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4K HDR is the new standard in 2020


The new standard for gaming and entertainment like streaming is 4K HDR. That’s the baseline now, and you need a monitor like the BenQ EW3280U to make sure you’re enjoying content as intended. 

Once upon a time 4K had you mystified, but now you simply need to have it by your side. Or more accurately, in front of you. For nearly a decade, 4K was a dream, then in the mid-2010s it slowly became mainstreamed, then HDR emerged as the perfect partner for ultra HD 4K, and by 2020 we have a new normal. That new baseline is simple: 4K, 3840 x 2160 with high dynamic range (HDR) is the starting point. It’s the new mainstream, replacing full HD 1080p, which dominated for a decade starting in the mid-2000s. But as the saying goes, time and technology wait for no one, and things continue to evolve to give us better visuals, more detail, greater fidelity, and increasingly lifelike graphics. Eventually we’ll get to The Matrix, though that may be a ways off. And by the way, when we say HDR we generally mean the widely-adopted HDR10, but also any HDR standard – Dolby Vision, HLG, and HDR10+. The more standards your display supports, the better, and for sure having official VESA DisplayHDR certification is a good thing.

All major streaming services and apps are moving to have their entire libraries in 4K HDR. For gaming, 4K is the new default resolution, especially with the pending arrival of new graphics cards from NVIDIA and AMD plus the PS5 and Xbox Series X. All target a native 4K resolution with good HDR implementation. The obvious implication is that if you insist on holding on to a 1080p display with no HDR, you’ll miss out. And not on some meta FOMO level, but rather in technical, factual terms. Sure, games and entertainment will remain backward compatible with 1080p and even lower resolutions for a while, but that’s not what they’ll be intended for.

So 4K HDR is the new standard, and we’re only going to get more into it in the next few years, until inevitably 8K comes along – but no need to think about that right now! 

The show must go on in 4K

Let’s put gaming on the side for now and focus on entertainment. Take your pick of streaming service: Netflix, Hulu, Apple TV+, Prime Video, Disney+, CBS All Access, Peacock…all of them have committed to 4K HDR content. First-party exclusives and originals routinely get produced and mastered in 4K HDR, and even third party content is shifting to the 4K HDR side of things over 1080p SDR. Within a couple of years, we believe you’ll be hard pressed to find any new content that’s not 4K HDR. Meanwhile, on the physical media side of things, the proportion of 4K HDR Blu-ray releases out of all new Blu-ray titles continues to grow. Due to the limitations of streamed media, the closest you’ll get to totally uncompressed 4K HDR is Blu-ray. Both PS5 and Xbox Series X will have 4K Blu-ray drives, making them attractive options for entertainment buffs who are also gamers. The Xbox One S and Xbox One X already have 4K Blu-ray drives.

Either way, if you love your movies and TV shows, not having access to a 4K display with HDR is a bit like being a music fan that insists on listening only on a mono tape player from the 1980s. 

Recommended Product

BenQ EW3280U 4K HDR Monitor with HDRi Technology

EW3280U 4K HDR Monitor
  • 32 inch 4K UHD 16:9 IPS Display
  • Wide color gamut with HDR and FreeSync
  • USB-C One-Cable Connectivity

4K 60fps – the new state of gaming

Until not long ago, 1080p 60fps was the graphics performance benchmark for gaming. Possible consistently only on PC, it only became mostly attainable on console with the arrival of Xbox One and PS4. By the late 2010s things changed. PC hardware got more powerful, and consoles received upgrades in the form of the PS4 Pro and Xbox One X. Suddenly 4K or 2160p wasn’t so out of reach anymore. Similarly, HDR became normative on consoles thanks to their intimate association with TVs. On PC, HDR remains more on a per-game basis, with implementation up to the developers. You just need to make sure your display can handle it.

The net result is that by mid-2020, 4K HDR in 60fps or 60Hz is the expectation. By the end of 2020, between the new consoles and the new graphics cards for PC, it’ll be the de facto standard for all major game releases, with many likely to target 4K HDR 120fps.

In the present, 1080p SDR has staying power because it’s appealing for competitive gaming and e-sports, where speed trumps visuals. However, as graphics power increases and becomes more affordable (which is inevitable), pro gamers will also make the switch to 4K HDR as there simply won’t be any reason to not do that. Right now high framerate monitors in the 144Hz tend to be QHD/2K, but that will change as hardware arrives that supports 4K HDR at refresh rates way above 60Hz. 

No need to wait – get ready now

Making sure you’re up with the new normal doesn’t have to cost an arm and a leg. Monitors like the BenQ EW3280U have everything you need to sync up with the 4K HDR standard. DisplayHDR certification, 60Hz IPS panel, HDRi technology, a sumptuous 32” screen with 10-bit color, and even lush built-in 2.1 channel audio. That’s a true all-rounder, right there. In one purchase, you have everything you need for your PC and consoles for the next few years, including USB-C. And lest we forget, you also get AMD FreeSync technology to prevent screen tearing and framerate drops. Already supported by Xbox One, it’ll also be on PS5 most likely, so you’ll be ready. 

The march onwards

We should be happy that what was once a near impossibility is now the baseline. That’s progress, and a sign of positive change. It’s a tribute to human ingenuity and determination that we want to enjoy ourselves and make more of the world around us. So don’t be a holdout – there’s no reason to deny yourself the joys of 4K HDR. Why miss out on how content is meant to be enjoyed? Why not appreciate it the way content creators intend us to? There’s no reason. Because 4K HDR is the new standard. 

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