107 replies on What do the 720p, 1080p, 1440p, 2K, 4K resolutions mean? What are the aspect ratio & orientation?

  1. Chris says:


    “A progressive display paints all the odd lines first, then all the even lines.”

    Btw, I appreciate the site

    • Ciprian Adrian Rusen says:

      Thanks Chris but I still don’t see the typo. Maybe I’m too sleepy right now. Can you point out where is the mistake?

      • Chris says:

        It should read:

        “An INTERLACED display paints all the odd lines first, then all the even lines.”

    • They call me Richard says:

      You left out Ultra Wide aspect ratio 32:9

  2. David says:

    Another typo. The sentence “In a progressive scan, the lines are painted on the screen in sequence rather than first the odd lines and first the even lines.” should read: “In a progressive scan, the lines are painted on the screen in sequence rather than first the odd lines and THEN the even lines.”

  3. Scott says:

    Great article. Thanks.

  4. Marte Brengle says:

    I’m glad you liked the article.

  5. Zack says:

    Could somebody watch 1080p videos on an iPhone 6 that has a resolution of 1334 x 750? If so, how is this possible? Is it the phone that has to be 1080p or the video recorded in 1080p? Sorry for the confusion and thank you in advance.

    • Martin says:

      Sorry, but I do not know the answer. After reading your question, however, I am intrigued to know the answer as well. I imagine Ciprian Adrian Rusen would know the answer?

    • Ciprian Adrian Rusen says:

      You can watch 1080p videos on a smaller resolution. But, the video will be scaled down at the resolution supported by the display. You won’t see 1080p, you will see the resolution that your display offers.

    • Ciprian Adrian Rusen says:

      Both have to be 1080p. You can stream 1080p video on a lower resolution device but you see the clip at the resolution of the device.

  6. Alex says:

    This has absolutely no affect on color at all, right? If I render out a video in both 1080p and 1080i, the only difference is how the lines come across the screen?

  7. Omar Alshalan says:

    Good morning everyone,

    I have a question. If I watch a 1080p movie on 1080p TV (Or 4K movie on 4K TV), on my computer that has a 720p display, so is it run as 1080p (Or 4K) or just as 720p?

    Thank You 🙂

  8. ron007 says:

    Your review is limited to the current market of LCD monitors.

    10 years back, I had a high end 4:3 19″ CRT that was running at 25?? x ???? resolution. Frankly, I was seriously annoyed when I “upgraded” to a LCD monitor after the “magic smoke escaped” from the CRT. The LCD was such a huge step down in image quality and resolution from the CRT. I really wish I could go back …

  9. Steve Green says:

    I notice at the opening of the article you’re using a screen grab of a Commodore 64, and saying that it’s a CGA display. That’s incorrect. CGA was developed by IBM for PCs, whilst the C64 uses a video signal generated by the VIC-II chip.

  10. W.J.R. Halyn says:

    Well, after seeing the minor typo corrections suggested above, I am still impressed by the clarity of the overall writing, and the lack of common spelling and grammatical errors that are so common on so many sites nowadays. It was a relief to read clear, technically-oriented material that not once confused plural/possessives, misused (or abused) apostrophes, or screwed up acronyms and less-commonly-used terms. Kudos for your writing skills.
    And the rest of the article had the details & technical info I was looking for.

    Oh, except for one thing… you might want to add the total pixel count for each of the 5 resolutions you listed… for instance: “720p = 1280 x 720 [921,600 pixels] – is usually known as… “. I added the total pixel count (TPC) for each one, and it was interesting to note that although the resolutions step up by significant fractions, the TPC counts roughly double, and eventually quadruple, as screens get ever finer resolutions.

  11. Martin says:

    You forgot to mention one more confusing issue – pixel aspect ratio. For example, the mp4 videos from my Sony Alpha camera come in resolution 1440×1080, but they are still FullHD because the frame ratio is still 16:9. It’s just a special tag in video file that tells the player that the frames should be stretched to match 1920 horizontal pixels. This is called anamorphic pixel ratio and 1.3333 is often used in many video files. Essentially, pixels are stretched horizontally which leads to less pixels = less file or stream size = easier encoding/decoding = slightly worse quality but most people don’t really notice that they are being cheated.

    It makes things confusing but clears up the cases when you see that your file information shows 1440×1080 but you see that it is played back as 1920×1080.

  12. Jatnika says:

    I wanna know what is the cause that the video can’t play on higher resolution than 1080HD? The streaming is moving and the sound is out but the picture is not moving? is it related to my system? anyway I’m watching this from my pc.

