Is Gaming at 4K Worth It?


1080p may be “Full HD,” but 4K is “Ultra HD” – and, much like Street Fighter, Ultra is always better (for picture quality anyway).

As you can see from the video above, when your graphics are set too low on a 4K monitor, the shadows don’t look that great. Even so, it still displays outstanding color quality and image clarity.

Long Term / Future Proof

You still can’t go wrong with investing in a 1080p monitor these days, mainly because they offer excellent refresh rates and response times – two essential specifications when gaming on a competitive level. That being said, due to the recent drop in some 4K monitor prices, now might be the perfect time to purchase a monitor for single-player story-based gaming.

4K gaming has already caught on in the mainstream, so there are no worries about this type of technology disappearing any time soon. And since it’s still relatively new, you should be able to enjoy playing games in 4K without any worries about upgrading your monitor anytime soon. Sure there are 5K monitors out there, but we don’t have the hardware yet to utilize those, which leads to our next criteria.

Hardware Requirements

Most decent graphics cards nowadays can run games at 1080p over 60 FPS in most AAA games.

But, if you wish to play AAA games in 4K resolution, you’re going to have to invest in one of the higher performance GPUs. Think RTX 3080, for example. The computational power that is required to run 4K efficiently is much higher than what 1080p requires. Anything less than an RTX 3070 isn’t going to be worth the investment.

Below are some of the cards we feel will run 4K games at varying degrees of performance:

GPU Series Cost

GPU Normal Series Cost Ti Series Cost
RTX 3090 $1550 to $1580 N/A
RTX 3080 $750 to $780 N/A
RTX 3070 $540 to $600 N/A
RTX 2080 $700-$800 $1100 – $1300
AMD RX 6900XT $999 N/A
AMD RX 6800XT $679 N/A
AMD RX 6800 $579 N/A
GTX 1080 $600 – $500 $900 – $700
RTX 2070 $450 – $550 N/A
GTX 1070 $560 – $460 $430 – $400
Radeon VII $600 – $700 N/A
VEGA 64 $350 – $450 N/A
RTX 2060 $350 – $400 N/A

This means the price of a 4K monitor setup is much more than just a monitor purchase. You have to take into consideration the overall cost of the build if that requires upgrades.

Compatibility Issues

Much like graphics cards, almost any decent monitor you could get today, depending on the brand and features, is guaranteed to run in 1080p.

Moreover, almost all AAA games have native support in 1080p.

But if you get a 4K monitor, it’s not guaranteed that you can play all of your games in 4K.

This is especially true with older games, mainly because images are basically upscaled instead of being displayed in true 4K. And, of course, there’s the possibility that the older game just doesn’t have high enough quality art assets to take advantage of 4K.

This being said, almost all of your modern AAA game titles will support 4K.

Price

You can get a decent 1080p monitor for less than $200. Prices will vary though depending on the monitor’s refresh rate, adaptive sync technology, response time, panel technology, and brand.

On the other hand, while 4K monitors have drastically dropped in price from over $600 (and even up to $1000) down to around $300 – $500 these days, they are still expensive compared to 1080p monitors. And that’s before you even stop to consider advanced features such as refresh rate, adaptive sync technology, or response times.


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