Looking for a new monitor but can’t decide what to pick? Stuck on figuring out the right display resolution? Read on to learn about the pros and cons of 1440p and 4K monitors.

Before browsing for available monitors to buy, one should first familiarize themselves with some basic terminology. The more product specifications you’ll be able to decipher and understand, the more conscious the purchase will become.

There are a number of good-to-know terms when buying a new monitor unless you want to rely entirely on someone else’s product recommendations.

Refresh rate, response time, connectivity and available ports, monitor panel types, viewing angles, and so on; thankfully, it’s not super complicated. It’s just that the amount of new information may feel overwhelming, especially if it’s the first time for you.

Today, however, we’ll be taking a closer look at something else: display resolutions. It’s probably one of the most important things to know and understand, next to monitor size and refresh rate.

We’ll talk you through the meaning of display resolution and how it may affect the experience, focusing on 1440p and 4K resolutions in particular and how they compare to each other.

Without further ado, let’s dive into it.

Feature2160p (4K)1440p (2K)
Pixel count 3840×2160 2560×1440
Clarity Sharper and crispier due to higher pixel density Satisfactory
Application Primarily for movies, possibly better for work as well, due to having more potential working space, casual or single-player games where high performance is not required, console gaming due to consoles having an FPS lock anyway Primarily for gaming due to excellent value-to-performance ratio, excellent for online competitive titles

Understanding Resolution Basics

The image displayed on monitors is not a one, big, continuous picture. The illusion of continuity is created by very small dots of colored light called “pixels”. Each modern monitor consists of thousands upon thousands or even millions of those small, tightly packed points, all working together to provide you with a clear and readable graphical output.

If you focus hard enough and look closely, you’ll be able to see those single pixels; the bigger the screen size and the lower the resolution, the easier it will be to see the pixels.

Display resolution is always shown in the form of two numbers. It could be 1280×720 or 1366×768, for example. As you may have guessed, the numbers describe how many pixels can be found on the chosen screen, horizontally and vertically, in that order.

You’ll also often see resolutions being called other names, such as “4K”, “Full HD”, “720p”, and more; but behind all those names you will always find a specific pair of numbers mentioned above. The exact pixel resolution can always be found on the monitor’s specification page.

Display resolution is often mentioned in tandem with display size. That’s because the resolution itself doesn’t mean much when you don’t know how big or small the display is; it only tells the number of pixels across and pixels high on the screen, but it says nothing about the physical size of those pixels.

Naturally, when comparing a small monitor to a big one, if both have the exact same resolution, pixels will be more visible and easier to distinguish on the bigger one, because pixels themselves will be larger.

As such, it’s worth remembering that choosing the right resolution will be closely connected to the preferred size of the monitor. The bigger the monitor, the higher resolution will be needed to create the illusion of a sharp, continuous image.

But there’s another catch: you should also remember that the distance at which you’ll be looking at the monitor plays a crucial role as well. The further away you are from the monitor, the lower you can go with the resolution without sacrificing the sharpness.

If you’re sitting far enough, you won’t be able to tell the difference between sufficiently high resolutions, and thus you could get away with a lower one. Full HD on a medium-sized TV at a certain distance will look perfectly fine, for example.

Deep Dive into 4K

4K resolution is just a different name for resolutions containing approximately twice as many pixels as Full HD screens, having close to 4000 pixels across the screen. It usually refers to a 3840×2160 resolution (occasionally called 2160p), while Full HD is 1920×1080 (also known as 1080p).

You may sometimes stumble upon “True 4K” and “4K UHD” terms; in marketing, they’re both essentially the same, and more often than not they both refer to 3840×2160. In the film industry, however, there’s a subtle difference: True 4K is 256 pixels wider than UHD.

Higher resolution means higher pixel density when compared to lower one on the same size of display. As such, in general, you’ll find the 4K image much sharper and crispier. 4K is a popular choice for bigger screens that are meant to be looked at from a certain distance; big TV screens is where 4K shines the most.

You probably won’t see a difference in 4K vs. Full HD on a smartphone screen, although you’ll be technically able to fit more icons on the screen and have more workspace in general. The same applies to 4K computer screens: even if the quality of the image may not be noticeable enough to justify the upgrade, being able to fit more on the screen can be something to consider.

It comes with a con, though: running games smoothly in 4K requires a much, much better PC.

