You’re thinking of buying a new laptop but cannot decide the ideal Screen Resolution for your display. You’re confused and don’t know which one should you pick between the 4K and 1080p?
You’ve scoured Reddit, Quora and YouTube but couldn’t find the answer to your question.
Well, picking the ideal Screen Resolution for your Laptop display was a tough choice before but it is not anymore.
In this article, I’ll explain everything about 4K and 1080p Displays and help you decide which is a better choice for your needs?
Difference Between 4K (UHD) and 1080p (Full HD) Laptop Displays
4K Displays have a Screen Resolution of 3840 x 2160. These displays aren’t the most common on laptops but their popularity is increasing.
The 4K Display is also known as Ultra HD or UHD Display.
1080p Displays have a Screen Resolution of 1920 x 1080. These displays are the most popular and commonly found in laptops.
1080p Displays are also known as Full HD Displays.
But what does these screen resolution mean?
The Screen Resolution indicates the number of distinct Pixels that can be displayed horizontally and vertically on a display or screen.
4K UHD displays have a screen resolution of 3840 x 2160. This indicates that every horizontal line on the screen has 3840 distinct Pixels moving from left to right of the display.
Similarly, every vertical line on the screen has 2160 pixels moving from top to bottom of the display.
1080p Full HD displays have a screen resolution of 1920 x 1080. This indicates that every horizontal line on the screen has 1920 distinct Pixels moving from left to right of the display.
Similarly, every vertical line on the screen has 1080 Pixels moving from top to bottom of the display.
Now, how do you calculate the total number of Pixels for a 4K and 1080p Display?
It’s simple. You just have to multiply the number of horizontal Pixels with the number of vertical Pixels.
Total Pixels = (Horizontal Pixels * Vertical Pixels)
So, a 4K UHD Display has ( 3840 * 2160 ) = 8,294,400 Pixels
And a 1080p Full HD display has ( 1920 * 1080 ) = 2,073,600 Pixels.
A 4K display has 4 times the Pixels than a 1080p Display.
This means a 4K display shows more Pixels than a 1080p Display and therefore the Picture quality and Color Accuracy of 4K Displays will be much better than 1080p Displays.
Now that you understand what these screen resolutions indicate, it’s time to delve into the advantages and disadvantages of each type of display.
Pros of 4K (UHD) Laptop Displays
4K Displays have two main advantages.
Better Picture Quality
Higher the Pixels, better the Picture Quality. 4K screens can display more pixels which means you’ll get more beautiful and sharper images with them.
The Color Accuracy, Color Gamut and Color Saturation is much better on 4K displays than 1080p Displays. All your images will be crystal clear and you can identify every minute detail.
The Color Contrast is excellent and you’ll definitely get an immersive experience. With 4K displays, you can stream movies and TV series from Netflix, Hulu Plus, Amazon Prime Video, and more at 4K quality.
4K Video Editing and Photo Editing Is Possible
If you’re a YouTuber, Video Editor, or Graphic Artist then you know how important it is to create videos and graphics at 4K.
If you have a 4K display then you can easily edit videos and photos at 4K quality using Adobe Photoshop and Adobe Premiere Pro or Final Cut Pro.
These photo and video editing programs make use of the extra pixels of a 4K display to present you with a much better quality video or photo to edit.
The crystal clear video frames and images help you identify every minute detail so that you don’t go wrong with your editing.
Every video editor and graphic artist should work on a laptop or desktop with 4K display for better results.
Cons of 4K (UHD) Laptop Displays
4K Displays have four disadvantages.
Laptops with 4K Displays are Expensive
A laptop with a 4K Display will be a lot more expensive than a laptop with a 1080p Display. You’ll need to shell out a lot more cash if you want to upgrade to a 4K display from a 1080p or 720p display.
For example – HP Spectre x360 with 4K display costs around $1400 whereas HP Spectre x360 with 1080p display costs around $1100 when all other specifications are kept the same. As you can see there is a whopping $300 difference between the two.
The difference in the price of a laptop with a 1080p display and a laptop with a 4K display can range from $300 to $500. The price difference can go above $500 in some touchscreen laptops.
Basically, higher the screen resolution of the display, higher the price of the laptop.
Battery Drains Really Fast
4K Displays need to display 8.29 million pixels which are around 6.22 million pixels more than a 1080p display. 4K Displays require more power from the battery to keep on displaying all these pixels. Therefore, they consume more battery power and your laptop battery drains super fast.
