What’s the difference between HD, Full HD, 2K, 4K and 5K? Display resolutions explained
With countless smart devices available on the market, all with different sized displays, varying screen resolutions and special names for these technologies, it’s not easy to know the difference between them all. FHD this and WQHD that, what the hell do any of them mean?
Well, the most important thing to note is the more pixels on the screen, the higher the definition of images and videos will be and the better things should look. But when frequently-used display resolutions are referenced with complicated names such as qHD, WQHD and what not, it’s difficult to know what is what.
We’ve laid out what these complex-sounding screen terminologies mean in the simplest terms so that the next time you buy a device, you’ll know exactly what you’re getting. First off, let’s start with the basics.
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HD/720p and Full HD/1080p
Never has a technical specification been overused and misused as much as High Definition or HD. The term has become synonymous with anything that raises the detail or quality over-and-above something that came before. When we’re talking about display resolutions though, the term HD is based on the original resolutions of HD TV.
When HD TV first came along there were a handful of broadcast resolutions and display resolutions used. The most basic was 1,280 pixels wide by 720 pixels tall, shortened to 720p. The lower-case p refers to “progressive scan” as opposed to say 1080i, which is ‘interlaced’ but we won’t get bogged with those here.
These days when we say HD we’re talking about what gets called ‘Full HD’, a resolution which measures 1,920 x 1,080 pixels, often called 1080p. This display resolution is common on Smart TVs and many modern smartphones, PCs, laptops and monitors. Both HD resolutions here use a 16:9 aspect ratio (so there are 16 pixels horizontally for each 9 vertically), which can be described as widescreen. However, on a phone 1,280 x 720 becomes 720 x 1,280 when it’s held normally.
The other thing to remember is that no matter the screen size of say a Full HD display, whether it’s a 4in smartphone or a 65in TV, the number of pixels remains the same but just change in size, so depending on whether they are smaller or larger, they will look softer or sharper. For instance, a Full HD smartphone has far more detail (sharpness), usually described as pixels-per-inch (ppi) than a Full HD monitor because the smaller screen is a higher density but has the same number of pixels, so a sharper picture.
In the smartphone revolution of the last five or so years, manufacturers have been desperate to put higher resolution screens into phones even where they are not needed. It’s often argued that resolutions above that of Full HD are wasted on such comparatively small panels as even people with perfect vision find it hard to spot any difference. Nevertheless, phone makers have done it anyway, probably for marketing purposes. As a result, Quad High Definition (QHD) screens have become a popular choice in modern handsets. The above AOC AG322QCX gaming monitor natively runs at 2,560 x 1,440
Sometimes QHD or WQHD is referred to as 2K, with the idea that it’s half the 4K HD resolution found on high-end TV sets (more about that later). But most of the time the 2K name is derived from the larger of the pixel measurements being over 2,000 pixels. Technically, the resolution standard for 2K is 2,048 × 1,080, meaning QHD is actually much better in resolution. QHD could even be referred to as 2.5K, but some people resist in calling these displays 2K.
qHD is not to be confused with QHD. Despite having a very similar name, qHD stands for Quarter High Definition and is a display resolution of 960 x 540 pixels — one-quarter of 1080p Full HD.
This is used much less frequently these days. It was often found on high-end smartphones and handheld consoles — such as the Playstation Vita — around 2011, and if used today is usually found on much smaller device displays for a relatively high pixel density when anything higher would be wasteful. Marketing types are using 4K and Ultra HD interchangeably, but there are small differences
Both 4K and UHD definitions could be shortened to 2,160p, to match HD standards that have preceded them, but this would make things even more confusing because while the pixel difference is relatively marginal, they are still different. Some brands prefer to stick to just UHD moniker when marketing their latest TV to avoid confusion, but for the ease of marketing, it has meant that the two terms continue to be used interchangeably.
So far, most phone manufacturers have avoided putting ridiculously high-resolution 4K screens into phones in a bid to preserve battery life. Apart from Sony’s previous endeavours, that is.
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5K and beyond
5K is still somewhat of a niche, as not many manufacturers produce 5K panels. Suffice to say, they exist; from Apple’s 5K iMac to Iiyama’s ProLite XB2779QQS, which run at a ridiculous resolution of 5,120 x 2,880. That’s double the resolution of a QHD panel, which to the naked eye will still look razor sharp. 5K monitors are just in a league of their own. Of course with all those pixels, you’ll need a multitude of graphics cards to consistently output over 60Hz.
iiyama XB2779QQS-S1 27-Inch Height Adjustable Slim 5K IPS LED Monitor — Silver
There’s also 8K, the next resolution fad that many TV manufacturers are bragging about. There have been a few iterations by panel manufacturers, such as Dell with its UP3218K, which runs at a staggering resolution of 7,680 x 4,320. These haven’t quite hit the mainstream market, as there’s not enough content nor graphics power that can handle 8K at an agreeable refresh rate. Still, it’s worth keeping your eyes peeled on 8K monitors.
HD, 2K, 4K – What does it all mean?
