Entertainment, Hardware

What is 4K Exactly?

So, lately, we’ve been noticing that many of the media and manufacturers have been spreading misinformation about 4K and what it means. So, let’s set the record straight.

4K is a term attached to a resolution. 4K is defined as the resolution 4096 x 2160. 4K is designed to denote the 4,000+ pixels of the horizontal pixel count. As such, 8K is similarly measured at 8192, a direct multiple of 4096.

Now, there have been other resolutions, namely 3840 x 2160 that have been touted as 4K. This is not necessarily true, considering the fact that 3840 x 2160 simply does not have 4,000+ pixels in the horizontal count. Furthermore, it should be referred to it’s proper name, QuadHD. QuadHD is a proper name for this resolution because it is exactly that, four times Full HD, which is currently considered the resolution of 1920 x 1080. That resolution, if multiplied into four identical sectors gives you the resolution 3840 x 2160.

Now, many of you have recently seen the Seiki monitor online which has been stated as a 4K monitor by countless press, they are wrong. So wrong, that in fact TigerDirect is very specific in calling the display 2160p, which is 100% accurate since the 2160p simply denotes the vertical pixel count (like 1080P does for Full HD 1920 x 1080). One of the fundamental problems with this monitor and the claims of 4K is that this monitor only has three HDMI ports and one VGA port (WHY OH WHY VGA?!). This is a problem because HDMI 1.4a cannot support 4K at a frame rate higher than 24 frames per second, or 24p. This means that one could theoretically expect the same or slightly better performance on a QuadHD monitor like the Seiki display.

EIZO’s 4K monitor on our test bench running our BSN+ 4K Reel

In order to remedy this 24p issue, however, one must utilize a DisplayPort 1.2 cable or HDMI 2.0 (which doesn’t technically exist within a spec, let alone physically). So, if you want to have 60 FPS for 4K gaming or high frame rate movies, you’re going to need a DisplayPort connector. The problem with this fact is that many television manufacturers are still putting HDMI in their televisions which limits their customers to only watching movies at 24 FPS and nothing more. That means you won’t be able to watch The Hobbit or any other HFR movie at the frame rate it was intended to be seen at.

In the past, we’ve tested 4K monitors for movies and for gaming in the past as well as fairly recently and we are currently testing Sharp’s QuadHD monitor for gaming as well, since it has a single DisplayPort 1.2 cable instead of two Dual-Link DVI cables. We’ll be working on bringing you QuadHD gaming performance for all of the latest graphics cards as well as applications and hope to answer any 4K or QuadHD questions you might have.