How to Tell If Your Monitor Is 4K or Check If It Can Run 4K

Are you curious about your monitor or TV’s resolution? Can your monitors support 4K gaming? TVs larger than 40 inches have 4K resolutions, and more and more content is being shot in 4K. This article will explain what 4K is, how different it is to the conventional 1080p resolution, and how to tell if your monitor is 4K.

What is 4K Ultra HD?

4K Ultra HD pertains to any of the two high-definition screen resolutions. The more common 4K Ultra HD pixel resolution is 3840×2160 pixels (meaning there are almost four thousand pixels across the screen, thus “4K”), having double the pixel columns and rows of a 1080p resolution (1920×1080) and quadruple the total number of pixels given the same aspect ratio of 16:9. But 4K Ultra HD can also mean 4096×2160 resolution, which is much less common.

Ways of finding your screen resolution

can my computer run 4k

The resolution is how many pixels there are horizontally and vertically (for example, 1920×1080). If you’ve ever asked yourself, “Can my computer handle 4K?” you can run this simple test.

Go online and to the bestfirms website – it’s a pretty straightforward way of knowing what your screen resolution is without you having to find the settings and properties section of your device. It’s a way to run 4K test: if your result says 3840×2160, it’s 4K.

Or if you’re using Windows XP, Windows 2000, Windows ME, or Windows 98: Right-click on your Desktop > Properties > Display Properties > Settings.

While for Windows 10, Windows 7, and Vista: Right-click on Desktop > Personalize > Graphics Options.

However, if your device you want to determine the resolution won’t turn on, you can look it up online. To do that, enter its complete name and model on Google search to know its specs. Usually, you can find the screen info, such as the model number behind the screen.

Another option is to look at the user manual to get complete information about the product. You can also check the manufacturer’s official website and enter the serial number or model number of your device.

And in case you’re not familiar with the common names and abbreviations for the most widely used resolutions in electronic devices, check out the following list:

  • 3840 x 2160 (UHD) 4K
  • 3200 x 1800 (QHD+)
  • 3000 x 2000 (PixelSense, MS Only)
  • 2880×1800 (Retina, Apple only)
  • 2560×1600 (Retina, Apple only)
  • 2560 x 1440 (QHD / WQHD) 2K
  • 2304 × 1440 (Retina, Apple only)
  • 2048 x 1536 (QXGA)
  • 1920 x 1200 (WUXGA)
  • 1920 x 1080 (WUXGA) Full HD
  • 1680 x 1050 (WSXGA+)
  • 1680 x 945 (WSXGA+)
  • 1680 x 900 (WSXGA+)
  • 1600 x 900 (WXGA++) HD+
  • 1600 x 1200 (UXGA)
  • 1440 x 960 (WXGA+)
  • 1440 x 900 (WXGA+)
  • 1400 x 1050 (SXGA)
  • 1366 x 768 (WXGA) HD
  • 1280 x 1024 (SXGA)
  • 1280 x 720 (SD+)
  • 1280 x 854 (WXGA)
  • 1280 x 800 (WXGA)
  • 1280 x 768 (WXGA)
  • 1152 x 768 (WXGA)
  • 1024 x 768 (XGA, outdated)
  • 1024 x 600 (WSVGA, outdated)
  • 1024 x 576 (WSVGA, outdated)
  • 800 x 600 (SVGA, outdated)
  • 640 x 480 (VGA, outdated)

You might stumble upon these abbreviations when you’re checking for the product information online.

Why It’s Hard to Tell the Difference Between 4K and HD

There are many reasons why you have difficulty distinguishing the screen quality of your new 4K TV from your older HD TV. A possibility is that the source video is not 4K, but there are some other reasons why.

You have a small TV

A larger screen size versus a smaller screen, with the same resolution, would appear to be less in quality. That’s because the resolution tells you how many pixels there are on a screen, regardless of its size.

If your TV or monitor is too small, the extra pixels won’t make such a difference in how the image looks.

Your TV needs to be calibrated.

Similar to basic monitors and gaming monitors, your TV needs some color, brightness, and contrast calibration. Usually, manufacturers do this already, but if your TV’s image quality seems lacking, you might need to do some calibration. Furthermore, it would help if you tried turning off all motion smoothing that your TV might have.

You have a cheap TV

Cheap TVs are cheap for a reason. If a TV consists of cheaper parts, no matter if it’s a 4K resolution, it won’t look better than an HD TV. Did you know that some cheaply made 4K TVs aren’t UHD? If it isn’t a UHD TV, it’s lacking in recent contrast and color technologies.

You are using RCA cables.

As opposed to using the colored jacks at the back of your TV, use an HDMI cable. RCA cables are old, with technology dating back to the ’50s. Even if some newer RCA cables can transmit high-resolution video signals without problems, they’re limited to 1080p.

High expectations

There’s a massive difference between 1080p and 4K, and the human eye shouldn’t have a hard time noticing that. If you don’t see even a tiny bit of image quality improvement, you simply might be expecting too much from your 4K monitor. 4K is a much higher resolution than 1080p, and the difference in quality should be at least noticeable, especially when you view the screen up close.

Does cable support 4K?

Cable does not support 4K yet; cable TV is limited to only 1080p. Sometimes, cable would appear different on 4K TVs because of the clearer and brighter lighting technologies, not because of the resolution difference.

Are you streaming in 4K?

Streaming platforms like Netflix and Amazon Video will say that they have 4K streaming plans, but even with these, the majority of the videos you’re streaming isn’t in 4K. It’s because most of the content on streaming services are made before 4K, lacks a 4K formal release, or doesn’t have a license for streaming platform 4K viewing.

HD Report has a complete list of Amazon Video and Netflix 4K titles. Hulu currently doesn’t have a lot of 4K content, plus you can only see it on Chromecast Ultra and Apple TV. On Netflix, you can only get 4K content if you’re subscribed to their pricier Premium Plan.

If you’re streaming content on your PC, there are more limitations such as Netflix requiring certain hardware and software for PC 4K streaming.

Are you buying or renting movies or shows from Amazon, iTunes, Vudu, or Google Play? If so, make sure you’re paying for the 4K (UHD), which would cost more than the 1080p (HD) version.

Are you watching DVD or Blu-ray Disc?

A DVD doesn’t support 4K video; the maximum resolution that a DVD can carry is 480p. So, it’s better to switch to Blu-ray if you want to get the most out of your 4K TV.

However, Blu-ray does have its limitations. Older movies aren’t 4K. And movies that used analog film (e.g., Rocky, Alien) have higher resolutions and have to be downscaled for the sake of 4K releases. In contrast, 1080p versions of movies that were shot back when digital cameras were the norm (for example, Star Wars Episode II) are super hard to find.

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