If you try to lower the screen resolution of the display then also your laptop battery will drain very fast because your screen will show the same number of pixels as it displayed earlier.
Downgrading the Screen Resolution of a 4K Display to 1080p or 720p has no effect on the battery life. Laptops with 4K Display will have poor battery life in every resolution.
Not Good for Gaming and Regular Use
Laptops with 4K displays have a low Screen Refresh Rate of 60 Hz. But, most AAA games require a high screen refresh rate of 120 Hz or more for ideal performance.
If you play games on 4K resolution then you will notice screen tearing, stuttering and Low FPS because the display cannot refresh the screen quickly enough.
If you’re a regular user who needs a laptop for simple everyday tasks like browsing the internet, watching movies, creating presentation, gaming, etc. then a 4K display can be a put-off. You can easily do all of these things with a 1080p display and you’ll save a lot of money too.
4K displays aren’t the most common and popular in laptops. Manufacturers still prefer to use a 1080p Full HD display for their laptops.
However, there has been some increase in the popularity of 4K displays and most manufacturers have at least one laptop model with a 4K display.
Pros of 1080p (Full HD) Laptop Displays
Laptops with 1080p displays have four major advantages.
Laptops with Full HD 1080p Displays are way cheaper than their 4K display counterparts. As mentioned earlier, laptops with 1080p display cost around $300-$500 less than their 4K counterparts.
If you don’t have a big budget and want a good looking display then you should purchase a laptop with Full HD 1080p display every time.
Much Better Battery Life
Laptops with a 1080p screen have to display around 2 Million Pixels which is around 6.22 Million pixels less than a 4K display.
As the number of pixels is a lot lower therefore the laptop display requires less power to display all those pixels. This saves a lot of battery charge and provides your laptop with much better battery life. Your battery lasts longer and you don’t have to charge your laptop often.
Great for Gaming and Regular Use
1080p Full HD displays are the recommended display resolution for gaming because they a very high screen refresh rate. A high screen refresh rate means you won’t notice any kind of screen stuttering and tearing therefore the games will be more enjoyable to play.
If you’re purchasing a laptop for regular everyday tasks then a 1080p display is the perfect choice for you because you can achieve all of these tasks easily without having to spend extra cash for a 4K display.
Photos look sharp, Video quality is great and the color saturation, accuracy, contrast, and gamut are also good enough. The 1080p display is the most balanced display for everyday tasks.
Laptops with 1080p Full HD displays are more popular because of the balance they provide.
They are good to look at, have good color accuracy, contrast, and saturation which means movies and photos look beautiful. They are also the preferred display choice for gaming and most importantly they cost way less than 4K displays.
Most people don’t need a 4K display that is why manufacturers prefer 1080p displays for laptops.
Cons of 1080p (Full HD) Laptop Displays
There are two main disadvantages of 1080p laptop displays.
Picture Quality is not as good as that in a 4K display
Full HD 1080p displays show less number of pixels than 4K displays. This means the picture quality in 1080p displays isn’t as good as that in a 4K display.
Also, 1080p displays have lower color accuracy, saturation, gamut, and contrast this means the pictures look less sharp and clear than 4K displays.
This doesn’t mean that 1080p displays have bad picture quality. They are actually quite good but the 4K displays are much better in producing sharper crystal clear life-like pictures than 1080p Displays.
Also, some laptops with 1080p Displays don’t have a very bright screen so the colors may not look as accurate and bright. You should do thorough research on the laptop display before picking one.
If you want bright 1080p displays with good color accuracy, saturation and contrast then always choose a Glossy display over Matte display.
4K Video Editing Is Not Possible
1080p displays have a maximum resolution of 1920 x 1080. This means you cannot edit videos in 4K quality which requires a screen resolution of 3840 x 2160.
Also, you cannot edit 4K photos with Photoshop or Sketch on a laptop with a 1080p display. Another problem is that you cannot watch movies and TV shows on Netflix, Hulu Plus, etc. in 4K quality.
4K vs 1080p Gaming Performance
Gaming on a 4K display is not enjoyable because most 4K laptops have a low Screen Refresh Rate which is capped at a mere 60 Hz.
Most games run at very high FPS and if your screen refresh rate is low as in a 4K display then you’ll notice frequent Screen Tearing, Stuttering, and Ghosting. You will also notice frequent lags in gameplay.
If you want to enjoy games without any lags and stutters on a 4K display then you’ll need a very powerful Graphics Card with NVIDIA G-Sync or AMD FreeSync Technology.
