What's a full HD monitor?

What's a Full HD monitor? The simple answer is one with 1080p image resolution. But there's more to know than just that. Here's a simple tutorial to help you decide if Full HD – or other options such as plain HD or QHD or UHD – is the best option for your new computer monitor.

HD vs. Full HD vs. Quad HD vs. Ultra HD and 4K

When it comes to display screens, the more pixels the better. Why? Because all else being equal, an image with more pixels can be can be displayed at larger sizes without suffering picture degradation.

Here are the four most popular types of display definitions today. All of them have 16:9 aspect ratios and qualify as high resolution displays, but to varying degrees:

  • HD: 720p image resolution (1,280 pixels wide x 720 pixels tall – approx. 1 million total pixels)
  • Full HD (FHD): 1080p image resolution (1,920 x 1,080 – approx. 2 million total pixels)
  • Quad HD (QHD): 1440p image resolution (2,560 x 1,440 – approx. 4 million total pixels)
  • Ultra HD (UHD)/4K: 2160p image resolution (3,840 x 2,160 – approx. 8 million total pixels)

Note that Quad HD offers four times the resolution as regular HD, and Ultra HD/4K offers four times the resolution as Full HD.

There's another type of HD, called 4K, that's specific to movie theater and cinematic displays and has slightly higher pixel totals (it uses an even wider, 256:135 aspect ratio). Yet many consumer-level manufacturers use the terms Ultra HD and 4K interchangeably. Similarly, the term HD is sometimes used to describe both 720p and 1080p displays, but the term Full HD is used only to describe 1080p-level models.

Which display resolution is right for me?

So, what should you choose? HD or Full HD or Quad HD or Ultra HD/4K? The answer depends on how you plan to use your new monitor or laptop:

HD (720p): HD displays account for less total market share each year, but they're still a good choice if a lower price is important and the demand for high resolution is not. With better options out there, avoid simple HD monitors for close-up office work, gaming and advanced streaming.

Full HD (1080p): Full HD displays dominate the market and have for years been the accepted standard for most home and office uses. They're ideally suited for basic gaming needs, video streaming from services like Netflix and Hulu, and watching DVDs and online videos.

Quad HD (1440p): Quad HD displays are gaining popularity with gamers who want more pixels than with Full HD but don't want to pay for Ultra HD. They're also ideal for editing photos and videos taken with today's advanced smartphones, which typically capture at resolutions higher than 1080p.

Ultra HD/4K (2160p): Ultra HD/4K displays provide stunning visual quality for advanced computer gaming, photo editing, watching films and more. However, many computer graphics cards do not yet fully support Ultra HD, so make sure the monitor technology you buy is supported by your system.

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