What is screen resolution for a monitor?

Intro to screen resolution and what it really means

If you are like me and need help with what to look for when buying a computer monitor, you might need clarification before you even get to the store. I asked a friend what to look for, and he started talking about Giga hertz, pixels, curved monitor benefits, and the list goes on. About the only word that made any sense at all was the resolution, as it has meaning outside of the technical world of tech talk.

You know what resolution is because we see it every day; when something is blurry in my mind, the resolution isn’t good enough. That could be on something printed, but in reality, it’s almost always screen-based.

Like the old Nokia phones that had cameras as good as potatoes, it wasn’t just the camera; it was also the screen. If the screen doesn’t have enough resolution, then the image won’t look clear… that is about as far as my understanding goes. So I did a bunch of research so I, and you, in turn, can avoid looking at potato phone quality images on my screen while I work on my computer.

What is Resolution and Why Does It Matter?

Alright, let’s start off with the most basic of aspects. What is Screen Resolution, and how does it impact us?

The first part of the answer is looking directly at what we are talking about, and that at its most basic level is resolution. Resolution is the number of pixels that make up an image on a screen.

The more pixels there are, the higher the resolution and the sharper the image. Most monitors today have a resolution of at least 1080p, which is 1920×1080 pixels. That’s enough to display HD video and most other content clearly. But some come in at a lower level, and some come in at higher levels.

We will go over what those mean to us as users in a bit, but for the bases of the article, Resolution = How clear things look. It isn’t the only thing that defines the clarity of the moving images, but for ease of strain on our brain, we will leave it at that for this article.

Why does resolution matter?

Screen resolution is a big deal because it directly affects how much detail you can see in an image. A lower-resolution image will look blocky and fuzzy, while a high-resolution image will be crisp and clear. That’s why choosing a high-resolution monitor is important if you want to get the best possible picture quality.

It is similar to when Cyberpunk launched; all the gameplay was shown on crazy setups, and when it came time to play, most systems couldn’t support it. So instead of having this smooth and visually impressive game, people were left with a clunky… potato game. I guess if you are reading this for a bit, you’ll get that potato= is not great as far as tech goes.

Although Cyberpunk goes more into the area of what to look for in a gaming computer monitor, it is still something that deals with resolution and how the lack of support can really ruin the fun times a game should provide.

monitor beside a laptop
nice modern setup

So now we know what resolution is and why it matters, let’s go onto the different levels of resolution that are offered.

What is 480p screen resolution?

480p is a standard and widely used video display resolution. It offers a good compromise between quality and file size, making it a popular choice for many video applications. But now that everything is going digital and people want sharp images, it is quickly going the way of the potato.

For an idea of what 480 looks like, think of an older tube tv. It gets the job done, but good luck with getting any definition. The colors and lines kind of bleed together. It’s been around since the 80s, so you know what to expect if you grew up watching TV during that time and even into the late 90s.

To get 480p quality, the screen will have 720×480 pixels.

What is 720p screen resolution?

720p is a resolution that is used for HDTVs and computer monitors. It was the next step up from 480p and was a huge jump for its time. It is decent, and you can think of it as watching youtube back in 2002 on an old-school flat monitor. To get 720p, there are 1280×820 pixels. which basically means it will be sharper than the 480 by a good amount but nowhere close to the next ones.

What is 1080p screen resolution?

1080p is a popular resolution for monitors nowadays as it is mass-produced, comes in at an affordable rate, and is great for a lot of users. It offers a good balance between image quality and price. As you can see, the more pixels, the less potato, so this monitor would have 1920×720 pixels, which again is a big upgrade over 720 and a massive one over 480.

nice high resolution monitor
a nice 1080 p monitor is usually enough for most users

What is 1440p screen resolution?

This is where we start getting to the big numbers as far as resolution and cost. For everyday users, this will be overkill on monitors, and it is hard to really appreciate this level of resolution on a small screen. We aren’t saying we would turn one down, but for us, the majority of the time, the price just isn’t worth the output. To get this level of resolution, 1920×1080 pixels make up the image on the screen.

This is where we start entering the very high definition level of imaging, and there are times when it is too high. Sometimes the sharpness and granularity are too high, and we wish we stayed at the 1080 level for a while longer.

What is 4k screen resolution?

This is where we just go past what any normal users would really need in a monitor and enter the highest end currently available on the market. 4k refers to a horizontal resolution of approximately 4000 pixels and gets it from the resolution of 3840×2160 total pixels on the screen. You shouldn’t ever really need this level as a normal computer user as the cost will totally outweigh what you are getting out of it.

We did our top gaming monitor review and felt that no one really needed the 4k screen, so none were included in there.

The difference between 480p, 720p, 1080p, 1440p, and 4K

So as you can see, these are the standard resolution numbers people will usually get offered when looking for a new monitor. To be honest, I would be shocked if there were any 480 monitors around as it is just so old and out of date that the price savings ( if there were any ) wouldn’t be worth it for the pain your eyes would live through. There are many different types of screen resolutions, each with its own benefits and drawbacks. But what it really comes down to is the clearer the picture, the more it will cost. ( we will go over that in a little bit to help you pick out the best monitor.

But for a quick breakdown :

720p is the most basic type of screen resolution. It offers good quality at a lower price point but doesn’t have the same level of detail as higher resolutions. A decent trade-off between price and picture quality.

1080p is the next step up from 720p. It offers Full HD resolution and significantly more detail than 720p. However, it can be more expensive than 720p but isn’t too expensive because technology has come a long way.

1440p is a middle-of-the-road option between 1080p and 4K. It offers Quad HD resolution and even more detail than 1080p. However, it will usually be more expensive than both 1080p and 720p.

4K is the highest quality screen resolution available today, and for most people, you don’t need this. Honestly, when we were heading out to buy the monitor, we were all excited to get a 4k monitor as it sounds so cool… but after we saw the difference in quality and cost, we just couldn’t do it.

We have found this video for a good monitor buying guide as well, just in case you want more info.

How do you pick the right monitor for you?

Alright, now we come to the section that everyone wants, or assuming you wish if you ended up here, as you might need some help when looking for your next monitor. When it comes to picking the right monitor, there are a few things you need to take into consideration, and being honest with yourself will get the best pick for you.

The most important factor of screen resolution is what you will use the computer for. If you honestly don’t need HD quality, then 1080p is going to be good enough for you. The price difference between 720p and 1080 p isn’t a lot anymore, so we think 1080 gives the best value for quality and price.

If you have no idea about how small or big or how defined the monitors look, I would suggest going to your local computer store and trying them out. If you haven’t bought a new computer in a long time, you’ll be shocked by how far the imaging aspect has come, so it is worthwhile to see the actual differences in person first. You don’t want to order something online only to realize it doesn’t meet your expectations or needs.

Conclusion to what resolution means for monitors for your next purchase

When you’re in the market for a new monitor, one of the many things to keep in mind is the screen resolution. It’s important to know what resolution means, and we hope this article was enough to explain it all to you. But if not, here is a quick recap:

Resolution refers to the number of pixels that make up an image on a screen. The more pixels there are, the higher the resolution and the sharper the image will be.

So it comes down to how and why you’ll use this monitor. If you are a casual computer user, we’d say that 1080p is a great place to start and should be enough for your needs. But there are times when higher resolution screens can actually be cheaper than the 1080p ones because the technology is coming along so fast. But for the general value for performance, 1080 should be enough for everyday computer users.

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