Exploring 1440p

Before you decide to jump straight from Full HD to 4K, it may be worth it to test a middle-ground option: 1440p, or 2560×1440, also sometimes loosely referred to as “2K” for marketing reasons, which remains a much more popular choice for gaming than 4K due to significantly lower PC requirements to be able to run modern games at satisfying level of quality and at stable framerates.

When exploring the world of 1440p, you may stumble upon QHD (Quad HD) and WQHD (Wide Quad HD) terms. These are just other names for 2560×1440 (which is what you’re usually thinking of when saying “1440p”) and 3440×1440, respectively.

1440p is a standard that does not exist in the film industry; as such, if you’re more of a movie connoisseur, you may want to either stick to Full HD or go for 4K; this way you won’t have to deal with any kind of blurriness, unintentional black stripes, or other types of scaling issues.

For gaming, however, 1440p seems to be a superior choice if you had to choose between the two.

4K vs. 1440p: Direct Comparison

Here’s a quick 1440p vs 4K summary for your convenience:

2160p (4K):

  • Pixel count: 3840×2160
  • Clarity: Sharper and crispier due to higher pixel density
  • Application: primarily for movies, possibly better for work as well, due to having more potential working space, casual or single-player games where high performance is not required, console gaming due to consoles having an FPS lock anyway

1440p (2K):

  • Pixel count: 2560×1440
  • Clarity: satisfactory
  • Application: primarily for gaming due to excellent value-to-performance ratio, excellent for online competitive titles

Making the Right Choice for Monitors

You can’t compare resolutions without mentioning screen sizes. So, is it worth it to go for 4K on a smaller monitor? Not really, as the difference may be barely noticeable.

If you’re primarily a gamer, there’s even less of a reason to go for 4K in such a scenario, as you’d need a much more powerful system to run your games smoothly.

All of that to achieve visual clarity comparable to 1440p on much more affordable computers; it’s only worth it if you’ve got absolutely nothing else to spend money on, and even then, it may be simply impossible to run some games at 4K at satisfying quality settings and at higher frame rates, such as 144 FPS. If high FPS in games or being competitive in e-sports is what matters to you the most, 1440p is a far superior choice.

If, however, you’re planning to mostly watch movies and you’re aiming at something large, such as a 65-inch TV, 4K is better; it provides an unbeatable visual experience, allowing one to turn their living room into their own private cinema.

Factors to Ponder for Gamers

If you’re a gamer, you’ll most likely want to choose a 1440p monitor, with a few exceptions. 1440p provides a better value for money and allows to run games at higher FPS which can be a significant advantage, especially in e-sports and competitive games.

4K requires much better hardware to keep up, which means you’ll be forced to lower visual quality to match the performance of 1440p, and even then, it may be difficult to achieve satisfactory results.

The exception is if you’re primarily a console gamer. If you’re looking for a monitor or TV for a console, going 4K makes perfect sense as most games on consoles have their framerates capped anyway – you can’t go above the set limit.

On PC, you can go for 144 FPS if you’ve got a 144Hz monitor, or even 240 FPS if you’ve got a 240Hz one, but doing so with a 4K monitor is a much, much more expensive task to achieve, and in certain cases simply impossible, no matter how big your budget is, because even the most powerful processors and graphics card won’t be able to keep up due to technological limitations.

Budgetary Considerations

Comparing the costs of monitors themselves, 4K ones are more expensive, which is to be expected. Price differences are even higher when you compare monitors that operate at higher frequencies. The difference between 4K 144Hz and 1440p 144Hz is much bigger than it is between 4K 60 Hz and 1440p 60Hz.

The same goes for the size; bigger monitors are much more expensive if they’re 4K. There’s also hardware cost to consider, as 4K requires a better system for smooth work, not to mention the extra electricity cost that will be slowly adding up.

If you’re looking for a reasonable solution, 1440p seems to be the ideal middle ground to go for, unless you’re more of a movie fan and a more casual, relaxed gamer who can afford to sprinkle significantly more money on their setup.


A choice between 1440p and 4K boils down to personal needs and the expected money value you’d like to get out of the purchase.

4K is a great and future-proof option, but it does require a significantly higher budget, as you need to invest in a PC powerful enough to utilize all those extra pixels to the fullest.

You may also need to lower the visual details in certain games to get a smooth, satisfactory gameplay experience, and this may be undesirable; 4K won’t magically turn a game with graphics set to low into a praise-worthy masterpiece.

Going for 1440p instead allows you to redirect more resources into actual computing power, which may result in a much better gaming experience, especially if you’re aiming at 144Hz gaming or above.