4K gaming is statistically insignificant | PCGamesN

4K gaming is statistically insignificant

4K gaming

Nearly 40% of Steam gamers are rocking a 1080p screen, but there aren’t enough 4K monitors in Valve's gaming survey to warrant their own entry.

Read more: check out our guide to the best gaming monitors around right now.

Because I’m a super-exciting sort of human, the life and soul of parties, regular after-dinner speaker and general raconteur, I spend a lot of time each month pouring over the Steam Hardware Survey. The latest guide to all things Steam-y and hard-wearing shows that while 37.37% of the people who submitted to Valve probing their gaming PC are running 1080p displays there are so few people rocking a 4K monitor that it comes under the ‘other’ category.

Maybe because I spend a lot of time in some sort of high-end gaming echo-chamber, where monitor and graphics card manufacturers are falling over themselves to prove they’re the ones capable of capturing the 4K lightning, I thought UltraHD gaming was ‘a thing’. But it seems not.

Obviously we’re only just getting graphics cards capable of delivering more than a slideshow at 3840 x 2160, and both those GPUs and the 4K monitors plugged into them are rather pricey. So yeah, it’s no surprise it’s a niche of gamers, but the fact it’s so statistically insignificant maybe is.

What’s perhaps even more surprising though is just how few people are sporting shiny 1440p monitors on their desktops. Only 1.31% of the people who responded to the survey have a primary desktop res of 2560 x 1440 and even though we’re in prime GPU release territory at the moment - with all the graphics cards under the sun getting released - Steam’s only showing month-on-month growth of 0.07%.

Best gaming monitor

That’s surely set to change though as even mainstream GPUs are now capable of producing decent gaming frame rates on a 1440p panel. There’s also the fact the Steam Hardware Survey is format agnostic, in that it lumps desktop and notebook hardware into one survey. There are going to be 120Hz 1440p panels arriving in the new Pascal-powered gaming laptops from the likes of Asus and MSI which ought to help those numbers rise too.

So, what’s going on with your desktop? Are you a super-elite gamer with a 4K monitor or would you rather, y’know, actually have decent gaming frame rates?

Subnautica
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Shriven avatarRuneclaw69 avatarPixelMunk avatarBelimawr avatarxNuke avatarhahnchen avatar+5
Runeclaw69 Avatar
175
1 Year ago

Right now I am playing at 1080p, but my next monitor will be 1440p and ultra wide.

At this time, I do not feel any need to get a 4K monitor.

2
PixelMunk Avatar
27
1 Year ago

The problem is not that 4k is irrelevant, it all boils down to price. I have a 1440 144 hz monitor with gsync, which cost me about $500. I love it, but the 144 hz is now more important to me than the resolution. As of my knowledge 4k monitors do not offer this refresh rate at a reasonable price. Not only that but running games at max settings a 4k still requires pretty significant hardware. I run sli titan x's and games like witcher 3 will still bring my rig to its knees at 4k. So until the hardware is priced to sell it will be "irrelevant" to the masses.

2
Dave James Avatar
591
1 Year ago

Absolutely agree about the refresh rate over resolution! Love 120Hz+ panels.

3
PixelMunk Avatar
27
1 Year ago

2k gaming is the sweet spot right now.

3
Premchand Avatar
55
1 Year ago

you talk about monitors being too expensive and you have 2 titan x's ... ok then

2
PixelMunk Avatar
27
1 Year ago

Most people do not spend the kind of money I do on PC hardware, so for most that is expensive. Think before you speak.

0
Matanuska Avatar
96
1 Year ago

Oh, I'm one of the ones who participated in that survey. I've had a 1440p monitor for two years, though I just upgraded two months ago to a new 1440p monitor with gsync and 144hz refresh rate. Can't imagine going to 4k in the next couple of years. Maybe 2020.

2
PixelMunk Avatar
27
1 Year ago

Couldn't agree more, like I said to Dave James 2k monitors are the sweet spot for gaming atm.