These technologies make sure that the game runs at an FPS of either equal to or lower than the Screen Refresh rate of the display. This removes any kind of lags, stuttering, and screen tearing.
You’ll also have to lower the screen resolution in a 4K display to get a good FPS while playing games.
Gaming on a 1080p Display is much more enjoyable and recommended because they have a very high screen refresh rate of 120 Hz, 144 Hz, 240 Hz, and even 300 Hz. A high screen refresh rate ensures that your screen refreshes regularly and you get a high FPS while playing games.
1080p Displays with high screen refresh rate also eliminate any possible Screen Tearing, Stuttering, and Ghosting.
For example – Acer Predator Triton 500 has a screen refresh rate of 300 Hz and the MSI GE65 Raider has a screen refresh rate of 240 Hz. These are some of the most powerful gaming laptops with a 1080p Full HD display.
Laptops with screen refresh rates of 144 Hz and above have become very common and this is something you won’t get in a laptop with a 4K display.
If you want to buy a laptop specifically for gaming then you should buy one with 1080p Full HD display for an immersive lag-free gaming experience.
Gaming on a 4K laptop is definitely not worth it if you don’t have an extremely powerful GPU that supports either the G-Sync or Freesync technology.
4K vs 1080p – Which One Is Worth It?
If you’re a Graphics Designer, Video Editor, or YouTuber who needs to edit photos and videos at 4K quality then the 4K laptop display is definitely worth it.
If you are a 2D or 3D artist and require a display with very high color accuracy, saturation, and contrast then the 4K display is worth it.
Also, if you’re quite particular about watching movies and TV programs on 4K video quality then the 4K display is worth it for you.
If you want to take full advantage of the color accuracy and picture quality of a 4K display then you’ll need a laptop with a bigger and wider screen preferably 15.6 inches or bigger. You won’t notice any big difference in 4K and 1080p on a laptop with a small screen size like 13.3 inches.
If you’re buying a laptop for everyday tasks like surfing the Internet, Writing Articles, Creating Presentations, Programming, Watching Movies and other simple tasks then a 1080p display is more than enough for you and you don’t need to invest on a 4K display.
If you need to constantly work on your laptop and travel then the 1080p display is worth it because it has a much better battery life as compared to 4K displays.
If you’re a gamer then a 1080p display is worth it and you shouldn’t spend money unnecessarily on a 4K display.
Both 4K and 1080p displays have their pros and cons and your choice should be determined by your need.
If you truly believe that you need a 4K display then you should definitely get it. But in that case, you should be prepared to spend extra cash.
If you don’t need a laptop for 4K quality video and photo editing or Graphic design then you shouldn’t buy a 4K laptop. Instead, you should get a laptop with a 1080p display.
Finally, I recommend going for a 1080p Display because they are good enough for most tasks and you’ll also save a lot of money.
10 thoughts on “4K (UHD) vs 1080p (Full HD) Laptop – Which Is Better and Worth It?”
Nice informative article, easy to understand with all the infos we need to make a choice. Thank’s.
I wish all tech articles were equally comprehensive and at the same time as clear and concise . This was all i needed in order to decide which display resolution to go for.
Thanks. Glad this solved your problem.
perfect explanation on the differences to help me make a decision today! Thank you.
Glad you liked it. Please check out our other articles on https://thesharedweb.com/
And what if you’re a gamer, AND edit 4k go pro videos?
Thought about rtx 3080 + i9 11900K on Lake S 3L
4k screen with 60hz. Should I change to 1080 300hz? I couldn’t use the gopro 4k anymore, is that correct?
Thanks for the answer
Im not a competative gamer and get wet eyes when I see gorgeous graphics. So more focused estatically. Is 60hz on a 17,3 laptop so bad?
Also would use it to connect to a TV 4k from time to time.
If you’re not a competitive gamer and focus more on quality than performance then you should definitely go with 4K 60 Hz. The screen refresh rate might be a little low but you won’t notice much difference.
You can easily connect it to a 4K TV with HDMI so there are no issues there.
False, you can edit 4k videos with a 1080 display. The display is not the limiting factor, your processing power (and GPU if you use any professional video editing software: Premiere Pro, Davinci Resolve). You won’t see a 4k image but you can zoom in to see pixel view. No one actually edits in 4k anyhow, you’re timeline is set to 1080 or lower for faster editing and then you render in 4k.