Here at Evatech we’ve watched as 4K monitors have slowly but surely done two three things, get better, get cheaper, gain popularity. But is it a good time to invest yet? Well if this is what your thinking, there is a few questions you have to ask yourself first.
Can my GPU support 4K? For a list of Nvidia GPU’s that can output 4K click here. The majority of modern video cards have some form of 4K support but do a bit of homework you’ll find only some aren’t really built for the task. Some lack the power to push that many pixels to the screen and some lack display outputs required to push 4K at 60Hz.
What do I expect when it comes to performance? If your a gamer, and your hoping for a smooth 4K experience in any modern games at high end settings you better be ready to make a major investment in GPUs. Lets take the latest AAA title to make it’s way to PC, GTA V. At 4K on Ultra pre-sets your looking at constant sub 30FPS drops on a GTX 980 and even with two in SLI you will still be getting drops as low as 29FPS. On the otherhand, if you can dial the settings down and do away with some of the higher resolution textures and fancy effects, a playable 45FPS average can be found at mid to high pre-sets on a single GTX 980.
If your not a gamer and your work-flow could benefit from the extra pixel real-estate on offer in a 4K monitor, then it’s a different story. Programmers, artists, designers, audio producers and almost anything that isn’t heavy on the GPU will still perform just fine at 4K.
Whats the real return on investment? If your coming from a 1080P or lower display, 4K is going to absolutely glorious. you will notice it immediately and it will be hard to ever go back, but if your already running a 1440P or higher display then it’s really less of a jump. The extra pixels are still there but the physical size of monitor makes it harder to utilize the extra space without visual elements becoming to small to read or interact with.
Should a gamer with a modest rig buy a 4k monitor today? Not just yet, hold on to your pennies until you can afford the GPU power needed to get you the performance you hope for, and by then 4K monitors might be even cheaper again.
Should a gamer with a GTX980 or higher buy a 4k monitor today? If you find a one at a good price and your not already running a 1440P monitor, sure. But be prepared to make a few sacrifices when it comes game quality settings here and there or invest in a second GPU to achieve a smooth frame rate.
Should a non-gamer, programmer, designer, producer etc.. buy a 4k monitor today? Again, if your already running a 1440P display it really depends on how well the software suite you work with will make use of the extra pixels. You might find it makes all the difference in the world, or maybe not. But if $700-$1000 is a reasonable ‘business’ expense for the potential productive gain, now is a good of a time as any to give 4k a shot.