Even if you know a decent amount about video and image resolutions, there’s a decent chance you’ve never heard of 1440p. And even if you have, you might not know a thing about it. The failure of 1440p to gain traction with the general public is largely a matter of timing, but you still might find yourself coming across a 1440p monitor or television. In this case, it can be important to know how the 1440p vs. 4K rivalry really stands up.
While obtaining higher resolutions may seem as simple as upgrading to a newer monitor, there are a number of other factors at play. If you want to upgrade your work, gaming, or TV setup, you’ll also need to consider the capabilities and limitations of your other hardware, as well as the specific viewing experience that you specifically want to achieve. We’ll cover these aspects and more in the following passages.
Every image on a monitor or TV is made up of millions of little dots known as pixels. The larger the number of pixels supported, the more detail your TV will display. We already have a whole article devoted to 1080p vs 1440p, but let’s quickly look at 1080p vs. 1440p vs. 4K 2160p to put things in a little more perspective.
1080p is what’s known as Full HD, while 1440p is known as Quad HD (or sometimes 2K), and 4K is known as Ultra HD. The numbers preceding the “p” refer to the number of pixels packed vertically across the screen. The longer-form version of these resolutions includes the horizontal megapixel count too (with each format listed as 1920 x 1080, 2560 x 1440, and 3840 x 2160). There really is no contest between 1080p and 1440p. UHD offers double the pixel density of 1080p, while QHD falls somewhere between 1080p resolution and HD 4K resolutions.
That means that all things being equal, 4K monitors are going to be better for playing games and watching movies than 2K, but the resolution alone isn’t the only reason to invest in a monitor or a graphics processor. You also have to consider how much value you’ll get out of the higher resolution and whether it’s worth sacrificing other factors in the process.
Monitor Size and Type
A greater pixel count means better-looking image quality on your monitor, but that’s not going to matter too much if your screen is too small to properly render it. There’s a ceiling where you start to get diminishing returns from your gaming experience when moving to higher resolution monitors, and that’s one of the reasons why next-generation 8K 4320p technology hasn’t quite taken off yet.
For that reason, QHD continues to be a fairly popular resolution in the consumer electronics space. For devices with smaller screens like phones, tablets, and more compact laptops, 2K can provide you with about the best video quality you can expect for the screen size. Obviously, larger monitors and TVs can really make the most of a 4K screen, but the difference will be insignificant for smaller screens.
Moreover, pixel density isn’t the only factor that goes into the production of great-looking games and graphics. Picture quality is also influenced by color reproduction. And for many users, a bright and vibrant viewing experience is more important than one which has s crystal clear resolution.
If you’re using your monitor primarily for PC gaming, you might actually find that you’ll get more value out of a 1440p 144Hz monitor resolution. Picking the right resolution for your gaming display means balancing games that look great on your screen vs. games that run smoothly. Refresh rates tell you how quickly gaming panels refresh the image on the screen. A higher refresh rate means you have to concern yourself less with issues like tearing or stuttering during the gaming experience.
The unfortunate thing about a 4K UHD monitor is that while it can offer great-looking gameplay, the frame rates also tend to suffer compared to those with a QHD resolution. If you want the best balance between higher refresh rates and good image quality, a new 2K monitor can offer great frame rates and a resolution that goes above and beyond what most Full HD monitors will offer. The resolution for 4K won’t matter much if input lag and screen tears are causing gamers to miss shots in their favorite competitive FPS.
A monitor may offer 4K resolutions, but that doesn’t mean that the rest of your gaming rig is going to be able to accommodate it. This is especially true if you’re looking for budget or entry-level panel displays. The GPU, CPU, and aspect ratio of a computer are all going to have an impact on how close you can get to the listed resolution, and the best frame rate and HD 4K resolution won’t count for much if you have to reduce down the settings on your display to compensate.
