4K Gaming is here, and boy is it pretty (expensive- still).
What is 4K
For those who don’t already know, 4K is the next step in TV and monitor resolution past 1080p. It is at minimum 4 TIMES the resolution of a standard 1080p display, so if you thought your 1080p display looked nice prepare to be blown away by the next step.
Why would you want a 4K display
PCs are all about reaching that next step. Each revolution in technology enhances the end user experience by a wide margin each time. 4K and higher displays allow for a genuinely staggering increase in visual fidelity over a 1080p counterpart. These displays are impressive, but they need an equally impressive amount of power to drive those pixels. Gaming consoles like the PS4 Pro and soon on the horizon the Xbox One Scorpio are strong 4K platforms for their price- but still struggle to break past their PC brethren. For us PC gamers we’re blessed with constant backwards compatibility- not the same for consoles. Most video games are built in the 16:9 aspect ratio and allow for 4K support. Even some titles from the early 00s support 4K today, something the developers never had the ability to see when they first developed their title. You might think this would have a negative effect, and in some rare cases it does- but in most cases you’re met with a breathtaking fidelity enhancement that may otherwise be released as a “definitive edition” or “HD remaster” for the PS4 and Xbox.
But is it worth it?
When we first started looking at 4K displays for personal use they were on average $1000 for a decent one- that was, until Dell released the P2715Q with an MSRP of $699.99. $300 difference might not sound like a lot, but for the quality Dell brought- this was the cheapest 4k panel with good specs for a designer + content sponge like myself. I was able to find this within months of launch for $650 on Amazon and promptly purchased it for $550 with benefits from Amazon for starting a store card at the time. I was floored by the difference. I had spent a lot of time with 1080p displays up until then and the difference was noticeable right out of the box. Everything from my work to my games to an expanding library of supported 4k videos on YouTube looked unbelievably sharp. I stuck with a single 27″ 4k monitor for a year before I saw the price dropped again- this time I was able to find it for $519 from B&H Photo without any coupons. For a monitor with this kind of pixel density, 99% sRGB color accuracy, and 60Hz refresh rate (this was especially hard to find when 4Ks started out) AND a 3 year “Pixel-Perfect” advanced warranty from Dell the value was too good to pass up. I soon after ended up with 3 of these bad boys on my desk- and I was loving every minute of it. I had upgraded my GPU from a measly GTX 770 to a beefy GTX 1080 taking me from 2GB of VRAM all the way up to 8GB!!
The cost behind my desire to power a nvidia surround 11,540×2160 resolution grew larger but with it my smile. Until I was met with some unforeseen issues with a number of games running at that resolution off a single GTX 1080. Why game developers weren’t expecting 11,540×2160 to be the next big thing requiring substantial support is beyond us..
Oh.. what’s that? There’s only about .01% of us in the market? Well no matter..
Eventually I picked up a 50″ 4K from Westinghouse on a black friday deal for only $299.99. An offer I couldn’t pass up, and now this stands as my foremost monitor. Never would I have expected to love having such a large display so close to my face but the resolution makes it more than livable. The experience is similar to having 4 23″ 1080p displays tiled seamlessly. If that wasn’t enough, I also set up 2 of the P2715Qs on the sides of the 50″ in portrait mode- and bam!
Now obviously these frames will be harder to enjoy on a 1080p display, but hopefully you will get an idea of the clarity. Some of these shots shown below are actually dual 4K, a total resolution of 3840×4320.