  13. Jed118 says:

    You’re insinuating that the Windows startup screen looked bad “even in CGA” after describing a resolution that CGA did not support. CGA is 320x200x4 – I’ve only ever once seen Windows in CGA mode, and it was by way of Windows 3.0. While it did look awful, it was not VGA at all. Hell, I’d settle for EGA in terms of GUI usability.

  14. James27876 says:

    Thank you for this tutorial! It cleared all my questions about displays.

  15. Annette says:

    This was SO helpful! I am working with images on a BrightSign player and this really helped me understand how I need to configure my widgets and zones.

  16. memon says:

    what is the maximum and usual resolution of lcd .led and plasma screen

  17. KEONG says:

    Does Monitor resolution affect the recording ?
    I am try record my game play on my monitor. the graphic look fine on when i play and record it down with high quality. but when upload it to youtube i only get a 720p quality. is it because my monitor is a 1366×768?

    • Anonymous says:

      Yes. Your recording will have the resolution of your monitor. If your monitor is not 1080p, you cannot record a gaming session at 1080p.

  18. rebecca ray says:

    My church projector is set at a 16:9 ratio. How do I make my presentations so that they will show full screen without the black bars on side or bottom?

    • Ross says:

      According to what I read in the post your computer is set to a 16:9 ratio but your projectors are 16:10. I found this post while researching a solution to the same situation. Projector native resolution is 4:3 but shows a max resolution of 1920 X 1200 which is a 16:10 ratio. Projectors are Panasonic PT – EX610

  19. Jay says:

    It’s not called 4K because it’s “4 times the resolution of FHD”, it’s called 4K because DCI 4K resolution is near 4000 pixels wide, 4096 to be exact. UHD isn’t “real” 4K because it’s not quite as wide as cinema 4K, but it’s so close that TV and monitor manufactures picked up the nomenclature “4K UHD”.

    Pretty basic stuff, kind of shocked a site that dubs itself “Digital Citizen” doesn’t know this…

    • Ciprian Adrian Rusen says:

      That statements should have said “four times the pixels of FHD,” not resolution. Thanks for pointing out this mistake. We fixed it.

  20. Midoriya says:

    Great article! Can you update it to include information on 21:9 / Ultra-Wide displays?

  21. Saeed hafezi says:

    Is it right to claim that 1920*1080 system is the most common type in broadcasting in these days,I.e. year 2018????

  22. Ananth Karuppasamy says:

    You are saying the number always refers to the number of HORIZONTAL lines on the display. If so 1920×1080 defines 1920 horizontal lines and 1080 VERTICAL lines. so how we can called as 1080p?

  23. Gary says:

    Woo hoo

  24. Noyon says:

    Thank you so much. The article is very useful.

  25. Randy Hlavaty says:

    Hi there I was reading this article cuz I was curious about different resolutions in this display properties the reason I’m asking this is because a friend of mine a girlfriend ex seem like she has tweaked out my displays on my television and my devices so the people on the screen can see me such as like on YouTube and different programs I guess a lot of programs maybe on the TV and is that even possible but it sure seems like it is the way that the people react to me would like on YouTube whenever I’m watching if I do something make a certain movement or something make them laugh and different things and I just don’t know if I’m going crazy or is this if so how can I prevent this all of my devices are smart devices I have a Panasonic TV Samsung and Samsung devices so I don’t really understand what’s going on with this I would like to get it soft if it is possible for someone to do that curious to hear what you had to say on that subjectc

  26. digafe says:

    hi gentle men I was read your description given on kiosk resolutions.Thanks But I have question on resolution and orientation(landscape and portrait)
    1.is there relation between resolution and orientation?
    2.is there different between resolution 1920*1080 and 1080*1920?
    3.please give me brief relation about resolution and orientation?

    • Ciprian Adrian Rusen says:

      The 1920×1080 resolution is the same as 1080×1920; you just orient the screen differently. The first is for a horizontal screen, while the second is for a vertical display.

  27. Joi says:

    What is recommended screen dimension for 4k?

  28. prathima says:

    In a video is can we give both 4:3 & 16:9 Aspect ratio

  29. Saksham says:

    This was superb! Thank you for making it so clear.

  30. anounymous says:

    Very nice article

  31. Jaheed says:

    Heartfelt thanks. Abstruse things simply explained.

