Higher Price Tag
Even though the price seems reasonable for the level of productivity a 4K display offers (to content creators, video editors, animators, etc.), it does take a toll on your bank account. The price difference between FHD and UHD laptops can vary from $300-500. For instance, the 4K model of Razor Blade 15 costs a whopping $4000 approximately.
4K Gaming may lag
Due to pixel-pushing, a 4K laptop may need an added oomph to enjoy some smooth game flow. For competitive gamers, nothing is worse than losing out on the refresh rate. For an-out-of-the-world gaming experience, along with a UHD laptop/ desktop, one needs a beefy CPU and a superb graphics card.
Never Size Down
Getting a 13” laptop with a 4K display is definitely not worth it. You won’t even be able to spot any difference between 1080p and 4K resolution.
Poor Battery Life
Generating that many pixels certainly drains the battery life in an instant. Hence, if battery life is your priority, you might as well give up the idea of getting a UHD laptop. Or make the big splurge and ensure you’re ALWAYS working near a charging point!
What’s the hype about 8K?
In simple terms, 8K resolution means double the number of pixels provided by UHD , i.e., 7,680 x 4,320 pixels. Renowned brands like Samsung, LG, etc. have already launched 8K TVs in the market, making it the latest addition to UHD displays. It is needless to say, 8K displays are costly for most people.
Should you get it? NO. For an 8K display to work in its full potential, we need 8K content. There are no TV shows and movies available in 8K resolution right now. Plus, you’ll be needing new cables too, preferably HDMI 2.1 to handle that many pixels.
So for those who are wondering if a UHD display is pointless, it is not. For those confused over getting a UHD laptop/ monitor, do not make a hasty decision. Just because 8K has entered the market, it does not mean that UHD is getting obsolete. Unless your work requires you to create or edit UHD content or if you are into 4K gaming, the fancy laptop/ monitor may not be a necessity.
The final winner between 4K and 1080p can be a subjective choice. However, it is advisable to make the big leap at a physical store rather than going online. Get hands-on experience and make the right choice!