How to enable 2K or even 4K resolution on a Full HD monitor in NVIDIA settings. For those who do not know — Iron on DTF
Now the period has come when many people were able to buy models of powerful video cards that have fallen in price, but so far they remain on Full HD (1920×1080) monitors, I am one of these people. And there are games that run smoothly on new video cards with maximum graphics settings, at 150-250 FPS, which is even excessive for a comfortable game. For example, on my RTX 3070 Ti The Division 1-2, the Assassin’s Creed series, Destiny 2 and many others are running very fast, more than 120 frames per second and I want to increase the resolution to at least 2K (or rather 2.5K or 1440p) in order to improve clarity, detail, reduce «stairs» on inclined surfaces and lines, albeit with a decrease in the number of FPS. But the system does not allow setting a resolution greater than that which the monitor physically supports, there are simply no other values in the list. nine0004
And NVIDIA comes to the rescue with its technologies. The technology is called Dynamic Super Resolution (DSR), it appeared a long time ago by Nvidia, it was first introduced on the Maxwell series of video cards. «Dynamic Super Resolution allows you to render your games at higher resolutions and then upscale the result to your monitor’s resolution, delivering 4K graphics on an HD screen.»
Yes, this is a pseudo-zoom. Yes, physically the pixels of the monitor do not get smaller. Yes, in terms of image quality, this is worse than real 2K or 4K monitors. Yes, the FPS loss is about 1.5 times. But! The picture becomes better, sharper, «stairs» and artifacts are reduced, you can adjust the sharpness, all this is free and is already in the driver settings of your NVIDIA video card! You do not need to install anything, just turn on a couple of checkboxes. So why not? I myself knew about this technology for a long time, but there was no point in using it on an old video card, in new games it could no longer produce high FPS, and I did not delve into the details. nine0004
And that’s not all! NVIDIA went further and with the advent of RTX introduced Deep Learning Dynamic Super Resolution (DLDSR) technology — this is an improved version of DSR. “Uses a multi-layered neural network that requires fewer pixels to achieve a better result. The 2.25X DLDSR is comparable in quality to the 4X resolution of the old DSR. Performance is much better with DLDSR. All this became possible thanks to the tensor cores of RTX video cards, which speed up neural networks several times. ” nine0015 Cool! Although I didn’t see much performance gain, but since they say it’s better, so be it.
The 4K resolution (3840×2160) on my system works somehow crookedly, then the mouse stops getting into the menu buttons, then it lathers a lot, and the FPS loss is quite large, but 2K (2560×1440) is very good. The other day I installed Assassin’s Creed Valhalla, lowered anti-aliasing, raised the resolution to 2560×1440 and everything became more detailed, clearer and more beautiful, while the FPS stays around 70-100. nine0004
Now about enabling and configuring this option
Open the NVIDIA Control Panel, select Manage 3D Settings and select DSR — Degree.
In the list that opens, we check the resolution that we want to see in the game, click OK.
The value marked with the letters DL is the improved DLDSR technology. I chose 1.78x DL (2560×1440) for myself, you can try other values by selecting several from the list and changing the resolution in the game itself. Selected values are displayed here as well
Next, adjust the sharpness by selecting DSR — Smoothness (this is the overlay of the Gaussian Blur filter) and in the slider that opens, select a value from 0 to 100%, where 0% is very sharp, and 100% disables this filter and sharpness is not added, by default costs 33%. Choose the appropriate value for yourself empirically, at the end do not forget to press the OK and Apply buttons. I chose 90-100%, at lower values on my monitor the picture becomes too sharp, flat and not realistic, like in comics. nine0004
Increased resolution also becomes available in Windows settings, you can change the resolution of the desktop and programs
Have a nice game!
Tests, the effect of changing the resolution using these options on the FPS
Screen resolution requirements (vertical):
— min. 768 pixels,
— enough for comfortable work — 900 pixels,
— for great comfort — 1080 pixels.
System Font Setting Requirements:
— Windows Vista, 7, 8 — font «small 100% (default)»,
— Windows XP — font «normal».
Video card with OpenGL support:
— at least version 2.0,
— version 3.3 and higher for comfortable work.
How do I know which video card I have?
— Windows Vista, 7, 8: Control Panel/System and Security/System/Hardware/Device Manager/Display Adapters,
— Windows XP: Control Panel/System/Device Manager/Display Adapters. nine0004
Deprecated video cards that do not support OpenGL 2.0 technology (according to manufacturers). The 3D editor will not work with these graphics cards:
— ATI Rage
— Original «ATI Radeon», i.e. Radeon DDR, Radeon 7000, Radeon VE, LE,
— Mobility Radeon 7500, 9000
— Radeon 8500, 9000, 9200 and 9250.
— Riva, Riva TNT 1 i 2, Vanta,
— GeForce256, GeForce2, GeForce3, GeForce4, GeForce FX
— Quadro NVS (50, 100, 200, 210S, 280)
— Extreme Graphics (1-2)
— GMA 900, 950
— GMA 3100, GMA 3015 Graphics (Rok 2010)
— HD Graphics (CPU Sandy Bridge) (Rok 2011)
— HD Graphics 2000
— HD Graphics 2500
— HD Graphics 3000
— HD Graphics P3000
and most integrated graphics cards