1080p vs 1440p: What’s the best gaming screen resolution in 2022?

Can we all agree that 4K and other exotic high resolutions don’t represent good value for money? After all, even if you can afford one of the best gaming monitors, you also need to consider a megabuck graphics card to enable vaguely decent frame rates on a PC. As for the latest high-end consoles, Microsoft’s Xbox Series X and Sony’s PS5, their 4K support isn’t what it’s supposed to be.

So the question is, which resolution is the best value for money for a gaming screen in 2022: 1080p or 1440p? Now, that’s a tough one, but you might find one of the best cheap gaming monitors that can accommodate you and help you decide.

Speed ​​vs fidelity

Now, the first conundrum you need to consider is whether 120Hz+ refresh is essential. To put it another way, would you prefer, say, 1440p at 60Hz or 1080p at 144Hz? If you prefer visual detail over smooth rendering and low latency, go with 1440p at 60Hz. Want your games to feel smooth and responsive and don’t mind a smoother, less photorealistic image? Choose 1080p at 144Hz.

No doubt, of course, a lot depends on the genre of game in question. If you’re into shooters and online esports exclusively, then this is a bit of a no-brainer; you want as many frames as possible. It will be 1080p, then. On the other end of the scale, if all you’re doing is playing old strategy titles like Age of Empires, well, we’d recommend a cheap 60Hz 1440p panel. You don’t really get much benefit from 360Hz. Work in progress.

Back in the mainstream, for the more typical gamer who likes more than one genre, it’s a trickier balancing act. For us the obvious answer is to go for 1440p and around 144Hz. It’s an excellent compromise between speed and response on the one hand and visual detail on the other. The point to emphasize is how much better 1440p is than 1080p. It’s not that 1080p is trash. But once you’ve seen how much more detail 1440p offers, 1080p looks a bit dated, soft and fuzzy.

Review AOC Agon AG275QXL

(Image credit: Future/Jeremy Laird)

Compromises to be made

As for pricing, you can currently squeak out around under $250 or £250 for 1440p with 144Hz if you shop around. The further down you go, of course, the more compromises you’ll have to make. What kind of compromise? Panel tech is an obvious candidate. Many cheaper monitors use VA panels rather than IPS panels. VA is not necessarily a bad thing. Indeed, it has some advantages over IPS, including superior contrast. But especially when it comes to cheaper VA panels, you’re giving up a bit when it comes to viewing angles and pixel response.

Unfortunately, the specifications quoted in this regard are not extremely reliable. All monitor manufacturers tend to quote the same viewing angles for IPS and VA panels, so that’s not helpful at all. Response ratings aren’t always completely reliable either. That said, any monitor with a quoted gray-to-gray response time of 2ms or better should be fine. Some VA monitors with 4ms ratings can be quite fast, subjectively, others not so much. With IPS, there are not the same worries. Even the cheapest IPS gaming panels tend to have at least a tolerable pixel response.

Colors and contrasts

Believe it or not, base brightness is another factor to consider. Again, the numbers quoted by the manufacturer are not entirely consistent guides. However, any monitor rated at 400 nits or higher should be bright enough, anything below 300 nits will likely be quite dim, while models that fall somewhere in between will vary widely.

As for color coverage, that’s less of an issue for games. Sure, it’s nice to have over 95% gamut coverage like AdobeRGB and DCI-P3, but that’s not a huge benefit for gaming. The same goes for HDR support; true HDR capability still costs megabucks. So if you see the likes of “HDR10” in the specs list, don’t get excited. This doesn’t mean the display will be HDR compatible, it just means it can process an HDR signal.

ASUS VP28UQG Gaming Monitor

(Image credit: ASUS)

All important prizes…

As for how these panel quality factors should influence your choice between 1080p and 1440p, well, it goes like this: 1440p monitors are inherently more expensive. So if your budget is really tight, you might have to choose between a brighter 1080p model and a darker 1440p display. Or maybe a low-end 1440p VA panel with questionable pixel response and a higher quality 1080p IPS option. To some extent, you can also apply this reflection to the refresh rate. For a given budget, you’ll get a higher refresh rate with the 1080p option.

Ultimately, there are no easy answers. But as a rule of thumb, we’d lean towards 1440p. Taking refresh rate as an obvious example, your returns start to decrease above 144Hz. We would much, much rather have 1440p and 144Hz than 1080p and 240Hz, for example. We’d also lean towards a 1440p dimmer panel on a brighter 1080p monitor.

Acer Predator XB253QGX

(Image credit: future)

It’s also worth keeping in mind when making this comparison that 1440p is generally much nicer than 1080p for general computing tasks. This gives you more desktop space to work with. And it makes fonts crisper and clearer.

That said, one thing you shouldn’t have to worry about is connectivity. Even cheaper monitors tend to have both DisplayPort and HDMI connectivity and given that we’re not talking ultra-high resolution compatibility will be wide whether you want to connect to a PC or are looking for an Xbox Series monitor X.

So there you have it, our case for 1440p over 1080p. There will always be exceptions, but we would go for 1440p.

Looking for a different kind of gaming screen? Check out our guides on best gaming tv, best tv for ps5and best 120hz 4k tv.

Edward N. Arrington