Explained: 3840 x 2160 – 4K – UHD – Ultra HD

4K UHD Resolution

Short Answer

4K, Ultra HD, or 2160p is a display resolution of 3840x 2160 pixels, 8.3 megapixels in total. Recently, many 4K monitors and TVs dropped in price significantly. Besides the 4K displays becoming more affordable, there is a lot more 4K content available as well. The other 4K resolution standard is the DCI-4K which is used for film and video production and amounts to 4096×2160.

Unlike the previous and lesser screen resolution abbreviations that contained vertical pixels in their name such as 1080p for 1920×1080 Full HD and 1440p for 2560×1440 Quad HD, 4K resolution indicates roughly 4,000 horizontal pixels instead of the vertical value. As 4K or Ultra HD has 2160 vertical pixels, it is also sometimes referred to as 2160p.

The 4K standard that’s used for TVs, monitors and video games is also dubbed as the UHD-1 or UHDTV resolution. Whereas in professional film and video production, the DCI-4K resolution is utilized instead with 4096 x 2160 pixels, or 8.8 megapixels in total.

In addition, the Digital Cinema Initiatives 4K features the 256:135 (1.9:1) aspect ratio while 4K UHD offers a more common 16:9 ratio. 4K has double the vertical and horizontal pixels than 1920×1080 while DCI-4K has double the DCI-2K or 2048×1080.

4K UHD

Gaming at 4K

Even though 4K monitors are becoming more and more affordable, if you wish to enjoy smooth gameplay performance at 4K, you will need a demanding computer equipment to power it up. With graphics cards such as AMD R9 Fury X or RX 480 8GB don’t expect to go far beyond 30 FPS in video games with decent settings.

Due to the recent drop in price, the Nvidia GTX 1080 is an excellent choice for a solid 4K gaming experience at 60Hz. Although it won’t be able to run video games smoothly at maxed settings in the latest titles, video games do appear otherworldly at 4K. In order to help with the gaming performance at 4K, consider FreeSync or G-Sync gaming monitors which use the full potential of the graphics cards.

If 60Hz is too slow for you, but you want a 4K display, you will have to wait a few months until ASUS and Acer unleash their ultimate gaming machines announced back in January, the ASUS ROG Swift PG27UQ and the recently announced Acer Predator X27 with G-Sync HDR. These bad boys will go up to 144Hz at 4K using the bandwidth of DisplayPort 1.4 connector. In order to view regular 4K content at 60Hz, you will need to have HDMI 2.0 port, USB-C, or DisplayPort 1.2.

Editing at 4K

Photo editing at 4K isn’t as expensive as one might think, especially after Dell has reduced the price of their 4K models aimed at professional designers for color-critical work. The Dell P2415Q is available for only $370 at the moment (June 2017), and the 27-inch version, the Dell P2715Q for $520. These displays are factory calibrated to cover 99% of the sRGB color gamut and to Delta E < 3 point color accuracy.

Video editing is still a pricey business due to the colossal CPU and GPU requirements for the rendering of 4K content. An excellent professional video editing monitor with the native DCI-4K resolution is the LG 31MU97-B covering 99.5% Adobe RGB and 97% DCI-P3 color spaces.

Another thing that you should take into the consideration when purchasing a 4K display is the monitor’s size due to pixel density and scaling. At a 24-inch screen, for instance, you’d need to scale up your interface by up to 200%. This may repulse many users as there is no extra workspace which defeats the purpose of having a 4K screen, for some. However, the details become impressively vivid and intense.

4K Scaling

Ultra HD Premium

Ultra HD Premium is the latest standard which via a labeled certification indicates that a certain display has HDR (High Dynamic Range) compatibility which is approved by UHD Alliance. In order for a display to qualify for the Ultra HD Premium logo and HDR10 standard, besides 4K resolution, it must deliver 10-bit color depth support that covers at least 90% of the DCI-P3 color space and either have more than 1,000 nits peak brightness (and less than 0.05 nits black level) or over 540 nits brightness and less than 0.0005 nits black level.

Conclusion

Although even 1440p resolution displays haven’t quite yet become the new standard, 4K are rapidly becoming more affordable and even cheaper than some 1440p monitors. In fact, there’s a presumption that by the year 2050, more than half of the US homes will have TVs capable of displaying 4K content.

The 4K resolution makes everything overflow with details, and the 144Hz 4K gaming monitor can’t come soon enough to finally combine the stellar 4K imagery and smooth 144Hz performance with G-Sync and HDR. Although we’re crossing fingers for a lesser price tag than the expected one.

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