Check your specs ahead of time to see if your source device is capable of handling higher resolutions. For desktop use, PC gamers will want to look at the graphic card and the CPU and check out the listed benchmarks. Things are a little easier if you’re using a gaming console. The PS4 Pro and Xbox One X support 4K streaming, but the Xbox One S or PS4 Slim will only support resolutions up to 1080p. That being said, all consoles should generally support a 4K refresh rate when playing videos. Either way, you shouldn’t buy a higher resolution monitor unless you’re sure you have the equipment to do it justice.
If you’re primarily using your TV for watching movies with services like Hulu or Netflix, you may want to pay closer attention to what your internet speeds allow. A 4K monitor offers four times the pixel density of a 1080p monitor, and significantly more still than a QHD TV. That means that a lot of data needs to be processed through your internet connection.
If you’re trying to stream UHD video, we suggest that you take the time to check your internet speed as well as your data cap. Don’t simply pay attention to what your cable provider tells you the speed is, either. Depending on your location and the quality of your equipment, your actual download and upload speeds can vary pretty significantly. We recommend that you take the time to test out UHD streaming before you invest in a 4K TV so that you can see the refresh rate, streaming speed, and impact on your data cap more clearly.
The most obvious reason to get a 4K monitor rather than a QHD or 1080p monitor is the ability to watch more stunning gameplay and movies. And as long as your computing power and graphics card are powerful enough to support a refresh rate that you’re happy with while delivering UHD resolutions, we suggest you make the upgrade. A good gaming monitor is capable of finding the balance between resolution and higher frame rates, especially for video games. But a QHD panel is probably the sweet spot if you have a mid-range graphics card like the standard GTX 1080.
A QHD panel can also be great for office productivity. If you’re trying to get work done and like to multitask, the tighter pixel density can help you pack a lot more on the screen than you could with a 2K monitor. For instance, if you want to run two separate windows side by side for web surfing, 2K is the size we’d generally recommend. But if you’re just using your computer for work, upgrading to a resolution higher than that may not bring you much added benefit.
4K is rapidly becoming the standard resolution for HD videos, so investing in a 4K TV now could be a sensible move. With 8K still deep on the horizon, you can usually get a QHD TV for a price reasonably comparable to a UHD model. And even if you do end up spending more, you’ll at least know that your higher-resolution TV is future-proofed as newer high definition standards become more prevalent.
Frequently Asked Questions
Can You Tell the Difference Between 1440p and 4k?
If you’re looking side by side at two monitors, you should be able to tell the difference between these two resolutions. Whether or not the human eye can detect the differences when they’re apart from each other is more open to debate. A larger screen is more likely to show the distinction between the two, while a smaller screen will give you negligible results side by side.
Do 4K Monitors Support 1440p?
Yes, they do. Just keep in mind that due to the design of the monitor, 1440p will look a little blurrier on a UHD screen than it would on a native QHD screen. So if you can’t consistently support UHD visuals due to hardware limitations or the need for higher frame rates, you should take that into consideration.
What is the Resolution of 1440p?
1440p is also known as 2K or QHD. This type of monitor offers a resolution of 2,560 x 1,440 pixels. That gives it a pixel density four times that of a 720p resolution and one that falls comfortably between FHD and UHD. It may not be the best resolution available today, but it’s not that far off.
What is the Difference Between 2k and 4k?
A 2K monitor supports a resolution of 2560 x 1440 pixels, while a 4K alternative supports a resolution of 3840 x 2160 pixels. As a result, a 4K TV offers roughly double the density. It can pack in a total of over 8 million pixels, while a 2K monitor can fit in about 3.6 million pixels into a screen.
Is 2K better than 4K? That really depends on a lot of factors, and finding the right panel for you is going to require a little research into the source devices you’re using as well as the expectations you have from your new screen. If you want to make a bit of a downgrade, we suggest that you take a look at our guide to 1080p vs. 1440p resolution. And if you’re looking to improve your A-game, check out our guide to the best gaming monitors of 2022.