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Why Should I Buy a 4K Monitor?

Tools, tips, and techniques to make the call

BenQ North America
2019/08/06
St Basil's Cathedral

So, you’re in the market for a new monitor. It’s a safe bet resolution is high on your list of features to review. You’ve certainly seen some beautiful 4K displays—and their price tags. Sure, 4K is stunning, but…do you really need it?

Before we get into whether you can live a happy life without a 4K monitor, let’s talk basics. How many different ways can we say 4K? As you read this article, keep in mind that 4K, UHD, 2160p, and 3840x2160 resolution are used interchangeably.

You know you want a new monitor, and you’re leaning toward UHD. Next, make sure your computer can support it.

Operating systems like macOS, Windows 10, and Chrome OS can output resolutions higher than 1080p – but with a catch. Given the right hardware, you can connect a 4K monitor and adjust your computer’s settings for a 3840x2160 display resolution. Your computer must have a graphics card capable of supporting a 4K resolution output, and the connection needs to be HDMI, Thunderbolt 3, or USB-C.

Still with me? Let’s move on to the decision-making phase.

Let’s make this easy for you. We’ll break this down by how you use your monitor and what you want from it. By the end of this article, you’ll determine your “must,” “should,” “could,” and “won’t” haves. Even better, you’ll know if 2160p is the best choice for you.

Regarding hardware, your computer would have to have a graphics card capable of supporting a 4K resolution output, and the connection would need to be HDMI, Thunderbolt 3 or USB-C. (Note: Thunderbolt 3 is capable of driving two 4K monitors at a refresh rate of 60Hz where USB-C can support one.)

Also with a computer monitor, you would be sitting closer to it than you would to a 4K TV. It’s likely that the fourfold increase in pixel density would be more noticeable at two feet versus twenty feet away.

Another consideration is scaling. If you output a 4K image on a smallish monitor, there’s a problem. If your monitor isn’t big enough to allow the full 3840x2160 image to stretch out from corner to corner you get into a good and bad experience. The good is, you have a 4K image. The bad is, to fit that within the real estate of a small monitor, the image has to be scaled. That means, although you can fit a lot of content on screen, scaling will make everything too small. Text, for example, will be razor-sharp but it will be almost too small to read. You’ll find yourself squinting to see, which defeats the purpose of having super fine 4K. We’ll highlight BenQ solutions in just a bit.

Now that we’ve gotten some of the requisite tekkie-talk out of the way, let’s get back to that burning question: Do you need a 4K monitor?

Must have

These are your non-negotiables. If you work in Photoshop or other Adobe Creative Cloud applications, 4K lets you access your creative superpowers. You can work with super high-resolution images and view them in full detail. Photoshop’s scalability also lets you work with images at 100%, saving you endless scrolling and zooming.

Photographers and photo editors can definitely benefit from 4K. Working with full resolution RAW images in a one-to-one ratio on screen enables you to see minute details – especially important when doing fine touch up work. Lightroom, Affinity Photo, and Capture One thrive on sharper screens.

Graphic designers, 3D modelers, CAD designers, and other creatives who work with hi-res vector images and precise specs thrive in the 4K space, too.

Video editors working on Final Cut Pro X or Premiere Pro timelines with 4K video in full UHD resolution (3840x2160) will clearly benefit from a 4K monitor. Many projects, from Hollywood features down to corporate videos, are shot in 4K. Maintaining that native resolution from capture to edit to export is crucial.

Gamers will enjoy the experience of 4K at 60Hz. Packing four times as many pixels as 1080p displays, UHD monitors can make gaming breathtakingly immersive.

To sum it up, if you need a great monitor for video editing, photo editing, other graphically-intensive work, or gaming, you’ll probably give three cheers for 4K.

Should have

Some decisions are more about “when” than “if.” For instance, if you’re a video editor and occasionally work with 4K, you have options. The standard resolution is 1080p now, but that’s shifting. Since 4K monitors are becoming more affordable, you could argue you should have one, or two, for the occasional 4K project. These are your non-negotiables. If you work in Photoshop or other Adobe Creative Cloud applications, 4K lets you access your creative superpowers. You can work with super high-resolution images and view them in full detail. Photoshop’s scalability also lets you work with images at 100%, saving you endless scrolling and zooming.

Photographers and photo editors can definitely benefit from 4K. Working with full resolution RAW images in a one-to-one ratio on screen enables you to see minute details – especially important when doing fine touch up work. Lightroom, Affinity Photo, and Capture One thrive on sharper screens.

Graphic designers, 3D modelers, CAD designers, and other creatives who work with hi-res vector images and precise specs thrive in the 4K space, too.

Video editors working on Final Cut Pro X or Premiere Pro timelines with 4K video in full UHD resolution (3840x2160) will clearly benefit from a 4K monitor. Many projects, from Hollywood features down to corporate videos, are shot in 4K. Maintaining that native resolution from capture to edit to export is crucial.

Gamers will enjoy the experience of 4K at 60Hz. Packing four times as many pixels as 1080p displays, UHD monitors can make gaming breathtakingly immersive.

To sum it up, if you need a great monitor for video editing, photo editing, other graphically-intensive work, or gaming, you’ll probably give three cheers for 4K.

Keep in mind, you’ll sit closer to your computer monitor than you would to a 4K TV. At that close distance, the improved image will be noticeable. Whether you make the switch now or later, a 4K monitor sets you up for success when they become the standard.

Could have

It’s easy to get caught up in great features. Do you need a 4K monitor for your Excel spreadsheets? No. But you might enjoy it, as long as your screen is big enough to display them.

Do you watch movies on an external monitor? Make the call based on your content. If you’re watching 4K content, a 4K monitor will make a difference.

This technology is gaining in popularity and affordability. If you’re already in the market, now is a great time to future-proof yourself.

Won’t have…yet

So, you’re not a gamer, photo editor, video editor, or graphic designer. You might not need 4K. The higher resolution, better color, and sharper image will be there when you’re ready.

Enjoy your current set up. When the time is right, you’re now better prepared to decide when or if a 4K monitor is right for you.

BenQ 4K Monitor eye-care™ Solutions

No matter the resolution, time spent in front of your screen can be hard on your eyes. BenQ is an industry leader in eye-care™ technology, always keeping the focus on you. Set yourself up to get your best experience with your UHD monitor by making sure it’s equipped with the latest in eye care solutions.

BenQ 2K Monitor Solutions

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