Today’s Question: I’m wondering if I should consider a 4K monitor, which all the marketing suggests is a great thing. When I’ve seen 4K monitors on display it seems everything on the screen is really tiny, so why would I want such a display?
Tim’s Quick Answer: I actually highly recommend using a 4K display, even if you set it to a lower display resolution, because the details on the display will be significantly crisper and sharper with a 4K monitor.
More Detail: A 4K monitor is a display that has a resolution of approximately 4,000 pixels (thus 4K) across. With most displays that feature 4K resolution the actual number of pixels across will be 3,840, but the specification rounds this up to a tidy “4K” designation. Various displays will feature a different specific resolution but still be referred to as 4K.
I had long resisted switching to a 4K display, knowing that I would not want to use 4K resolution because interface elements would be incredibly small. Put simply, I knew I would likely never want to use the 4K resolution based on the tasks I tend to perform and the applications I typically use on my computer.
However, even if you don’t want to run a 4K monitor at a 4K resolution, there is still a significant advantage in terms of display quality to using a display with a resolution of 4K (or higher). I was actually a bit surprised at just what a significant difference it made when I switched from a display with 1080p resolution (1920×1080 pixels) to one with 4K resolution (3840×2160 pixels).
In particular, with a high-resolution display set to a lower resolution, text looks significantly sharper that with a display that has a native resolution that matches what you’ve set the high-resolution display to. The overall interface also looks crisper, though this isn’t quite as obvious as the benefit for text. The overall experience of using a 4K display set to a lower resolution is significantly better in my view.
I happen to be using an LG 27UL550-W 27-inch monitor (https://bhpho.to/3NimIlq), but there are many other options available. I’ve also been happy with displays from ViewSonic, BenQ, Dell, and others.