2
xNuke Avatar
507
1 Year ago

1080p because 144hz

1
belfastbiker Avatar
1
1 Year ago

Just converted my old quad-core hackintosh into a gaming machine by putting windows 10 on it and sticking a GTX 970 in there, and bringing it with it's workstation into my TV room, and plonking the 49" 4K TV onto my workstation. :)

It's utterly fantastic being that close to a 4K TV for gaming. Been playing Skyrim, Warcraft, Dishonored in 4K, and it's all bloody gorgeous. Haven't noticed any issues in the slightest with latency either, which was initially a fear.

1
Shriven Avatar
3488
1 Year ago

Its insignificant, but its the sign of thing to come. That future tech is the appeal.

0
Belimawr Avatar
1276
1 Year ago

got a 1080p monitor and also hooked up to a 4K TV, the sad truth for me is there isn't a great deal of difference when you aren't sitting right on top of the screen. the same is true of "smaller" screens, if you are running a sub 30inch screen going over 1080 is likely to be a minimal improvement due to the pixel density.

it's the same as people wanting 4k on phones I have a Galaxy S6 that is 1440 x 2560, compared to the 1080 Sony phone it replaced the only real difference are the obvious colour and visibility differences when moving from IPS to OLED.

I realise this is taking it to an extreme but realistically most average sized monitors (around 20inch) the pixel density is high enough for all but the people with the best of eyesights. but realistically on a 20 inch screen you are looking at 110 pixels per inch your looking at a pixel size of about 0.2mm, go up to a 1440 screen and you have a pixel density of 146 (roughly a 30% increase) but each pixel is only about 0.17mm. these differences on the visual spectrum are miniscule and really unless you are really examining the screen it's something that will be unnoticeable.

even if you size up to a 30 inch screen, 1080 you are looking at a PPI of 73 and a pixel size of about 0.34mm, 1440 is a PPI of 98 with a pixel size of about 0.25mm, 4K on a 30inch is identical PPI and pixel size to a 20 inch screen at 1440, so realistically as I said for 1080+ you are looking at larger screens then it is only to pull the quality back to the more condensed appearance of smaller screens.

this is why it is unlikely to take off and become popular until you get to the point of PC gamers using large screens, this is why it is probably seen as more important for console as they are designed to push the image to a living room TV that for the most part will be over 40inch, but then you start to factor in distance from the screen and I honestly would love to see the person who can see the difference that is measured in micrometers at the distance you will likely be from the screen. basically the pixel size is less than a strand of hair.

0
Dave James Avatar
591
1 Year ago

This right here is why I got me a rant brewing about 4K gaming laptops...

The best 4K experience I've ever had was with a 40-inch Philips monitor (well, aside from a brief fling hooking up my desktop rig to a borrowed 55-inch UltraHD OLED for one night only) at that scale on a desktop the benefits of 4K are clear.

1
Belimawr Avatar
1276
1 Year ago

exactly my point, get a big screen and it works, but in real terms 4K on the 40 inch TV is roughly the same as 1080 on a 20 inch screen as far as pixel density goes, so it looks better on the larger screen but mostly because it is solving the drop in PPI that happens as you scale up your screen size.

it's a technology that will have it's advantages down the road, but at the moment the price point is too high for the gain on a small screen, making it much better to target other features such as G-Sync.

2
hahnchen Avatar
97
1 Year ago

Pixel densities on both desktops and laptops are pathetic. Yet again, we'll have to wait for Apple to lead the way and shame the rest of the market to something reasonable.

-2
Belimawr Avatar
1276
1 Year ago

Apple isn't great for pixel density, their phones are fairly low compared to the 1440 panels in a lot of phones, but the pixel density to get it into the 200+ range on a 24 inch screen you would need a resolution of about 6300 by 3600, so yeah best of luck finding a PC that can even push that, go to a bigger screen and that number only gets higher.

if you want higher pixel density your best hope is the big firms working heavily on OLED such as Samsung. because just looking at phones Apple is about 400 PPI while the modern Samsung flagship phones are 577PPI

2
BigWelshMike Avatar
15
1 Year ago

What a thoroughly uneducated reply. :-\

1
hahnchen Avatar
97
1 Year ago

I'm not even comparing these monitors with phones. Apple have had high ppi screens on their MacBooks for 4 years now! Their iMac has a 4k display at 21.5".

Yet there's only 1 or 2 24" 4k displays because the PC market thinks that a 27" 1080p screen is better.

1