  32. Glenn Byerly says:

    My laptop is 1920 x 1080. The new Surface Go is 3 x 2 aspect ratio, so 1800 x 1200. How will a remote connection to my laptop from a Surface go display? Will I be able to view the entire laptop screen without scrolling in any direction?
    And what happens on the 2018 iPad ($329 model), which has a higher resolution than my laptop?

    • Anonymous says:

      You can set the remote connection app to use a display resolution that looks good on your laptop.

  33. Amandeep Grover says:

    If i have an Image of Different size or Ratio and Try to display on a screen with Different Ratio but i want it to be use Full screen rather showing Black Space what needs to be done ?

  34. "2K" just isn't used (any longer) says:

    I’ve been in the industry a long time, and unfortunately the current colloquial usage of “2K” has morphed into what FHD is (or the 1/4 “4K”).

    We can blame this cluster-F on the TV industry who simply will not listen to what’s been hammered out over time for terminology.

    You list “2K” as two different resolutions (2048×1080, and 2048×1536). Neither is used, particularly the former.

    Where the TV and monitor industry YET AGAIN locked horns was this concept of identifying a monitor first by vertical resolutions and then switching to horizontal resolutions. Oy, did that confuse the public. What they first knew of as 1080 (vertical) was now called colloquially being called 2K (it’s 1920 across) because 4K now meant 3840 across (instead of the original 4096, just shoot me). So “2K” no longer means (it rarely did anyway) 2048 across.

    Ugh. Ugh. Ugh. What a mess!

    So at the very least, I’d suggest one of three things:
    1. Punt the 2048×1080 reference. I’ve never seen it used in practice, and I don’t think it’s used unless it’s a half-driven 4096x monitor.
    2. Put a strong reference in there that 2K resolutions are a source of confusion—-people are viewing it has the FHD (full HD, or just now HD) resolution of 1920×1080.
    3. Pull all reference to 2K out all together and stick to 1080p. It would be like referring to the 5K monitors that show up. Oye.

    Otherwise people might end up having entirely the wrong conversation with the grunts at Best Buy.

    Otherwise, thanks for the article.

    • Anonymous says:

      Thanks for sharing your feedback. We will definitely take it into consideration for future updates to this article. Appreciate!

  35. Sam says:

    Your explanation has been very helpful. However, Please give more in depth explanation about how the pixel density is related with the screen resolution, especially how it becomes relevant with screen resolution when making a choice of a display

  36. Gabriel says:

    I currently have a 17 inch laptop with resolution 1600 X 900.
    Is a 15 inch screen with resolution 1366 x 768 about equal?

  37. Massey Jones says:

    That must be the simplest and best technical explanation around!!

  38. Lubos says:

    I want to thank you. This article is easy to read, highly informative and written with excellent language skills.
    There is no comparison with most of the info on Internet, you easily won. When someone will ask me my recommendation for website with info about all things digital, digitalcitizen.life is going to be my answer.
    Thank you again.

    • Anonymous says:

      Thank you very much for appreciating our work. It keeps us motivated to continue doing it. 😉

  39. steve sonneveld says:

    thanks for article -well documented and clear.
    is it possible to upgrade a DVI /hdmi output from one computer windows 7 of lower resolution to a higher resolution
    eg 1280×1024 to 1920×1080
    I have a dvi output from a windows based ultrasound and trying to copy on usb recorder which accepts input 1080 60 hz
    steve sonneveld

  40. Linda Pinch says:

    i am trying to fix the color on computer

  41. Gabriel Bakker says:

    I’m surely not the first to point this out, but all your information about CGA is wrong in this article!!!!!

    Your image of parrots is EGA, which is WAY better then CGA. CGA could only do 4 colors, while EGA went up to 16 colors. There was no green or blue or Red in CGA, only Cyan, Yellow, Magenta, White, and Black.

    The max resolution for CGA was 320 x 200. So the statement that the old Windows Loading screen at 640 x 480 would look ugly even on a CGA monitor is wrong too. It wouldn’t even run on a CGA monitor because CGA doesn’t support 640 x 480.

    In fact, i’m pretty sure Windows 3.1 required VGA (though its possible it worked under EGA as well). But back when people used CGA monitors there was no such thing as Windows.

    • Anonymous says:

      Thank you for the feedback Gabriel. In the coming weeks, we are going to work on improving the accuracy of this article. Appreciate!

  42. Ace says:

    How many “k” can the human eye see? 16k?

