1440p vs 4K for Gaming: Which is Better?

So you’re a gamer and want to buy a new monitor but are unsure which resolution is best for you. Maybe you want to move beyond the standard 1080p monitor that you’ve been using for a decade or more.

Either way, regarding 1440p vs 4K for gaming monitors, there are some important points to consider. When you’re done reading this post, it’ll be much easier to decide which is best for you.

It’s not easy to compare resolutions because it’s something you have to see with your own eyes. There are many resolution comparison videos on YouTube.

The problem is you won’t be able to spot the differences in those videos if you’re watching on a 1080p monitor.

1440p vs 4K: Which is Better

1440p is better than 4K for gaming because it’s not as demanding on hardware and it’s easier to reach high refresh rates.

4K is about 44% more pixels than 1440p and it’s also much more demanding on your system. You need a very powerful system to reach 60 FPS at 4K.

Meanwhile, at 1440p you can get much higher frame rates and a much smoother experience with a high refresh rate monitor.

What is 1440p?

Since your computer’s hardware has to render each pixel, high resolutions are more demanding on systems, especially when it comes to games.

1440p has a resolution of 2560 x 1440 pixels. The resolution is also called Quad HD or QHD for short.

It represents the number of pixels the monitor can support. For example, a 1440p monitor has a total pixel count of 3,686,400.

In practical terms, the more pixels a display can support, the sharper the image will appear.

1440p is the next step from 1080p, the standard resolution for most budget displays. In fact, 1440p monitors have 78% more pixels than 1080p.

Generally, 1440p resolution is a middle-ground between 1080p and 4K. Most relatively modern graphics cards can run games at 1440p at reasonable framerates.

It’s considered the sweet spot between image quality and performance for PC gamers.

1440p Monitor for Gaming Pros

Significantly Better Than 1080p

If you’ve been gaming on a 1080p monitor, upgrading to a 1440p monitor is a significant upgrade. The image quality will be much sharper at 1440p.

Not Very Demanding on PC Hardware

Naturally, running games at 1440p will tax your computer more than 1080p, but the difference is manageable. It’s not nearly as demanding as 4K.

On modern graphics cards, there’s usually a 20 FPS difference between 1080p and 1440p resolutions.

The vast majority of relatively modern graphics cards can run games at 1440p while maintaining above 60 frames a second. Of course, it depends on how demanding the graphics settings of the game are.

For example, most graphics cards can run games at 1440p on less demanding games like Counter Strike Global Offensive or Rocket League with no issues.

Modern mid-range graphics cards released during 2020 and onward have absolutely no problem with games at 1440p.

Not to mention you can tweak the performance by lowering in-game graphics settings.

Budget-Friendly

Nowadays, it’s easy to buy a mid-range 1440p monitor without breaking the bank. There are plenty of good options for 1440p monitors that are under $300.

Considering the monitors tend to last for years, it’s a very worthwhile investment.

High Refresh Rates

Another point to consider regarding monitors is there is a wide selection of 1440p monitors that offer refresh rates of 144 Hz or higher.

In fact, if you’re looking to upgrade to 1440p, I highly recommend buying a monitor that has a 144 Hz refresh rate. Not only will the image quality improve but the screen will refresh faster.

Combine those two factors and your in-game performance in competitive games could dramatically improve.

For example, you may notice it’s much easier to spot and hit enemies in first-person shooter games such as Counter-Strike or Valorant.

Cons of 1440p Monitors for Gaming

More Demanding on Hardware

As I mentioned earlier, 1440p requires more system resources. If your computer struggles to run games at 1080p then it definitely won’t work at 1440p.

In most cases, the performance impact is around a 15 – 20% loss in frames, depending on the game.

However, a 1440p monitor could be a way to “Future Proof”  your system for when you upgrade components.

Some Websites & Apps are Not Optimized for 1440p

Another mild downside of 1440p is since it’s not a very popular resolution, some websites and apps struggle to fit the screen. Media streaming apps also don’t support 1440p.

For example, Netflix does not support 1440p – it jumps straight from 1080p to 4K. When you watch Netflix on a 1440p monitor, the render resolution will be 1080p scaled to fit the size of your monitor.

You might also notice text on websites is too small, making it difficult to read. In that case, tapping CTRL and + on your keyboard should increase the text size on most web browsers.

You can also increase the text size on Windows by right-clicking on the desktop and selecting Display. I found a 150% scale to be a comfortable size for text when browsing the internet.

What is The Best Monitor Size for a 1440p Gaming Monitor?

The best monitor size for a 1440p gaming monitor is 27 inches. 1080p is ideal for 24-inch monitors. At 27 inches, a 1440p display has a pixel density of about 108 PPI (Pixels Per Inch).

Anything larger than 27 inches at 1440p will have a lower PPI and the image won’t look as clear. It’ll be stretched to fill the space. For example, a 32-inch 1440p monitor has a 93 PPI.

What is 4K?

4K is a resolution of 2160 x 3850 pixels. It’s also called UHD (Ultimate High Definition). Most modern TVs now support 4K. Next-gen consoles are also capable of outputting 4K at a stable framerate.

While 4K is more common on TVs, there are many 4K monitors too. 4K monitors are great for graphic designers or video editors that work with high-resolution media.

4K Monitor Pros

High Resolution

4K monitors offer the highest resolution. If you need the absolute best image quality, then you want to go with a 4K monitor. Movies and TV shows also look incredible in 4K.

Games also look amazing at 4K if you have powerful enough hardware.

Media Streaming Apps Support Native 4K

Netflix offers content at 4K native but not 1440p. Make sure to look for titles that have a UHD icon. Not every title on Netflix supports 4K.

Great for Artists

4K monitors are ideal for artists because they provide more colour accuracy than other resolutions.

4K Monitor Cons

High Hardware Requirements

The main barrier to 4K gaming is hardware. While top-of-the-line graphics cards can run games at 4K without issues, most people can’t afford the best of the best.

You need a significantly powerful system to run modern games at 4K resolution. You need at least an RTX 3080 to have a decent 4K gaming experience.

Moving from 1440p to 4K will drop your frame rate by almost 40%!

You can watch this comparison video for an idea of the performance impact.

Of course, older games that aren’t very demanding will run fine. There’s also the option to lower in-game settings until you reach the desired framerate.

New features such as DLSS also make it easier to squeeze out more frames.

Expensive

4K monitors are still priced at a premium. Granted, the prices are coming down a little. But they’re still much more expensive than 1440p monitors.

Not Many High Refresh Rate Monitors

There aren’t many 4K monitors that support high refresh rates. If you want a 4K monitor that supports 144 Hz (or higher) you will need to spend a significant sum.

Not to mention most PCs, even the best of the best, can’t run most games at 144 frames a second. Most 4K monitors are limited to 60 Hz.

It’s not worth buying a 4K 144 Hz monitor if your PC can’t render that many frames.

What is The Best Monitor Size for 4K Gaming Monitors?

4K is ideal for monitors that are larger than 27 inches. 32 inches is a good size for a 4K monitor.

The Bottom Line:

To summarize, 1440p is a good middle ground between visual fidelity and performance. 4K gaming is great but it’s very taxing on your system and you need powerful hardware.

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About Tim Gagnon

Timothy Gagnon is a tech blogger and writer. When he's not dissembling computers, he's researching the latest tech gadgets and trends.

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