What is Monitor Resolution and Aspect Ratio? (Answered)

When you go to the store to buy a monitor (or screen) you usually try to find the picture that looks the best and appeals most to you. But most times stores put in a demo which is prerecorded and gives you an idea of how it can look the best. Unless you have the best technology to make the image look like that you will not get the same picture quality.

Resolution is the most checked out feature that people decide on when buying a monitor but there is more to it than meets the eye. In the article below we will be cover in detail the most common resolution types, how to understand the performance behind the numbers, and be able to make the right purchase.

The Histoy of Monitor Resolutions


Resolution types started with IBM & CGA . The color graphic technologies decided to describe resolution as the number of pixels vertically and horizontally positioned in a certain area and after that to use the number of vertically distributed pixels in an area. For example, you see a monitor in the store which says it is 1080p, this means that vertically there are 1080 pixels per area of the display, which is 1080 signals vertically.

As technology goes forward, better and better resolutions are being developed. However, it is important to take into consideration is screen size. If your screen is for example 55 inch 1080 pixels vertically, it will look worse than on a 27-inch monitor, as there is less area to put these pixels in. Let us look at the common resolutions and see what is good for what type of monitor.

Monitor Resolution Sizes:

720p Resolution

Popular 720p Portable Monitor from Gaems

720-Pixel displays are quite a rarity these days as technology went further and beyond these resolutions, but it is still a staple in resolutions and a lot of people still use these monitors in their day to day lives. A smaller monitor like 15’ to 17’ can easily look spectacular at this resolution as they are narrow in size but with 720 pixels vertically and 960 pixels placed horizontally, the image will still look crisp.

A setup of 2-3 monitors of this size can easily make a day-to-day spreadsheet work look crisp and make it a joy on the person working on these displays. It is not quite high definition yet, as the 1080p, but still, the image would be clear, and the whites would be bright as well as the blacks would be dark.

If you are looking for smaller size monitors, the 720p options are endless with fantastic display panels and a multi-panel setup will do you lots of good for quite a bargain.

1080p Resolution

Popular 1080p 24-Inch Monitor fom ViewSonic

Moving into HD territory, we have to take into consideration the aspect ratio as well. 16:9 is the standard aspect ratio for HDTV for Europe and the US and is usually how you would watch movies on a widescreen with the top and bottom blacks and have the image in the middle. 1080p is the most used resolution in monitors today with technology moving forward every day and going for higher and higher.

It is important to note that even if you have a 1080p monitor as well as even a higher resolution one you have to take into account your computer’s specifications. If you want your picture to look the best in any given resolution you should have the proper graphics card and processor power to handle the aspect ratio and the best picture or motion. If you decide to invest in these additional, you will get the best out of the monitor you use.

1080i Resolution

This resolution is almost like 1080p however it is usually meant for TV displays and broadcasts. If you ever felt that when you watch a telenovela or a sports game the characters or players are moving more fluidly, it is because both 1080p and 1080i are moving at 60 fps. The difference comes from the I. In 1080i, the I stands for interlaced, which means that the even lines in the program are only half the numbers of actual frames that are used to produce the video.

This is why in most cases we see some shows and movies move more fluidly but the pixels are more visible than the 1080p standard. Still, there are monitors who can run 1080i if there is Full HD availability as in 1080p, but their best use is for tv usage if you decide to watch a TV show on your monitor rather than your TV.

The picture itself is worse but the human eye does not notice it as the refresh rate is slower. This is the reason why we see the image blurred rather than crisp. 1080i Is a good alternative to other resolution types, but make sure you are getting it for the right reasons.

1440p Displays

Popular 1440p Gaming Monitor from Dell

1440p is the most common resolution on gaming monitors and it is basically a quad HD resolution. The reason it is mostly seen in these displays is that this is the perfect ratio between resolutions and refresh rate, being a 1440p monitor with 144Hz refresh rate.

At this resolution you would have the highest efficacy with the refresh rate of clear color and response time, which is why most monitors made for professional gaming, aside from 1080p and higher, are made exactly like this.

The best bang for your buck if you are looking for a gaming monitor would be this and you can always switch between resolutions to enjoy a great movie or TV program, while still having fantastic color and clear picture because of the 144Hz refresh rate. 

