For older gamers, it might not seem so long ago that 1080p graphics were the new hot thing. Younger gamers might have only hazy memories of a time when fuzzier resolutions reigned supreme. Either way, you probably know why we’re getting all philosophical about this — because suddenly, we’ve landed in the age of 1440p and 4K, where good ol’ 1080p doesn’t impress anybody anymore.
However, like all transitions in tech, it’s happening gradually. Plenty of gamers have stuck with 1080p for a while — but could it be time to make the jump to a higher resolution gaming monitor or TV now that these upgraded visual standards are coming in hot? Let’s talk through a couple of options, and you can decide for yourself!
The State of 1080p Gaming in 2023
1080p has been the baseline resolution standard for a decade-plus now. Practically every commercially available TV and gaming monitor supports 1080p at minimum, and it’s the default native resolution for every current gaming console. All in all, 1080p is a mature and well-supported technology, and it’s by far the least expensive in terms of required hardware.
The other big advantage of 1080p is that it’s easy to get the extremely fast frame rates that some competitive gamers need. If you’re playing in Call of Duty: Warzone tournaments, you’d probably rather get a consistent 200+ frames per second at 1080p than a shaky 60 at 4K. Getting these blazing frame rates at higher resolutions can be tricky if you don’t have serious PC hardware under the hood.
The vast majority of gamers already own a rig that can produce excellent frame rates at 1080p, so there’s really no urgent need to upgrade if you’re content with the resolution you have right now. That said, 1440p resolution is already well on its way to becoming the dominant standard for HD PC gaming within the next few years.
1440p: Your Next Big Upgrade?
4K may get all the glory, but a whole lot of PC gamers have been busy upgrading to 1440p while 4K matures, especially now that 1440p gaming monitors are widely available. Both the Xbox Series X and PS5 also now feature native 1440p support, though this is mostly limited to people who use a console-and-monitor combo since 1440p TVs aren’t common.
So, does 1440p actually look good enough to justify upgrading? Naturally, this will always be a personal choice — but with 1440p offering thousands more pixels than 1080p, many gamers have found that the lush look really maximizes their enjoyment of new games. That said, the upgrade to 1440p tends to be more noticeable on big screens than on small ones. If you’ll be gaming on a screen under 27 inches for the foreseeable future (in a dorm room, for example), 1440p might be a lesser priority.
Thus, for the gamer who wants a graphical upgrade with minimal compromise in performance, 1440p is a great way to go. Most current mid-tier graphics cards have no trouble running games in 1440p at a solid 60 fps (if not more), and higher-end cards can do even better. If you’ve found a good deal on a 1440p monitor and a graphics card, or you’re just ready to take the next step, now is probably a good time to do it.
The 4K Frontier
Even as many gamers take the intermediate step of upgrading to 1440p, most still agree that 4K is the graphics standard of the future. Nearly all current-gen TVs already support 4K, and watching 4K movies on TV has been old hat for a while. However, a game in 4K is a lot more taxing than a movie, and the technology is taking some time to catch up.
Both the PS5 and Xbox Series X offer native 4K support, although many games still don’t actually use native 4K due to the huge amounts of processing power it uses. Nevertheless, for console gamers, this means your whole gaming setup probably supports 4K already, at least in theory. Mostly, it’s a matter of waiting for the technology to mature more fully, and in the meantime, lots of gamers play on an upscaled 4K that still looks quite sharp.
For PC gamers, the math is a little different. To game in true 4K at a reasonable frame rate, you’ll need a seriously powerful graphics card, and your gaming monitor will need to support 4K (which isn’t yet as ubiquitous on monitors as it is on TVs). That’s why some PC gamers are still sitting out 4K for now. However, prices are steadily coming down on the necessary components, and 4K-capable prebuilt gaming PCs are now common, so the options are certainly out there!
Is 1080p Worth It in 2023? The Final Verdict
Time to break it down! Here are the basics of how the key factors shake out on the question of 1080p vs. 1440p vs. 4K for gaming:
- If you’re still gaming in 1080p and are happy with it, there’s no urgent need to upgrade, especially if you play competitive multiplayer games. It will continue to be supported for the foreseeable future, even as higher resolutions become the default for an increasing number of gamers.
- If you’re building a new PC gaming setup, taking the plunge on 1440p is probably worth it. Most modern hardware can run 1440p smoothly at decent frame rates, it’s a noticeable visual upgrade from 1080p, and it’s increasingly widely supported.
- The majority of current-gen console setups are basically 4K-ready by default, so it’s mostly a matter of changing settings (and finding a game that actually takes full advantage of 4K). For PC gamers, there’s definitely still no rush on 4K, and many gamers are waiting until prices drop further and more games become available with native resolution support.
Whatever resolution you choose, happy gaming! May your lag be low, your frame rates high, and your victories many.