  43. Techguy says:

    I have 1366*768 monitor should i download 720p or 1080p movies

    • Anonymous says:

      No need. If you have to pick between the two, pick 720p. It is enough to provide you with great clarity. 😉

  44. I had a 2K monitor back in 2001 says:

    A lot of CRT monitors had 2K (2048z1536) back in the day (see name).

    • example says:

      2K refers to a few things:
      4:3 ratio is 2048×1536, usually crt
      Cinema is 2048×1080
      16:9 ratio is 2048×1152, usually lcd
      sometimes refer to Full High Definition 1920×1080

  45. Paul Brown says:

    Actually I’ve been 40 years in Enterprise IT. My first PC (pc’s were a hobby ran parallel to my career) was a Tandy Mod I with a green phosphor screen 60 x 24 lines.

    I appreciated your overview all the more because it didn’t boggle my mind. It helped me put a more coherent picture (no pun) together.

  46. Earl T says:

    What happens when you connect a Full HD video card to a monitor that handles higher resolution (1440p or 4K)? Does it render the FHD image full screen?

  47. Milliam says:

    Wow, this explanation was quite great and complete.
    this really impressed me.
    thank you very much

  48. Kelly S says:

    Thanks for the great article! I really appreciated all the information.
    One question that I was hoping to be answered was “What Television resolution would be best used for a large monitor?” 1080p or 4K, or what?

  49. HC says:

    Does 8k have a nickname yet like others do with Full, Quad, and Ultimate?

  50. Davis says:

    Can someone upgrade his/her screen resolution?

  51. Farhan Ashraf says:

    If a customer is asking for 1280 x 1020 resolution (as its only avaible in square shape )in computer LED
    Then how can we justify if we quote LED resolution with 1366 x 786 (wide screen) ….please help

  52. Wendy says:

    I’m looking for a new small TV about 24 or 28″. Some say Picture Quality 50hz, others say 200ppi. Which is better?

  53. Peter says:

    This is very insteresting. Thx!

  54. Ivar says:

    I have a FHD monitor (1920x1080p) with 16:9 Pixel Aspect Ratio (PAR),
    But I like to play an old game and I’m used to playing it in 4:3 PAR.
    So I changed my standard monitor settings from Full Screen(16:9) to 4:3 by TV’s remote control and it worked.
    After that I checked my desktop settings and it stayed at 1920x1080p,
    After that I even checked my ingame settings and it also stayed at 1920x1080p, so it works right??
    I also tried to change my ingame settings from 1920x1080p to 1440x1080p, PAR stayed the same but I think there is a difference in the quality of resolution BUT I AM NOT SURE!
    So my question here is: Is it really possible to play in 1920x1080p resolution on a 4:3 PAR monitor settings or my eyes are just tricking my into thinking it is the same but my game really changes the resolution to 1440x1080p without my knowing??
    To simplify my question:Is it possible to pair 1920x1080p resolution with 4:3 Pixel Aspect Ratio?
    Thanks in forward!

  55. Todd Smith says:

    How come I can’t view a 1080p video on my 720p Motorola g6 play?

  56. ROGER D LEAHEY says:

    I would like to buy a large monitor (27 – 30″) that can match my great new LG GRAM 17″ laptop display which has a resolution of 2560X1600 (WQXGA). I thought I could easily select a 2560X1600 monitor. However, a monitor with this resolution costs over $1,000. I do see monitors in the $600 range with resolutions of 3840X2160 16:09, but can I connect one of these to my PC? I suppose I will keep the PC at it’s recommended resolution (2560X166, which is the highest I can select), but I have no idea what the external monitor will look like if I do.

    • ROGER D LEAHEY says:

      Yes! I have solved this puzzle with the help of a chat with CDW computers. In fact, I consider myself now to be a subject matter expert. I will give details if anyone is interested.

  57. Trig Simon says:

    Will a video shot with a 1920 x 1080 camera produce a better picture than a video shot with a 1280 x 720 camera when it all gets reduced down to a DVD with a 1280 x 720 format? I think I saw the difference, but do not know if it is a fact.

  58. dennis says:

    article’s discussion of resolution and larger screens comes up short. Is a large screen with 1280×1024 look less sharp than a smaller screen with 1280×1024. The pixel area is the same therefore spreading it over a larger screen would make it less sharp. Yes or no Explain

  59. Tim says:

    Hi. I am huge into emulation and im currently emulating my sega dreamcast but since it was a 90s system and im using a 16:9 screen 768p. im not sure what resolution i should put my emulator on because all the scaling options are 4:3 options. It allows me to ” fit to screen” so the games i play covers the whole screen but idk what the 4:3 equivalent 1080p, 900p, 768p, or 720p are.

