Question Displaying 1080p and 1440p content on a 4k monitor: does it look so bad?

Sep 10, 2020
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I am going to buy a new monitor as my old 1080p S27A950D has failed after 8 years using it. I am considering buying a 4k monitor (27" or 32"), something not high-end but "fairly decent" (such as the EW3270U or 326M6VJRMB or 27UL850 or something similar). My use will be mixed: gaming, video, streaming, photos/social networks, web surfing, working with documents, etc. I have a Rtx 2060 super graphics card and I played many games at 4k with my old 1080p monitor using Nvidia DSR factors (software/drivers emulation), quality was actually impressive and very high. I am not a fps/refresh rate fanatic but I am happy to play at 30-35 fps, graphics quality being the most important thing for me. If I buy a new 4k monitor, I am aware my current graphics card will not be able to handle many games in a couple of years so I will need to lower the resolution and play games at 1440p or 1080p on my 4k monitor. Plus, a lot of content nowadays is still 1080p (e.g. streaming videos, youtube videos, and so on), so I will make extended use of this "under-native" content on my 4k. That's why I am asking you - who among you has been using a 4k monitor for a long time - what can you tell me about displaying under-native content on a 4k monitor? Does it look so awful? In a nutshell, my questions are:

-does lowering the games' resolution to 1440p on a 4k monitor look so bad? Do proportions look strange (as 2160p is not exactly a x2 multiple of 1440p)? What about other issues you noticed (e.g. more aliasing, blurring, textures, etc..)?

-does watching 1080p videos (e.g. on streaming platforms or youtube) on a 4k monitor look so bad? As they are still so popular, what quality issues have you spot?

-are you able to easily read text on a 4k monitor (e.g. while on Windows, while surfing the internet or while working with documents/emails)? Or did you need to lower the display resolution in order not to put your eyesight under strain? If yes, how did it scale and what kind of issues did you notice (e.g. aliasing, blurring, etc..)?

-does playing extensively games at 4k resolution (e.g. for around 2-3 hours everyday) shorten the life of the graphics card by putting a lot of stress on it so that it can die faster?

-on a scale from 0 to 10, how would you rate your general experience displaying 1080p and 1440p content on your 4k monitor?

Thanks in advance for your comments and contributions to this discussion
 

Eximo

Titan
Ambassador
Upscaling resolutions in games and videos, usually not that bad. The text is the big one to worry about.

I think you will find that 1080p content scales quite well. Recorded video and streaming video is generally compressed already, so it is never quite perfect to begin with. Only very high bit rate video will show the re-scaling artifacts.

Windows is kind of so-so at rescaling things, but that is the best option for text in Windows. Browsers can also be zoomed in if needed. 27" 4K would be a poor reading experience at native resolution in my opinion, unless you are very near-sighted. 32" 4K is a more suitable size to run native.

Running the monitor at 1080p should rescale well enough, but 27" 1080p kind of sucks for the opposite reason. Text will be large and block if the monitor scales 2:1, if it tries upscaling it may look fuzzy. Some monitors have options to enable disable rescaling content. 1440p won't look great if not upscaled properly.

As for GPU wear and tear, eh, kind of what it was built for. Generally, hours of usage is more a factor than load. But yes, higher temperatures, faster fan speed, will add up over time. But you have to ask yourself, how long do you intend to keep this GPU and the next one?
 
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Sep 11, 2020
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I can confirm what Eximo said. I've been working on a 4k monitor for 4 years now, and things have improved substantially since then with better support for high DPI screens. There is still some older software out there that is not optimized for high dpi screens, which will look fuzzy or be really small. However, Windows 10 does the scaling pretty well now.

Where things get strange is mixing screens with different DPI. I have one 4k screen, and one traditional screen. Moving windows from one to the other can mess things up a bit.

Choosing between the two, I would definitely go for a 4k screen. It's a lot easier on the eyes, and you can adjust the text scaling how you prefer it. Also, many 4k screens have integrated blue light filters now, which I would recommend.
 
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