720p, 1080p, 1440p, 2K, 4K, 5K, 8K: Display Resolution Explained

by | 21 Dec 2019

From smartphones to laptops to computer monitors to TVs, the display resolution numbers are everywhere. From 5-inch smartphone displays to 50-inch TV display, these numbers are slapped together with pretty-much any digital display you can think about.

In this guide, we have addressed some of the most common misconceptions and questions regarding digital display resolutions. For example, below are few commonly asked questions:

  1. What’s the difference between 2K and 4K?
  2. What’s the difference between qHD and QHD?
  3. Is 2K twice the size of 4K?
  4. Is 1080p 1K?
  5. What are the different resolutions and what do they actually mean?

If you had any of the above questions, we have tried to answer all of them here and some more as well.

What is Screen Resolution?

Resolution is the number of pixels on a display or screen. A single pixel, the smallest unit to measure the display resolutions, is a tiny dot on the screen often no visible individually to the naken human eye. The more the number of pixels, the higher the sharpness of the display. But interestingly, only having a higher resolution does not make for a great display but that is for another article. There are a lot of factors such as dynamic range, color reproduction, etc. which also determine the quality of the display.

Here’s a cheat sheet for display resolutions, if you do not want to get into the technicalities:

ResolutionPixels
540p / qHD960×540 pixels
720p / HD1280×720 pixels
1080p / Full HD / FHD19201080 pixels
2K2048×1080 pixels
1440p / QHD / QuadHD / WQHD2560×1440 pixels
2160p / UHD3840×2160 pixels
4K4096×2160 pixels
5K5120×2880 pixels
8K / 8K UHD7680×4320 pixels

540p / qHD

qHD, often confused with QHD, is actually 1/4th of the HD resolutions. By today’s standards, even an HD resolution is considered as very bad. It has 4 times lesser pixels than a 1080p display resolution. The typical qHD resolution is 960 x 540 pixels. It is also called as 540p.

720p / HD

HD has to be the most (mis)used marketing term on the planet earth. You see a lot of resolutions named qHD, QuadHD, QHD, FHD, Ultra HD. HD, short of High Definition, is often associated to anything that is marketed as higher quality. For now, let’s see what the ‘HD’ actually means.

1280 x 720 pixels is the HD Resolution. It is more commonly referred to as 720p.

1080p / Full HD / FHD

1920 x 1080 pixels is the Full HD Resolution. It is also called as FHD and 1080p. 1080p displays pack over 2 million pixels which is about twice as much of the “HD” resolution.

2K is NOT QHD and vice versa.

2K

2K refers to a resolution where the larger of the pixel measurements is over 2000 pixels. A typical 2K resolution is 2048 × 1080 pixels. Basically it’s a 1080p display with a wider aspect ratio. 2K is therefore not quite the same as QHD, and in fact, QHD is better. But QHD is often confused with 2K resolution.

1440p / QHD / QuadHD / WQHD

2560 x 1440 pixels is the QuadHD resolution. 1440p resolution contains 2 times the pixels of the “HD” resolution (which is 4 million pixels) and hence the name “QuadHD”. All of the above-mentioned names refer to the same screen resolution.

The QHD also has an aspect ratio of 16:9 which is considered wide and hence some manufacturers choose to put the “W” in front of it to indicate it is WIDE, making it the “WQHD”.

2160p / UHD

UHD features a 16:9 aspect ratio and is twice the resolution of full HD. In other words, two times 1080p, two times 1920 x 1080 pixels, that is 3840 x 2160 pixels. Having the same 16:9 aspect ratio means it is backward compatible with other HD derivates. However, both 4K and UHD can be shortened to 2160p to match the HD standard and therefore, companies use the terms interchangeably.

4K

If you think 4K and UHD are one and the same, I don’t blame you. I blame the companies that LOVE to use them interchangeably all the time. You pick up a Blu-Ray movie disc of a 4K movie and you will most definitely see an Ultra HD label on it. 4K is actually not a consumer display and broadcast standard but UHD is. 4K displays are used in professional production and digital cinemas and feature 4096 x 2160 pixels.

5K

5K resolution is not a commonly used display standard. There are only a bunch of devices (that I know of). 5K describes a display resolution of 5120 x 2880 pixels and it is mostly found in Apple’s 27-inch iMac display. LG’s 27-inch Ultrafine 5K monitor also outputs at 5120 x 2880.

8K / 8K UHD

7680 × 4320 pixels is the resolution for 8K. As for 8K UHD resolution displays, they have an aspect ratio of 16:9. All digital displays or images with a width or higher pixel value of approximately 8000 pixels have an 8K resolution. At this level of resolution, the naked human eyes will not be able to notice the individual pixels at all and the display looks very clear as no dots are visible to the eyes.

Display Resolutions and Use Cases

Below are a few use cases of the resolutions:

Resolution nameOther namesDevices
8K8K UHDTVs
“Cinema” 4K4KProjectors
UHD4K, Ultra HD, Ultra-High DefinitionTVs, monitors, smartphones
2KnoneProjectors
WUXGAWidescreen Ultra Extended Graphics ArrayMonitors, projectors
1080pFull HD, FHD, HD, High DefinitionTVs, monitors, smartphones
720pHD, High DefinitionTVs, Smartphones

The below image should give you an idea of how big the difference is between various display types.

display-resolution-sizes

I hope this article helped you figure your way around the gazillion display resolutions and terminologies that are available today.

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