4K Resolution

Moving on to the big dogs the 4k resolution displays are fairly new to monitors and are usually used for television sets nowadays but you can certainly take advantage of them if you are looking to do some professional work on a monitor.

4k Ultra High Definition refers to 3840×2160 pixels per area of the TV or monitor which means – the smaller the monitor, the crisper the picture. Nevertheless, you can definitely use a 37’ monitor with this resolution and have the best colors and resolution you can find as long as you pick the right display for it.

As we mentioned earlier, the higher the resolution, the more resources it would take from your computer to be able to present you with the full advantage of this capacity, which is mainly used in televisions these days and, as weird as it may sound, resolutions evolve faster than computer parts right now.

You will need a lot of processing power and a high-end graphics card to be able to enjoy gaming or working on a HDR or 4k display which means you would either have to invest in a new system or a monitor. But if you have the buck for it, certainly go for the bang, as you would receive fantastic colors crisp images and you would not want to take your eyes off the screen.

8k Resolution

Dell Ultrasharp UP3218 32-Inch 8K Monitor

This is the highest you can go at the moment when it comes to PC monitors. The resolution of this type is 7680 by 4320 and is pretty much the Ultra High Definition resolution and a big brother of the 4K one. If you want to look at beautiful nature demos, fantastic imagery, work on clear picture spreads for your stands at a convention, then this is the resolution for you.

You cannot get better color orientation and, as crazy as it may seem, gaming compatibility on some models. Then again, you would need a rocket ship of a computer to make this work to your best needs, day to day, or enjoying it as a gaming display as it is nowhere near as easy to run as an 8K television set.

One thing is for sure, if you look to buy an 8k display it should be as big as you can imagine to be able to enjoy the resolution and colors you would be getting out of it and be mesmerized to the fullest. 

720p vs 1080p vs 1080i vs 1440p vs 4k vs 8k

ResolutionHorizontal x Vertical PixelsOther NamesUse
720p1280×720HD, HD readyMostly TVs and Monitors
1080p1920×1080Full HD, HD, High DefinitionTVs and Monitors
4k UHD3840×2160Ultra High Definition, Ultra HD, 4KTVs and Monitors
“Cinema” 4K4096 horizontal4KMovie Projectors
8K7680×43208K UHD, 8K Ultra High DefinitionHighest end TVs on the market today
720p vs 1080p vs 1080i vs 1440p vs 4k vs 8k Table

Resolution Type FAQs:

What is The Best Resolution Type for Me? 

First of all, make sure you know what you will be using the monitor for. Then look at what your budget can be and how different resolutions affect your goal. Most low-resolution monitors are very productive for day to day work, such as working on spreadsheets and looking at different websites or working on your school projects.

They are also generally are cheap and you can make a multiple display setup and still enjoy great viewing of a movie or some YouTube fun. On the other hand, if you are looking to spend a bit more money and want to get into a bit of gaming or watch a movie at a better quality, instead of watching it on a TV, go for 1080p monitors which sell at great prices for fantastic results and you would not regret it.

Now if you are all in for a monitor and it is essential for your photography and editing work, than look no further than 4k displays or even go beyond for an 8k one if you have the powerful computer to work with.

How Much Difference does Resolution Make?

At the end of the day it comes down to the size of the display and the power of your computer. The smaller the display, the better the smaller resolution would look.

But even if you have a high-resolution monitor with low processing power on your computer, your videos and movies or games would still look bad, so when you decide to buy a monitor make sure you get the best of both worlds.


Monitor resolutions are essential to our experience when we spending time in front of the displays, especially considering the different needs one may have. As it turns out, television and visual technology started developing faster than computer tech, and right now we are at a crossroads for what would work and what would not on our systems.

Unlike TVs, high resolution monitors are still on the high-end price range and in most cases, even with better computer builds, we still cannot experience the most out of our expensive monitors if we buy them. 1080p and 4k monitors are the best bet for this and the next couple of years until computer technology catches up and makes up for lost gains and manages to bring the prices down a bit.

The rule of thumb would be not to invest in the most expensive high-resolution monitors but in better computers and wait for the right time to expand further. 

This article was last updated on March 24, 2022 .

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Categorized as Monitors

By Adam

The Display Blog staff account. We know display.