1080p offers the best performance, 2160p offers the best visuals but is very demanding on the hardware, and 1440p balances performance and graphics. So which one is the best? Well, that depends entirely on the hardware and on what the user prefers.
Resolution is one of the most important graphics settings when it comes to visual quality, but it is also quite demanding in terms of performance. Up until recently, it was only the PC gamers who had to think about resolution, but with the PS4 Pro and the Xbox One X on the scene, even console fans have to face that very question:
So what resolution is the best for gaming?
Should you go with Full HD, QHD, or UHD (4K)? Should you go with a 16:9 or 21:9 aspect ratio? That is precisely what we aim to discuss and answer in this article!
As you probably know, the screen resolution represents how many pixels there are on the screen horizontally and vertically. The more pixels, the sharper and more detailed the image will appear.
Now, there are three resolutions to pick from in the gaming world today, and those are as follows:
- Full HD (1080p)
- Quad HD (1440p)
- Ultra HD (2160p)
So, what are their pros and cons?
For many seasoned gamers, it may feel like it was only yesterday that Full HD was as advanced as display technology got. Back then, the choice came down to 720p and 1080p, the former being dubbed HD and the latter Full HD.
Today, 720p is only a viable resolution when it comes to streaming and you are unlikely to play a game in that resolution unless you still have your last-gen console around. On the other hand, 1080p is far from dead and remains the most popular gaming resolution today.
The reason why 1080p is still so widespread is that it allows for superb in-game performance. With any higher resolution, you’d need a very beefy GPU if you wanted to get over 100 FPS in anything except e-sports games. That said, they are the best choice for those who have their sights set on 144 Hz or 240 Hz monitors for maximum possible framerates.
Quad HD is dubbed as such because it boasts roughly four times the pixel count of 720p. It is also commonplace for it to be mistakenly referred to as 2K, even though it is technically 2.5K.
For most gamers, QHD is the only real option of getting a significant graphics upgrade over a 1080p monitor. It offers noticeably better visuals while not being too demanding on the hardware. As a matter of fact, almost any mid-range GPU will be able to get over 30 FPS in the latest AAA titles when rendering them in QHD.
But that is the catch: 30-60 FPS is simply not enough for some people, especially when it comes to competitive gaming. However, it does make the best middle ground between visuals and performance.
Ultra HD, also known as 4K, is the highest resolution currently available with mainstream displays. It boasts a massive pixel count roughly four times that of Full HD. While this makes for some truly breathtaking visuals, it also comes with a hefty performance hit.
There is simply no putting it lightly, UHD is demanding. So much so that not even GTX 1080 Ti, the most powerful consumer GPU currently on the market, cannot run games in it with a stable 60 FPS.
Of course, if you have a decent high-end card such as the GTX 1070, you will be able to get at least 30 FPS out of AAA titles. That said, it becomes quite obvious that 2160p is still only a viable choice for users who would take eye candy over performance. For competitive gamers, though, it won’t be an option for at least a couple more years.
Another important aspect to consider (no pun intended) is the aspect ratio. Today, you have two main choices: 16:9 and 21:9. And which one of this is a better choice?
Ultimately, what you get with a wider 21:9 display is:
- Bigger field of view, which comes in handy in competitive gaming
- Slightly worse performance due to the increased pixel count
Of course, there are other non-gaming benefits such as a bigger work surface, a more cinematic experience when watching movies etc.
One big potential drawback when it comes to gaming in 21:9 is that not all games fully support it, so it will take either some tweaking or scaling until you can get the game to run on the display properly. If you are focused solely on the newer AAA titles, then this isn’t something you need to worry about.
So, in the end, which resolution and aspect ratio are the best for gaming?
Best Aspect Ratio For Gaming
First, let’s get the simpler part of the question out of the way: the aspect ratio. As far as we’re concerned, 16:9 is by far the most common and is basically a standard. As such, you cannot go wrong with it. On the other hand, not only are 21:9 monitors more expensive, but their benefits for a gamer are dubious, to say the least.
Best Resolution For Gaming
And now for the big question: the resolution itself. Ultimately, no single resolution can be proclaimed as objectively best and it mostly comes down to personal preferences and requirements.
- Choose 1080p if you value performance over visual quality, as that resolution still has a lot to offer today. This is the case especially if you’re aiming for triple-digit framerates.
- Choose 2160p either if you want the best graphics you can possibly get or if you like to plan ahead. After all, if you are not interested in framerates over 60, then you don’t have to worry about better UHD monitors coming out in the near future.
- Choose 1440p if you want a good balance between performance and graphics.
Keep in mind though, if you have to choose between a 1080p or a higher resolution monitor and refresh rates are not an issue, always go with the higher resolution. That way you are getting a more future-proof solution and you can simply turn down the graphics settings when you want a stable 60 FPS.
Best Resolution For Console Gaming
Even though console fans today can choose between HD and UHD variants of their favorite consoles, that choice is still different from the one that PC gamers have to make.
Ultimately, it all comes down to whether you have a 4K Ultra HD display or not. If you do, then the more powerful versions of the PS4 and Xbox One are an obviously better choice.
On the other hand, the PS4 Pro and the Xbox One X offer very limited performance improvements when rendering games in 1080p. True, the games will still look better thanks to supersampling and some have enhanced graphics and boosted framerates, but those are all still not enough to justify the extra buck.