Why Buying 4K Computer Monitors Make More Sense (Right Now)

Prices of 4K computer monitors have dropped significantly over the past year, and many jumped to its bandwagon, as what is thought to be the “display of the future” can now be bought for less than $500. March last year (2014), we wrote about 4K Ultra HD TV and took a closer look in its promise of better viewing experience. Now, various models from different brands show up regularly in the market. The thing is, there’s a fine line that separates 4K computer monitors from 4K TVs, and the former is deemed to have a stronger pitch. What is it? Read this entry from Dual Monitors Guide and know more.

The 4K Hype

We have talked about the hype behind 4K in our past article. You can click here to know more about 4K.

Here, we will talk about the difference between the computer monitor and the TV versions.

The appeal of 4K is obvious – better viewing experience through sharper and more detailed graphics. Back in 2013, 4K monitors would cost you more than $1000, with color accuracy and features still almost on par with 1080p and 1440p monitors sold for almost half the price. But things have changed so much since then, and only more than a year have passed, we now have tons of reasonably priced, if not affordable 4K displays.

Some stood out from the crowd, namely CTL X2800, Samsung U28D590D, ASUS PB287Q, Acer B286HK, and Acer XB280HK. All of these five are at $500 to $800 range, not to mention online shopping stores like Amazon have special discounts and offers that further lower the prices from time to time.

 

Why You Should Get Yourself 4K Computer Monitor

4K display is useless without 4K content, and there’s not a lot of 4K content for TV until now. Thus, to get the best out of your 4K display, you need contents made for 4K detail. Also, your Blu-ray player, set-top box, and internet streaming device should be able to output 4K content. But right now, there is very little 4K contents to watch, in both TV shows and movies. Also, there’s a big question on upscaling among other things.

Computer monitors are very different from TV. The Operating System (Windows, Mac, Linux, or Chrome OS) can’t really output resolution higher than 1080p. You can get a 4K monitor and easily increase your display resolution to 3840x2160. Of course, you need a graphics card that can support the high resolution. The desktop and its interface will all be in 4K quality. Also, compared to TV, you sit closer to your monitor, which means the improved pixel density is more noticeable than in TV.

Low prices of 4K monitors have really gone hand-in-hand with improved quality, both in performance and hardware build. While some display enthusiasts hesitate at 4K displays because it uses TN-panel (Twisted Nematic), it still offers color accuracy and contrast almost as near as the best IPS (In-Plane Switching) panels. 4K monitors also use single display panel compared to two panels placed side to side, and support 60Hz Refresh rates. Thus, the only real downside in a 4K monitor is the poor viewing angle, but even this issue is being addressed right now. The LG 31MU97-B for example, is a 31-inch 4K monitor that uses IPS panel.

 

Playing Computer Games with 4K Monitor, Is It Worth It?

(image courtesy of GeForce.com)

4K Displays Give Older Games a New Look

Most gaming quality reviews in monitors focus on two of the most demanding games we have today – Crysis 3 and Battlefield 4. This is quite understandable, as new big title games like these two have better texture and graphics that benefit from higher resolution. However, to thoroughly check the gaming quality of a computer monitor, it is important to know how the display actually improves older games. For hardcore gaming fans, 4K has lots of tricks in its sleeve that can really surprise you.

When we say older games, we actually mean Diablo 3 and League of Legends. Both are popular games, but they are not as demanding as most new games nowadays, giving video card easier time to show smooth gameplay even at 3840x2160 setting.

Games look well-defined in high resolution; reduced prevalence of anti-aliasing artifacts with more visible and finer details, which makes the art assets of games really shine though. In League of Legends for example, characters look 3D, with fine details drawn from countless number of perspectives.

Upgrading your display from a mid-sized 24-inch to a 4K 28-inch provides a significant visual upgrade, without the help of any other hardware. This is great news for gamers who love gaming but don’t care much about latest graphics showcases. The upgrade is not just for fast-twitch FPS gamers – it’s for everyone. 

(image courtesy of HardwareHeaven.com)

Two of the best 4K computer monitors for gaming are the CTL X2800 and Acer XB280HK. The CTL X2800 is a well-built 4K computer monitor that works with excellent image quality and plenty of video inputs, making a strong case as a budget 4K monitor. Yes, its price can be considered affordable even for non 4K fans, but it provides great value for its price tag compared to the rest of its competition, even better image quality than many 1080p and 1440p monitors of the same price range.

The Acer XB280HK on the other hand, is unique for its Nvidia G-Sync technology, a software that ties the display’s refresh rate with the output compatible with the Nvidia video card and eliminates frame tearing and stuttering, allowing smooth transitions even in fast-paced action games. It’s a great gaming display that provides sharp Ultra HD details.

 

4K Resolution Limitations

With that said, 4K quality still has its limitations for average computers, as even good graphics hardware such as GTX 980, Titan Z and Radeon R9 295X2 can struggle to handle 4K resolution. As a matter of fact, no single video card can smoothly run Crysis 3 at an average of 30fps when set at 3840 x 2160 resolution in great details.

 

Get Ready to Spend

(image courtesy of GameFront.com)

Windows still can’t handle resolution very well, making Image Scaling a common problem in 4K displays today. Texts can be uncomfortable to read, and legacy programs will look too small, or blurry if enlarged (which defeats the point of having sharp 4K display).

To a different degree, games experience the same issues. Diablo 3 for example, look quite prepared in 4K, game icons look good in 4K resolution, while the elements and interface remain readable, at usable size by default. Big titles like Battlefield 4, Crysis 3 and Shadows of Mordor look good as well.

League of Legends on the other hand, experience some problems. The game’s interface, shop interface and mini-map look a little too small. Making the game difficult to play on a 28-inch display, and need occasional squinting.

 

Final Fantas XIV: A Real Reborn experience the same problem, as even its largest interface scaling preset that renders everything to 140% normal size, is not enough. This actually makes sense given the fact that 4K monitor has four times the pixel of 1080p. The game is still playable, but some texts can be difficult to read and interface icons are blurry.

 

4K Gaming Has its Flaws, But It Will Still Blow You Away

(Batman Arkham Origins. Image courtesy of GeForce.com)

This may sound sketchy, and 4K is still a costly proposition, as some games still can’t run at 60fps, even at, even with expensive dual-card rig setup. What’s even worse is that, 4K makes some games quite difficult to play because of interface scaling problems.

These simple drawbacks may be hard to ignore, but 4K provides breath-taking experience that can easily compensate its flaws. The improved resolution provides stunning details that Full HD (1080p) and Quad HD (1440p) resolution can’t obtain. Old games such as Diablo 3 will look impressive in this display. Many people who have made the jump to 4K have no desire in returning to 1440p.

(Black Ops 2. Image courtesy of Coherent-Labs.com)

The 4K technology today is becoming more and more affordable, while providing tangible and immediate improvement in image quality, even for 3D games. Also, unlike earlier models that suffered serious display issues, new 4K monitors today are much improved in almost all aspects, even in viewing angle and pixel response.

Though making the leap to 4K may still be a difficult choice, the lowered prices made it a valid choice, not to mention it provides significant and immediate results.

For more informative articles about displays, computer workstation, and ergonomics, and for more in-depth product reviews, check out Dual Monitors Guide today!

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