  60. Hector Hernandez says:

    I am very grateful for such a broad and clear explanation, I am a new fan of the video, and with your lesson, I clarified many things I did not know.
    Thank you so much!

  61. Rama Krishna Vada says:

    Very much thankful for the info for which I’ve looking for.

  62. Devesh tanwar says:

    Does the large sized monitors (28/29 inches) or tvs have high resolution only or we can have low resolutions large size monitors like 720p or 1080p.

  63. Matt says:

    Apple II had colour as far back as 1977, 4 years before CGI was introduced. Also there were other colour computers and arcade games of the era that had a better colour palette which wasn’t a complete eye-sore as CGA graphics HAHA :-).

  64. Marie Robinson says:

    Very helpful article for someone who knows nothing about computers!! This really helped me determine what I would like in a laptop!

  65. Mark says:

    Just letting you know that this article was INCREDIBLY helpful. Thanks for explaining everything in a way that I can understand. And going into enough detail that I learned a lot.

  66. BionicPenguin54 says:

    i loved it thanks mate:)

  67. Micheal says:

    Great write-up

  68. Regine says:

    Hi, i am going to shoot an animation for a short movie. The director told me, We are using 1920 X1080 pixels. i plan to shoot the animation with a still camera, horizontal of course and i wonder what will people see from the paper after it is cut to the right proportions by the editor? It will be edited to 1920 X 1080…. if on my paper i use 20″ as an horizontal bar, how high need the image go? Thank you I hope my question is not too confusing and english is not my first language, i hope it is not too bad.

    • Regine says:

      I got the answer I needed. thank you for the article!
      Sorry i clicked three times, it kept saying i did not answer the security questions right. too many cars, crossing paths etc…. with blurry images. i thought it did not go through.

  69. Jack says:

    What does this mean and which one is better?
    My monitor spec:
    Computer inputs on HDMI1 – up to 4K UHD 3840x 2160 @30Hz
    Computer inputs on HDMI2/3 – up to 4K UHD 3840x 2160 @60Hz

  70. Riyas says:

    Its good to see so much information about display in one place.

    I am a software tester for a windows based application, we faced High DPI issue for our application in windows 10 machine, also we are not satisfied with solution provided by Microsoft.

    Our developer fixed this High DPI issue for our application. I am searching for suggestions to optimize the testing time.

    How to test this with all the resolution and scaling optimally?
    Can we skip some resolutions for testing?

    Is it possible to ensure just by testing in few resolution and scaling? or all the combination needs to be tested?

  71. Mr martintheveg Modlin says:

    Well i`m definitely thick when it comes to this type of thing but i certainly learnt more than i knew before so thanks for the article.
    I have a problem and no matter how many sellers of monitors or on line questions i ask i still do not understand what HD monitor i need to buy for my newly installed cctv 2 camera system with a dvr via hdmi cable. My cheap system (dvr) has written that i must use a tv (monitor) in HD and capable of displaying 720p or 1080p video. The 2 cameras are at the moment displaying on my sony bravo (older)tv on 1080 and the picture is just what we wanted, perfect for watching our front driveway and gate. The confusing thing for me is all these different numbers of monitors i am looking to purchase on line, i just need a cheap monitor around 12″ in Hd and to display 1080p via hdmi, Can anybody give me simple recommendations please, preferably via amazon uk or ebay uk or uk on line store, thanks people for any help and advice, martintheveg, Beckenham, Kent UK.

  72. Tony says:

    As part of a promotional action for my photography business I want to offer somne free downloads of images to use as wallpapers for computers, laptops, mobile devices etc. If I take one image and offer it in the most common resolutions for different devices, would that be the best approach to take or should I be consider some other way to approach this?

  73. Peter says:

    Thanks very much for this article. I am looking for a new external monitor and realised that I needed to consider my Graphics Processor before selecting one. I am using a motherboard mounted NVidea GeForce RTX 2060. I looked for reviews on this on line and found a few but only the gaming aspects were considered and reviewed. I do not play games but need the computer for office type work or hobbies which include photography and some CAD work. There are lots of monitors available but they will only be suitable ifkthe graphics card is capable. Where can I find aa review with a broader st of topics covered – something akin to reviews of monitors?

    • Ciprian Adrian Rusen says:

      Your graphics card is powerful enough to work with just about any monitor, no matter how large.

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