Move over 1080p; the latest crop of graphics cards from NVidia can play games in 4K at very high settings, making it seem worthwhile to check out 4K monitors to enjoy games in eye-watering high resolution.
However, despite the immense power of NVidia’s graphics cards like the GTX 1080, it’s still not worth buying a 4K monitor for gaming, at least not yet. Here’s why:
Upgrading more often.
Despite its sheer power, playing games in 4K still stretches the $600 GTX 1080’s capabilities. For example, I can play an extremely taxing game like “The Division” in 4K with all graphics settings set to “Ultra” at around 30-40 frames-per-second (fps).
That’s totally fine…for now. Three or so years down the line when game developers add even more insane amounts of detail and effects to games, that frame rate is going to drop to the point where gameplay will become choppy and unenjoyable to play.
The solution? Buy a new high-end graphics card every time games start getting choppy at 4K. However, that means dropping several hundreds of Dollars every few years, which may be more often than your budget can handle.
The more realistic and economic solution would be to play games at a lower resolution, like 1080p or 1440p, where the GTX 1080 will still be able to handle games with all the settings set to “Ultra” for many, many years to come.
You might say that the GTX 1080 graphics card is overkill for playing games at “mere” 1080p or 1440p. However, as I mentioned above, it’s no less fun to play games at lower resolutions. Plus, it means I don’t need to spend a ton of money every few years on a new graphics card.
Basically, it’s worth buying graphics cards that are overkill for lower resolutions rather than a card that can just about handle 4K today.
After a few weeks of 4K gaming, I went back to my paltry $150 1080p monitor to see how much of a difference gaming in 4K made.
Unfortunately, gaming in 4K really didn’t feel that much better: I had just as much fun using the cheap 1080p monitor as I did on the 4K Predator with all the bells and whistles. I didn’t play any better and I didn’t see my enemies faster or further away as I did with my 1080p monitor.
Don’t get me wrong. The Predator is a beautiful monitor, and playing games in 4K resolution with the Acer Predator monitor is fantastic. However, it also costs $1,200, largely due to the fact that it’s a huge 32-inch 4K monitor, and the G-Sync technology itself adds a sizable premium to the price tag.
Yet, I’d feel a little disappointed that I spent over $1,000 on a monitor and didn’t have noticeably more fun or an obvious advantage. The cost of a 4K gaming monitor relative to the satisfaction and benefit it provided simply didn’t match.
By the way, this isn’t specific to the Acer Predator, as I’d feel the same way with any 4K G-Sync monitor from any company. And, of course, the Acer Predator I’ve been using is a premium monitor that’s at the top-end of the price range, and you can find less expensive 4K monitors out there that will do a great job.
I must say, however, that NVidia’s G-Sync technology does make a difference for smoother gameplay. I did notice that gameplay on my 1080p monitor without G-Sync wasn’t quite as smooth. Those with costly gaming computer and a powerful graphics card may find it worthwhile to invest in a G-Sync monitor.
When will it be worth to buy a 4K monitor for gaming?
When graphics card become so powerful that you can say they’re overkill for 4K. Then, at least, you’ll be able to play future games in 4K several years down the line instead of buying a new one every few years.
Of course, you could wait for the updated XBox One or PS4, which will supposedly support 4K if you’re desperate to get the 4K experience. But no true PC gamer with 4K dreams will move to a console.
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