Is an Ultra HD 4k HDTV a waste of money in comparison to the now standard 1080p when it comes to PC, PlayStation, and Xbox gamers?
In a related report by The Inquisitr, Microsoft has been receiving a lot of flack over the Xbox One 1080p 60FPS controversy, even going so far as to claim the DirectX 12 update will fix the problem (something some game developers deny). This became noticeable when the Halo 5 E3 demos made a point of highlighting how the new game would meet this goal instead of focusing on what new game features it’d be bringing to the table.
Ultra HD was conceived as a way to make sure consumers understand what the technology means. The “4K” name as a branding was considered too esoteric since it assumed that consumers understood that 4K stood for the 4096 horizontal pixels being displayed in a 2.39:1 ratio movie screen. Most 4K TV screens, on the other hand, would display a standard 16:9 ratio which is the norm for 1080p HDTVs. The Ultra HD 3840 x 2160 display resolution conforms to the Quad Full High Definition (QFHD) resolution standard, which doubles the horizontal and vertical pixels of a 1080p screen for four times the number of pixels.
The first issue with 4k gaming is that both the Xbox One and PlayStation 4 will never support the resolution standard for gaming. At most we will be limited to photos and videos and internet browsing. This is mostly due to performance reasons, which brings us to the second point.
Even when it comes to PC gaming, only mid-grade to high-end video cards can handle the 4k resolution at an acceptable framerate (assuming you are playing a newer game and not something from several years ago). To put this in perspective, even the hypothetical performance of the supposedly mightier PS4 GPU is about one-fifth of the newer video cards being released. The situation on the PC side is also kind of awkward since the 60 Hz models require two HDMI cables and the tiled display monitors still cost thousands even though they’re relatively puny in size (for example, the 31.5 inch Asus PQ321Q is around $2,500). But even though 4k HDTV prices will inevitably drop and single scalers will become the norm we’re still faced with the reality of the last problem… our own eyes.
When you look at your display the “apparent” visual clarity is largely determined by size of the screen, the resolution, and the distance between the display and your eyes. In order to get the full benefit of Ultra HD TVs, you would either have to sit extremely close to the television or have a 80 to 100 inch or bigger display. This is because doctors estimate that a person with 20/20 vision cannot resolve sharpness above 229 ppi (pixels per inch).
This chart should make things clearer:
The biggest immediate exception would be autostereoscopic technology, which allows glasses-free 3D. Unfortunately, autostereoscopic technology lowers the resolution of the resulting image so combining it with Ultra HD would result in a 3D picture at 1080p resolution. So we’ll need 8k TVs in order to pull this off in the 4k resolution, which just makes the performance requirements ridiculous.
In the end, the good news is that the average PC gamer should be able to enjoy full 4k PC games within the next several years based upon the assumption they’re looking at a 30-inch screen within 2.5 feet on a desk. The bad news is that console gamers may not fully enjoy 4k gaming at all even when the PlayStation 5 and next Xbox come out in 2020 unless they happen to have a really, really big space for a TV in their living room.