2015 Gaming Screen Resolutions

In 2015 we are now in our second leap of gaming standards for screen resolutions. 2 yrs ago when I wrote the original gaming screen resolution guide 1080p was all the rage and the latest graphics cards from AMD and Nvidia were struggling to reach frame rates that never dipped below 30fps.

Gaming in 2015 is a different beast, with a constant 60fps on a 1080p regularly achievable by even mid-weight graphics cards… and new monitors coming out at the new 1440p and 4K resolutions.

However with these new options on the table the old golden rules still apply:

If you have more pixels on your screen, you need a bigger graphics card solution... Bigger resolutions have a exponential increase in budget... Bigger resolution alone does not equate to a better gaming experience.
— Kym Herbert (owner)

For example a constant 80fps on a 720p monitor or lounge room TV is a great gaming experience. Using that same graphics card on a 1080p monitor and you should be able to get a constant 60fps… also a great gaming experience.

However take that same card and try to attempt a 4K resolution and you will see it dip right down to the 28fps and below.

4K screens are a massive pixel overkill. The average gamer doesn’t realise how may pixels we are actually talking about with 4K. Have a look at this resolution chart to get an idea of the sheer size of it.

So to translate:

720p is a resolution of 1280 x 720
1080p is a resolution of 1920 x 1080
4K is a monstrous resolution of 4096 x 2160


What About MAC And Their 5K Screes?

By the way Mac are smoking crack with their new 5K screens. I’m predicting major usability problems… videos will be stretched into blurry pictures, software will struggle, user interface elements will be too tiny. 5K is a resolution of 5120 x 2880… pfft the hardware just isn’t ready at all.

All the most common screen resolutions are mapped out in this graphic

All the most common screen resolutions are mapped out in this graphic

The Rise of 1440p Gaming

Fortunately despite the big film and television consortia pushing for 4K, there is a strong voice within the IT and gaming industry to push for the adoption of 1440p as the next standard in HD gaming.

As you may have noticed in the chart above 1440p is the next logical “notch” above 1080p and fits perfectly into the 16:9 aspect ratio. The monitor manufacturers are also keen to support 1440p because they are cheaper to produce and can be offered tot he consumer at a far cheaper price point.

Its all very well to spend big and buy a single big 4K TV for your house. But the IT and gaming industries don’t work like that… they want the consumer to have an average of 2+ screens in a household and they want IT managers to buy floors and floors worth of monitors for office environments.

Also thinking back to the demands that more pixels put on your gaming hardware, and 1440p suddenly seems a far better option.

1440p fits into the gaming resolution list like this:

720p is a resolution of 1280 x 720
1080p is a resolution of 1920 x 1080
1440p is a resolution of 2560 x 1440
4K is still a monstrous resolution of 4096 x 2160 !!!

1440p Scaling From 720p

What I'm about to describe may seem like magic but stick with me for a moment, and is yet another major bonus for the potential of 1440p.

If you have a look at the resolutions above, 1440p is the perfect doubling of 720p with square pixels. (other aspect ratios have non-square pixels) this means if you own a 1440p monitor all sorts of things will look better on your screen than on a 1080p monitor… and its not just because of the higher spec.

For example if you download a 720p video and watch it on your 1080p monitor at “full screen” the 720p video will be stretched to occupy 1.25 x 1.25 pixels on the 1080p screen. Not ideal because you cant physically have 0.25 of a pixel so the video look blurry… this is just what happens and anyone with a 1080p monitor has experienced this without understanding why.

But if you put that same 720p video on the 1440p monitor and go “full screen” the single 720p pixel will be stretched to occupy a perfect 2 x 2 pixels on the 1440p screen. So high fives and fist bumps all round because this will mean a much-much clearer 720p picture. Meaning if you wan to get the best frames per second possible.. in theory you can run your games at 720p on a 1440p display without a massively noticeable impact on visual quality. 1440p boo-yah!!