Is a 4K screen worth it for a laptop?


When buying a laptop, you have a variety of options when it comes to choosing the screen resolution, and 4k or in other words ultra HD is one of them. This choice provides the highest resolution for your laptop display; But is it really worth it and does it show a better picture?

First, let’s start with the problem of Retina resolution; The term retina is used by Apple and defines a display whose pixel density is so high that individual pixels cannot be distinguished when viewed from a normal distance.


In other words, increasing the pixel density to the size of the retina increases the quality of the image details enough that the presence of more pixels cannot be detected by the eye.

Any display can be similar to the retina when viewed from a certain distance. Usually, in terms of medicine and ergonomics, the distance between the eyes and the laptop screen should not be less than 20 inches. We used 13.3-, 15.6-, and 17.3-inch laptops in natural positions, and in each case they were more than 20 inches from the eye. Therefore, this distance is not unreasonable.

In this way, even a large 17.3-inch laptop screen with 4K resolution at a distance of 13 inches becomes “Retina”.

The same 1440p 20-inch display switches to Retina just at the minimum viewing distance.

A 1080p display becomes “retina” at 27 inches, which is probably closer to the distance laptop users have between their eyes and the screen.

As we said, these small 4K panels may not be worth buying for most users, as their main advantage is lost in normal laptop use. Of course, aside from these things, 4K displays have advantages that we will discuss further.

4K panels with high refresh rate are rare

Two terms are used to express the resolution of displays: spatial resolution and temporal resolution. Spatial resolution is what most people think of when discussing screen resolution. This parameter expresses the number of pixels on the screen and the amount of fine detail that can be displayed as a result of having more pixels. In contrast, temporal resolution is the amount of detail a screen can display during a given amount of time, commonly referred to as the refresh rate.

A 120Hz display may display as much information on still images as a 60Hz display. This refresh rate only applies to content that changes over time, such as video, video games, and animated user interface elements such as mouse and file pointers and scrolling documents. In this case, the higher the refresh rate, the smoother the movement and without fading the image.

Unlike spatial resolution, the benefits of temporal resolution do not diminish at normal viewing distances, but 4K screens that offer refresh rates higher than 60Hz are relatively rare and usually expensive. It is now common to use 1080p or 1440p displays that offer refresh rates of 360Hz, 240Hz, 165Hz and 144Hz and may provide a better visual experience than a 4K panel with a 60Hz refresh rate.

4K display is a battery killer!

When buying a laptop, battery life is one of the key factors to choose. Higher resolution displays require more power to operate. Note that not only the display itself consumes more power, but the hardware components required to run that display also require more power. For example, the GPU has to work harder to render a single piece of content on a 4K resolution display than it does for 1440p or 1080p resolution. This is not just about video games, it applies to any type of content.

Display scaling can render 4K resolution ineffective

Modern operating systems use a metric called display scaling to ensure that user interface elements such as buttons, text, and widgets are sized correctly relative to the screen size. Without rescaling the display, text and buttons on a 4K laptop screen will be too small to read. At normal viewing distances, with equivalent scaling, you won’t notice a difference between a 1440p and 4K laptop screen in real-world use.

There are better ways to increase the quality and transparency of games

4K panels are now an option for many gaming laptops, and the discussion of “retina” screen distances is not entirely true everywhere. This is because when rendering a game in 4K quality, some image defects in macro mode disappear, such as the rough edges on rendered subjects and the shimmer mode for some image elements rendered in There is low resolution.

On 1440p or 1080p panels, these types of visual and artificial glitches are visible in video games at normal viewing distances, and using a 4k panel will reduce but not eliminate them. Of course, there are better ways to handle these problems; Using features like super sampling and intelligent anti-aliasing, the same display improvement can be achieved on lower resolution panels (read this article). These solutions put less strain on the CPU and GPU compared to a normal 4K video game rendering.

Who should buy a 4K laptop?

So far, it might seem like a 4K panel isn’t really worth using in a laptop, but there are positive and practical uses for having such high-density displays in small devices like laptops. In particular, if you’re a content creator working with 4K media, it’s important to have a display that can accurately display every pixel of that content.

Additionally, content creators use their screens differently than regular users and may approach the screen when editing or quality control. All in all, while we can’t recommend a 4K laptop panel for most users, the exception is content creators who need to work professionally.

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Adib Zahedi is the CEO and Founder of He has nearly a decade of experience in IT, including two years spent working on a Youtube Chennal. He is also an author and writes articles for Has articles include tutorials and covers everything from Windows PCs to smartphone's software.

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